Monday, October 25, 2010

Three Visionary Leaders in Community Development Honored

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NYC Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz, HUD Newark Field Office Director Diane J. Johnson and NYS Banking Department Director of Consumer Protection Jane Azia were honored as “Visionary Leaders in Community Development” at the Fifth Annual NeighborWorks America Northeast District Reception, hosted by Bank of America at their state-of-the-art tower on 42nd Street in Manhattan.

District Director Deborah Boatright emceed, and reflected on the five years since the Northeast District was established: “We are so proud of the partnerships we have developed throughout the region. Together, we are striving to stabilize communities, preserve wealth, sustain homeownership, promote professional excellence, pioneer new models to create and preserve affordable housing, and integrate new technologies for a greener future.“

NeighborWorks COO Eileen Fitzgerald presented the award to Commissioner Jonathan Mintz, who as head of the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs has made free financial counseling available to residents citywide. His office is a strong supporter of the Loan Scam Alert Campaign, even dispatching volunteers on bicycles to distribute information and report scam signs.

“Commissioner Mintz has pioneered cutting-edge initiatives that protect the financial well-being of NYC residents and neighborhoods, and he is leveraging unprecedented public and private partnerships to do so,” remarked Fitzgerald. “The Commissioner founded and now co-chairs Cities for Financial Empowerment, where he works with leaders from cities across the country to advance innovative financial initiatives to help low income residents get ahead.”

NeighborWorks CEO Ken Wade presented awards to Diane Johnson and Jane Azia. Diane Johnson, the director of the HUD’s Newark Field Office, oversees federal housing and community development programs throughout New Jersey, which are supported by an annual allocation of 1.7 billion dollars.

“Diane has been a go-to person at HUD for over 30 years. She mentors emerging leadership and helps organizations make the connections needed for success,” remarked Wade. “Diane is most proud of her contribution to improving urban landscapes and empowering moderate low and moderate income residents in the extensive state of New Jersey. We are too.” Johnson asserted her New Jersey pride with a rousing speech that clearly outlined the Garden State’s many achievements in community development.

Jane Azia, Director of Consumer Protection at the NYS Banking Department, was honored for her efforts to combat foreclosure. Azia helped shape legislation and then developed regulations for two major NYS laws establishing the most comprehensive rules in the country governing mortgage servicers. She has made it a priority to be available to housing counselors, providing information, escalating cases and consulting with practitioners to devise the most effective solutions to help homeowners.

“Jane is, without a doubt, a hero to homeowners and housing counselors, though she would be the first to tell you, it is the housing counselors who are the true heroes,” stated Wade, “And though we agree, is it just this type of selflessness and dedication that makes Jane truly one of a kind.”

Azia spoke for all in attendance when she commented that “The theme of the evening - a community united - perfectly captures what is so wonderful about NeighborWorks, why it is such a success and why I feel so fortunate to be one of your partners.”