NYU Wagner alumnus RuthAnne Visnauskas Appointed as HPD Commissioner for NYC
NYU Wagner alumna RuthAnne Visnauskas has been appointed to serve as the next Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).
Ms. Visnauskas has been serving as the deputy commissioner for development at the agency. She will replace the current Commissioner, Mathew M. Wambua, who is departing to take the position of President of RHR Funding LLC, part of The Richman Group of Companies’ mortgage lending business.
Commented Ms. Visnauskas, “I am grateful to the Mayor for putting his trust in me, and I am thrilled to take on this challenge. In the nearly eight years since I came to HPD, we have experienced a national hosing book, weathered a recession, and are moving into a recovery. Through it all our commissioners and staff positioned the agency to exceed expectations and to better serve those most in need.”
Ms. Vinauskas received a Masters in Urban Planning from Wagner. Prior to joining HPD, she was the Diretor of Housing for Clinton Housing Development Companies. To read more about her appointment, click here.
Inaugural IGNITE Institute Convenes Women of Color in Social Sector
All 31 members of the inaugural class of the IGNITE Fellowship for Women of Color in the Social Sector – a leadership program for women of color at nonprofits, newly launched by NYU Wagner’s Research Center for Leadership in Action (RCLA) -- gathered in New York City for a kick-off institute that stretched from August 1-6.
The IGNITE institute, organized by Toni Harris, Director of Career Services and Alumni Relations at Wagner, and Director of the IGNITE Fellowship, began with a welcome reception in the NYU President’s Penthouse in Washington Square. The evening included a lively and bracing discussion with Irshad Manji, director of the Moral Courage Project at NYU Wagner. Manji is the author of the international bestseller The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith, creator of the Emmy-nominated PBS documentary, Faith Without Fear, and she most recently authored Allah, Liberty & Love. Speaking to the IGNITE fellows, she shared hard-won lessons on creating work-life balance for herself and her team – a process she said was anchored in daily meditation, and propelled by the vitality and fulfillment that comes from working to turn a vision into a reality.
The following day’s events took place at NYU Wagner and included an overview of findings from a decade of research on social change leadership delivered by RCLA Faculty Director Sonia Ospina, as well as a luncheon with a panel of women leading organizations across sectors in New York City.
- Analisa Leonor Balares, founder and CEO of Womensphere
- Ana Oliveira, President and CEO of The New York Women’s Foundation
- Arva Rice, President and CEO of the New York Urban League
- Fatima A. Shama, Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs
NYU Wagner Assistant Dean of Fiscal Operations and Human Resources Trena Drayton, moderated the panel discussion. The conversation traced the women’s leadership journeys, from when they first considered themselves leaders, to key moments that have influenced their leadership styles and directions, to leadership challenges they are each facing currently. Key themes included the important role leaders play in convening stakeholders to find solutions, recognizing moments of opportunity in moments of crisis, and the assets that leaders of color, in particular, gain from navigating cultures while remaining grounded in the affirmation of “home” relationships and communities.
“The energy in the room crystallized the continued value of conversations like these,” said Drayton. “People of color, especially women, benefit greatly from candid, informed dialogue around matters that are often left unspoken.”
Following the events at Wagner, the Fellows travelled to Old Greenwich, Connecticut, for four days of robust leadership and management sessions and a chance to build a strong network. In the coming nine months, the Fellows will continue to sharpen their leadership skills with the support of cohort members and Fellowship managers.
Offered with support from the American Express Foundation, IGNITE is a nine-month program that offers a diverse group of mid-career women directing nonprofit programs and organizations across the United States exposure to best practices, processes for building personal and organizational leadership, and opportunities to build and strengthen core management capacities.
The program is sponsored by RCLA’s People of Color Leadership Network, which strengthens communities of color by supporting leadership by and for people of color.
Learn more about IGNITE: http://wagner.nyu.edu/leadership/leadership_dev/pocln/ignite
Learn more about RCLA’s People of Color Leadership Network: http://wagner.nyu.edu/leadership/leadership_dev/pocln
President to Nominate Prof. Katherine O’Regan As HUD Asst. Sec. for Policy Dev.
President Barack Obama has announced his intention to nominate Katherine O’Regan, Associate Professor of Public Policy at NYU Wagner, as Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research (PD&R) at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Professor O’Regan has conducted research on a variety of topics related to housing and urban development for more than 20 years. In her thirteen years as a professor at Wagner, she has held a range of administrative and leadership roles, including directing the Public and Nonprofit Masters Program since 2002 and serving as Associate Dean for Faculty from 2002 to 2004. Professor O’Regan taught at the Yale School of Management for ten years prior to joining Wagner. She received a B.S. from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley.
The Assistant Secretary for PD&R directs HUD’s independent research and policy arm. PD&R' s research activities are designed to have immediate relevance to the policy issues facing the HUD Secretary, who is currently Shaun Donovan, and his principal staff.
“I am honored to be nominated by the president and look forward to serving in this role if confirmed by the Senate,” said Professor O’Regan
The White House announcement can be read here.
How Microfinance Really Works
The Milken Institute Review
About half of the world’s adults lack bank accounts. Most of these “unbanked” are deemed too expensive to serve, or not worth the hassle created by banking regulations. But what may be good business from a banker’s perspective isn’t necessarily what’s best for society. The inequalities that persist in financial access reinforce broader inequalities in the distribution of income and wealth. This is the opening for microfinance and also its challenge. Microlending has been sold as a practical means to get capital into the hands of small-scale entrepreneurs who can then earn their way out of poverty. The idea appeals to our impulse to help people help themselves and to our conviction that bottom-up development depends on the embrace of the market. By eschewing governments and traditional charities, the sector promises to sidestep the bureaucracy and inertia that have hobbled other attempts to expand the opportunities of the poor.