Former Lawrence state Rep. Juana Matias, who grew up in Haverhill, was chosen Thursday by President Joe Biden to serve as the New England regional administrator of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Matias represented Lawrence in the Massachusetts House for the 2017-2018 session. She has been leading MassINC as its COO since January 2019, after she gave up her seat in the Massachusetts House to run for Congress. Matias won her home city of Lawrence by a wide margin but finished fourth in a 10-way Democratic primary. She said she was the first Latina to run for Congress in Massachusetts.
In her new post, Matias will “play a key role in leading assignments of housing assistance funds within the region” and will oversee the HUD offices in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut, the White House said.
Before being elected to the House, Matias worked as a social worker in the Merrimack Valley and then sought humanitarian-based immigration relief for unaccompanied children in removal proceedings as a legal advocate in the AmeriCorps program, according to her MassInc bio. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2009 and from Suffolk University Law School in 2014.
Matias is poised to add to the Massachusetts House’s influence in the Biden administration. Former Rep. Marty Walsh is serving as labor secretary, former Rep. Claire Cronin of Easton is in Dublin as Biden’s ambassador to Ireland, former Rep. Lori Ehrlich of Marblehead left the House to become the regional administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Rep. Maria Robinson is a Senate committee vote away from joining the Biden team as assistant secretary in the Office of Electricity.