James Forest Hayes was raised in the 100-year-old St. John Baptist Church in Gary, Indiana and he can trace his heritage back to his family farm in Whitesville, TN. As the son of a US Postal Worker and the grandson of US Steel Mill worker, young “Jimmy” learned the meaning of hard work and the concept that life would be “hard, but fair,” at a very early age. Today, Forest Hayes draws upon his working-class background and deep faith for strength as he seeks to provide a “fair shot” for all Americans.
Today, Mr. Hayes serves as Senior Housing Executive in Washington D.C., responsible for the realignment and redevelopment of all forms of publicly funded affordable and workforce housing. Most recently, he was appointed to the Virginia Housing Commission by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.
Forest was the first African American to serve as staff to the U.S. House Sub-committee on Agriculture & Rural Development Appropriations. In that role, he led the effort to increase funding and enhance the standing of the Rural Economic and Community Development Programs. Forest was a champion for the growth of the Rural Housing Service, the Rural Business-Cooperative Service, and the Rural Utilities Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, while serving as the driving force behind the survival of the Rural Economic Development Loan Program for the purpose of promoting rural economic development and job creation projects. Forest later staffed the U.S. House Sub-committee on Commerce, Justice, State and related Agencies Appropriations and the U.S. House Committee on Transportation.
Mr Hayes has worked in every aspect of real estate development, including site assemblage, design, project financing, and project management. As a public official, he has successfully worked on complex development issues involving entitlements, historic preservation, Low- Income Tax Credits, New Market Tax Credits (public subsidies), Tax Increment Financing (TIF), and mixed-use development. He excels at navigating and solving municipal and political issues that impact development projects. He has built a career on his ability to create and implement public/private partnerships for the purpose of financing and completing economic development projects.
Mr. Hayes spent more than 8 years on Capitol Hill, serving in a variety of leadership roles for Members of Congress, specifically serving as Associate Staff for the Sub-committee on Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations for New York Congressman Jose E. Serrano (D); Chief of Staff for Texas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D); Legislative Director for Indiana Congresswoman Julia Carson (D) and Staff Assistant to Indiana Congressman Peter J. Visclosky (D). As a state and local government official, he served in the administrations of Washington, DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty; Gary, Indiana Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson; and Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.
Forest and his wife Nicole have lived in Waterford, Virginia since 2011. Nicole is a two time graduate of Hampton University and a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Their children Brayden Forest and Ella Nicole attend Loudoun County Public Schools.