Maurice Jones returns to public service
After President Obama nominated Maurice Jones last fall, Jones sailed through Senate confirmation hearings ending on March 29th. Jones was sworn in this week as the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), becoming second in command to Secretary Shaun Donovan. Jones will manage HUD’s day-to-day operations, a nearly $47 billion annual operating budget, and the agency’s 8,900 employees.
During his confirmation hearings, Jones told the Senators, “Usually, your top challenge to moving any organization to a standard of excellence is having the right people in the right places. Second to that, you also – in these tough times – you have to make sure the organization is operating as efficiently as possible.”
“President Obama and Secretary Donovan have blessed me with the opportunity to join HUD during this critical period when we continue to support a fragile recovery from an historic housing crisis,” said Jones. “I’m ready to help continue transforming an organization charged with moving beyond the yesterday’s experiences to tackle today’s challenges and those we’ll face tomorrow.”
HUD’s Donovan emphasis on Jones’ skill is telling
“Maurice has one of the strongest public and private sector track records I’ve seen for building consensus and solving big problems,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan “As we continue to confront our current housing challenges, HUD will certainly benefit from Maurice’s intellect, his proven management experience and his great people skills.”
Donovan’s comments are quite telling, as he emphasizes Jones’ ability to build “consensus,” which Donovan needs help with in light of his recent housing battles, including his persistence in pushing for principal reductions for troubled homeowners, which the Federal Housing Finance Finance Agency strongly opposes as a means to repair housing.
Jones’ public service and private sector background
Jones added, “Public service has been a passion of mine since my high school days in rural Lunenburg County, Virginia. As a ninth grader, I was fortunate enough to be selected to serve as a page during that year’s legislative session of the Virginia General Assembly. The experience changed my life. I resolved then and there to enter public service when I grew up so that I too could work to make things better.”
This appointment means a return to that public service for Jones, who was the deputy chief of staff for then-Governor Mark Warner, and later the commissioner of the Virginia Department of Social Services. Jones was also special assistant to the general counsel of the U.S. Treasury Department during the Clinton administration. Jones was also legal counsel to the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund and director of the fund during his time at the Treasury.
In the private sector, Jones joined Virginia news outlet, The Pilot in 2005 and was promoted to Vice President and General Manager in 2006, then Publisher in 2008. During the nomination process, he remained at The Pilot but did not engage in political endorsements.
Jones graduated from Hampden-Sydney College, then attended Oxford University in England on a Rhodes scholarship, and later earned a law degree from the University of Virginia.