The statehouse in Trenton
By Joshua Burd
The state has named the new leader of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, tapping a key official in the Department of Community Affairs to fill the role.
Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who chairs the HMFA’s board, announced that Melanie R. Walter will serve as the agency’s next executive director. She will succeed Charles A. Richman, who is retiring at year-end, and comes to the HMFA after two and half years as the director of the DCA’s Division of Local Government Services.
“Melanie Walter has and will continue to be a major asset to our DCA team, and I look forward to working with her in her new capacity as HMFA Executive Director,” said Oliver, who also serves as DCA’s commissioner. “Her broad-ranging experience in local government and community-related matters will continue to serve our state well and I am pleased that she will be taking on this new leadership role to help advance our mission of improving the quality of life of residents in New Jersey.”
In her most recent role, Walter advocated for local government interests, revitalizing the division’s supportive initiatives and developing grant programs while overseeing the financial and operational regulation of New Jersey local units to help ensure fiscal solvency, according to a news release. The agency said that, through those functions, she championed transparency measures, expansive open data and local education programming and enhanced local procurement, municipal officer certification and distressed municipality resources.
Walter, who was appointed at HMFA’s Dec. 10 board meeting, also recently developed and implemented COVID-19 response and recovery measures.
“I thank Governor (Phil) Murphy, Lieutenant Governor Oliver and the NJHMFA board for the honor of serving New Jersey residents and communities in this new role,” Walter said. “I look forward to collaborating with the agency’s professional staff and its many stakeholders to continue to expand and preserve access to quality housing across our state, especially at this crucial juncture.”
Prior to joining DCA in 2018, Walter served as deputy attorney general in the New Jersey Division of Law’s Personnel, Community Affairs and Elections section, the news release said. In that capacity, she counseled several departments, handling a broad array of complex counseling and litigation matters for the DCA, the Civil Service Commission and other agencies.
Walter, a New Jersey native, earned her J.D. from the College of William and Mary School of Law, her master’s in public policy from the Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy at the College of William and Mary and her bachelor’s in economics from the University of Mary Washington. She is a member of the New Jersey and Virginia bars.
“Melanie Walter will be an outstanding executive director,” Richman said. “Her education and legal background as well as her experience directing the Division of Local Government Services will serve her well in the post. I’ve known Melanie for more than six years and I have no doubt about her ability to run the HMFA.”