All kidding aside, Newark's Mayor Booker relates his policy challenges and success
In a public conversation at NYU Wagner before more than 125 students, Newark, N.J., Mayor Corey Booker offered hard-won insight, progress reports and humor in describing how his administration's strategies to reduce recidivism are contributing to broad civic improvement.
Mayor Booker fielded questions October 8, 2009, about his pattern-breaking efforts from Ellen Schall, Dean of Wagner, and the audience on a day when, as it happened, he was attracting national attention for countering quips delivered by TV talk-show host Conan O'Brien at Newark's expense. The mayor told students that New Jersey's largest city is simply "not the butt of jokes," but conceded that matching O'Brien laugh-for-laugh is no easy challenge.
But Booker had the audience chuckling at several points, even as he described serious and substantial efforts since his election in July, 2006, to set a national standard for urban transformation. He noted he has created several public/private partnerships and brought together civic group to rehabilitate and green the city's parks and playgrounds, doubled affordable housing construction, and set up model programs to assist at-risk youth and empower ex-offenders to thrive in meeting their family obligations.
Booker said with evident pride that only 3 percent of the ex-offenders who participated in an innovative fraternity on fatherhood begun by the city two years ago have been re-arrested, showing that carefully tailored programs can end a publicly and personally tragic cycle of recidivism. He said he calls the fatherhood program DADS, or Delta Alpha Delta Sigma, he joked. He hopes that by working to bring proven business analytical measurements and operational management techniques to the city administration, such efforts will be scaled up and replicated elsewhere. "Most cities," he said, "don't have a mature prisoner-reentry system."
The 39-year-old Mayor Booker said he's working to turn the city's well-regarded charter schools -- currently overseen by Wagner alumnus De'Shawn Wright -- "from "islands of excellence to hemispheres of hope." With the help of philanthropic organizations and researchers, transferring the Newark charters' formula for high achievement to the rest of the 45,000-student school system is achievable, he said.
"Hopelessness is probably one of the worst toxins in any city, it's a cancer, and it really undermines what you're trying to do," said the mayor. But in referring to his deepening involvement in public service, he then added, "It hasn't been easy, but it's been so rewarding."
The evening event was sponsored by The NYU Wagner Students for Criminal Justice Reform and The Black Allied Law Students Association.
Alumnus an Honoree in Crain's "40 Under 40" List of Up and Comers
The annual “40 Under 40” issue of Crain’s New York for 2015 honors NYU Wagner alumnus Gary Rodney (MUP 1999). As President of the New York City Housing Development Corp., Rodney is at the forefront of carrying out Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pledge to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over 10 years. Don't miss the profile.
Alumnus Jayson Browder Discusses His New Endeavor, Veterans4Diplomacy
NYU Wagner alumnus Jayson Browder (Global Executive MPA, 2015) was a recent guest interviewee at Carnegie New Leaders, a membership program for young professionals from a range of fields who wish to engage in a dialogue on ethics and international affairs.
A Presidential Management Fellow at The White House, Jayson discussed Veterans4Diplomacy (V4D), his new venture to help student veterans to develop into the next generation of American foreign policy leaders. The inaugural V4D class (2015) is made up of seven graduate and seven undergraduate students with an average combined GPA of 3.7. They represent nine universities, come from four branches of service, and have earned a total of 34 commendation medals, including Bronze Stars, Purple Hearts, and Joint Service Medals.
Jayson previously served as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Turkey assigned as a U.S. Cultural Ambassador to the province of Bayburt with the goal of promoting cross-cultural awareness. Additionally, he worked as an adjunct academic faculty member, providing research on the Syrian conflict, Turkish and Iranian relations, and U.S. foreign policy at Bayburt University.
Before leaving for the Fulbright, Jayson was a Military Advisor to U.S. Congressman Beto O'Rourke and an Adjunct Junior Fellow at the American Security Project. His analysis on national security and foreign policy issues has been published in numerous media and think tank organizations such as the Carnegie Council, Asia Times, NPR, Foreign Policy Journal, Partnership for a Secure America, and Truman National Security Project. He proudly served in the United States Air Force.
Alumnus Wins National Public Service Award
NYU Wagner alumnus David Smith (MPA, '76) has won a prestigious 2008 National Public Service Award from the American Society of Public Administration (ASPA) and the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) for excellence in public service at all levels of government. Smith is the County Administrator, Maricopa County, Arizona.
ASPA and NAPA established the National Public Service Awards in 1983 to honor individuals whose accomplishments are models of sustained public service within and outside the work environment.