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Tennille Smith Parker

'98 MPA

Director of the Disaster Recovery and Special Issues Division 
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development


 Tennille Smith Parker is the Director of the Disaster Recovery and Special Issues Division for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the nation's primary resource for ensuring safe, decent, and affordable housing.

For the past 10 years, Parker has had the privilege of leading a team to help communities across the country. Together, they implement long term recovery grant programs focused on community development following major disasters. A typical day for her may include consultation phone calls and preparation of congressional testimonies for the Secretary. Prior to her work at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Parker worked with the city of Falls Church, Virginia to expand their portfolio of affordable housing.

Parker believes Maxwell prepared her for the challenges and rigor within the public service field. Some of her fondest memories of her time at Maxwell are from her interactions with the professors. Parker recalls the patience and wise teaching style of the late professor Duncombe and the questions posed by Professor Yinger that spoke to her moral compass. As well as, Christine Ferris Omolino, who helped her navigate the waters of graduate School and the stern leadership of the late Dr. Astrid Merget.

Parker is grateful for having had the opportunity to serve as a Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) fellow, during her time at Maxwell. She is thankful for all that it offered, including the excellent preparation for graduate school, the vast network of alumni, the caring investment of PPIA support schools, and the graduate school faculty at Maxwell.

When asked if she had any advice for current Maxwell students, Parker had the following to say, “Stick with it and recognize that Maxwell is a learning experience that will prepare you. However, you will have much more to learn when you leave its hallowed doors.”

Parker received a Bachelor of Arts degree from George Mason University in 1997. A year later, she earned a master's in public administration from the Maxwell School. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Parker currently lives in Fairfax, Virginia.