LCI director to leave post this March

Regina Winters ARC ’94 announced last week that she will resign her position as executive director of New Haven’s Livable City Initiative to resume private architectural work.

Winters did not respond to telephone messages Wednesday. She will leave City Hall in March.

In March 2000, Winters became LCI interim director and was promoted to executive director in May that year. She reports directly to Henry Fernandez, New Haven’s economic development administrator.

“Regina is an extremely dedicated person who continued moving the department in the right direction,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez added that the city is beginning a search for a replacement director, with no specific deadline. He added that New Haven will consider both internal and external candidates.

LCI combats blighted city buildings through neighborhood housing teams that report to a nine-member LCI board. During the two years that Winters administered LCI, the department secured millions of dollars in state bonding and federal grants for city development projects.

“Due in part to her, the number of blighted homes in New Haven is down,” said Jorge Perez, the president of the Board of Aldermen.

Winters began at LCI as deputy director of administrative services in January 1999. Previously, she worked at the New Haven Housing Authority and the City Plan Department.

City officials did not know if Winters intends to return to North Haven’s Diversified Technologies Corp., the architecture firm where she worked before joining the city’s payroll.

“When someone pays that much for an education, as Regina did with the Yale School of Architecture, it’s tough not to return to private work,” Fernandez said.

Yale graduates leaving New Haven City Hall is nothing new. Edward Logue ’42 LAW ’47, New Haven’s development administrator under Mayor Richard C. Lee in the late 1950s, designed much of the Chapel Square Mall. He left New Haven to head the Boston Redevelopment Agency before seeing the mall’s completion.

In 1996, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. formed the Livable City Initiative to replace New Haven’s Office of Housing and Neighborhood Development in replacing and renovating the city’s abandoned buildings.

OHND was primarily a financial support office, lending money to first-time home buyers. City legislation dating to the 1940s had previously hampered aggressive action against blighted properties.

Winters’ tenure at LCI avoided the controversy that clouded the department’s early years.

Merl Berke-Schlessel, the original LCI director, resigned after just six months on the job. Frank Alvarado took over at the helm, and 1998 brought a summer of scandal to the Elm City.

DeStefano’s executive assistant, Andrea Jackson-Brooks, received a zero-interest loan of $58,750, with half to be forgiven after 10 years. The U.S. Attorney General’s office and the FBI conducted a probe of the controversial loan. DeStefano later fired Jackson-Brooks and Alvarado.

Fernandez replaced Alvarado in late 1998, and Winters filled the vacancy created when Fernandez became New Haven’s economic development administrator in March 2000. City officials said Winters maintained the steadiness Fernandez instilled in LCI, but Perez said the job has had little stability.

“Not too many people last a long time in that position,” Perez said.

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