By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Carmen Lorentz, who resigned as director of the Division of Economic Development at the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development last week, has succeeded Linda Harvey as executive director of the Laconia Area Community Land Trust.
Lorentz submitted her resignation to the Governor and Executive Council on Wednesday and will begin work at the Land Trust in the middle of January.
"I am excited to contribute my skills and experience to the Land Trust's mission of providing high-quality, permanently affordable housing in the Lakes Region," said Lorentz in a prepared statement. "Affordable housing is an essential element of both community and workforce development, fields in which I have a lot of experience and about which I am truly passionate. High quality, affordable housing is critical to developing a workforce and attracting young families."
She said that companies are not looking for sites, but for people. "Location decisions," she said, "are driven by people. It's all about people."
Harvey said that the board of directors of the trust have had a succession plan in place, which included having identified a number of suitable candidates for the position of executive director, Lorentz among them. "She was someone we thought would be a good fit," Harvey said, adding that when she announced her retirement last month we reached out to see if Carmen was interested and found that she was. The board," she continued, "worked carefully and judiciously to choose the right person for the job." Harvey described the appointment of Lorentz as "one of my last big contributions to the organization."
"The timing is great," Harvey said, explaining that the last quarter of the year is the busiest for the organization, which undergoes its audits, prepares its budget, completes its reporting and applies for its grants. She said that with this work done, all will be in order when Lorentz takes the reins.
Lorentz and Harvey will work together for the first few months to ensure that the transition goes smoothly.
"We are thrilled to welcome Carmen on board," said Jason Hicks, chairman of the Land Trust's board of directors. "And we are grateful to Linda for her continued service during the transition. We have all the right pieces in place for success in our first-ever transition to a new executive director."
Lorentz was appointed director of the Division of Economic Development by Gov. Maggie Hassan in 2014 after serving for two-and-a-half years as executive director of the Belknap Economic Development Council. During her tenure, the division developed the state's first site selection program — ChooseNH.com — which provides economic and demographic data along with an inventory of commercial and industrial sites for both the state and its municipalities. At the Belknap Economic Development she developed a strategic plan, an internship program, initiated Lakes Region Manufacturing Week and re-established the presence of the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center.
A native of Gilmanton and resident of Belmont, Lorentz graduated from Gilford High School in 1995, then earned her bachelor's degree in international affairs from George Washington University, graduating summa cum laude, and master's degree in public policy from the University of Maryland. Between 1999 and 2005 she advocated on human rights issues in Latin America for Amnesty International and managed grant programs for nonprofit organizations in Latin America for the Open Society Institute. After a spell as an analyst with the New York State Division of the Budget in Albany, Lorentz joined Camoin Associates, Inc., a consulting firm headquartered in Saratoga Springs, New York, which provides community and economic development services to small and mid-sized municipalities throughout the Northeast.
Since the Land Trust was established 24 years ago, it has invested $87 million in developing 277 units of permanently affordable housing in four municipalities — Laconia, Meredith, Tilton and Wolfeboro — and another 89 units are currently in the pipeline. The Land Trust At the same time, thousands of residents of the Lakes Region have taken part in the financial literacy and home buyer education programs, offered by the trust without charge, many of whom have become homeowners.