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Columbia Housing Authority names interim as new director

Mathews was hired as interim executive director in May 2019 after CHA's previous executive director retired following the carbon monoxide deaths of two residents.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — After almost a year on the job in an interim role, Ivory Mathews has been named the executive director and chief executive officer of the Columbia Housing Authority (CHA). 

CHA's Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to make the position official at its June 18, 2020 monthly meeting, according to a statement from officials. 

Mathews was appointed as the interim executive director in May of 2019 after CHA's previous executive director, Gilbert Walker, announced his retirement after 20 in that position. 

Walker's retirement came a month after gas leaks at Allen Benedict Court apartment left two men dead and 411 residents displaced.

RELATED: Columbia Housing Authority director announces retirement, one month after deaths, evacuation

RELATED: Interim executive director begins her new role at the Columbia Housing Authority

Mathews came to CHA from the Greenville Housing Authority, where she served as executive director for five years. Earlier in her career, she worked for housing authorities in Toledo, Ohio, and Aiken, South Carolina.

Mathews work with CHA began shortly after the carbon monoxide deaths of Calvin Witherspoon and Derrick Roper at Allen Benedict Court and the relocation of more than 200 families.

RELATED: Coroner: Allen Benedict Court residents died from carbon monoxide poisoning

RELATED: 'I was in the belly of Hell': ex-Allen Benedict Court resident describes living there

Almost immediately after starting her work with CHA, Mathews outlined her 12-month plan to commissioners, starting with a top to bottom approach of reviewing and updating bylaws, providing training to the board of commissioners, and improving resident services. 

RELATED: Interim executive director delivers her 12-month plan to the Columbia Housing Authority

CHA Board Chair Ernest Cromartie, III says Mathews exhibits strong resident-focused leadership while also improving efficiencies and producing measurable outcomes.  

“Ivory has excellent leadership qualities and her ability to work with the board to also execute our collective vision makes her a great fit," Cromartie said. The Board’s unanimous action to make Ivory Mathews permanent is one indicia of many positive things to come. This is a new day."