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Name: Marquez, Mercedes
Current Position: Former Assistant Secretary

Mercedes Márquez has served as assistant secretary for community planning and development in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) since June 2009. The Office of Community Planning and Development is responsible for distributing grants to help low-income communities finance growth and development and to alleviate homelessness.

After growing up in San Francisco, Márquez earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Southern California and her JD and LLM from Georgetown University Law Center. Early in her law career, she worked with Georgetown’s Institute for Public Representation, representing low-income tenants.
In 1990, while working for Litt & Stormer, a public-interest law firm, she successfully represented 65 families in a Los Angeles slumlord case that earned a settlement of $37,000 each for the tenants of a gang- and vermin-infested apartment building.
In 1992 Márquez became a partner at the renamed Litt &  Márquez, where she continued to deal in cases involving slumlords, fair housing, public housing, sexual harassment and employment discrimination .
Márquez then joined the Clinton administration in 1997 as senior counsel to HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo and deputy general counsel for civil rights and fair housing. She was principal advisor to Cuomo on civil rights policy, including fair lending and fair housing enforcement, and led investigations and negotiations of housing discrimination cases. She also advised the secretary on rural housing and economic development policy, supervised farm worker specialists in five states, and served as a U.S. delegate to international commissions.
In 2001, she went back to the private sector to work as vice president of McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc., a national housing development firm which she had opposed 14 years earlier in a Nothern Virginia case involving the proposed eviction of low-income minority tenants to make way for luxury units. In her new position, Márquez oversaw private housing developments throughout the Southwest and California. In 2003, she helped initiate a 103-unit affordable housing project in Hollywood aimed at gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender older adults. The first such project in the nation, it opened in 2007.
In January 2004, Márquez became general manager of the Los Angeles Housing Department, a position she held until her appointment to lead the Office of Community Planning and Development in the Obama administration. Among her accomplishments was a 2008 anti-mansionization ordinance that limited the size of remodeled homes and another that protected low-cost residential hotels from gentrification.
Márquez is an advisory board member of the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers & Human Rights Project and the Center for Urban Redevelopment Excellence at the University of Pennsylvania, a former trustee of The McAuley Institute for Lifelong Learning at Georgian Court University in New Jersey, and past national vice president of the YWCA.
In June 2008, Márquez married her long-time partner, Mirta Ocaña, the homeless policy coordinator for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who performed the ceremony. Their relationship was the subject of controversy in 2004, when Ocaña was given a $150,000 a year job as housing analyst in the department that Márquez headed.
Márquez has described herself as a Roman Catholic and a Zen Buddhist.
Mercedes Marquez (WhoRunsGov, Washington Post)
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