Carrión and Douglas Formally Named to Urban Affairs
By Philip Rucker
President Obama made his new White House Office of Urban Affairs official this morning as he named two New York political figures to oversee his strategy for America's cities.
Obama officially announced today what has been known for months, that Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión Jr. would become White House director of urban affairs. Carrion will report directly to the president. Obama also announced that Derek Douglas, currently director of New York Gov. David A. Paterson's Washington office, will work with Carrión as special assistant to the president for urban affairs.
"I look forward to working with these talented leaders to bring long overdue attention to the urban areas where 80 percent of the American people live and work," Obama said in a statement. "Vibrant cities spawn innovation, economic growth, and cultural enrichment; the Urban Affairs office will focus on wise investments and development in our urban areas that will create employment and housing opportunities and make our country more competitive, prosperous, and strong."
As the first big-city president in recent history, Obama created the office to address problems of the urban core and coordinate high-impact federal programs to help metropolitan areas. Obama campaigned on the proposal, saying the office would "ensure that all federal dollars targeted to urban areas are effectively spent on the highest-impact programs."
Carrión's appointment has been expected since shortly after Obama's election. Carrión made headlines in early December after telling an audience of Yale University students that he had landed a plum position in the new administration, perhaps as a Cabinet secretary.
Carrión, 47, a politician of Puerto Rican descent, has served two terms as president of the Bronx Borough and has been president of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. During his nearly seven-year tenure in New York, he oversaw the creation of 40,000 new units of housing in seven years, 50 new schools, $7 billion in capital and infrastructure projects and more than $400 million in new parks and parkland renovation, according to the White House. Carrión previously served as a member of the New York City Council and worked as an urban planner and public schools teacher. He received a bachelor's degree in world religions and philosophy from King's College and a master's in urban planning from Hunter College.
Douglas currently is Washington counsel to Paterson since 2007 and serves as the chief architect of the governor's federal agenda regarding domestic, economic and urban policy. Prior to joining Paterson's administration, Douglas was associate director of economic policy at the Center for American Progress, the Washington-based think tank founded by John Podesta, who co-chaired Obama's transition. At CAP, Douglas founded and directed the Economic Mobility Program. He has been a counsel at O'Melveny & Myers LLP and as assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. He received a bachelor's degree in economics at the University of Michigan and a law degree at Yale Law School.
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February 19, 2009; 11:26 AM ET
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