Spotlight Exclusives

Smarts and the City: Urban Leaders to Influence White House Policy

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“Out of the Spotlight” Posting for December 22, 2008

With only a month until his inauguration, President-elect Obama continues to tap a diverse group of leaders to fill his remaining Cabinet positions. An unusual maybe unprecedented number of em hail from large urban areas, with a half dozen key appointees from New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Such a concentration of city-savvy nominees suggests that the Obama administration may be the most metro-focused administration in memory. Sharing in Obama۪s commitment to urban areas and its populations are two of his most recent picks, Shaun Donovan (HUD) and Arne Duncan (Education), and a possible third pick, Adolfo Carrion, rumored to be the top choice for urban policy chief. OOTS considers this one impressive posse of city slickers!

Obama۪s focus on the lack of affordable housing and the subprime mortgage crises made New York official, Shaun Donovan, 42, a prime candidate to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As commissioner of New York City۪s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Donovan led efforts to add more than 150,000 affordable housing units to New York City۪s real estate market by 2013. Donovan is credited with accomplishing such a feat by leveraging public investment in smaller, mixed-income developments built by nonprofit organizations and private investors. He is also noted for his efforts to prevent foreclosures in New York through a city homeownership plan that saved approximately 17,000 homes.

In line with Obama۪s edict that school reform is critical to preserving the United State۪s status as a global competitor is his appointment of Arne Duncan, 44, as the Secretary of Education. As Chicago schools superintendent, Duncan, oversees one of the nation۪s largest school districts and has been successful in raising achievement, standards and graduation rates in Chicago۪s failing public schools. Duncan has supported merit-pay incentives for teachers and students and proposed opening the country۪s first gay-friendly high school, which garnered him support from the nation۪s largest two teachers۪ unions. Should Duncan۪s nomination be confirmed by the Senate, one of his first orders of business will be negotiating the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Actlegislation he fundamentally supports but believes should receive more funding.

Another urbanite, New York City۪s Bronx Borough President, Adolfo Carrion Jr., is rumored to be the top choice to lead the newly created White House Office of Urban Policy. Prior to assuming the role of borough president, Carrion, 47, worked for New York City۪s Department of City Planning and served on the City Council representing the Bronx۪s 14th District. During his tenure, more than $2.2 billion has been invested in residential housing and he has spearheaded efforts to address critical housing needs in the borough. Carrion has also established an integrated economic development plan for the Bronx that brings together residents, businesses and community groups to revitalize struggling neighborhoods.

posted by Hope


Here at“Out of the Spotlight”

we love rumors and gossip (at least of the non-malicious type), so if you hear names that you think we should pay attention to, drop us a line at۪ll post new names as we get em! Of course,OOTSdishes on much more than who might be on the dream team. Check out“Out of the Spotlight”for our take on behind-the-scenes policy sparring, the twists and turns of political plans, and more. Contributions welcome!

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