Augusta Free Press

Commerce Secretary Maurice Jones leaves administration for nonprofit

Maurice Jones, who rose from a small-town tobacco farm to become a leader in government and business, was named today as president and CEO of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), one of the nation’s leading nonprofits investing in struggling communities.

The LISC board unanimously selected Jones, who currently serves as Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce and Trade.  He replaces Michael Rubinger, a community development pioneer, who will step down on Sept. 6 when Jones takes over.

Since its founding in 1980, LISC has invested more than $16 billion to help neighborhoods recover from what in many places has been decades of decline and abandonment. Working with community partners in 31 urban areas and across an expansive rural footprint, LISC invested $1.3 billion last year into building and preserving affordable housing as well as supporting a broad range of projects in health, safety and job-creation to revitalize neighborhoods.

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who is LISC’s long-time board chair, said Jones’ experience working in federal and state government as well as in the private sector align with LISC’s mission to rebuild America’s disinvested communities.

“Maurice is highly experienced as a manager and in addressing the challenges of community development,” Rubin said. “He is also a policy expert with a strong strategic mindset, and has been a business builder. He understands the myriad difficulties facing low-income families. The board is excited to have such a compelling and talented leader.”

Jones, 51, has held numerous senior jobs in state and federal government. He currently manages 13 state agencies focused on the economic needs in his native state of Virginia. He previously served as deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) overseeing operations for the agency’s 8,900 staff. Prior to that he was commissioner of Virginia’s Department of Social Services and deputy chief of staff to former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner.

Trained as an attorney, Jones worked during the Clinton Administration on legal, policy and program issues at the Treasury Department, where he also helped manage a then-new initiative called the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) fund—a federal program that has grown to be a critical supporter of nonprofits that leverage its capital to bolster their communities.

It was during his time at the CDFI fund that Jones said he first gained an enormous admiration for LISC’s commitment to tackling poverty and blight.

“For me, this is a remarkable opportunity to lead one of the country’s outstanding change-agents,” Jones said this week. “LISC has staff all across the country who spend every day connecting with community leaders, policymakers, capital providers, and, of course, committed residents who together want to solve some of the nation’s toughest problems. I could not be more excited about this work.”

Jones’ experience in the private-sector adds another important dimension to his capacity to become the 4th chief executive in LISC’s 36-year history, according to Lisa Cashin, LISC’s board vice chair who headed the CEO search committee.

Jones was general manager of The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk and went on to become president and publisher of its parent company.  He also worked for a Richmond law firm and a private philanthropy, investing in community-based efforts to benefit children in Washington, D.C.

“Maurice is a terrific combination of self-confidence and ambition balanced by a healthy desire to ask questions and listen,” Cashin said.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe praised Jones for his work and record of service.

“Secretary Jones took on one of the toughest jobs in my Cabinet, and he has served our citizens well in the face of significant challenges from federal budget cuts and the threat of sequestration,” McAuliffe said. “He has been a strong partner as we worked together to build a new Virginia economy that is diverse and capable of withstanding future fiscal and political headwinds, and I will miss his thoughtful and strategic approach to economic development and workforce policy.

“Virginia is a much more significant competitor in the global economy today because of the progress we’ve made in strengthening our business climate, investing in infrastructure, providing incentives for emerging industry sectors and entrepreneurs, and transforming our workforce system,” McAuliffe said. “The breadth of those accomplishments is a reflection of the broad experience and knowledge base that Secretary Jones brought to this job from both the public and private sectors. While replacing his expertise and impact as a member of my cabinet will be a difficult task, this new opportunity will allow Secretary Jones to continue his career of public service by raising up struggling communities and helping residents build better lives for themselves. I thank Maurice for his outstanding service to our Commonwealth and wish him well as he begins this next chapter.”



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