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Press Contact: Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, PIO, City Manager's Office, (510) 981-7008

Zach Cowan appointed City Attorney; Jane Micallef to lead Housing and Community Services

Berkeley, California (Wednesday, October 14, 2009) - The Berkeley City Council confirmed the appointment of two new City department directors Tuesday night: Zach Cowan as City Attorney, and Jane Micallef as director of the Housing and Community Services Department. Both have been serving as acting department directors prior to the City Manager’s appointment.

“Both Jane and Zach have a deep understanding of the Berkeley community and the City as an organization,” said City Manager Phil Kamlarz. “They also have a vision for improving the quality of City services. They have proven themselves to be good leaders, and I believe will be for years to come.”

The appointments are effective October 18, 2009.

Jane Micallef, Director, Housing and Community Services

Jane Micallef received a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law. Upon graduating from law school, Ms. Micallef practiced law in the areas of criminal defense, SSI advocacy, and general poverty law. From 1992 through 1996, Ms. Micallef was the Executive Director of a non-profit agency in Berkeley that provides legal services to homeless people. 

She joined the staff of the City of Berkeley in 1996 in the Health and Human Services Department.  As Shelter Plus Care Coordinator in the early years of the program, Ms. Micallef worked closely with City staff and community agencies to implement this permanent supportive housing program in Berkeley. Over time, Ms. Micallef became the City’s Homeless Policy Coordinator—a position she held for three years. 

Ms. Micallef completed the City’s Leadership Development Program in 2005. In February 2007, Ms. Micallef became the Manager of the Housing and Homeless Services Division of the Housing Department. In March of 2008, Jane was appointed Acting Director of Housing, now the Housing & Community Services Department. 

“Even before taking over as Acting Director, Jane has worked tirelessly to improve the quality of services that the City provides to our homeless residents,” Kamlarz said. “The reduction of chronic homeless on our streets is due in part to the work she’s done to better coordinate services regionally and within Berkeley.”

About the department: The mission of the Housing and Community Services Department  is to produce, preserve and support affordable housing in order to help meet the housing needs of Berkeley residents, especially those who are low-income, homeless, seniors, disabled or have special needs. This is achieved through its Housing and Community Services Department, rehabilitation programs, enforcement of the Berkeley Housing Code in housing units, and ongoing investigation of new housing and community development programs and financial opportunities.

The Department promotes community development through administration of city contracts with a wide range of neighborhood based organizations that help people overcome poverty through housing, employment and training, childcare and youth, health, homeless and other needed services. The Department also administers a subsidized transportation program for seniors and disabled persons. The Housing and Community Services Department also staffs the Housing Advisory Commission, the Human Welfare and Community Action Commission, the Homeless Commission, and the Early Childhood Education Commission.

Zach Cowan, City Attorney

Zach received his BA in political science from San Francisco State University in 1976 and his law degree from Hastings College of the Law in 1980. He began practicing law as a solo practioner representing non-profit organizations, citizens groups and public agencies in public interest cases primarily related to land use and environmental impact reporting. His clients included the National, Golden Gate and Mt. Diablo Audobon Societies, the Greenbelt Alliance and the Sierra Club, as well as various neighborhood groups involved in land use issues.

While in private practice, Zach worked with the City on several cases. He was outside counsel in litigation challenging Soda Hall at Hearst and Leroy, and he was also counsel on the successful CEQA lawsuit challenging the Northwest Animal Facility in which the City filed an amicus brief.

He joined the City Attorney’s Office in 1993 as a deputy city attorney, and was promoted to Assistant City Attorney soon thereafter. Mr. Cowan completed the City’s Leadership Development Program in 2005. Almost two years ago, in December of 2007, he was appointed Acting City Attorney. Zach is extremely well respected throughout the California city attorney community and has prepared amicus briefs in a number of cases on behalf of cities throughout the state. He also has a number of reported appellate cases while representing the City of Berkeley.

“The first responsibility of any attorney is to be a good counselor and advisor to their client,” said Kamlarz. “Zach has always used his considerable expertise to provide the City with solid legal analysis  and advice. He brings a collaborative approach to the City Attorney role and works effectively with all the City’s departments to accomplish the Council’s goals.”

About the department: The City Attorney's Office  provides legal advice to City government to minimize liability and ensure conformance to legal constraints. The City Attorney determines the merits of claims and defends against suits filed, while also filing suits on behalf of the City. The City Attorney's office advises its client, the City Council of the City of Berkeley, provides advice to City departments, and represents the City in lawsuits where the City is a party.


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