Henry Fernandez is a Senior Fellow at American Progress focusing on state and municipal policy.
Fernandez has worked broadly in local government, including as economic development administrator for New Haven, Connecticut where he oversaw the city’s seven development departments as well as the Port Authority, Development Commission, and Redevelopment Agency. He led downtown and neighborhood growth strategies, negotiated deals, and represented the city to investors, developers, and community groups. He was responsible for lobbying the board of aldermen as well as state and federal governments. He supervised housing, retail, higher education, theater, public infrastructure, and commercial development projects totaling over $1 billion.
Fernandez has helped lead local and state political campaigns, including the early campaigns of Ken Reeves, Cambridge, Massachusetts’ first African American mayor, and John DeStefano’s primary and general election campaigns for governor of Connecticut.
Fernandez was the founding executive director of LEAP, a nationally recognized child development program serving over 1,200 low income youth, primarily public housing residents, in Connecticut. He is principal of Fernandez Advisors, LLC a strategic and management consulting firm counseling businesses, foundations, non-profits, and government agencies. He has been interviewed by a diverse set of media ranging from The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Wall Street Journal, to Variety, Black Enterprise, and “Good Morning America;” as well as local print, television, and radio news.
Fernandez graduated from Yale Law School and Harvard College. He taught high school in Zimbabwe, worked for a rural organizing group in Mississippi, and was the Stupski fellow at Yale Law School. He has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the National Commission on Civic Renewal; the Connecticut Commission on Arts, Culture, and Tourism; and the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. He was vice-chair of the Center for Community Change and is chair of the Campaign for Community Change.
Fernandez lives with his wife Kica Matos and their son in New Haven, Connecticut.