The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority is losing one of its key people, a top manager who received tens of thousands of dollars worth of training in recent years while he was being groomed to possibly become an assistant executive director.
But instead of getting a No. 2 spot at the Buffalo authority, Anthony J. Laulette, 43, is heading to Columbia County, not far from Albany, where he will head up a small housing authority in the City of Hudson.
It's a move being made for personal and professional reasons, he said.
Laulette will head up a housing authority, and also reunite full time with his spouse, who has been working in Albany for the past year.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity, and thankful for Dawn, for the talent she saw in me, and her ability to help nuture me to help the BMHA and its residents," Laulette said of his experience in Buffalo under BMHA Executive Director Dawn Sanders-Garrett.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for Anthony," Sanders-Garrett said in a prepared statement. "We wish him nothing but the best, and thank him for his service to the BMHA and its residents.”
Laulette had no public housing experience in 2009, when he took a Civil Service test, and landed in the agency's internal auditing unit.
But with his prior experience managing a call center at Ingram Micro, Laulette was quickly viewed as a standout as he identified ways to make the financially struggling BMHA more efficient through technology, according to BMHA chairman Michael Seaman.
By 2013, Laulette was being groomed for advancement.
The BMHA spent just under $30,000 – almost all of it in 2013 and 2014 – sending Laulette to 15 public housing conferences, meetings and other training sessions that took him to places including Orlando, Fla., Washington, D.C., and New Orleans, according to a Buffalo News analysis of BMHA travel. Those sessions included housing authority executive training.
Laulette rose through the ranks to associate management analyst, a Civil Service position that paid $74,000 as of 2015, according to BMHA payroll records.
The BMHA last August was talking about creating a second executive director job that some agency officials suggested Laulette would be a good fit for.
Sanders-Garrett currently has one assistant executive director, Modesto Candelario, who specializes in finance and development.
A second assistant executive director, Sanders-Garrett had said, would focus on operations issues.
The position would include some of the responsibilities that Laulette had been doing, Seaman said, such as working with building managers as problems surfaced at the individual housing authority developments. Laulette also handled such things as contracts and procurement, and served as liaison between the BMHA and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Developoment, Laulette said.
But the assistant executive director for operations position was not filled, and is no longer posted on the BMHA Website.
While the BMHA has not offered an official explanation, Sanders-Garrett once said funding was an issue while other stakeholders suggested a more comprehensive review of BMHA needs is required before that position is filled.
Meanwhile, Laulette left his BMHA position Thursday as he prepared to head off to Hudson.
The training he received while at the BMHA helped him do a better job for the Buffalo housing authority when he was there, Laulette said.
"The training was in 2013-2014," he noted. "Since then, the BMHA has been benefitting from the training I received. I am confident I helped the agency move forward."
Laulette was asked if he would have stayed at the BMHA if offered the assistant executive director spot.
He's not sure, he said, noting that his decision to leave was both personal and professional.
"It's hard to say," he responded. "I couldn't say 'Yes' or 'No" until the option was placed. Part is I'm excited to be back with my husband, but, at the same time, Buffalo is a large housing authority, and there's a certain reputation about working with a large housing authority."
Laulette's spouse, David Cantaffa, a former assistant dean for teacher education at the University at Buffalo, was appointed to a provost fellow position in Albany with the State University of New York's central office in Janaury 2016. He was then named in November 2016 as assistant provost of teacher education, also in the Albany office .
When Cantaffa had a temporary appointment in Albany, the couple adjusted to the long-distance arrangement, but once Cantaffa's Albany position became permanent, they began considering options, Laulette said.
Laulette is the second executive-level employee to leave the BMHA in recent months. Longtime BMHA attorney David Rodriguez left at the beginning of the year to take a job with Hispanics United.
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