Public Service Spotlight
Director, Department of Housing and Community Development, Washinton, DC
"In my role, every day is about partnerships," says Leila Finucane Edmonds, the Director of the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for the District of Columbia. Edmonds oversees the abundant activity of DHCD's divisions: Development Finance Division, Resident and Community Services, Property Acquisition and Disposition, and the Housing Regulation Administration (HRA), which includes the Rental Conversion and Sale Division as well as the Rental Accommodations Division (both transferred to the newly-created HRA after Edmonds tenure began). As the DHCD works with several different government agencies, non-profits and for-profit affordable housing developers, community-based organizations and different interest groups, Edmond's job is truly at the intersection of sectors. Because of this, "partnerships are critical to what we do," she explains.
Edmonds came to DHCD in May of 2007 from HSBC Bank USA where she was a vice president in the community development department. While completing a joint degree from NYU in Law and Urban Planning, she worked as a corporate associate at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan and later as a commercial real estate associate at Willkie Farr & Gallager. In addition to negotiating real estate finance transactions and property sale, acquisition and leasing transactions at Willkie, she also offered pro bono assistance to non-profit groups, working with Habitat for Humanity, and developers on a Low-Income Housing Tax credit transaction – a project for which received a Cornerstone Award from the Lawyers Alliance for New York. Edmonds later joined Seedco, where she worked with several other Wagner graduates, first as a program manager and then as a senior loan fund advisor.
After joining DHCD this past spring, Edmonds finds that her department in DC government works on a very different model than that of the private sector, which makes it continually interesting. Edmonds enjoys all of the different pieces that make up her job. She feels that in this role the Wagner side of her education has been very important. Among various community groups, other government agencies, neighborhood commissions and private institutions, there is a wonderful combination of people to work with and issues that come up, she says. Edmonds recognizes that the DHCD needs support of all sectors, and her strong understanding of how they come together, she says, “is from Wagner.” As Edmonds continues to guide the DHCD forward, the partnerships that the DHCD relies upon daily will surely be strengthened by her strong perception, vision and leadership.