Tag Archives: Chirlane McCray

EXCLUSIVE: City’s first lady talks with The Courier about education, mental health

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Calling Queens “a model” of what New York City can be, the city’s first lady Chirlane McCray outlined her efforts to expand education and mental health programs in an exclusive interview with The Courier.

McCray sat down with Courier Publisher Victoria Schneps-Yunis following an open forum in Kew Gardens on mental health issues affecting Queens residents on Monday. She and her husband, Mayor Bill de Blasio, have made a concerted effort toward focusing on mental health issues and breaking down barriers preventing New Yorkers in need from obtaining access to appropriate care.

Providing residents with proper access to mental health services and other basic needs is essential to a healthy city both in mind and body, yet many New Yorkers have been deprived of them in recent years, according to McCray.

“Having the resources to have a roof over your head, access to food, clean air, arts, physical education, so many other things we consider common sense and basic, yet we take them away,” she said. “When you strip them away from a community, what do you expect to happen?”

McCray stressed the importance of the city not only providing basic services to its residents but also using programs to develop role models for the city’s youth.

“There are so many” mentoring programs “but we need more,” she said. “Through the Mayor’s Fund, we have instituted a youth employment center” powered through donations from local businesses which provide “jobs for young people.”

“But it’s not just jobs,” McCray added. “It’s internships and mentoring young people year-round. We’ve doubled the number of jobs since last year, and we want to do even more in the coming months.”

The city is also expanding its mental health resources through special clinics aimed at helping 62,000 students in need. The universal pre-kindergarten (UPK) also plays a critical role in a child’s mental health and long-term education, she noted.

“One of the reasons why pre-K is so important is to reach the children early,” McCray said. “We want children to be assessed, evaluated early because if they have challenges in the classroom, they’re not going to get the kind of education they need.”

The first lady also noted that the NYPD is receiving additional resources not just to tackle crime, but also to address the mental health needs of crime victims.

“We’ve actually put money into making sure that in every precinct, there will be someone trained in” handling domestic violence cases “and working with victims,” McCray said. “We’ve never had that before.”

This effort, she remarked, will help develop “a different kind of relationship” between the NYPD and the communities it serves.

The full interview can be viewed below.



New York City’s first lady joins students at Hollis school for MLK Day activities

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Dozens of determined kids and the first lady of New York City spent Martin Luther King Jr. Day making peace quilts and writing letters to American soldiers overseas.

Chirlane McCray dropped into workshops being held in the junior high school, Susan B. Anthony Academy, mingling with pre-teens and discussing King’s emphasis on education.

“We pray that you are safe on this day,” McCray read aloud from the letter she had written to  American soldiers. “As Martin Luther King said, ‘When it is darkest, that is when we see the stars.’”

In honor of King, Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation hosted workshops for schoolchildren across New York City to create peace quilts and participate in other activities. On a day when most students relaxed at home, dozens of 11-,12- and 13-year-olds came to their school in Hollis on Monday.

“I wanted to come here today instead of just sitting at home doing nothing,” said Manuel Moreno, a seventh-grader who has been with the foundation program for a year to get help with math. “I’m getting more knowledge here and they teach us how to control ourselves.”

The foundation holds after-school workshops for students, who spend their time working on homework and subjects that they have difficulty with. With school out of session on Monday, the students spent the day on activities meant to reflect King’s ideals.

McCray spoke with children as they wrote letters to soldiers, among other activities. One student asked McCray if she liked her job.

“When I get to spend my day with kids like you, it’s the best,” she said.


De Blasio picks wife to head The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Mayor Bill de Blasio did not need to look far to make his next appointment.

De Blasio named his wife, Chirlane McCray, as chairwoman of The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City Thursday.

“I can’t think of anyone with a better grasp of the core mission of this administration than my wife and partner, Chirlane,” the mayor said. “The Fund is an exciting opportunity to offer vital support to worthy projects and causes across the city, and I know Chirlane will help direct the Fund’s resources to shine a light on communities and families in need.”

The job, heading up the 20-year-old nonprofit organization, which facilitates innovative public-private partnerships throughout city’s five boroughs, is a voluntary, unpaid position.

Supporting programs in range of areas including the environment, youth development, financial empowerment, health, volunteerism and the arts, the organization had an annual budget of $37 million in 2012, according to the mayor’s office.

“My mission is to help families get the support they need. No matter how much they earn or what zip code they call home, I want them to have access to the same kind of resources my family depended on,” McCray said.





De Blasio sworn in as 109th mayor of New York City

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos via NYC Mayor's Office Flickr/Official Photos by New York City Mayor's Office

Updated 1:30 p.m.

The Bloomberg era has ended and the de Blasio administration has begun.

New York City’s 109th mayor, Bill de Blasio, was sworn in during a ceremony at his Park Slope, Brooklyn home just after midnight Wednesday, followed by a formal inauguration on the steps of City Hall later that day.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman officiated the New Year’s Eve oath of office, which was also attended by the mayor’s wife Chirlane McCray, daughter Chiara and son Dante.

“From the beginning, this has been our family together reaching out to the people of this city to make a change that we all needed. I want to thank you for having brought us to this moment,” de Blasio said after taking the oath in front of his home.

“To everyone this is the beginning of a road we will travel together,” he added.

Former President Bill Clinton swore in de Blasio on the steps of City Hall with a bible once owned by former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

De Blasio previously served as a regional director in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton administration and managed Hillary Clinton’s 2000 U.S. Senate campaign. Both endorsed de Blasio for mayor in the general election.

Before administering the oath, Clinton said it had been a “great joy” for his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and him to see de Blasio’s progress “because he has served with such passion and because he represents with his family the future of our city and the future of our country.”

Telling New Yorkers “our work begins today,” in his inauguration speech de Blasio pledged to expand the pay sick leave law, require big developers to build affordable housing, stem the tide of hospital closures, reform a broken stop-and-frisk policy and ask the wealthy to pay a little more in taxes to provide universal, full-day pre-k and after-school programs for middle schoolers.

“We won’t wait, we’’ll do it now,” he said.

“Let me be clear: When I said I would take dead aim at the tale of two cities, I meant it. And we will do it.” he added.

A thousand tickets were reserved for the general public to attend the public swearing-in ceremony, with de Blasio pledging that it would be an “inauguration for all New Yorkers.”

Several dozen New Yorkers from across the city were additionally invited to join the mayor on stage. The group included a Queens engineer who emigrated from Bangladesh, according to de Blasio.

Mayor de Blasio takes the subway with his family to his City Hall inauguration.

Queens resident and the 2014 New York City Youth Poet Laureate, Ramya Ramana, read an original poem at the inauguration, which she dedicated to de Blasio.

Ramana, a first generation Indian-American, grew up in the borough and recently won the New York Knicks’ Poetry scholarship to St. John’s University, where she is a first-year student, according to the mayor.

Letitia James, who is succeeding de Blasio as public advocate was also sworn in at City Hall Wednesday. The councilmember is the first woman of color to hold citywide office. Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President since 2006, was sworn in as city comptroller, replacing John Liu.



De Blasio to be sworn in at Brooklyn home in private ceremony

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Bill de Blasio will ring in the New Year in his Park Slope home by being officially sworn in as the 109th mayor of New York City.

As is tradition, the swearing in will take place during an intimate ceremony just after midnight on Jan. 1. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will officiate,  de Blasio announced Monday night.

The private event will be attended by the incoming mayor’s wife Chirlane McCray, daughter Chiara and son Dante.

The public can watch the event live online at NYC.gov, and photos will be posted to the Mayor’s Office Flickr page.

“We are excited to share this important moment with the people of New York,” said de Blasio. “From live-streaming the midnight swearing-in to reserving tickets for the general public to the ceremony at City Hall, Inauguration 2014 will be open and accessible to people from across the five boroughs.”

De Blasio will be sworn in later that day in a public ceremony at City Hall by former President Bill Clinton.