HUD Fills New General Counsel Position as Well as Two Others

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorWashington D.C.–The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has appointed Helen Kanovsky, Peter Kovar and John Trasviña as the general counsel, assistant secretary for congressional and intergovernmental affairs, and the assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity. The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed all three.HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said about their election, “Each plays a critical role in our goal of building a dynamic, collaborative housing team that will better position HUD to help the nation overcome the tremendous housing challenges we currently face.” Prior to serving as HUD’s General Counsel, Kanovsky held the positions of COO and general counsel of the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust. In the late 90s, she was chief of staff to U.S. Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts. Earlier in her career, she served as a special assistant to HUD Secretary Patricia Harris.  “This is an exciting opportunity to work with Secretary Donovan in carrying out the Obama Administration’s ambitious housing goals,” Kanovsky says. “HUD has a massive job to do in helping families affected by the housing crisis. I am honored to participate in this national effort to help families and individuals through these troubled times.”Kovar, assistant secretary for congressional and intergovernmental affairs, was formerly the chief of staff for Congressman Barney Frank, chairman of the financial services committee. During his 26-year tenure on Capitol Hill, Kovar worked on virtually every issue that comes before Congress, including such diverse issues as immigration policy, Medicare reform, environmental protection, government ethics, and economic development. “I anticipate building strong relationships throughout Congress, to advance the important housing goals that have been articulated by President Obama and Secretary Donovan,” says Kovar. “I became involved in government largely out of a desire to provide help to those who are economically disadvantaged, and I believe I can make valuable contributions in that area through my new position at HUD.”As assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, Trasviña joins HUD after serving as president and general counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) in Los Angeles.”The principles of fair housing often have the greatest impact on our nation’s children,” says Trasviña. “If left ignored, the pain and shame of a parent whose family is denied an apartment or home because of race, religion, national origin or disability is felt by a child for a lifetime. As the Obama Administration works to provide stability to home ownership, I am honored to lead the Office of Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity.” Trasviña was the highest ranking Latino attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice. After returning to California, he taught immigration law at Stanford Law School. In 2008, he received the President’s Award from the Pasadena NAACP. Previously, he was named to Hispanic Business Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential Hispanics in America and received the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership’s Distinguished Service Award.