Robert L. Woodson Sr., who heads the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise in Washington and advises House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) on poverty issues, said late Friday that he is under consideration to be secretary of housing and urban development in President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet.
If selected, Woodson, who is black, would add diversity to Trump’s team. And he would be responsible for leading education and social reforms in predominantly African American areas, which Trump repeatedly described during the campaign as “failed” and vowed to repair.
“They seem to be very serious about it,” Woodson, 79, said in an interview with The Washington Post. “I’m not job hunting, but we’re talking about how I could possibly work with him. We’re talking about how we could work with those across the aisle to do these things together.”
When asked if Trump officials have specifically discussed a potential Cabinet appointment, Woodson said, “Yes, we’re talking about HUD.”
Woodson is scheduled to meet with Trump on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at the president-elect’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J.
He added that the House speaker has encouraged him as he heads to New Jersey.
“It’s fair to say that Paul wouldn’t mind having me there to work with them on all of this,” Woodson said with a chuckle.
Woodson first met Ryan in the early 1990s through their mutual friend, the late Jack Kemp, who served as housing secretary in George H.W. Bush’s administration.
At the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, which Woodson founded in 1981, he has become a familiar face to politicians in both parties who work on housing and poverty, and more recently has worked closely with Ryan and traveled with him across the country to churches and impoverished neighborhoods.
While he began his career at the National Urban League and assisted Democrats such as Vernon Jordan, Woodson drifted to the right during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. He worked for a time as a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he expressed wariness for state-oriented solutions for poverty, and has been critical of some national leaders in the black community such as Al Sharpton.
Jason Miller, a Trump spokesman, declined to comment.