Cooper leaving HACN for role with HUD
Deputy Chief Bryan Warner, left, and Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., right, thank Gary Cooper for his service on Dec. 4, Cooper’s last day as Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation executive director. Cooper left to work with the Office of Native American Programs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. CHEROKEE NATION
TAHLEQUAH – After 22 years of service with the Cherokee Nation, Gary Cooper, Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation executive director, has departed for a position with the Office of Native American Programs within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Cooper resigned effective Dec. 4. Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. named Jerri Killer as HACN interim director.
Named HACN executive director in 2012, Cooper, 44, managed tribal programs that provide rental assistance, rental housing for lower income families, housing assistance for college students and home construction and renovation.
“I’m at an age where I worked at Cherokee Nation for two decades helping our Cherokee citizens, but I’m still young enough I can go and do, and give something back, so that’s what I really wanted to do,” Cooper said. “We are among the best in housing, and I hope I can take all the housing program experience we have implemented here in Cherokee Nation, and what we’ve seen work or hurdles we’ve experienced, and share that knowledge in my new role with HUD.”
Cooper has also served on a national scale, having been named to the American Indian Housing Council in 2012, and being elected chairman in 2018. He also stepped down from that position on Dec. 4.
“I think my expertise working out in Indian Country and delivering housing services to our people – the Cherokee Nation is the best in a lot of the things we do, including housing,” he said. “People ask us how we do this. I hope I can take some of the program experience of working directly with the programs we have implemented here at Cherokee Nation over the years as part of our grant funding through HUD. We’ve seen what has worked and why, or hasn’t worked and why.”
Reflecting on his time with HACN, Cooper said he took pride in all the enhancements of housing service that the HACN implemented during his direction.
“There a few that were not big programs,” he said. “When I was working in programs, there was a dorm assistance program back then, that over the years had changed then went away. It’s the College Housing Program now. It isn’t big – enough to help maybe 100 students with about $1,000 of housing assistance per semester. In college, every little bit helps and $1,000 can go a long way. I think that’s a pretty big program because these are folks who are income eligible. I am proud of that program because I was involved in it back when it was a little different, then I was able to help bring that program back.”
Hoskin said Cooper would be missed, and wished him well in his new role.
“Gary Cooper in his housing leadership role has truly made a difference in the lives of thousands of Cherokee families, whether helping them become new homeowners or helping our elders with new roofs, we cannot stress the immeasurable difference his tenure has had on the Cherokee Nation,” Hoskin said. “I know he will go on in his new role with HUD helping shape Indian housing policy, and give input from his own experiences on programming that will serve all of Indian Country well.”