At its regular monthly meeting held on Oct. 19, 2011, the board of the Ann Arbor housing commission voted 4-1 to select Jennifer L. Hall as its new executive director. The board had begun its deliberations at an Oct. 12 special meeting after holding interviews with four finalists on Oct. 7. Hall currently serves as housing manager for the Washtenaw County/city of Ann Arbor office of community development.
At the Oct. 19 meeting, commissioners cited Hall’s knowledge of affordable housing in the community, and her relationships with community members and elected officials as an asset that outweighed her lack of experience with HUD regulations compared with another candidate, Damon Duncan. As a plus for Hall, commissioners also cited a perception that she was committed to the position on a longer-term basis.
The board had put off a decision at its Oct. 12 meeting, when they could not come to a consensus for Hall, despite the fact that four out of five commissioners had ranked Hall as their first choice on an initial straw poll. Commissioner Ron Woods had ranked Hall third, behind finalists Damon Duncan and Bill Ward. The commission decided to proceed with reference checks on three of the four finalists: Hall, Duncan and Ward. Both Duncan and Ward have more extensive public housing experience than Hall, primarily with the Detroit housing commission.
Woods cast the dissenting vote at the Oct. 19 meeting. He made an effort to persuade his commission colleagues of the value of selecting a candidate like Duncan – Woods felt Duncan had the capability to have a transformational impact on the Ann Arbor housing commission. Board president Marta Manildi called Woods’ remarks moving, but said that she felt that Hall, too, had the ability to be inspiring.
The housing commission will now enter into conversations with Hall to discuss compensation terms.
The fourth finalist, Nick Coquillard, has served as deputy director of the Ann Arbor housing commission and is now interim director. Coquillard was not included in the final consideration.