November 6, 2015

A Day in the Life: Program Support Division, Atlanta Homeownership Center

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Photo: Gayle Knowlson in the center between Secretary Castro and Deputy Secretary Coloretti.

Welcome to another edition of our series, A Day in the Life, which will introduce you to HUD employees and highlight the important work they do.

Today, we meet Gayle F. Knowlson, Director of the Program Support Division, Atlanta Homeownership Center. Gayle was recently honored during HUD’s 50th Anniversary celebration for achieving the honor and distinction of serving with the federal government for 50 years.

What is your typical day like?

There’s really no such thing as a typical day in the Program Support Division (PSD) in the Atlanta Homeownership Center (HOC).  Each day is a surprise – most of the time good surprises.  However, at any given time I spend the day responding to “hot issues” as they relate to FHA’s Single Family Programs.  Such requests may come from the White House, HUD Headquarters, Congressional and other elected officials, other Division Directors and HOCs and very importantly – the general public.  I often get calls or emails relating to other program areas (outside the HOC).  Rather than just transfer the call or forward the email I take the information and get the appropriate contact person to respond to the caller. Often time is spent responding to inquiries from lenders, realtors, governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations and the public. Since the PSD is responsible for education and outreach I have the opportunity to participate in housing fairs, homebuyer education training, realtor and lender training sessions, housing conferences and other events. I really enjoy this part of my job. The work I do in the office is important but it is so rewarding to actually see the people we are helping in some small or maybe large way.

How did you come to join HUD?

I was working for the Department of Agriculture in Athens, Georgia and wanted to move to Atlanta. Someone in the office mentioned HUD in Atlanta was hiring and I submitted my application. There were several reasons for my wanting to move – more opportunity for advancement, Georgia State having a comprehensive night school curriculum so I could get my undergraduate degree, and after living in Athens for most of my life, it was an adventure.

What is one of the biggest lessons you have learned in your career to get you where you are today?

Never give up on your goals and dreams. Do what you have to do to go where you want to go – work on a college degree, take courses related to the job you want, apply for career development programs, volunteer to take on more assignments and responsibilities, be enthusiastic and don’t whine.

Tell us something interesting about you that most people don’t know.

I once was a swimming teacher and lifeguard (for 4 & 5 year olds) at the YWCA.  Also I am a certified scuba diver and have done numerous dives in the Caribbean, Mexico, Florida, Lake Lanier and in a quarry (that one was no fun).

What’s your biggest accomplishment over the past 12 months?

I worked on a team with Headquarters Single Family Housing and the other three Homeownership Centers to prepare the nonprofit portion of the new Single Family Housing Policy Handbook-4000.1.  The handbook replaces Handbook 4155.1 Mortgage Credit Analysis for Mortgage Insurance on One-To-Four-Unit Mortgage Loans and other Single Family Housing Handbooks, Mortgagee Letters and Housing Notices dating back to the 1980’s and contained instructions for lenders processing Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans.  The Origination through Post Closing/Insuring sections of the new handbook became effective on September 14, 2015.  Several other sections are scheduled to become available in March 2016.

It was quite exciting to be part of an initiative that positively impacts the way we do Single Family business for years to come.  The new handbook, including the section I worked on, provides our industry partners, lenders and customers with guidance that’s more concise and in a format that makes finding specific guidance much easier than before.   

What’s next on the radar?

Travel and retirement – not exactly sure in what order.

Joe Phillips is a Public Affairs Officer in HUD’s Atlanta Regional office.

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