King County Executive Dow Constantine has appointed Richard E. Mitchell to serve as a King County Housing Authority commissioner. Mitchell was unanimously approved on May 10 by the Metropolitan King County Council and will complete the unexpired term of KCHA Commissioner Doreen Marchione, who was elected to the Kirkland City Council in November 2009. His term will end in May 2012, at which time he will be eligible for reappointment.
“Mr. Mitchell is an outstanding addition to the KCHA board,” said Executive Director Stephen Norman. “He brings an extensive background in housing policy, land use, and law and will be involved in guiding KCHA in its strategic planning, real estate transactions, and construction procurements.”
Mitchell, who holds degrees in architecture, urban planning, and law, has had a wide-ranging career in which housing, land use, and the needs of the poor have played a strong and interlocking role.
After graduating with a degree in architecture from Cornell University in 1989, Mitchell went on to practice architecture with firms in London, New York City, and Seattle. During his career as a design architect, he always maintained an interest in housing issues, largely because he grew up in public housing (in London) himself. While maintaining his dual interests in architecture and housing issues, Mitchell became involved with a number of groups focused on providing housing options for people in need. This led him to work as a design architect on an urban redevelopment project that included affordable and market-rate housing in the very neighborhood where he grew up.
This experience inspired him to return to the United States to earn a degree in urban planning at the University of Michigan.
While studying at Michigan, Mitchell chose to spend a summer in the West Indies, collecting census data that would be used to make crucial improvements to impoverished shantytowns in Kingston, Jamaica. This eye-opening encounter led him to study law at Syracuse University. As a law student, he clerked for a summer as an attorney for the Harlem Legal Aid Society in New York City, providing legal services to those in need.
When he moved to Seattle in 1995, Mitchell immediately joined the boards of the Low Income Housing Network and Environmental Works, nonprofit organizations that advocate for housing and provide architecture and planning services to low-income community groups throughout the Pacific Northwest. After starting his legal career at Bogle & Gates, PLLC, in 1999, he joined the law firm of Dorsey & Whitney, LLP, and served as general counsel to Gov. Chris Gregoire from January 2005 to December 2008.
Currently, Mitchell is a partner at Summit Law Group, PLLC, where he represents public and private entities on a range of state, local, and municipal issues and on real estate, land use, and construction matters.
Appointed by the Washington State Supreme Court, Mitchell is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Legal Foundation of Washington. He also serves on the Seattle University Board of Regents, the Syracuse University College of Law Alumni Board, and was recently elected to the position of second vice president of the King County Bar Association.
As one of five commissioners, Mitchell will help guide KCHA’s policies and priorities.
KCHA, an independent municipal corporation established under state law, assists some 18,000 households on a daily basis. The Authority has a staff of 320 and administers an annual budget of more than $170 million that includes rental subsidy, housing management, and affordable development activities.
“As a member of the board, I hope to bring a unique perspective that will help KCHA do even better what it already does well,” said Mitchell. “By bringing my range of professional experiences to the table, I hope to assist KCHA in producing more quality affordable housing with limited funds, maximizing opportunities for everyone. Staying focused on housing policy, as a way to strengthen everyone in our economy, is critical for local, state and federal legislators. I look forward to assisting KCHA in fostering the interest in, involvement with, and financial commitment for low-income and affordable housing in the community at large.”
Doreen Marchione has served on the board since 2008. “We’re saddened by Doreen’s departure from the board,” said Board Chair Nancy Holland-Young. “Her vast knowledge of suburban city and poverty issues will be missed.”
“Ms. Marchione has provided invaluable leadership to the Authority, especially in designing self-sufficiency initiatives for residents and looking at strategic partnership opportunities with suburban cities,” said Norman. “However, we look forward to a strengthened relationship with the City of Kirkland in serving the affordable housing needs of their communities.”