After earning his a BA in English at St. Norbert College in 1993, Doug Lynott spent two years working as a youth minister and religious education coordinator. This job partially satisfied Doug’s interest in pursuing a career of service, but did not really address his interest in politics and policy. His acceptance to Michigan State’s MPA Program in 1996 opened doors to new learning and work experiences for Doug. In particular, he found the public policy analysis course to be a particularly enlightening experience. As part of this course Doug wrote a research paper on charter school policy in Michigan, a policy innovation that was relatively new and untested at the time. This particular research project provided him with opportunities to meet with educators, legislators and other stakeholders with positions both in support of and opposed to the expansion of charter schools in the state. The resulting paper was one of Doug’s proudest achievements as a student, and the overall experience confirmed his passionate interest in dissecting and interpreting matters of public interest.
In addition to interesting course work, Doug also had a pair of jobs at the State Capitol that directly exposed him to the hard-edged world of political calculation and legislative coalition building. His first job was as an intern for former state senator Jim Berryman (D-Adrian), where Doug helped manage constituent correspondence and conducted research for the senator’s legislative aides. His second job was with the former policy think-tank FG Consulting where he worked as a research associate. He contributed to the firm’s weekly state policy publication, The Friday Fax, as well as its monthly policy magazine, FG Report. In addition, Doug also contributed both research and written content to a report that had been commissioned by the City of Detroit. FG Consulting had been hired to evaluate the projected negative impact that proposed changes in the state’s revenue sharing formula would have on the City’s budget. This particular assignment yielded material that Doug would subsequently use for his thesis project.
After graduating in 1998, Doug began his career through the Presidential Management Intern (PMI) Program (now known as the Presidential Management Fellowship, or PMF). He was hired as an Affordable Housing Specialist with the Office of Affordable Housing Programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Washington, DC. He came to find that the things he had learned both in and out of the classroom remained useful and relevant as he began to develop his skills and establish his credentials as a federal employee. Before he started working at HUD he had never had to interpret federal regulations and knew little about affordable housing policies and programs. Nevertheless, the foundation of learning and experience he had built during his time at MSU had prepared him with the analytical and critical thinking skills he needed to succeed.
Since moving to Washington in 1998, Doug has held a number of different positions, both in and out of federal service. After working at HUD for 4 years, Doug left in October 2002 to work as a consultant. From July 2005 – October 2009, Doug managed the HOME Program for the Fairfax County (VA) Department of Housing and Community Development. He returned to HUD in November 2009 while the nation was in the midst of the financial collapse and housing crisis. During his first two years back at HUD Doug worked for the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Office of Single Family Asset Management, and was a project manager leading the development and implementation of two programs designed to address the foreclosure crisis. The first program was called First Look and was established by HUD to provide state and local Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) grantees with exclusive access to review and purchase newly foreclosed FHA properties located in NSP designated areas before these are listed for sale to the general public. The second program was called the Emergency Homeowner Loan Program (EHLP). This program was authorized by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act and was implemented by HUD to provide mortgage payment relief to homeowners experiencing a substantial reduction in income due to involuntary but temporary, unemployment or underemployment resulting from adverse economic conditions or medical conditions.
Today Doug is the acting director of the Program Administration Division of the Office of Recapitalization, or Recap (http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/housing/mfh/hsgmfbus/aboutahp). Recap is the program office within the FHA Office of Multifamily Housing Programs charged with preserving aging HUD-assisted rental properties. The Office of Recapitalization seeks to preserve older affordable housing by helping property owners raise the capital needed to modernize and repair their properties and extend the useful life of the affordable housing units.
Doug’s position consistently provides opportunities to work with staff and program offices across all of Multifamily Housing as he leads the development of policies and procedures for several Multifamily Preservation programs. This includes work on HUD’s flagship recapitalization program, the Rental Assistance Demonstration, or RAD (http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/RAD). RAD represents a budget-neutral approach to property recapitalization in that it enables Public Housing and other HUD-assisted multifamily properties to convert to an alternative budget source, either Section 8 Project Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) or Project Based Vouchers (PBVs). Working on RAD is particularly challenging, as Doug’s team must work with a wide variety of stakeholders to officially codify a number of informally adopted program requirements and procedures. It has been a very busy time for Doug but he enjoys the challenges presented by the project, the opportunity to meet and work with a wide variety of HUD colleagues, and a great work environment that provides for a good deal of freedom and innovation.
Doug has maintained contact with friends and colleagues back in Michigan throughout his career in Washington, and was recently appointed as the co-lead for the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) team assigned to Flint. The team’s role is to support the implementation of the Imagine Flint (http://imagineflint.com/) comprehensive plan. The team helps elected officials and staff better invest existing resources, align federal programs, and facilitate new partnerships. You can learn more about the Strong Cities, Strong Communities program here: (http://www.huduser.org/portal/sc2/home.html)
The ability to write well is a skill Doug has found to be very valuable and has enabled him to stand out among his peers, especially when he is navigating the learning curve of a new position or assignment. While writing is not a skill that is necessarily stressed in graduate-level studies, Doug recommends that current MPP students continually focus on improving their ability to write well. Doug also stresses that it’s important to learn when to listen to and observe others, and when to contribute your own thoughts and recommendations. Your future colleagues will appreciate your willingness and ability to listen to their input as well as your ability to make your own thoughtful contributions. Early in Doug’s career he took the time to closely observe how his office director exercised her discretion in order to establish expansive regulatory interpretations that allowed for the creative use of program funds. By taking the time to learn from her example, Doug picked up some important skills for his own career. Finally, Doug would love to see more Spartans join him in Washington, particularly through the Presidential Management Fellowship. Those MPP candidates who are interested in applying should visit the fellowship’s page (http://www.pmf.gov/) for more information. You are also invited to contact Doug with any questions, or simply if you happen to be in Washington. His email address at HUD is Douglass.B.Lynott@hud.gov.