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Who We Are

NYC Speaks is a six-month citywide public engagement and people-driven government transformation initiative that is engaging tens of thousands of New Yorkers to inform the priorities and policies of the Eric Adams administration.

The effort, a public-private partnership between the new administration and a growing network of community leaders and civic institutions, is hosted by Goodnation Philanthropy Advisors, managed by HR&A Advisors in partnership with Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright’s team, and backed by some of New York’s largest and most innovative philanthropic organizations, including Ford Foundation, Robin Hood, Open Society Foundations, Trinity Church Wall Street, New York Women’s Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, New York Community Trust, and Education Fund.

The NYC Speaks initiative is committed to being as inclusive as possible along every step of this project. From the creation of the city-wide survey, to organizing Community Conversations based on survey findings, our motto has been: for New Yorkers, by New Yorkers. 

The team behind NYC Speaks is a collection of individuals passionate about our city, working to create opportunities for New Yorkers to get involved in the political process.

Jose Serrano-McClain

Co-Executive Director, NYC Speaks; Partner, HR&A Advisors 

A partner at HR&A Advisors, Jose has expertise in urban innovation, technology policy, and community economic development. He works across the country with municipal governments, economic development organizations, technology companies and foundations that are seeking to transform economies and public infrastructure. His work has included a rigorous focus on the roles that local government, civic participation, and political transitions play in shaping the economy. 

Jose’s past experience includes serving as a Program Director for the NYC Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer, working on economic analysis for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and community organizing on behalf of immigrant communities in Queens, NY. 

Dr. Shango A. Blake

Co-Executive Director, NYC Speaks

Dr. Blake — nationally known as the Hip Hop Principal and president of Black Edfluencers-United (BE-U) is a sought after speaker about issues in urban education and community development. 

As a Principal of a local public school, Dr. Blake saw a profound need to institute drastic and creative changes to his school’s failing health. He initiated a bold and daring self-created project to integrate a conceptualized hip-hop based educational program. As a result of his efforts, his school went from one of the lowest-performing schools in the district to #1 in reading and math. 

Dr. Blake also served as Chair of the Education and Youth Committee of the Million Man March Coordinating Council of Queens,  He has spent over 25 years working to empower communities through social action. Currently, he is the host of a popular educational podcast titled “The Classroom Hip Hop 101 with Dr. Blizzy.”

Dr. Blake has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, People Magazine, 98.7 Kiss FM, The Joey Reynolds Show, WABC Channel 7 News, and WCBS Channel 2 News for his work.

Betsy MacLean

Chief City Implementation Partner 

Betsy MacLean has been engaged in groundbreaking community development work for more than 15 years. In her role as Senior Advisor at the NYC Mayor’s Office, Betsy is leading the newly created Office of Engagement, a vehicle to ensure inclusive, accountable community engagement and government/community collaboration. Before City Hall, Betsy served as Executive Director of Hester Street, a national leader in participatory planning and policy-making to support community-led change.

An urban planner by training, Betsy developed hundreds of affordable homes and spearheaded the community-led design and construction of Brooklyn’s first green public school. Her work has included energy-efficient retrofits, green jobs, a community-operated urban farm, expanded fresh, affordable food access, and the community-driven large-scale re-development of vacant land. Prior to her time in East New York, Betsy created and led a community development program in Cuba, and, before that, worked as a carpenter. She was named to the NY Community Engagement Power 50 in 2021, and was recognized with the NY Housing Conference Public Service Award, the APA Leadership in Housing & Equal Opportunity Award and the Movement Builder Award, among others. Betsy holds master’s degrees in Urban Planning and International Development from Columbia University.

Policy Council

The Policy Council is a collective of community members who have been involved in every step of launching this project—from researching and creating the questions of the survey, to implementing the survey on a city-wide scale. They are everyday New Yorkers from each borough—restaurant owners, artists, religious leaders, teachers, activists, hospital workers, and more.

Arts & Culture

Nicole Duncan-Smith & Rose Guerrier


Ashvini Persaud
Jessica Cruz
Terra Renee
Macc Plaise
Darren (Dax) Fudenske
Stella Magloire
Derek Noel
Ralph McDaniels
Zavier Sabio
Climate & Infrastructure

Terry Banks


Amy Chester
Damaris Reyes
Dianna Rose
Emmanuel Polanco
Karen Imas
Sherwyn James
Ibrahim Abdul-Matin
Economic Vitality & Workforce

Winnie Greco & Jesse Hamilton


Craig Montalbano
Gianna Cerbone
Rizy Horowitz
Ryan Chan
Takbir Blake
Simone Zito
Wai Yee Chan
Sohail Rana
Rhonda Biba
Aissatou Bey-Grecia
Barbara Smith

Education & Youth Development

Marielys Divanne & George Patterson


Kevin Beckford
Nakida Camille
Rodney Pride
Ron Naclerio
Ronald Hartridge
Shonte Armstrong
Stanley Ng
Ama Karikari
Aminah Lucio
Danny Swersky
David Adams
Debbie Almontaser
Houdda Balouch
James Passantino
Keturah Hardy
Equity & Racial Justice

Adrienne Felton & Megha Jain Marsimhamurthy


Allyson Martinez
John Mancuso
Michelle Winder
Dr. Rev. Terry Troia
Health & Wellbeing

Dr. Bindu Babu & Kathleen Daniel


Ajini Cherian
Azania Maitland
Christine Perumal
Janice Desir
Natoushka Trenard
Vinod Karavally
Housing & Neighborhoods

Albert Culler


Sharon Sweeting-Lindsey
Vanessa Pettiford
GIgi Li
Janine Saulsbury
Manuel Martinez
Nacole Grogan
Noel Ellison
Public Safety

Ben Burgess & Sharmayne Jenkins


Andre Ward
Dewey Fong
Sharon White-Harrigan

Community Data Partners

Our Community Data partners were our team members on the ground – individuals from a wide variety of community organizations who were canvassing across priority neighborhoods and helping people fill this survey out online, in order to make it accessible to as many New Yorkers as possible.

NY Communities for ChangeBrooklyn
Using Positive InitiativesBronx
Uptown Grand CentralManhattan
Brooklyn Level Up (BKLVLUP)Brooklyn
Hood TherapyQueens
Parents Supporting Parents NYManhattan
Real Dads NetworkQueens
Chinatown Block WatchManhattan
Project HospitalityStaten Island
Chinese Business Association of NYQueens
Nacole Grogan (Policy Council)Queens
Homecrest Community ServicesBrooklyn
Mujeres en MovimientoQueens
Parent-Child Relationship AssociationBrooklyn
United Chinese Association of BrooklynBrooklyn
Brooklyn Ballers Sports Youth & CorpBrooklyn
CGE LabQueens
Coney Island Council NYCBrooklyn
Crystal DavidQueens & Bushwick

Who supports this initiative?

NYC Speaks is an independent initiative funded by the Goodnation Foundation, an IRS 501(c)(3) organization, and managed by HR&A Advisors, a mission-driven, employee-owned urban planning and economic development consulting firm based in NYC.

The initiative is also convening philanthropic institutions such as the Ford Foundation, Robin Hood Foundation, Galaxy Gives, Trinity Church Wall Street Philanthropies, Education Fund, Carnegie Corporation of New York, New York Women’s Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and New York Community Trust.

Project Partners

NYC Speaks is partnering with a robust network of civic and community-based organizations to co-lead this process. In addition to the community-based organizations listed above, NYC Speaks is working in partnership with Hester Street, an urban planning, design and development nonprofit working to ensure neighborhoods are shaped by the people who live in them. 


Photos representing NYC Speaks are from our friends at Hester Street, the NYC Mayor’s Office, and from our on-the-ground Community Data Partners.

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