Other than some time spent at the Treasury Department during the Clinton administration, Jones had little experience with housing policy before coming to HUD. "I was surprised to be considered for this role, no question about it," he says. Most recently, Jones was publisher of The Virginian-Pilot in Hampton Roads, Va. His career has taken a winding path: He has led the Virginia Department of Social Services, served as deputy chief of staff to then-Gov. Mark Warner, been a partner at a philanthropic investment organization, and worked at a corporate law firm. Jones, 48, says he draws on all of his past experiences in his new role, including his time in the news business. "Managing a newspaper in times of transformation—we at HUD are going through a time of transformation," he says. As the agency grapples with tight budgets and the aftermath of the housing crisis, Jones will focus on improving internal efficiency. "Sustainable operational excellence is my priority for my time here at HUD. If I can make a valuable contribution there, it will impact everything we do," he says. Jones grew up on a tobacco farm in Kenbridge, Va., where he was raised by his grandparents. He is a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College, attended Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship, and has a law degree from the University of Virginia.