Council Approves New Leadership for 2020

December 10, 2019

Today, December 10 th 2019, at the regularly scheduled quarterly meeting of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), council members voted to make exciting leadership changes. Members unanimously voted to make three key changes in positions of leadership to address the need for strong guidance and innovative thinking in order to create solutions for this vulnerable population.

As USICH enters the new year in 2020, they will be led by a new Chair of the council, Vice Chair of the council, and Executive Director. Stepping into the role of Council Chair is Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training at the Department of Labor John Pallasch. Assuming the position of Council Vice Chair will be Deputy Assistant Secretary within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services Arne Owens. Lastly, the council, in conjunction with the White House and other partners in the field, is pleased to announce Dr. Robert G. Marbut, Jr., as the new Executive Director of the US Interagency Council on Homelessness.

USICH, an independent federal agency composed of 19 federal member departments and agencies, will remain dedicated to coordinating the federal response to homelessness within the United States. Working closely with Governors, Mayors, and local Continuums of Care, USICH and its new leadership will continue to facilitate not only productive conversation, but deliberate actions at the local, state, and national level to support citizens currently facing homelessness.

Joe Grogan, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council, said: “Dr. Marbut has been working on issues of homelessness for more than four decades and has been successfully helping agencies, local communities, and states to reduce homelessness, especially unsheltered homelessness, for over the last 15 years.”

Outgoing Council Chair Frank Brogan said: “The hallmark of Dr. Marbut’s work has been going beyond symptoms in order to directly address the root triggers of homelessness through treatment, recovery, and making available other important services to adults and children in need.”

“I am looking forward to working on initiatives that address most of the underlying root causes of homelessness, such as mental health, behavioral health, and co-presenting substance use disorders,” said Dr. Marbut. “I also want to support efforts that address the affordable housing crisis and support local initiatives such as HOT Teams (Homeless Outreach Teams) that pair a law enforcement officer with a social worker to engage individuals experiencing homelessness into recovery and treatment programs.”

Dr. Robert G. Marbut, Jr. – Executive Director

Dr. Marbut served as a White House Fellow to President George H.W. Bush and was the Founding President & CEO of Haven for Hope (the largest and most comprehensive homelessness transformational center in the USA) in San Antonio, TX.  He has visited a total of 931 homelessness service operations in 28 states, plus Washington, DC, and Mexico, DF, and has helped hundreds of communities and agencies to dramatically reduce homelessness. As part of his research in local communities, he has lived 157 days on the streets and in shelters. He is a former City Councilmember/Mayor Pro-Tem of San Antonio and is currently a Professor at Northwest Vista College.

He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in International Relations, Political Behavior, and American Political Institutions/Processes from the Department of Government. He also has two Master of Arts degrees, one in Government from the University of Texas at Austin and one in Criminal Justice from the Claremont Graduate University. His Bachelor of Arts is a Full Triple Major in Economics, Political Science, and Psychology (Honors Graduate) from Claremont McKenna College.

Dr. Marbut has completed three post-graduate fellowships, one as a White House Fellow (USA's most prestigious program for leadership and public service), one as a CORO Fellow of Public and Urban Affairs in Los Angeles, and one as a TEACH Fellow in the Kingdom of Bahrain and the State of Qatar.  He was also a member of the Secretary of Defense’s Joint Civilian Orientation Conference (JCOC-63), the Secretary of Defense’s premier civic leadership program.

John Pallasch, Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training at the Department of Labor – Chair of the Council

Assistant Secretary Pallasch's appointment marks his return to the U.S. Department of Labor, where he previously served as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management, and Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). As Deputy Assistant Secretary, Mr. Pallasch was responsible for leading MSHA's operations, enforcement, regulations, and program evaluation. Mr. Pallasch most recently served as the Executive Director of the Kentucky Department of Labor's Office of Employment and Training, where he led initiatives to improve outcomes for workforce education programs, increase accountability and performance of the unemployment insurance program, and consolidate job training and workforce programs into a single cabinet agency. An Illinois native, Mr. Pallasch earned a Bachelor of Science degree from The Ohio State University and a Juris Doctor from Pepperdine University School of Law.

Arne Owens, Deputy Assistant Secretary within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services – Vice Chair of the Council

Mr. Owens was previously the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at HHS. He came to HHS following service on Capitol Hill as health care policy advisor for Senators Bob Corker and David Vitter, and as global health policy advisor for the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Previously, he served as Chief Deputy Director of the Virginia Department of Health Professions, as Senior Advisor to the Administrator of SAMHSA, and as Deputy Commissioner, Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services. Until 1997, Mr. Owens was a career Army officer, retiring as a lieutenant colonel after serving in a variety of executive and staff assignments throughout the world. He completed his military service in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, supporting the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. Mr. Owens is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and holds a Master of Science Degree from the University of Southern California.

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