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Diana Fish, the chief financial officer for the Wilson Housing Authority, recently graduated from the Executive Director Education Program offered through the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association and Rutgers University.
The two-year program prepares senior housing authority officials from across the nation to become the head of a public housing agency by immersing them in topics that are critical for running a successful agency.
Topics covered by the program include executive housing management, financial management, maintenance, legal issues, procurement and contract management, fulfilling HUD requirements and communications.
Fish was chosen by her fellow graduates to give the keynote speech at their graduation, which was held in early January in San Diego during the annual Public Housing Authorities Directors Association’s Commissioners Conference. The conference was attended by more than 800 public housing officials and commissioners from around the country.
During her speech, Fish said she admitted that she felt empathy for her boss, Kelly Vick, the president and CEO of the Wilson Housing Authority.
“Now I have a better understanding of all of the different struggles that he has to face,” Fish said. “The classes helped me to understand the total agency and not just the financial part of it.”
Fish also said that as chief financial officer, her first impulse is often to summarily reject funding requests. But, she said, the program made her more cognizant of the budget for the whole agency, making funding requests more sensible when seen in that light.
Vick, who graduated from the same program two years ago, said the courses have strengthened Fish’s management, financial and administrative skills.
“Diana is my right hand in running the housing authority and she is already putting into practice what she learned in the classroom,” he said.
Fish has worked for the Wilson Housing Authority since 2012 and has been its CFO since 2013.
The Wilson Housing Authority manages more than 700 public housing units, 26 market-rate units, 23 elderly units and 661 Housing Choice vouchers. In addition to rental income, the agency budget is supported by nearly $8 million in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds.