OBV Profile: Joe Montgomery

For the past five years, Montgomery, 45, has been the government's Director General for Places and Communities and previously led the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit under the same title. He has tackled some of the many problems encountered within disadvantaged groups in wide communities.

He says: "I've always been interested in public services but I have a special interest in regeneration. The challenge I find is to rejuvenate disadvantaged communities by combating crime and poor housing for example, and then to turn these areas into vibrant places to live."

Much of Montgomery's work today lies in the rejuvenation of deprived areas. In addition to advising ministers on policy matters regarding regeneration, a great amount of his work is based around housing, employment, market renewal and the government's regional office network.

His team have helped some of the poorest local authorities improve their services and encouraged residents to play active roles within their communities. He points out that he has seen a lot of change in the Clapham Park Estate in Lambeth and areas of Leicester; and says that he sees the prospect of more change for the future.

His present list of responsibilities also includes being chairman of the International Urban Development Association and the non-executive director for the Department of Transport.

Montgomery was formerly on the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's advisory panel on area regeneration; the former leader of the government's Inner City Taskforce in Deptford and previously worked as an executive director for regeneration at Lewisham Council. He says: "Helping secure the extension of the DLR [Docklands Light Railway] to Lewisham was a great success

In the late 1980s Montgomery helped set up the funding and logistics for a Parliamentary Black Caucus. It ran for about five years and provided a support network for BME local councillors.

Montgomery believes that growing up in a family that was active in the church and local community helped lead him into a career where he can help communities make the best out of themselves. He later became highly involved in encouraging political representation among Black and minority ethnic communities. He says: "I've helped give lots of people in local communities the confidence to become local councillors and governors."

As the son of Jamaican parents, he was born and grew up in Nottingham. Describing life in Nottingham he says: "It was a pleasant area but it had a lot of interesting challenges. It was a tough town, a place that had become prominent for riots in the 60s - the city spent a long time calming tensions between the various communities."

Throughout his early years he saw that some young Black men he was schooled with were not achieving as well as they could have and instead got into trouble with the law. Veering away from this trouble he successfully attended Aston University in Birmingham attaining a degree in Behavioural Science in 1983.

Following his degree Montgomery began to successfully build a career around regeneration, supporting urban redevelopment work in the West Midlands for the Cadbury Trust.

He later moved to London in 1989 where he ran a number of inner city task forces focusing on housing, crime, education and employment within disadvantaged neighbourhood estates bringing him to his career to date.

Discussing future plans and his role as director general he says: "Right now I'm happy where I am. I've gained a lot of satisfaction and personal achievement seeing the work we've accomplished in many communities across the country."