Fair Housing Center of West Michigan

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Speaker Bios

33rd Annual Fair Housing Luncheon & Workshop Series, April 22, 2021

Understanding & Effectively Combating Sales Discrimination

Fred Freiberg, Executive Director of the Fair Housing Justice Center

Prior to co-founding the Fair Housing Justice Center in 2004, Mr. Freiberg worked for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice where he directed a national testing program that he helped to establish in 1992. From 1999 – 2002, Mr. Freiberg directed the field work in two national research projects conducted by The Urban Institute involving testing – a study of mortgage lending practices and the national Housing Discrimination Study (HDS). During the 1980s, Mr. Freiberg worked as a fair housing consultant for private and public fair housing organizations. Mr. Freiberg was a founder and the first Executive Director of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council from 1977-1981.  Mr. Freiberg’s professional activities for fair housing span more than forty years during which time he has testified in dozens of fair housing cases, published articles on fair housing, and received numerous awards for his accomplishments in the fair housing field. He was also the Executive Producer for the documentary, A Matter of Place.  Mr. Freiberg is one the nation’s leading experts on the use of testing as an investigative tool to enforce civil rights laws. 

Becky Gean, Legal Affairs Manager for Michigan Realtors®

Becky Gean serves as the Legal Affairs Manager for Michigan Realtors®. She began her role in 2016 after acting as a legislative intern for State Senator Jim Stamas and for the Michigan Senate Majority Policy Office. Becky earned her undergraduate degree from Michigan Technological University and her law degree from the Michigan State University College of Law.  

In her role at Michigan Realtors®, Becky conducts legal and legislative research on issues that affect the real estate industry, and also assists in developing content for legal continuing education. As an advocate of Fair Housing education and outreach, Becky also serves as the staff liaison to the Fair Housing Diversity and Inclusion Committee.   

Bryan Greene, Vice President of Policy Advocacy at the National Association of REALTORS®

Bryan Greene is Vice President of Policy Advocacy at the National Association of REALTORS® where he oversees all legislative and regulatory advocacy on behalf of the association’s 1.4 million members. Bryan joined NAR in November 2019, and spent his first year at NAR raising the association’s profile in Washington and nationwide on all fair-housing-related policy matters as NAR’s first Director of Fair Housing Policy. 

Before joining NAR, Bryan served for ten years as the highest-ranking career official in HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO), where he oversaw the policy direction and operational management of the 600-person office enforcing the nation’s housing anti-discrimination laws.  

Bryan was the 2007 recipient of the Presidential Rank Award, the highest federal honor bestowed upon federal senior executives for outstanding service. 

Bryan earned his degree in Government from Harvard University. 

Keith Herbert, Deputy Long Island Editor at Newsday

Keith Herbert has been at Newsday since 2007. Since December 2019, he has been a deputy Long Island editor assigned to the investigations team. He was an investigative reporter at Newsday for six years before becoming an editor. Previously he has covered transportation at the paper. Other assignments at Newsday have included covering the presidential campaigns of John McCain and Hillary Clinton in 2008.

Keith was a member of the Newsday team that won the Polk Award in 2020 for “Long Island Divided,” an investigation of housing segregation on Long Island that made use of paired testing.

Before coming to Newsday, Herbert was a court reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer and a general assignment reporter with the Morning Call in Allentown, Pa.

He graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

He a former president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and vice president of the Press Club of Long Island.

 

Tackling Tough Topics to Ensure Fair Housing Compliance

René Hoffmann, Civil Rights Investigator at the Michigan Departments of Civil Rights

René Hoffmann joined the Michigan Department of Civil Rights in 2016. As a civil rights investigator on the housing team, she investigates and resolves complaints alleging violations of state and federal fair housing laws. Her interest in housing began in college where she studied Rustbelt cities and community development. In addition to working for MDCR, she teaches introductory sociology courses at Macomb Community College.  

Sara Pratt, Counsel at Relman Colfax

Sara Pratt joined Relman, Dane & Colfax in 2015 after her retirement from the federal government.   Her civil rights litigation practice with the firm focuses on the Fair Housing Act, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, and related civil rights laws, with an emphasis on challenges to institutional barriers to access to housing, lending, and insurance and to policies and practices that perpetuate segregation based on race, national origin, and disability. 

Sara has focused her practice on multiple national public policy issues, including a lawsuit against HUD for suspending implementation of a rule that increases access to rental housing for Section 8 voucher holders.  She has also settled many cases, including cases involving lending redlining, use of criminal history to exclude tenants, and accessibility.  She serves as an expert witness and speaker on multiple contemporary fair housing and civil rights issues.  

Prior to joining the firm, Sara was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing Enforcement and Programs and Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  There, she directed civil rights enforcement for HUD nationally and led the development of regulations and policy guidance on numerous emerging civil rights issues, including the application of the Fair Housing Act to domestic violence in housing, criminal background criteria for housing, accessibility, the obligation to affirmatively further fair housing, and zoning and land use issues.   She helped develop HUD’s final rules on harassment, discriminatory effects, affirmatively furthering fair housing and the housing for older persons exemption for familial status discrimination.   She also led the negotiations for HUD which resulted in the settlement of HUD v. Associated Bank, HUD’s largest lending redlining settlement.  

Sara has received numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from former HUD Secretary Julian Castro for Excellence in Performance for leading a team to address maternity and paternity leave discrimination by lenders, a special commendation from the U.S. Department of Justice for outstanding performance and invaluable assistance in the work of the Civil Rights Division, the 2015 Texas Housers Award, and the Mildred and Richard Loving Award from the Connecticut Fair Housing Center. Additional details available at https://www.relmanlaw.com/team-sara-pratt.


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