Executive Director

Melissa Sanzaro, a native Rhode Islander, is the first woman to serve as Executive Director of the Providence Housing Authority in its 80-year history. Melissa began as Executive Director in January of 2018, having previously served three years as Deputy Director and five years prior to that in the PHA’s Special Projects Office. Since joining the agency, Sanzaro has focused on re-energizing community and resident relationships, building on past successes, and on innovative and comprehensive approaches to providing viable and healthy housing and life-changing opportunities to the Providence community.

Early in her career, Melissa worked at Miriam Hospital in Providence and later as a real estate agent for over a decade – all while attending and graduating from the University of Rhode Island and raising her beautiful daughter Jayda. It was at this time that Melissa developed her passion for working on cross-sector collaborations and to ensuring access to healthy and stable housing for all.

Melissa serves as a member of the Rhode Island Housing Resources Commission, representing the Public Housing Association of Rhode Island on that body, and volunteers her time as a board member of the Rhode Island Public Health Institute, in addition to numerous other ad hoc committees and commissions she has advised over the past several years.

Deputy Director

January 5, 2022

The Providence Housing Authority announced today the appointment of Jacqueline Martinez as Deputy Director of Operations and Housing Programs.  Jacqueline will serve as chief assistant to Executive Director Melissa Sanzaro, who has served in that role since 2018. The new position was established as part of an ongoing reorganization that comes out of PHA’s 2020-2025 strategic plan.


“I am honored to be a part of a very talented and resident-focused leadership team here at the PHA,” said Melissa Sanzaro. “The new appointment of Jackie recognizes her dedication to this agency, and I am confident she will propel us towards our goals to improve management operations and to build capacity to expand and preserve affordable housing in Providence and beyond.”

“The PHA board has been committed to working with Melissa to strengthen the agency’s work to provide quality housing opportunities and services to low-income Rhode Islanders, and we believe these appointments will help PHA continue to better fulfill its mission,” said Nicolas Retsinas, Chair of the PHA board of Commissioners.

Deputy Director of Operations and Housing Programs, Jacqueline Martinez has a total of 17 years of experience in public housing. During her 13 years working at the PHA, Martinez served as Associate Director of Property Management and Tenant Selection since 2017. Martinez previously served as Director of Admissions at the Worcester (MA) Housing Authority. Martinez has experience in admissions, management in public housing, housing choice voucher and rental assistance demonstration properties; fair housing and reasonable accommodations; and low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) compliance.  She holds a Master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in global business and organizational leadership from Johnson and Wales University, where she also received her bachelor’s degree.