City announces new Community Development Director
El Paso, TX — The City of El Paso, through Deputy City Manager Sean McGlynn, announces the appointment of Verónica R. Soto as the Director of Community Development. Soto is replacing William Lilly on March 24, 2014. Lilly has remained on board since January to ensure a smooth transition to the new director.
Soto is a graduate of Harvard College and of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, where she earned dual Masters Degrees in public affairs and urban and regional planning. She is a first generation American and a first generation college graduate. She grew up in Segundo Barrio and graduated from Bowie High School. Her career in planning, redevelopment and community development has included positions with the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C., the City of New York Housing Preservation and Development Department and the City of El Paso Planning Department, and the City of El Paso Economic Development Department. She was Director of the Community Development Department at the City of Sunland Park, New Mexico. In her most recent position, as Executive Director of the El Paso Downtown Management District (DMD) she was responsible for oversight of all programs and projects funded and managed by the organization.
Soto was the first Hispanic elected to serve as President of the Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA). She is a member of the Latinos and Planning Division of APA. She has been a Director of the Texas Lyceum for six years. In 2012, Soto was selected as the first honorable mention recipient of the Edward J. Blakely Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning for her social justice work, her promotion of equitable development and for mentoring women of color in the planning profession, and advancing diversity within APA and AICP in New Mexico, Texas, and at the national level. Under her leadership, the DMD won the Pinnacle Award from the International Downtown Association in 2013 for Downtown Leadership and Management, the first time any El Paso organization earned this distinction.
Soto was selected from five finalists following a national search and the input of an interview panel that included stakeholders from the neighborhood, housing, and homelessness coalitions. She will oversee a department whose mission is to serve as catalyst for community partnerships, collaboration and change that revitalizes low income neighborhoods, enhances human services, promotes accessibility, expands housing opportunities, and generally improves the quality of life for low and moderate income persons.