Queens Legal Eagle Take HUD Perch
By JEFF FEINMAN
Keith Gottfried summed up his feelings about his recent appointment as General Counsel of Housing and Urban Development in one sentence.
“It’s not every day you get nominated by the President of the United States to an important government position,” the Queens native told the Queens Tribune.
The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Gottfried, a native of Howard Beach, Oct. 7. Gottfried will serve as HUD’s chief legal officer and senior advisor, providing advice on all aspects of federal housing and urban development laws. He will also lead HUD’s Office of General Counsel, a nationwide group composed of approximately 400 attorneys, with headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Gottfried said he knows that his housing tasks are plentiful in the wake of the many devastating hurricanes that swept through the U.S. “I’ve been looking for regulatory waivers that would allow us to provide more funding flexibility,” he said. “We have been providing vouchers for people whose homes were destroyed during the hurricanes. One of the main objectives is to disperse those vouchers as quickly as possible to people in need of housing.”
From his early days in Howard Beach, Gottfried showed a great deal of potential. As a student in John Adams High School, he was the editor of the school’s newspaper and also finished second in his class. He then went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania and Boston University Law, where he received both an MBA and a law degree.
“I’m very proud of him,” said his mother Rosalie, who still lives in Howard Beach. “He’s extremely happy in this position. There’s so much going on right now with Katrina, Rita and Wilma, but he’s always worked very hard in whatever he’s done.”
Gottfried walked a twisted path that led into the heart of Washington D.C. For the past five years he was living in California and serving in senior executive positions at Borland Software Corporation. Prior to that, Gottfried served as a corporate attorney in various New York and Philadelphia-based law firms. His business ventures have taken him far and wide to places like Africa, Asia and China.
He holds many fond memories from growing up in Queens. While he was editor of the John Adams newspaper, he interviewed late Congressman Joseph Addabbo Sr. His mother Rosalie taught him the importance of education and work ethic, while Howard Beach provided him with other lessons early in life.
“It instilled in me how important it is to be part of a community,” Gottfried said. “Now I’m very glad that I’m in a position where I can do some good things for the public.”
(photo caption newspg12.jpg) Howard Beach native Keith Gottfried now leads the legal team at the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.