Along with newly inaugurated occupants of top city jobs such as public advocate and comptroller, the New Year brings in a host of other leaders at public agencies, nonprofits and elsewhere.
It also brings a notable void: Commissioner Deborah VanAmerongen will soon leave the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal, Gov. Paterson announced last week. No replacement has been named to follow her departure, effective Jan. 15, to the law firm Peabody Nixon (though she’s not a lawyer). Seems like the hefty task ahead of developing new rental policy in the wake of the far-reaching Stuy Town decision alone could keep the post empty. VanAmerongen’s move comes on the heels of Priscilla Almodovar’s Dec. 4 announcement that she was vacating her post, effective immediately, as President and CEO of the New York State Housing Finance Agency and the State of New York Mortgage Agency. State housing affairs need new leadership in the year ahead…
Last week also brought Mayor Bloomberg’s appointment of Carole Wallace Post as Commissioner of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. An attorney who began her city career in 2001 at the Department of Buildings, Post until Wednesday was Director of Agency Services in the Mayor’s Office of Operations. She replaces Paul Cosgrave, who retired last month after three and a half years helming DoITT.
The Fire Department has a new leader in Salvatore Cassano, a 40-year veteran of FDNY. The new Commissioner had served as Chief of the department since 2006. He replaces Nicholas Scoppetta, who ends eight years as Commissioner. A veteran civil servant, with past roles as head of the Administration for Children’s Services and the Department of Investigation as well as deputy mayor, Scoppetta is leaving to pursue teaching opportunities in academia.
Caswell Holloway IV is the new Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, leaving the Mayor’s Office where he served as the Chief of Staff to Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler since Feb. 2006. He replaces Acting Commissioner Steven Lawitts, who’s been filling in since Emily Lloyd left one year ago, and is anticipated to be named to another position with the city. No replacement has yet been named to succeed Holloway in Skyler’s office.
In February, Greenpoint native Vincent Schiraldi returns to NYC as the new Commissioner of the Department of Probation. Schiraldi comes to the department from Washington D.C., where he had been Director of that city’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services for five years. Schiraldi will replace Patricia Brennan, who had served as Acting Commissioner in place of former Commissioner Martin Horn since August. Brennan will return to her post as Deputy Commissioner of Juvenile Operations with the department.
Other moves in city government include Fatima Shama taking the role of Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs, replacing Guillermo Linares. Shama had been a senior education policy advisor to the mayor; Deborah Taylor succeeds her in that role. Linares, meanwhile, went on to become a key member of Mayor Bloomberg’s re-election team after failing to win the 10th District Council seat vacated by Miguel Martinez.
David Frankel was named Commissioner of the Department of Finance in September, replacing acting commissioner Michael Hyman, who was appointed following the resignation of Martha Stark in April. Hyman is now a deputy commissioner with the department while Stark went on to become a professor at Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs.
The New York City Housing Authority gained a new General Manager in Michael Kelly in the autumn, replacing Doug Apple, who left to become the First Deputy Commissioner of the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Kelly had been the head of the District of Columbia Housing Authority. Now longtime spokesman Howard Marder, who’s served as Public Information Officer for NYCHA since July 1999, has retired to focus on private consulting. Sheila Stainback, who had been a press officer at the Administration for Children’s Services, succeeds Marder.
ACS has seen a few other personnel changes in recent months. Anne Williams-Isom, who was with ACS for 13 years, most recently serving as Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Community and Governmental Affairs, left the department to become Chief Operating Officer at Harlem Children’s Zone in the beginning of December. Williams-Isom replaced George Khaldun at the Harlem Children’s Zone, who now serves as the Chief Administrative Officer.
In becoming the Executive Deputy Commissioner for Operations at ACS, Belinda Conway saw an expansion of her duties from her previous role as Special Advisor to Commissioner John Mattingly, a position she had held since Jan. 2008. Conway succeeded Zeinab Chahine as Executive Deputy Commissioner, who after 22 years with the administration left to become the Managing Director for Strategic Consulting with Casey Family Programs.
At the Department of Housing and Preservation Development, Jessica Katz, who served as Director of the Division of Special Needs Housing since 2003, left in November to become the first Executive Director for the Lantern Organization, a nonprofit aimed at increasing the city’s stock of affordable housing.
Also in November, Brittany Allen, an Emergency Preparedness Specialist with the city’s Office of Emergency Management for two years, became Executive Director of the New York AIDS Coalition. Allen succeeded Marie Saint-Cyr at the coalition, who is now a Vice-President with the Long Island Network of Community Services (LINCS), as well as the Long Island Association for AIDS Care (LIAAC).
The city’s nonprofits and advocacy groups also saw a flurry of appointments, departures and retirements over recent months.
After a three-decade career with the Correctional Association, Robert Gangi announced he will step down from his position as Executive Director in October 2010. Gangi says he plans to start a policy center aimed at looking at the city’s policing practices, and says the CA’s board of directors has established a nationwide search committee to find his successor.
In Brooklyn, the end of the year brought the departure of Ilana Berger as Executive Director of the Ft. Greene-based advocacy group FUREE after nearly 10 years of service with the organization. Berger is taking a leave of absence from FUREE to focus on her family and expects to be involved with social justice organizing in the future. Valery Jean, who has been the Development Director with FUREE for three years, takes over as Executive Director.
The establishment in October of the Brooklyn Community Foundation, an organization that grew out of a partnership between the Independence Community Bank and the Independence Community Foundation, saw the creation of three new positions at a nonprofit that bills itself as the only charitable group of its kind in Kings County. Phillip Li is the Chief Operating Officer, coming from the nonprofit Changing Our World. Stephanie Hyacinth and Dara Lehon joined the organization as Vice Presidents for Development and Communications, respectively. Hyacinth had been Senior Manager of Development at NPower, an organization providing technology assistance to other nonprofits, while Lehon was Manager of Media Relations at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Michael Geller replaced Lehon at the committee.
Herbert Sweat was elected Chairman of the Board of another Brooklyn-based advocacy group, Black Veterans for Social Justice. Sweat succeeds George Johnson, who was board chairman since 2005.
At the East River Development Alliance, located in Long Island City, today marks the first official day for Jeremy Reiss as Vice President for Strategy, Organizing and External Affairs, a newly created position. Reiss comes to the alliance from the Community Service Society, where he had been Director of Workforce and Economic Security Initiatives since July 2007. CSS is conducting a search for Reiss’ replacement.
The Fair Housing Justice Center also is looking for a new leader, since Executive Director Diane Houk left to practice law at the firm Emery, Celli, Brinckerhoff & Abady. Houk, who founded FHJC in 2004 with her husband Fred Freiberg (who still serves as Field Services Director), will continue to focus her practice on housing discrimination matters. Interim E.D. Miriam Kurien, a former board member, helms the Center for now.
Project Enterprise, a nonprofit that works with entrepreneurs and small businesses throughout the city, has a new Executive Director in Mel Washington. Washington succeeded Catherine Barnett, Project Enterprise’s Vice-President, who had served as interim Executive Director in place of Arva Rice, who left the organization in April of last year to become CEO and President of the New York Urban League. Washington comes to Project Enterprise from the nonprofit think tank the EastWest Institute, where he had served as a Vice-President and Chief Operations Officer. Washington was succeeded in that role by Eden Collinsworth.
At the elderly advocacy group DOROT, Mark Meridy became Executive Director, succeeding Vivian Fenster Ehrlich, who had been with the organization for more than 20 years and is now “looking for new opportunities where she can use her many kinds of talents,” a spokeswoman said. Meridy joined DOROT from Washington D.C., where he served as Director of Operations for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
Local academe has seen a few key moves as well. In the fall Lynn Videka was named Dean of the Silver School of Social Work at NYU, succeeding Suzanne England, who had been dean since 2002. Videka comes to the Silver School from the University of Albany, where she had been a Vice President for Research for five years. England departed from NYU to take a sabbatical for this academic year, and will return to the faculty in the future.
Seth Bornstein left his position as Assistant Dean for Economic Development at LaGuardia Community College to become Executive Director of the Queens Economic Development Office. Bornstein succeeds Spencer Ferdinand there.
And Mark Epstein last month was elected Chairman of the Board of Trustees for The Cooper Union. Epstein, a Vice-Chairman of the board who has been a trustee since 2004, succeeds Dr. Ronald W. Drucker, who is retiring from the board after five years to serve as Chairman Emeritus.