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HUD   >   Program Offices   >   General Counsel   >   Biography of Helen R. Kanovsky
Helen R. Kanovsky

[Photo: Helen R. Kanovsky]Helen R. Kanovsky was sworn in by Secretary Shaun Donovan as the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on May 4, 2009. As General Counsel she is the chief law officer of the Department and principal legal adviser to the Secretary and staff of HUD. She is also head of the Departmental Enforcement Center. OGC provides legal opinions, advice, and services with respect to all departmental programs and activities. OGC has primary responsibility for the development of HUD program regulations and assists in the development of HUD programs and policies. OGC has over 600 employees in Headquarters, 10 Regional Offices and 40 Field Offices.

Prior to coming to HUD, Ms. Kanovsky served as Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel of the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust. She was an officer of the Trust for 13 years, beginning in 1995. The Trust is a $3.5 billion registered investment company for Taft-Hartley and Public Pension funds which targets investment in multi-family investment securities and also invests in insured or guaranteed single family mortgage pools. During 1998-99, she was Chief of Staff to Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Before joining the Trust in 1995, Ms. Kanovsky was Executive Vice President and General Counsel of GE Capital Asset Management Corporation (a subsidiary of the General Electric Company) and predecessor company Skyline Financial Services Corporation from 1986-1994.

Prior to that, she was in private law practice as a partner with Leff & Mason (1984-1986) and before that, a partner and associate with Dickstein, Shapiro and Morin (1981-84; 1976-79). During 1979-1981, she served in the federal government as a Special Assistant to Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Patricia Roberts Harris. She went with Secretary Harris to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare where she served as Special Assistant to the Secretary and Associate Executive Secretary to the Department which became the Department of Health and Human Services. Ms. Kanovsky holds an A.B. cum laude in Government from Cornell University where she was Phi Beta Kappa. She received her J.D. cum laude from the Harvard Law School in 1976.

Prior to becoming General Counsel of HUD, she served as Chair of the National Housing Conference (NHC) and a member of the Board of the NHC's research affiliate, the Center for Housing Policy. She also was a Trustee of the National Labor College and a member of the Board of the Special Olympics of the District of Columbia.

Ms. Kanovsky has two adult daughters, Dr. Jennifer Dorfman and Ms. Emily Dorfman.