Fair Housing Council of Orange County names new Chief Operating Officer

(Santa Ana, California, Jun. 27, 2008) The Board of Directors of the Fair Housing Council of Orange County announced today that it has named Denise Y. Cato to the previously vacant position of Chief Operating Officer of the nonprofit housing counseling agency. Cato steps into the most senior management role in the absence of D. Elizabeth Pierson, the President/Chief Executive Officer who was placed on administrative leave by the Board of Directors earlier this month. Cato will be responsible for the day to day operations of the agency, ensuring compliance with city and government contracts from various Orange County cities and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the County of Orange and other financial supporters of the agency.

Cato has more than 18 years experience in the fair housing arena and has worked for various fair housing agencies including the San Fernando Fair Housing Council, Fair Housing Foundation in Long Beach, the Westside Fair Housing Council and the Fair Housing Council of Orange County. Prior to joining the Fair Housing Council, Cato was the assistant to the executive vice president at the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles where she worked in the legal department and assisted with mediations and conciliations between apartment owners and landlords and the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

“We are very excited to have Denise Cato join the Fair Housing Council team and feel that her years of experience in fair housing will ensure that we can continue to go forward with our mission of ensuring equal housing opportunities are available to all residents in Orange County,” said Wayne Ward, Chair of the Fair Housing Council’s Board of Directors. “Denise is considered an expert in fair housing and she brings with her extensive experience from both the apartment owner’s and fair housing agency’s perspective,” Ward said. Her talents are an invaluable asset to the agency, he added.

“Denise Cato and I have worked together for more than 18 years, and she is recognized throughout Southern California as an outstanding fair housing advocate”, said Chris Brancart, the nation’s leading fair housing attorney at the law firm of Brancart & Brancart. “Her knowledge and years of experience will help the Fair Housing Council of Orange County build upon its excellent fair housing work in the past,” he said.

Cato was employed 7 years ago with the Fair Housing Council when she previously managed the Fair Housing Compliance department and brought into the Council more than $500,000 in discrimination case settlements. During her tenure at various other housing agencies, she gained more extensive experience in fair housing including testifying as an expert witness in Fair Housing discrimination cases, developing testing programs for complex fair housing investigations and recruiting and training testers for discrimination investigations. In addition to her legal expertise, Cato is also a Fair Housing Trainer and has provided fair housing and property management training to numerous property management firms, the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles and the Code Enforcement Department for the City of Los Angeles.

     About the Fair Housing Council of Orange County

The Fair Housing Council of Orange County is a private, nonprofit organization formed in 1965 in the wake of the civil rights movement that resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The agency incorporated in 1968, the same year that Congress extended civil rights protections to cover housing with the adoption of the Fair Housing Act. Under the direction of a 9 member volunteer board of directors and with a paid staff of 14, the agency works to fulfill a mission of protecting the quality of life in Orange County by ensuring equal access to housing opportunities, fostering diversity and preserving dignity and human rights. The Fair Housing Council is a U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development Certified Housing Counseling agency that has provided Housing Education and Outreach for more than 37 years. The Housing Education program provides counseling directed toward potential, first-time, or current homeowners including: budgeting; credit and debt management; preparation to buy a home and the actual purchase process; affordable housing programs; post-purchase counseling; mortgage delinquency and foreclosure prevention counseling. In addition, the Fair Housing Council of Orange County provides comprehensive community and housing industry education, individual counseling, mediation, low-cost advocacy and handles more than 250 issues concerning housing discrimination each year. The Fair Housing Council also recently expanded it programs to include comprehensive education programs for housing providers, property managers, lenders and real estate professionals.

For more information or a schedule of seminars, call 800/698-FAIR or 714/569-0823 or visit www.fairhousingoc.org.

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