NYU Wagner Welcomes Michael A. Blake as Distinguished Visiting Urbanist
NYU Wagner is delighted to announce that third term New York State Assemblyman, DNC Vice-Chair, and Congressional Candidate in New York’s 15th District, Michael A. Blake, will be our Distinguished Visiting Urbanist for the Fall 2019 semester—bringing a wealth of experience in policy-making, community advocacy, and public service, both on a state and national level, to the classroom.
Born and raised in the Bronx, Blake is the son of Jamaican immigrants. His mother is a retired manufacturer and his late father was a 1199SEIU maintenance supervisor at St. Barnabas Hospital in the borough. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
In early 2007, Blake joined then U.S. Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign as the Iowa Deputy Political Director and Constituency Outreach Director. After the historic win in 2008, President Barack once remarked that he couldn’t have gotten it done without Blake. After the election, Blake went on to work in the Obama Administration as the Associate Director of Public Engagement and Deputy Associate Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. There, he worked to create jobs and economic opportunities in cities across the country. He coordinated outreach with minority and women-owned business enterprises and worked directly with state and county elected officials to help foster better economic policy. His team also fought to end disparities in crack and powdered cocaine sentencing. In 2012, Blake left the White House to take on the role as National Deputy Director of Operation Vote on President Obama’s re-election campaign. Blake and his team on Operation Vote helped President Obama secure the most diverse and expansive winning electorate in American history.
After his executive experience, Blake returned home to the Bronx, ready to serve his community and was elected in 2014 to represent the 79th Assembly District. Throughout his time in office, Blake has led the charge to Raise The Age of criminal responsibility, so that 16- and 17-year-olds are not tried as adults in criminal court. He secured an additional $250 million in funding for New York City public housing (NYCHA). Continuing the work he began in the White House, Blake passed his signature piece of legislation that works to ensure Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) have better access to state contracts and receive payment for services on rapid and reliable timetables.In 2017, Blake was elected to be a Vice-Chair of the Democratic National Committee. In that role, he works to engage a broader and growing electorate of millennials and people of color within our political system. He has a part in crafting the united Democratic agenda that outlines the brighter future the Democrats as a coalition are working to build.
Blake is currently running to represent New York’s 15th Congressional district, hoping, he says, to bring power back to the people of the Bronx and bring BX heart and values to Washington.
Additionally, Blake serves on the Council on Foreign Relations, an Aspen Institute Rodel Fellow, as well as a national Honorary Co-Chair of the New Leaders Council, which has trained more than 7,000 millennials in progressive policies and political organizing.
Blake is a licensed minister in the United Methodist Church and African Methodist Episcopal church. He is on the board for iVOTE, served as a 2016 Resident fellow at the Harvard University Institute of Politics, and was a recent advisory board member for My Brother's Keeper Alliance, where he advanced efforts to create the first and only statewide My Brother's Keeper education program in the country.
From all of us at NYU Wagner – welcome!