In a new regular feature on the Avenue blog, we are shining the spotlight on the amazing individuals that make up the Avenue team. Coming from a diverse set of backgrounds, education, work experience, and motivations, each employee at Avenue brings something unique and valuable to our programs and the communities we serve.
This month’s Spotlight is on Fred Lazare. After 16 years serving as the Finance Director at Avenue, we bid him a fond farewell and congratulations on his retirement!
Fred joined the organization in 2002 to oversee Avenue’s finance department (population: 2). He is a Certified Public Accountant and has a Bachelor’s degree from New York University and a Masters in Accounting from Rice University. Aside from being a brilliant CPA and valued employee at Avenue, Fred has been a great friend to his colleagues and a favorite amongst Avenue’s partners and friends. Through his tenure at our Washington Avenue office, he has had many accomplishments, including managing Avenue's numerous and growing assets, staying on top of a balance sheet that has doubled since the time he started, and seeing the organization grow from 6 employees to 40!
Because Fred would never actively participate in being the center of attention, this spotlight will be a little different. Instead of having him fill out a questionnaire about himself, we asked some of his friends around the office to share some fun facts and thoughts on Fred…
On Fred's interests outside the office:
- Fred is a huge music buff. He loves to see live shows and he even took his wife out on a first date to a Clash concert in New York. (He may be the most punk rock CPA you have ever known). Fred loves the Delta Blues, Bombino, Tinariwen – really any good music, be it jazz, rock, or blues, as long as it’s got soul.
- After music, Houston sports also have a special place in his heart – especially the Rockets and Astros. It’s rare to see him walk into the office in the morning without his trusty Astros cap.
- Fred has a cat named Jack that he acts like he doesn’t like.
- Fred's wife and life partner, Heather, is beloved by all. Together, they raised two lovely daughters, both currently in post-graduate programs.
- Fred is an avid runner, with a preference for trails with hills and trees. No boring city running for Fred! He even led his high school track team to state (he was featured in the local newspaper…a very proud moment!)
On Fred's work ethic:
- His house was destroyed during Harvey, but he continued to come into the office and kept working to help others while he slept in friends’ homes and figured out what to do next.
- He loves to get to know residents at our single family properties and has a real soft touch with those in need. Having said that, he does NOT tolerate anyone who tries to roll him or brings harm to others. He’s the perfect landlord.
On Fred's best qualities:
- One of his finest qualities is that he seeks real connection with others and always finds a way to meet people where they are. He brings a warm and human touch to his interactions in and outside the office.
- He has a quick wit and killer sense of (self-deprecating) humor and is one of the kindest, most thoughtful guys around.
- One of his best qualities is his ability to make friends....with ANYBODY!
- "He always knows everything. If he doesn’t know it right away, he will close his eyes and his eyelids will flutter and then he’ll open them and have the answer." (this came from a Board Member and is totally true)
In a nutshell: "Fred is like a good French bread, crusty on the outside but soft on the inside."
We wish you the best in your retirement and thank you for your years of service. We will miss you, Fred!