Members of the board of commissioners of the Housing Authorities of the City and County of Fresno named Angie Nguyen interim CEO during a special meeting on Thursday, nine days after they failed to fill the position at a regularly scheduled February meeting.
Nguyen, chief of staff and director of Strategic Initiatives & Housing Programs, will lead the agency — the largest housing provider in Fresno County — starting April 1.
Preston Prince, outgoing CEO, will depart March 31 to become the executive director of the Santa Clara County Housing Authority.
Nguyen will become the first female and first person of color to lead the Fresno Housing Authority in its 80-year history.
“Tonight’s action appointing Angie Nguyen is a clear indicator that the board has complete confidence in the leadership team at Fresno Housing,” said Cary Catalano, county chair of the Fresno Housing Board of Commissioners. “The agency will continue, without interruption, the important work around resident services, homelessness, sustaining neighborhoods of opportunity, real-estate development and so much more.”
Nguyen’s current responsibilities include ensuring the agency aligns its “efforts, policies, and partnerships with local and national best practices that promote quality housing, engaged residents, and vibrant communities.”
Nguyen led Fresno’s efforts in the 100,000 Homes Campaign in early 2010, which has since evolved into Built for Zero and is also engaged in local, state and federal initiatives such as the Birth through 3rd Grade (B3), Grade Level Reading, Starting Smart and Strong, and various initiatives related to addressing homelessness.
Nguyen sits on the board of Fresnoland Media, the nonprofit organization that funds the Fresnoland Lab at The Fresno Bee. The board has no role in the lab’s journalism.
Hanrahan withdrew from consideration
Right after the roll call at Thursday’s meeting, Tracewell Hanrahan, the deputy executive director and chief financial officer of the housing authority who was the presumed successor to the departing CEO, told the board that she did not want to be considered for the position.
“I believe at this time that I can be most effective by remaining in my current role,” Hanrahan said. “Sometimes the right way to lead is to step out of the way, and to listen and find other ways to support the work.”
She attributed her decision to the “recent concerns expressed regarding the appointment of an interim CEO.”
Hanrahan said she hoped the board would choose “another internal candidate in a manner consistent with our succession plan” for “stability and consistency of leadership during this transition to a new permanent CEO.”
Housing Authority staff praise Hanrahan
For more than two hours, Prince read petitions and letters from more than 100 employees of the Fresno Housing Authority who praised Hanrahan’s leadership and spoke in favor of appointing her to the interim position.
Crystal Aguilar, one of the employees whose letter was read, said she has worked with Hanrahan who “leads by example at all times” and “has the heart, vision and dedication that is needed to do the job.”
Helen Cooley who has worked for Fresno Housing for 39 years, said Hanrahan “represents stability, strong, fair leadership and compassion for Fresno housing staff, our communities and the many residents that we serve.”
Letter after letter, from various departments of the agency, praised Hanharan for her “ability, knowledge, heart, compassion, love and respect for all of our present housing, families and employees at all levels.” Many spoke about how she encouraged them to strive, to get higher education and about how she supported them through difficulties.
Before the board went into a closed session to make its selection, Nguyen also spoke about Hanrahan’s influence on her own life.
“Tracewell is the heart that keeps the blood pumping through this agency. She is fair. She listens, and she has respect for each and every one of us. She tells us to fail forward and to learn from our mistakes,” Nguyen said. “Although she has made a personal choice to withdraw, I needed to use this opportunity to publicly express my truth.”
Catalano said, “Fresno Housing’s succession plan allows for a continuity of leadership, and with Mrs. Hanrahan’s decision to stay in her current role as deputy director, along with the Boards’ decision to appoint Ms. Nguyen, our current chief programs officer to serve in an interim capacity, Fresno Housing is perfectly positioned to carry on its important work.”