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From - Paul Christiansen, President 1971-72

URAO’s Transition to OCCD

Since my retirement 25-years ago, time has passed swiftly, but I still have fond memories of the late ‘60’s with close friendships shared with early members: Founding President, Pat Phelan - Columbus, Tony Patrino - Akron, Earle Sterzer - Dayton, Harry Norman - Springfield, Walter Blair - Hamilton, Walter Benedict, Painesville, and past HUD field reps: Dick Starr, Fritz Leighty, and David Ristau.

After five years under the firm and steady leadership of founders Pat Phelan and Tony Patrino, the organization grew to over 25 cities, and our members bonded together with a common purpose:   ”To improve relations between Ohio cities and the HUD Regional Office” in Chicago.

In spring 1971, HUD announced a new plan to decentralize the Chicago Regional Office with location of a new Area Office in Columbus.  At this same time, HUD also began planning consolidation of urban renewal and other categorical grant programs into a new “Community Development Program.” These announcements created new opportunities for the future of URAO.

As I began my term as president in July 1971, the Association was entering what was to be a major transition period. We set two major goals:

   -Establish close communications with the new HUD area office in Columbus, and

   -Broaden the Association’s scope to accommodate expected HUD program changes from urban renewal to community development.

Soon after, I had the privilege of meeting with Richard Kaiser, the new area office operations manager. We had a cordial discussion, and arranged for the Area Director to meet with the Association Policy Committee on a regular basis at each quarterly meeting. These meeting arrangements began with a cordial and meaningful relationship, and our first goal was realized.

Planning for the expected new CD Program, the executive and policy committees studied options for broadening the scope of the Association. In the spring of 1972, the membership adopted revised By-Laws including a change of the Association name to Ohio Conference of Community Development.

By summer 1972, we had achieved our goals: communication with HUD was cordial, and the new OCCD was now refocused to assist members with the upcoming CD Program. The “transition” was complete and the gavel was passed to Gloria Snider, the first woman president of OCCD.

Later in the 70’s, Jack Riordan was appointed area manager, and became our close friend and even acted as a confidant. Over a long tenure, his help and close friendship has been an immeasurable aid and asset to all our members. Through his efforts, OCCD has been able to keep the lines of communication open with HUD for over forty years.

Throughout the entire life of OCCD, Fritz Leighty has the incredible record as the only original member who is still active and contributing to OCCD today.

I beam with pride to see OCCD survive and continue to grow as a meaningful professional organization over the past 50 years. To me, OCCD is the best! My CONGRATULATIONS to all our members, officers and consultants with a special THANK YOU to Jack Riordan and Fritz Leighty for their tireless and long standing service and friendship to OCCD.                                                                                  

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