First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright: Good morning. Good morning. We clearly have… Good morning. Good morning. As you can see, today is a very exciting announcement. My name is Sheena Wright. I’m the first deputy mayor. And we are, as Ana told me to say, buenos días.
I am now the first deputy mayor, but as you know, I had the honor of serving as the deputy mayor for Strategic Initiatives at the beginning of this administration. I will tell you, the position is demanding, but incredibly rewarding. And what makes it rewarding, it’s a unique role in this administration that has the huge opportunity to make a significant impact in the difference in lives of everyday New Yorkers.
Whether it’s working with the next generation of change makers, and in managing the Department of Youth and Community Development, the great work that it will continue to do with Summer Rising, summer youth employment. Working with CUNY or the Mayor’s Office of Childcare and Early Education, which was recently established, which has a big vision to remake and reform the early education system for the City of New York. The Mayor’s Office of Food Policy, which is a major priority of this mayor. In case you didn’t notice, it is a huge, huge body of work. The newly created Mayor’s Office of Equity, which is really breaking ground in many ways in the city. The Mayor’s Office of Nonprofit Engagement, that I know it’s in the house, which is incredibly important. The Mayor’s Fund, and the list goes on and on.
Ana, you are going to be very busy. So kiss [inaudible] goodbye. And these are incredibly important initiatives. And I really know firsthand what this role means. That’s why we are so proud and so pleased to welcome Ana to a sisterhood of deputy mayors as well as our… And strong women leaders across the administration. And with that, I want to introduce our chief advisor, one of the strongest women we’ve got, Ingrid Lewis-Martin.
Ingrid Lewis-Martin, Chief Advisor to the Mayor: Buenos días. And Ana didn’t have to tell me to say that because I am a proud member of the Afro-Latina family. Yes. So we are really happy today. I’m thrilled and delighted to bring remarks about a woman who has become a sister to me in a very short space of time. You know who I am? I’m the chief advisor to the mayor, a chaplain. Many of you know my journey with the mayor. It’s a long one. I was with him in all of his administrations. And one thing about this mayor is that in every administration, he has always found quality women to put in leadership positions. Yes, he deserves a hand for that.
For the record, in case you don’t know it, there are actually more women in New York City than men. Yes, there are. And in leadership, our administration reflects that information, and it’s important. As the Brooklyn borough president… I’ll go back. As a New York state senator in our office, he had the most diverse office in the State Senate and the most women in leadership positions in the State Senate. As the Brooklyn borough president, he was actually cited by our public advocate as having, again, the most women in his administration. Not only did he have the most women in his administration, we were the highest paid women in the City of New York.
So our principal understands the importance of bringing together qualified, talented, strong, brilliant women in leadership positions in government. He understands that, and he does just that. He also understands that a lot of times, women are underrated, second guessed, and discounted. This administration helps to put an end to that. It does.
As someone who participated directly in the interview and hiring process of our next deputy mayor of Strategic Initiatives, DMSI, as we will call her because we have nicknames. We have a COS, a FDM, a CA. We have initials that we use. It was obvious to me, in a very short space of time, who the ideal choice was. All of the candidates, every last single one of the candidates, were formidable.
However, our next DMSI stood out. She had a level of sensitivity that’s needed for this particular position. She’s an immigrant. Her story as an immigrant is captivating. And I am positive that once you hear from her and you hear her story, that you, too, will be as impressed with her as we were. She cares about all that she does. She has an illustrious history of giving back. She worked in government for many years and in the private sector, in the non-for-profit [inaudible] specific.
So I am thrilled and delighted today that we are bringing in another sister, an Afro-Latina sister, a sister that gets it. Yes. A sister who will work in partnership with all of the other women in this administration. She has a proven track record, wonderful track record. But I have to say this: women, women, and more women, chief of staff, five female deputy mayors, five commissioner, police commissioner, sanitation commissioner, commissioner of DCAS, yours truly, me, and the list goes on. So we are blessed. We are excited beyond measure that another woman, a sister, again, an Afro-Latina sister, is once again being added to our administration. And she will serve us well. So welcome aboard, Ana. [Speaks in Spanish.] My sister.
And you may have noticed that our chief of staff, another one of our sisters, isn’t here with us. She could not be here with us because she had other obligations, but she asked me to read something on her behalf, and I’m honored and humbled to do it.
“Morning, everyone. I wish I could be here to show my support for a former colleague and now proud member of this administration, who the mayor will soon name our next deputy mayor for strategic initiatives. In my work in state government, I saw firsthand a clear demonstration of this person’s skillset” — She said “this person” because we weren’t supposed to say her name, but since her name has already been shared, I’m just letting you know why — “skillset, and most importantly, her character that has prepared her for the role of deputy mayor for Strategic Initiatives. A tenacity, a drive, and a deep sense of care for the people you will serve.”
“She knew how to master the art of government, delivering vital services to New Yorkers most in need, and was a trusted colleague in both moments of crises and calm. Make no mistake though, her experience goes well beyond government, with decades of exposure and an expertise across also the private and nonprofit sector. She brings a wealth of cross-sector knowledge into a position where you need to be able to navigate swiftly, both internally and externally. She is well prepared to follow on the behalf of all New Yorkers…” My mistake, “She’s well prepared to deliver on behalf of all New Yorkers and move our city forward. I’m excited to have her join this team and to call her a colleague once again, and welcome her to the get stuff done administration.” And that was our chief of staff, Camille, who could not be here today. And she loves you and she asked me to give you a hug. So I’m going to do it.
First Deputy Mayor Wright: Thank you so much, Ingrid, and that certainly speaks for all of us. And as much as we appreciate all of the strong women, we do appreciate the men as well. And so with that, I’d like to introduce our mayor, Mayor Eric Adams.
Mayor Eric Adams: I’m glad you said that so these men don’t feel bad. But also if I can, Penelope, would you come up and stand next to us? Come stand next to us, all right? Because this is your moment. You’re going to remember this, trust me. This is just really an exciting moment. And I think that what is really something that is going to be kind to this administration in history when we reflect on this administration, even during the midst of crisis, just think about it from Covid, to the migrant asylum seeker crisis, to making sure our ferries are running correctly, to public safety, to dealing with important decisions we are going to have to make around our budget issue. Item after item after item, and all the incoming that this administration gets thrown at it all the time of running the most important city on the globe.
You just never see this administration cracks or buckles. They’re fearless because all of them had to manage difficult moments all their lives. There’s something about a woman’s ability to manage a multitude of things, and at the same time keep forging ahead in innovative ways of just getting things done. And so I’m surrounded by a people who probably would have been looked over in high governmental positions because the criterias that others use to bring on leadership is different from mine. And it’s going to be a while before people get it. But while they’re getting it, I’m going to get stuff done with the leadership that I have.
And these firsts are so important, and don’t get it mixed up. Being first does not mean we’re just trying to check a box. We took our time and we looked over many resumes, we interviewed many people to make sure we were able to get it right. But it means so much to me that I have the first Indian American to be a deputy mayor, Amir Josie, as she manages our multitude of infrastructure projects.
Every time I walk in a room with my AAPI community and I’m able to talk about the dynamic and fantastic Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer, the first Filipino American to hold this position. And when I made the decision of these important areas that I wanted to address, I went to someone that I trust who led my team bringing in the talent with Sheena Wright as the first DMSI and now the first deputy mayor. Everyone knows the long relationship I’ve had with my chief advisor who has advised me on all of my campaigns and has basically been there for me, my right hand in government. These are real people who are doing real things, helping real New Yorkers.
And to add to this was a conversation that I had. One of the first people I spoke with was my good brother, Congressman Espaillat. I told them what my needs were, the balance, my balance of showing the diversity that was important to this city, but bringing the right talent. The talent based on my definition. Don’t tell me about being academically smart if you’re not emotionally intelligent. I want both. And I said that from day one of my administration. He brought me several different names and we looked over them, the team looked over them, and we assembled a rail system of betting on who was going to meet both criterias. We looked far and wide. We did not allow votings to be done because with Ana’s nine siblings, they would have outvoted anyone. But we wanted to make sure the balance that we need, that portfolio.
That Deputy Mayor Wright went over, they’re at the heart of what’s important to me. Healthy food. How do we really help our nonprofits? They have been denied for so many years and we wanted to make sure they receive the support that they deserve. Our mayor’s fund, which is cruise [inaudible]. We saw how important it was after the fire in the Bronx to be able to step up and administer the resources that were needed.
And so today, I’m proud as we bring on board the new member of our team who’s really coming with a wealth of experience, dedication, and her story speaks for itself. We’re announcing New York City’s next deputy mayor for Strategic Initiatives, Ana Almanzar.
And I want to thank her family and friends and I really wanted her mom to be standing next to her as we did this. I always wanted my mother to be there when I was sworn into mayor. I carried her photo.
But Ana’s story and her mother’s story of raising 10 children who are all contributors to our society and what she represents and what it means. This is an American story. These mothers watch their children go on to great heights, but we don’t realize what it takes to be a mommy and just want the best for their children and family. And that’s what she did, and I’m just so proud of her mother. All of Ana’s siblings are just prominent in their own right. And here you have a woman who speak little English but can communicate from her heart. And now we are seeing the benefits of that.
And the beauty of this country and my role as mayor, I am not the mayor for only English speakers. I’m the mayor for every language in this city. And we are really the example for the entire country that you can come to this country and work hard, instill the values of family in your children. And no matter how challenging it is, you can arrive at the position of being the deputy mayor of one of the most important city on the globe. Man, that’s an American story if I ever heard one.
And so before I get into Ana’s long, impressive set of accomplishments, I want to acknowledge our whole team here, many of them are behind us of in what we are going to accomplish from leading what we have done from leading the historic childcare blueprint of what First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright did in this role, and included securing billions around childcare, helping launch my city and clearing the ACS voucher wait list. She unlocked over $4.5 billion for New York City’s nonprofits in the first few weeks in office and she oversaw a major expansion of our summer youth employment program. First time 100,000 young people. The summarizing program that she oversaw as well, she set a high bar for this role, created historic partnership to solve major challenges for everyday New Yorkers.
And I remember when I appointed her to deputy mayor Strategic Initiative, people said, “Well, she never worked in government before.”And I said, “That’s the plus.” That’s the plus. Because there’s been a lot of professional governmental officials that have been in place and still 40 percent of the young people or men and women on Rikers Island are dyslexic. There’s been a lot of people that worked in government and we had a real housing crisis. A lot of people worked in government, and we were unable to educate our children. I think it’s time now to start looking outside of government to have, not those who don’t believe, but those who do believe, and Sheena lived up to that, and I’m proud that she’s now my first deputy mayor.
This is an important time, I should say, and it’s an important time to have someone like Ana now in this position. For more than a decade, Ana has built bridges between nonprofits and government. Most recently, she served as a director of community relations at the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, where she led work to improve health outcomes in diverse communities. This is something we must tackle. Health is wealth and health brings prosperity. Before that, she was chief of staff to the New York State Interagency Coordinator for Nonprofits. In this role, she spearheaded media campaigns across the state, oversaw a $25 million poverty reduction initiative, and helped expand the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative to more than 15 cities.
Early in her career, she worked with the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, engaging members of the Latino community in the making process. She has gotten a lot done in her career. She has helped a lot of New Yorkers, but in this administration, it’s not just about what you’ve done, it’s also about who you are. Ana knows how to get stuff done for New Yorkers because her story looks like the stories of so many New Yorkers. Family moved from Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, in search of the American dream.
She’s a proud CUNY alumni. Dedicated her life to serving others. The agencies that she’s going to be in charge of have been often overlooked, but they’re important to the infrastructure of our city. She’s joining an administration, New Yorkers, that look like New York City, and she’s a strong Latina, and her representation is such an important part of our city. We are so proud to have her as the first Dominican to serve in the role as the deputy mayor. And Ana continues in this administration’s tradition of leadership by strong women, side by side with the men that understand, we are part of the men who gets it club.
We have to do it together and leave no one behind. And Ana, you are more than prepared to take on this challenge and I can’t work to work with you. I can’t wait to work with the team as we continue to get stuff done for New Yorkers during these most difficult times where so many things are happening at once, but we wake up every day excited and thankful that we have the obligation to do what’s best for New Yorkers, and we don’t run away from the problems. Winners want the ball when the game is on the line, and right now we have a real winner that we are going to turn the ball over to because the game is on the line and she will score. Thank you. Ana, congratulations.
Deputy Mayor Ana Almanzar, Strategic Initiatives: Wow. What a beautiful room. Not just the architecture, everyone here. Good morning, everyone, and thank you, Mr. Mayor, for that introduction. Thank you. Thank you, Chief Advisor Ingrid for the beautiful word. And to the First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright, for that beautiful, beautiful remarks. [Speaks in Spanish.] I am thrilled to be the next deputy mayor for such unique initiatives. Thank you. And I’m short. [Laughter.]
My New York story started when I was 17-years-old and immigrated to Bushwick, Brooklyn from the Dominican Republic. Brooklyn indeed. Growing up in the Dominican Republic, every Dominican learns about three things: faith, baseball, and politics. My family knew the importance of our strong faith, the value of public service, and the significance of staying civically engaged. As a child, they showed me the meaning of hard work that fuels me to this day. My dad was the definition of hard work. He never needed an alarm clock because he said his body always knew when to get up and work. My mother pushed me and, yes, my nine siblings, to strive for excellence. She never, never let us waver, especially when things got hard, as they often do.
When we arrived to the U.S., we came seeking not just the American dream, but the New York City dream. I came here not knowing one word of English and working in a factory to help my family. However, thanks to the support from my nonprofit in Brooklyn, El Puente, in Williamsburg where I enrolled in an adult learning class, I was able to learn English and eventually become a proud CUNY graduate.
It is the lived experience that I bring to this role. I know firsthand the value of a CUNY degree, the local nonprofits that lend a hand and the fundamental role government can play in providing opportunities. It was a service that I received, both from the public and nonprofit sectors that turned my American New York City dream into a reality. Now, I am fortunate, as the mayor mentioned and so did the first deputy mayor, to be overseeing the very agencies and offices that helped me reach this moment.
Professionally, and as the mayor mentioned earlier, I bring to this position over two decades of experience. But on all public, private, and nonprofit sectors, I spent six years as a chief of staff to the New York State Nonprofit Interagency Coordinator for nonprofit — I messed that up, I’m going to go back and say it again — supporting the sector and providing oversight for a $25 million Poverty Reduction Initiative. I also saw the rollout of that program, and as the mayor mentioned, that expanded to 15 cities. Before that, I worked at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, NALEO Educational Fund, mobilizing Latinos to become civically engaged in American politics and executing grassroots campaigns.
Finally, before taking this role, I work with Mother Cabrini Health Foundation to deliver — there we go — to deliver critically-needed healthcare funding to underserved communities. I want to end by thanking my family, my loved ones who helped me reach this moment in my life and who has supported me through my journey. Through my friends, there are so many, it is hard to count, and I had nine siblings, so counting, I know how to do. But to Jenny, who’s here today, to K. Sjodin, to Shannon, to Myra, to Jennifer, and to [inaudible] and to Angela, who’s right behind us, you have gone above and beyond to support me in my career. And to my dear friend, Dr. Rosa Gil, thank you. Oh, I promised my sister I won’t do it. To my nine siblings, to my nieces, to my nephews, every day you inspire me to do better, to be better. [Speaks in Spanish.] We all wish Papi was here today. To my beloved husband, thank you for your unconditional support. You made my world better.
This role is personal to me. I want New Yorkers to know that you have an immigrant Latina who came to this city with a dream, who work in the service industry, whose first degree is from Hostos Community College, a proud CUNY school, and who understands firsthand the role government can and must play to work for hardworking people. I want to express my excitement to Mayor Adams, my excitement to continue my New York City story to Mayor Adams and the amazing group of women leading this administration, from our first deputy mayor to our chief advisor, to my fellow deputy, deputy mayors, as well as our chief of staff who’s not with us today. I want to express that excitement because I cannot wait along you to get stuff done.
Thank you, y muchisimas gracias. And as my mom just said, the American dream, the New York City dream is still alive, and it is still well. Thank you.
Mayor Adams: I don’t see her, but I know she’s around, our Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom, who has just really, really navigated many of the social service aspects of the city. We want to… Our final speaker is just real, a friend and a pioneer himself, who… First Dominican congressman from here. And I think of his story all the time, sitting in the classroom as a child, not able to speak English but just continue to move forward. He’s just a real friend and advisor on so many of these issues. And I know this is a proud moment for you, and I want to bring on my friend Congressman Adriano Espaillat.
U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat: Thank you. Thank you, Mayor Adams, not only for getting the job done, but for keeping your word. You said that you would take on crime, and crime is going down. And in the 34 Precinct, which used to unfortunately average over a hundred homicides in the 80s and 90s. Today there’s zero homicides. Even with all the obstacles and hurdles, you have completed the mission and continue the mission of the city to be a beacon of hope, an opportunity for immigrants. We thank you for that. Thank you.
And you pledged to have a diverse administration that reflected the composition of the City of New York. And led by women, once again, you have kept your word by bringing yet another capable woman as a deputy mayor this time, the first Dominican American deputy mayor in the City of New York. Thank you. Thank you for keeping your word, and to Ana and her family. The mayor spoke about his love for his mom. Many of you know my mom, the love that I have for her. She’s never short of an opinion either. But to see your mom here and your family here makes this a majestic moment. It makes this a New York City moment. It makes this a historical moment, and it is an act that will strengthen the fabric of the city to bring an immigrant woman from Brooklyn. I wish she would’ve been from Washington Heights. It would’ve been a perfect story if she came from Washington Heights. But such is life…
That’s true. I bet you you’re from Brooklyn too. But we’re so happy to have Ana as a deputy mayor and to bring her skills to this city, this great city that provides, continues to be. If it was the 1960s, I would say, or 70, a factory of dreams. But it’s an incubator of opportunities, right ,ayor? And so we will continue to work with your administration, and we will work with Ana at the federal level to ensure that we do better for the City of New York. But we want to remember today as a majestic moment put forward by a mayor that not only gets things done, but that keeps his work. Thank you.
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