Athens-Clarke County government announces new Director of Housing and Community Development

The following is from Athens-Clarke County Government:

Athens-Clarke County Unified Government Manager Blaine Williams announces recent changes for two Unified Government departments that work closely with community organizations and businesses.

Williams has named Hayley Banerjee as the new Director of the Housing and Community Development (HCD) Department effective immediately. Banerjee has served as the Interim Director of the Department since April 2019, when former Director Deborah Lonon was named as an Assistant Manager.

“During her time with Housing and Community Development in various roles and, especially as Interim Director, Hayley has proven to be an effective leader and someone who truly cares about the needs of our community,” says Manager Blaine Williams. "Her background in working with local organizations and directly with some of our most vulnerable populations gives her valuable insight related to housing and other areas that this department helps address."

Banerjee has worked in HCD since 2016 and, prior to serving as Interim Director, previously held positions as Community Development Coordinator and Community Development Specialist where she worked closely with community organizations receiving Continuum of Care and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, among other responsibilities.

She has also held positions with the University of Georgia School of Social Work as a part-time instructor in the Master of Social Work program, with the Athens Area Homeless Shelter as an Emergency Shelter Program Coordinator, with the University of Georgia J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development as a Fellow coordinating a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site, and with Advantage Behavioral Health Systems as a Homeless Day Service Center Case Manager and with the Assertive Community Treatment Team providing intensive mental health case management services to individuals.

"Working directly with individuals and families in Athens-Clarke County has given me valuable perspective on the needs of this community and has given me a lasting reminder of the importance of this department’s work," said Banerjee. "I am honored to serve as director of the Housing and Community Development Department and am excited to work collaboratively to support and improve the lives of all our residents."

Banerjee holds a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Georgia and a Master of Social Work from the University of Georgia with a concentration in community empowerment and program development. She has served as a member of the Athens-Clarke County Homeless Coalition, the Athens Georgia Initiative for Community Housing (GICH) Committee, the Georgia Homeless Management Information System Collaborative Steering Committee, the University of Georgia Institute for Nonprofit Organizations Advisory Council, and the Mayor's Task Force on Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity. She also plays the violin in the Athens Symphony Orchestra.

The Athens-Clarke County Housing and Community Development Department's (HCD) mission is to provide funding for the creation and rehabilitation of affordable housing, to foster and coordinate services for disadvantaged populations, and to promote economic mobility among residents of Athens-Clarke County.

For more information on the Housing and Community Development Department, visit or call 706-613-3155.

Williams also announces the resignation of Economic Development Director Michelle Nguyen effective December 2, 2019.

“Fostering connections between the Unified Government, the University of Georgia, the state of Georgia, entrepreneurs, and the business community for economic development projects is a key function of this department that we will continue to grow,” said Williams. “Although Michelle has decided to pursue other opportunities, I want to thank her for her work for the Athens community and the Unified Government over the years in both in the Economic Development Department and the Human Resources Department.”

Williams has appointed Ryan Thornton, Manufacturing and Industry Specialist with the Economic Development Department, to serve as Interim Director until a permanent replacement is named after a national search.

The Athens-Clarke County Economic Development Department was established as a department of the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government by ordinance of the Mayor and Commission on February 5, 2013.

The purpose is to serve as the primary point of contact for industries, large commercial developments, site location consultants, and state economic development organizations interested in developing, expanding, or locating new or expanded businesses in Athens-Clarke County.

For more information about the Athens-Clarke County Economic Development Department, call 706-613-3233 or visit

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