Obama Administration Continues Naming State Directors for Rural Development | USDA Newsroom
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News Release

Release No. 0400.09
Office of Communication 202-720-4623

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WASHINGTON, August 25, 2009 - The Obama Administration today continued naming individuals who will serve as State Director for Rural Development at the USDA.

"These individuals will be important advocates on behalf of rural communities in states throughout the country and help administer the valuable programs and services provided by the USDA that can enhance their economic success," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.


Lawrence Edward McCollough - McCullough has worked for over 38 years with USDA Rural Development in Arkansas. He started with the Farmers Home Administration in Ashdown, Ark., in 1971, and has work in various positions across the state. McCullough helped to lead the Arkansas Single Family Housing program as one of the leaders in guarantees and direct loans and grants. He is retired from the Army reserves, has served on the Governor's Task Force on Supported Housing, and serves as a member of the Arkansas Weather Policy Advisory Council.


Virginia Manuel - Manuel is the founder of Manuel and Associates, which provides strategic planning and development services to connect Maine organizations with international business, government, academic, and civic leaders. She is currently the Chair of the Aroostook County Democratic Committee and an elected member of the Maine Democratic State Committee. Manuel also worked for the Department of Commerce from 1994 to 2001 as a Special Assistant in the Office of the Assistant Secretary, International Economic Policy, and a Senior Advisor in Market Access and Compliance.


Terry Brunner - Brunner has been the State Director for Senator Bingaman since 2002, managing 5 district offices and 19 staff. He served as the Senator's outreach staff on the issues of economic development, public health, energy and public lands. Brunner has a Masters M.A. in Latin American Studies from the University in New Mexico, with an emphasis in Political Science and Community and Regional Planning.


Howard Henderson - Henderson has served as Vineland Area Director for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture since 1998. Previously he held several positions with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture State Office, and Farmers Home Administration since 1975. He has worked in the state and national offices of USDA, working in the Delaware/Maryland Rural Development office as a Farmer Program Specialist, as well as the New Jersey State offices.


Jose Otero-Garcia - Otero-Garcia, from San Juan, P.R., has served as the state director for USDA Rural Development since August of 1999. Prior to becoming state director, he served as Puerto Rico's Commissioner for Municipal Affairs from 1996 to 1999 and as its Deputy Commissioner from 1995 to 1996. In addition to overseeing the day-to-day operations of Puerto Rico's municipal affairs, Otero-Garcia developed a uniform accounting computer system and improved the overall disbursement of Community Development Block Grant Funds (CDBG) that benefited the island's 78 municipalities. Otero-Garcia has served as a member of the Governor's Council on Economic Development and Committee for the Development of Main Street. He has received the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Best Practice Blue Ribbon Award for the development of new strategies on citizen participation in the CDBG program.


Vernita Dore - Dore has been an Area Director for USDA's Rural Development since 1999, where she has been responsible for developing and implementing strategies in coordination with Federal, state, nonprofit and private sources to assure the orderly growth of rural communities. Previously, she spent three years as a Management Analyst for the U.S. Department of Army in South Carolina. Ms. Dore currently serves on the Beaufort County Affordable Housing Council, Beaufort Jasper Higher Education Commission, an ex-officio member of the Low-country Regional Home Consortium, and the South Carolina Women's Connection. Dore continues her 25 years of service with the USDA in her role with Rural Development.


Bobby Goode - Goode has been a USDA Rural Development Area Director since 2006. Previously, he served as Supervisory Farm Loan Manager for the Farm Service Agency from 1995 to 2006. Goode also served in various roles in the Farmers Home Administration from 1979 to 1995. In this role, Goode focused on rural issue and loan development, critical to the Rural Development position. In his new position, he will build on his three decades of Agricultural experience.


David Conine - Conine has worked for the past seven years with the Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC). In this role, he assisted the housing needs of low-income residents and provided much needed information on the USDA housing programs and the broader issues of rural community and economic development in conjunction with USDA's Rural Development staff. Conine worked to provide technical assistance on grant applications and training programs on housing organization staffs, including construction, supervisors, and assisting to have more plans to develop housing that is more energy efficient for low income residents.


Robert Lewis - Lewis is currently the Director of Community Development for the West Virginia Development Office, where his duties include management and oversight of several programs including the Appalachian Regional Commission Program (ARC) in West Virginia, the Department Housing and Urban Development Small Cities Block Grant Program (HUD -SCBG), and the Governor's Community Participation Grant program. He currently manages an office of 25 employees with a budget of $70 million including $2 million in tax credits. Previously, Lewis served as County Commissioner/President of the McDowell County Commission and City Councilman and Mayor of Welch, W.Va.

Rural Development administers and manages over 40 housing, business, and community infrastructure and facility programs as laid out by Congress through a network of 6,100 employees located in 500 national, state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of over $114 billion in loans and loan guarantees.

The USDA provides leadership on food, agriculture and natural resources and touches the life of every American. Reflecting President Obama's commitment to expanding economic opportunities in rural America, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the USDA are working to enhance availability of broadband, promote the development of renewable energy, to conserve, maintain and improve our natural resources and environment, and promote a sustainable, safe, sufficient and nutritious food supply.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272(voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).