The City's Latest Hirings and Retirings

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City life is supposed to slow down in the summer, but you wouldn't know it from all the people entering and leaving leadership positions in city and state government, education and nonprofit organizations. The flow of talent to the Obama administration continues, while local political eruptions continue to shake things up.

The state Board of Regents today voted in Dr. David Milton Steiner as state education commissioner and president of SUNY, replacing Richard P. Mills, who retired on June 30 after 14 years as commissioner. Steiner is dean of the Hunter College school of education.

Meanwhile, two top appointees wait to find out whether they'll clear final approvals – one-time MTA chair and more recent transit system “fixer” Richard Ravitch may or may not be decreed a legal lieutenant governor by the courts, and Jay Walder awaits confirmation by the legislature to become the new MTA head, assuming the roles of both former chairman Dale Hemmerdinger and former CEO Elliot Sander.

Dr. Guillermo Linares resigned from his post as commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs on July 15, making a quick move to try to recapture the City Council seat he once held, recently vacated by Miguel Martinez. Embroiled in an embezzlement scandal, Martinez quit his upper Manhattan seat. Erik Paulino, a deputy commissioner at the immigrant affairs office under Linares, will serve as acting commissioner.

The search for a successor – or successors – to Martin F. Horn is on, as the commissioner of both the Department of Correction and Department of Probation resigned effective July 31. Horn is leaving his post for John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where he will be a lecturer in the fall.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene welcomed Dr. Thomas Farley as commissioner in place of outgoing commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden, who was appointed by the Obama administration to head the national Centers for Disease Control. Farley had been a senior advisor under Frieden for two years prior to his appointment.

The state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance is receiving interim leadership from both Kristin Proud, deputy director of state operations, and John Paolucci, deputy commissioner of operations and program support, as a chief is being sought to replace commissioner David Hansell, who went to Washington. Hansell is now the principal deputy assistant secretary for children and families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Summer and spring saw changes at the helm of several city departments. Lehman Bros. managing director John B. Rhea was tapped to chair the New York City Housing Authority in place of interim chairman Ricardo Elias-Morales, who had served as NYCHA head since late December, when Tino Hernandez stepped down. Elias-Morales remains with NYCHA and will be working on several “high-level strategic priorities” at the authority.

Michael Hyman, until recently the deputy commissioner for tax, audit, policy and enforcement at the Department of Finance, stepped up to acting head of the department following the scandal-tinged resignation of finance commissioner Martha Stark in May.

The vacancy left on the five-person Campaign Finance Board by the departure earlier this year of lawyer Preeta Bansal to the Office of Management and Budget, was filled by the appointment of Art Chang this month. Chang, founder and CEO of venture capital firm Tipping Point Partners, joined lawyer Richard J. Davis as a new member of the board. Davis was appointed on June 29 by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to replace Dale C. Christensen, who had served on the board since 2000.

Katherine Oliver, the commissioner for the city’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting also took on the additional duties of being NYC TV general manager and NYC media group president following the resignation of Arick Wierson, who went to work for Channel One.

Former news correspondent for ABC's 20/20 show and author Lynn Sherr was appointed to the mayor’s commission on Women’s Issues in May, the same month as the abrupt resignation of former commission member Betsy Perry after critical statements she had made about the country of Mexico were released online. (Since the charter establishing the commission requires there be at least 30 members on the board, and there were 37 members after Perry resigned, officials at the mayor’s press office told City Limits that Sherr’s appointment was in recognition of her experience as a journalist, and in no way a replacement appointment for Perry.)

The city’s Workforce Investment Board welcomed a new president in Philip Weinberg. Weinberg came to the post after having been a general manager at Kaplan K12 Learning Services for three years, and succeeded Blake Foote, who said she left to “embark on a new career as a full-time parent.”

In June, a city office entirely devoted to promoting and increasing volunteerism was established when Diahann Billings-Burford was tapped to head NYC Service, a program aimed at making New York one of the easiest cities for people to volunteer. The office will be an expansion of initiatives first developed in the office of community affairs under commissioner Nazli Parvizi.

Debate over the future of mayoral control of the city’s school system was only one aspect of upheaval at the Department of Education, particularly in the areas focused on special education.

Garth Harries, a senior coordinator for special education at the department who had been tasked with reviewing services available to students with special needs, resigned in June to become an assistant superintendent in the New Haven, Conn. school district.

Linda Wernikoff, the executive director of the office of special education initiatives who had spent more than 30 years in the city’s educational system as a teacher and principal before coming to the department, retired in June. Laura Rodriguez of the department’s Leadership Learning Support Organization office will help to implement some of the special education programs once overseen by Wernikoff in her new role as chief achievement officer for both special education and English language learners.

The end of the school year also saw the retirement of Dr. Marcia V. Lyles from her position as deputy chancellor for the division of teaching and learning, an office that provides instructional and professional development resources for individual schools within the system. Lyles is to become the superintendent of the Christina school district in Delaware, which serves the cities of Wilmington and Newark, and will be replaced at the department by Santiago Taveras, a senior supervising superintendent, who will serve in an interim-acting capacity in Lyles’ absence.

Last, DOE named Shael Polakow-Suransky as interim-acting chief accountability officer in place of James Liebman, who is returning to teaching full time at Columbia Law School.

At the state level, there were several recent appointments and promotions in Albany. Robert Megna, a commissioner in the state department of taxation and finance took over the role of budget director after the resignation of Laura L. Anglin, who became president of the D.C.-based Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in July.

Following the resignation of Marisa Lago from her post as president and CEO of the Empire State Development Corporation in June, Gov. Paterson appointed Dennis M. Mullen, the upstate president for the corporation, as a designated chairman and CEO pending confirmation by the State Senate.

On the judicial front, state Supreme Court Justice Rose H. Sconiers was named to succeed Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman as chair of the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission on Minorities.

New York’s nonprofit and advocacy world also saw a number of notable changes in the spring and summer months.

Geri Summerville was named acting president at Public/Private Ventures while an internal and national search is made for a new president, following Frederick Davie stepping down in April to head social justice and LGBT programs at the New York office for the Arcus foundation.

After losing former executive director Lilliam Barrios-Paoli to the city’s Department for the Aging in February, Manhattan-based family service agency Safe Space welcomed Christine Molnar as its new executive director last month. Molnar comes to Safe Space from the Community Service Society, where she helped to develop a managed care consumer assistance program designed to make health services accessible to New Yorkers through community-based organizations. Elisabeth Benjamin, the vice-president for healthcare restructuring initiatives at the society, will be overseeing the program’s initiatives in Molnar’s place.

The New York City Employment and Training Coalition, the Pratt Center for Community Development and the Disabilities Network of New York also welcomed new directors.

Rebecca Brown stepped in as an interim executive director at the New York City Employment and Coalition in June for Tim Ford, who after two years is leaving for Washington D.C. to become vice president of the Leonard Resource Group, a public relations firm.

The Pratt Center welcomed Adam Friedman as executive director from the New York Industrial Retention Network in June. Friedman succeeds Brad Lander at the center, who after five years is leaving the organization to run for the 39th District City Council seat vacated by Bill De Blasio, who is running for public advocate. Anne Seifried, a deputy director at NYIRN under Friedman, is serving as executive director at the network.

At the Disabilities Network of New York City, Lawrence Carter-Long was promoted from his position as director of advocacy to executive director in May. Carter-Long succeeds Alberta Orr at the network.

The New York Immigration Coalition also welcomed a new health advocacy coordinator in Jenny Rejeske. Rejeske, who served as a health advocacy associate at the coalition, succeeded Adam Gurvitch, who is leaving after eight years to work as a consultant with the National Immigration Law Center.

At Praxis Housing Initiatives, a transitional housing provider that operates four scattered sites throughout Brooklyn, acting executive director Svein Jorgensen was installed as CEO in June. Jorgenson replaces John Foran.

Richard Souto was installed in the newly created position of chief operating officer at the East Harlem-based youth development organization, Harlem RBI. Souto came to Harlem RBI from the Bronx-based nonprofit New Heights, where he worked as executive director for two years.

The Children’s Aid Society will gain a new leader in Richard J. Buery Jr. after the agency’s annual meeting in October. Buery comes to the Children’s Aid Society from the Brooklyn-based nonprofit he founded, Groundwork, Inc., and succeeds C. Warren Moses, who is retiring.

Grace Lo Grande of the Little Flower Children & Family Services agency took on the expanded duties of CEO in addition to her current role as executive director on June 3, when the board eliminated the position of CEO. In her expanded capacity as CEO, Lo Grande will take on the duties of Herbert Stupp, who after seven years at Little Flower is leaving to start a consulting firm.

Finally, there were several changes in the make-up of board members at nonprofits with city, state and national scopes this summer.

Mark Cunha, a longtime board member for Legal Services NYC, was elected to a 3-year term as board chairman after having served as a vice-chair on the board since 2006. Cunha, a partner with Simpson, Thacher and Bartlett LLP, succeeded Fern Schair as chairman.

At the Higher Education Services Corporation, which administers the tuition assistance program for New York’s college students, the state’s senate confirmed Charles DeLaney for a four-year term with the board of trustees in June.

DeLaney, the director of the New York Institute of Photography as well as the Sheffield School, succeeded Cheryl Fell on the board, who had served since 2001.

The New York-based national non-profit Seedco also filled two standing vacancies on its board of directors with the elections of Paul Franke and Mitchell Gordon during the organization’s annual meeting.

Franke comes to Seedco from the law firm of Franke, Greenhouse, List & Lippit, where he is a partner. And Gordon joins the nonprofit from accounting firm Ernst & Young, where he is an assistant general counsel.

– Nekoro Gomes

Additional reporting contributed by Helen Zelon.

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