About a week or so ago, the President announced his pick for the head of the federal Gulf Coast (Hurricane Katrina) recovery effort in the name of Donald E. Powell. And other than his senior post as chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, not many people knew much about him. Well, I do...and I say without question or reservation that Chairman Powell is a friend to hope and under-served communities nationwide.
Louisiana and the entire impacted Gulf Coast region is indeed fortunate to have Chairman Powell as its advocate. You may or may not like what he has to say, but he will pull no punches, play no games, and most importantly of all he will always shoot straight.
Chairman Powell and I started out at separate ends of life's table in America, with I would offer were significantly divergent views on a whole range of issues, including each other. But Chairman Powell is a unique man of leadership, because he is not too old, "too smart" or too set in his own ways to learn and to grow. And grow Chairman Powell did with respect to our poor, urban and under-served communities during the 3 years I have known him. And not only did Chairman Powell grow through our friendship and partnership (Operation HOPE and the FDIC have partnership on youth and adult financial literacy over the course of the last three years also), I did as well. We started at different ends of life's long debate table, and ended up sitting next to each other, and often, at America's intimate dining table --- talking about all the important issues of the day, and agreeing on most. And yes, there were times we disagreed, but we disagreed without becoming disagreeable. I respected him, and he always respected me.
Probably my best memory of Chairman Powell were the many times he accompanied me into an inner city classroom to teach financial literacy to our nation's youth, and the one day he traveled to Los Angeles to meet with me and area bankers, and to tour South Central Los Angeles, on his vacation day. Why did he do this? Because he had given me his word. It is just that simple.
As I said, Chairman Powell is a straight shooter, and a good man, and the victims of Katrina and Rita could not have gotten a better man as the federal government's central voice and coordinator.
I and we will be honored to work with him as we also move forward with Project Restore HOPE, leading the second stage economic disaster volunteer response and recovery effort for DHS/FEMA.
P.S Jodey Arrington, Chairman Powell's chief of staff (pictured here above) and also a dear friend, is pure class and also an asset to the recovery effort. The federal government could not have done better than this team. Now, let's get behind them...
Onward, with HOPE