Tom McCasland has served as Director of Housing and Community Development since July 2016. Prior to working for the City of Houston, Tom served as the CEO of Harris County Housing Authority where he implemented policies to ensure transparency and public accountability, and resolved multiple federal investigations related to waste, fraud and abuse that preceded his tenure. His efforts ultimately guided the housing authority back from the brink of bankruptcy. Tom received his bachelor’s degree from Hobe Sound Bible College, a master’s degree from Baylor University and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Yale Law School.
About this position: in charge of all departmental operations and reports directly to the Mayor.
Prior to joining HCDD, Keith Bynam served as assistant vice president in the savings and loan industry in asset administration and collections. In this role, he managed portfolios of $100 million in real estate owned properties and $25 million in collection activity. Keith also serves as vice president of a Harris County Municipal Utility District, parliamentarian of the Southern University Alumni Houston Chapter, past president of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators Houston, and past president of Fonmeadow Property Owners Association.
About this position: oversees day-to-day operations of the department.
Assistant Director, Single-Family and Economic Development
Laurie Vignaud previously served as the president of Capital One’s Community Development Corporation and senior vice president / senior director of community development banking. These roles provided her over 20 years of experience developing, monitoring, and promoting affordable housing and economic development. Her expertise also extends to community development and asset development programs for low- and moderate-income individuals. Laurie earned a bachelor’s in sociology from the University of New Orleans and a master’s in banking from Southern Methodist University Southwest.
About this position: manages single-family affordable housing, economic development and community development programs and initiatives.
Assistant Director, Disaster Recovery and Public Services
Mayra Bontemps has over 15 years of experience with federally funded affordable housing and community development property acquisition, development, construction and management. She has also worked with homeless services and disaster recovery initiatives through previous positions with Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Tejano Center for Community Concerns and Harris County Community Services Department. Mayra has a bachelor’s in business administration from Franklin & Marshall College.
About this position: serves as the primary contact for the coordination of disaster recovery efforts. Develops, monitors, manages and promotes programs and initiatives related to disaster recovery efforts in coordination with community partners and consultants.
Assistant Director, Multifamily and Public Facilities
Prior to joining the City of Houston, Ray Miller was at Capital One Bank as vice president within the community finance department. During his tenure at Capital One, Ray underwrote and originated over $900 million in debt and equity for affordable housing. He specialized in financing affordable housing developments with conventional and agency loan products, along with the purchase of low income housing tax credits throughout the state of Texas. Ray received a bachelor’s degree in education from Louisiana State University.
About this position: oversees Multifamily and Public Facility Divisions.
Chief Financial Officer
Ellen Eudy is the former CFO of the Women’s Home and New Hope Housing, giving her deep insight into affordable housing and vulnerable populations. Ellen provided financial management and oversight for the development of over 750 units of affordable housing, as well as a community center, alluding to her vast experience with complicated financial structures. Her expertise includes managing HUD funds, housing tax credits, new market tax credits, Federal Home Loan bank funds and bonds. Ellen earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
About this position: oversees finance and procurement operations.
Deputy Assistant Director, Public Services
Melody Barr has 10 years of experience in government development, program operations, and financing for large projects. When not in the office, Melody is a Senior Fellow with the American Leadership Forum, member of Funders Together Houston, board chair of MD Anderson YMCA, and advisory board member of Fifth Ward Enrichment Program. Melody has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Houston-Downtown and a master’s in organizational management from The University of Phoenix.
About this position: leads the department’s Public Services Division, which funds both disaster and non-disaster programs that assist the homeless and the city’s most vulnerable populations.
Assistant Director, Planning and Grants Management
Derek Sellers has been a part of the HCDD team since 2005 and reviews grant funded projects to determine eligibility based upon federal regulations. As a primary liaison for the department with HUD, Derek coordinates and tracks responses to HUD findings. He is a member of the Texas Association of Affordable Housing Providers (TAAHP). Derek received a bachelor’s in political science and a master’s in public administration from Stephen F. Austin State University. Derek also holds the HOME Program Specialist – Regulations certification.
About this position: heads the Planning and Grants Management Division, which writes the grant applications, action plans, citizen participation plans and performance reports required for all the department’s federally funded grants.
Assistant Director, Policy and Communications
Sarah Labowitz heads the Department’s communications and public policy functions. She is a former policy advisor in human rights and cyber issues for the U.S. Department of State, and co-founder and former co-director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights. Most recently, she was interim director of Houston Rising, where she focused on ensuring equity in disaster recovery efforts. Sarah has a master’s in law and diplomacy from Tufts University and a bachelor’s in history from Grinnell College.
About this position: oversees the public information office, community engagement and outreach, and government relations.
Senior Advisor on Homelessness, Policy and Communications
Jessica Preheim is the Senior Advisor for Homelessness. Jess is responsible for developing and coordinating strategic responses to homelessness in Houston, across the many systems and government agencies that help Houstonians experiencing homelessness. She brings 15 years of experience in homeless services, public housing, and public facility management to the role. Jess previously served as the Texas Senior Program Manager at the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) and as the Senior Program Manager for Housing and Homeless Initiatives at the Houston Housing Authority. She holds a BA from the University of Minnesota and additional certifications in the affordable housing field.
About this position: develops and coordinates strategic responses to homelessness in Houston.