The much-anticipated Office of Financial Empowerment just got the city’s first anti-poverty czar, the head of a major housing and tenants’ rights group has left the building, one of the city’s biggest housing law experts moved out of City Hall, the nurse is in at an East Harlem hospital, the Department of Education welcomes several freshmen to its administration – and these are just a few of many steps in the latest civic shuffle.
Economic development expert Cathie Mahon had already started as executive director at the Office of Financial Empowerment, created last year to tackle issues of poverty as a branch of the Department of Consumer Affairs, when DCA commissioner Jonathan Mintz announced her appointment last Tuesday. It’ll be her job to protect low-income New Yorkers from the predatory business practices and come up with ways to help them save money and build financial resources.
Schools chancellor Joel Klein hired Martine Guerrier, a public school mother and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz’s pick for the city Panel on Education Policy, to help with his public-opinion homework. Klein tapped Guerrier to represent parent opinion as a member of Klein’s senior staff and work with organizations throughout the city to collect new ideas and feedback on public schools, he announced last Wednesday.
Guerrier isn’t the only freshman at DOE. New deputy schools chancellor Chris Cerf picked Joel Rose as his chief of staff earlier this month. Both are formerly high-level administrators at Edison Schools — Cerf was once its president, and Rose managed an Edison tutoring program the city Department of Investigations criticized for questionable business practices with schools, parents and students.
Two of Chancellor Klein’s top legal advisors, Rose DePinto and Michele Cahill, recently left the schools. DePinto retired in January and was replaced by her deputy, Elayna Konstan; Cahill left in December to return to the Carnegie Foundation, where she worked prior to joining DOE.
Jumaane Williams, executive director of statewide housing advocacy org Tenants and Neighbors, is also on to something new. He stepped down in January to work on opening a vegetarian cafe in Brooklyn called EarthTonez – but he told City Limits he’s eager to return to social justice work in as little as a year and a half. Tenants and Neighbors is already looking through applications for a new director, according to its board chair.
Also leaving was Philip DePaolo, formerly an organizer at the People’s Firehouse in Williamsburg. Citing a desire to return to grassroots advocacy, DePaolo left the Firehouse in December to found the all-volunteer, independently-funded New York Community Council, which is currently working on a Rutgers-backed study on the origins and effects of housing subsidies. The Community Council also works with neighborhood groups to organize constituencies around redevelopment and tenant’s rights issues.
While Williams and DePaolo packed their bags, former Department of Housing Preservation and Development special counsel Harold Shultz was just moving in to his fresh midtown digs. The 32-year HPD veteran began a new gig as a senior fellow at the Citizens Housing and Planning Council early last month, where he plans to conduct research on affordable housing preservation.
City Council endorsed Betty Chen and political man for all seasons Nat Leventhal as incoming planning commissioners at the top of last month. They replace Christopher Kui, executive director of Asian Americans for Equality, and real estate developer Jane Gol. Elsewhere in City Planning, Thomas Wargo will move from a deputy director position to replace the late Michael Weil as director of zoning, and former Pennsylvania Station Redevelopment Corporation president Alexandros Washburn will fill a long-empty Planning post, director of urban design. City Planning Director Amanda Burden reopened the urban design spot to tackle large-scale development, urban design, open space and planning puzzles.
Farther uptown, Meryl Weinberg began her tenure as executive director of Metropolitan Hospital Center last Monday. Weinberg, a registered nurse, comes to the hospital from the city Health and Hospitals Corporation’s Health and Home Care division, which she directed for eight years. She is filling a position left vacant since the previous executive director, Louis Martir, resigned in July.
Also in the health world, Jennifer Cunningham, the 1199 SEIU executive veep who handled politics and legislation for that health care workers’ union, has left to join political communications firm Knickerbocker SKD. Cunningham will continue to work as a consultant for the union, taking cues from President Dennis Rivera until June when he moves on to chair a new national health care workers’ union, to be replaced by current secretary/treasurer George Gresham.
Another union exec, SEIU Local 32BJ Executive Vice President Kevin Doyle, was selected by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer as his representative on the city’s Industrial Development Agency board of directors. Doyle will be joining a city board responsible for drumming up capital and financing for industrial or manufacturing corporations and nonprofit organizations to settle or expand in the city.
United Way of New York City’s president and CEO Lawrence Mandell announced in late January that he will retire in April. Mandell took the helm at United Way three years ago and oversaw the organization’s move from funding a narrow group of member nonprofits to focusing instead on partnerships around specific antipoverty issues.
And there’s a new top cop in lower Manhattan — Assistant Chief James Tuller recently replaced 33-year NYPD vet Bruce Smolka as borough commander for Patrol Borough Manhattan South. Tuller moved to the post from a similar position in northern Queens.