Managing staff and setting priorities at the agency that oversees the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks brings out a slightly maternal instinct in Rita Fair.
"There are a lot of similarities between being a parent and trying to manage an organization," said Ms. Fair, who is the mother of two grown children. "I think it's always satisfying to come to a place and work with the senior managers and see them develop not only personally, but develop a team spirit."
That is the essence of her management style, according to Mary Clare Fitzgerald, who worked for her when Ms. Fair was managing director of the Secura Group. "She's not one of those government bureaucracy types," Ms. Fitzgerald said. "Her people skills are incredibly refreshing, and she really cares about who is working for her.
"You want to do everything you can when you're working for Rita."
Ms. Fair, who works as an assistant to Housing and Urban Development Secretary and Finance Board Director Henry G. Cisneros, adds a personal touch to her task of running Federal Home Loan Finance Board operations and focusing its goals.
"Rita has put a big emphasis on improving morale," said Bill Glavin, who works in the Finance Board's public affairs department. "It's especially important during this time of uncertainty."
"Changing what the agency does is a big challenge," Ms. Fair said. "People start becoming concerned about what will be left for them to do. I try to keep everybody focused on trying to do the job that need to gets done."
Ms. Fair intends to spend most of her time over the next six months developing legislation to focus the Federal Home Loan Banking system on important housing issues.
"We're going to work with all constituencies of the Federal Home Loan Banking system to help develop comprehensive banking legislation that would strengthen the system and pro vide more support for housing and community development," she said. "There's a lot of groundwork between now and the final package to make sure it reflects some measure of consensus," she said.
The Finance Board is one of the smaller governmental agencies it currently employs around 100 people and Ms. Fair sees this as a big plus.
"I worked at HUD during the Carter Administration, and they had 15,000 people," Ms. Fair said. "Then I went over to the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, where they had 1,500, and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. The interpersonal relationships become so much more important when you have a small agency like this."
Assistant to the secretary, HUD
Acting managing director,
Federal Housing Finance Board
1777 F St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20552