A Post-COVID Bronx: What have we Learned and what does the Future Look Like?

August 12, 2020  
5:00PM - 6:00PM
Event Description

Join us for a webinar discussing the Bronx.  The borough had the city’s highest rates of virus cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Topics to be discussed include:

•The new wave of younger, progressive elected officials of color

•The retirements and electoral losses of much of the Bronx’s old guard

•Strengths and weaknesses of the borough’s health care system, exposed by the crisis

•Concerns of gentrification and displacement in the South Bronx

•The Bronx Bus Redesign - is it enough to improve commuting speeds?

•The effect of the loss of the Yankees and NYCFC seasons on the economy

Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson
Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson proudly represents the Bronx’s 16th Council District. As the West Bronx’s voice at City Hall, she passionately advocates for affordable housing, low income families, seniors, job creation, and meaningful opportunities for our youth. During the 2014-2017 session, Gibson served as Chair of the Council’s Committee on Public Safety, and has the distinction of being both the first woman and first person of color to hold this role. As Chair, she had oversight of the operations and budget of NYPD, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the District Attorneys and the Special Narcotics prosecutor, and Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. Gibson has been a leader in school safety reform, championed criminal justice reform legislation, and is a vocal proponent of anti-gun violence programs. Under her leadership, the Council was able to secure funds necessary to expand the NYPD’s headcount almost 1300 officers in FY16, and expand the DAs baselined budgetary allocation by over $21 million in FY17, with over half of the money going to the historically underfunded boroughs of the Bronx and Staten Island. Currently, Gibson is a Deputy Leader and Chairs the Subcommittee on Capital Budget where she helps oversee the City’s capital investments.
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark
Darcel Denise Clark became the 13th District Attorney for Bronx County on January 1, 2016. She is the first woman in that position and the first African-American woman to be elected a District Attorney in New York State. She was re-elected to a second term in 2019. District Attorney Clark’s mission is “Pursuing Justice with Integrity,” and in fulfilling that mission she has restructured the Bronx District Attorney’s Office to reflect 21st Century prosecution, focusing on fairness to defendants, assistance for victims, crime prevention and community outreach. She enacted the Vertical Prosecution model, created a Conviction Integrity Unit, a Professional Responsibility Bureau, a Public Integrity Bureau, and established a Rikers Island Prosecution Bureau to decrease violence and corruption in the jails. District Attorney Clark pioneered initiatives such as the Overdose Avoidance and Recovery Program that diverts low-level offenders at risk of opioid overdose directly into treatment, and Bronx Community Justice, which involves “circles” of community volunteers who resolve petty crimes with offenders outside of the criminal justice system. Prior to her election, District Attorney Clark served as an Associate Justice for the NYS Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department; a NYS Supreme Court Justice in Bronx County; and a Criminal Court Judge in Bronx and New York Counties. She spent more than 16 years on the bench. District Attorney Clark is a lifelong Bronx, New York resident, raised in public housing and educated in public schools. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Boston College, where she serves as a member of the Board of Trustees, and earned her law degree at the Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C. District Attorney Clark returned home in 1986 to begin her legal career at the Bronx District Attorney’s Office. She prosecuted drug felonies, violent crimes and homicides. District Attorney Clark served as a Supervising ADA in the Narcotics Bureau and the Deputy Chief of the Criminal Court Bureau. In 1999, she left the Office for her first judicial post. District Attorney Clark is a Vice President of the National District Attorneys Association and a Board member of the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York. She is also a member of Prosecutors Against Gun Violence. She frequently addresses national and local legal organizations, including the American Bar Association, the National Black Prosecutors Association and the New York State and New York City Bar Associations, on a range of criminal justice topics.
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz
Jeffrey Dinowitz was elected to the New York State Assembly to represent the 81st Assembly District in the Bronx on February 15, 1994. He led a team of reformers that swept into party* office in 1986 and built a strong and vibrant party* in the 81st A.D. The district includes Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Van Cortlandt Village, Kingsbridge Heights, Marble Hill, Norwood, Woodlawn and Wakefield. Assemblyman Dinowitz chairs the Assembly Committee on Judiciary. He also serves on the Rules, Health and Election Law committees. He previously chaired the Committees on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, Consumer Affairs and Protection, Aging, and Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. He is an outspoken supporter of addressing historic funding inequities in New York’s public education system by increasing aid to New York City schools. Assemblyman Dinowitz has authored numerous laws. Among those laws are the Anti-Human Trafficking Act of 2007 and National Popular Vote. Jeffrey Dinowitz believes elected officials should pay particular attention to neighborhood issues and individual constituent problems. His district office has helped thousands of people cut through government red tape with city, state and federal agencies. Whether it was leading the fight against the multi-billion dollar boondoggle water filtration plant, helping to spearhead the creation of a business improvement district in Kingsbridge or being a major force in the creation of two new middle/high schools in Riverdale and Kingsbridge, Assemblyman Dinowitz has always been outspoken on every issue important to his constituents. He has represented his community in a number of political capacities. He was elected as a State Committeeman* in 1978 and served as a District Leader* from 1986 to 1994. He served as a Delegate to his party’s* National Convention in 1980, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 and Chair of his party’s* County Committee in the Bronx from 2008 to 2016. Born in 1954, Jeffrey Dinowitz has lived in the Bronx all of his life. He is a graduate of Brooklyn Law School, Herbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New York, the Bronx High School of Science and Bronx public schools. He has been married to Sylvia Gottlieb since 1978. They have two children and four grandchildren. Prior to his election to the Assembly he served as an Administrative Law Judge for the State of New York.
Ruben Diaz, Jr.
Bronx Borough President
Ruben Diaz Jr. first entered public office as a member of the New York State Assembly in 1997, and is currently serving his third full term as Bronx Borough President, having been reelected in November 2017 with more than 88 percent of the vote. As borough president, Ruben Diaz Jr. has led the implementation of a robust agenda—on economic development, housing, health and wellness, education, and public safety—in every corner of the borough. The Bronx has seen over $18.9 billion in new development of all kinds since Borough President Diaz took office in 2009. This includes more than 45,000 new units of housing, most of it built for lower-income families. Thousands of new jobs have been created in The Bronx since 2009, thanks in large part to the continued partnership between Borough President Diaz, the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation and those seeking to do business in the borough. As a result of those efforts, the unemployment rate in The Bronx has been cut nearly in half, and more than 100,000 more Bronx residents have jobs today than when Borough President Diaz took office ten years ago. Much of this success is driven by new infrastructure improvements, and Borough President Diaz has helped bring significant new projects to the borough. This includes the East Bronx Metro North expansion, which will bring new commuter rail service to Co-op City, Morris Park/Van Nest, Parkchester and Hunts Point; the future redevelopment of the Sheridan Expressway and the reconstruction of the historic Orchard Beach Pavilion, among others. Borough President Diaz is also working to improve the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), in order to make public housing safer and healthier for the more than 400,000 residents who call it their home. During his early childhood years the borough president lived in NYCHA’s Moore Houses in Mott Haven, and later spent a great deal of his teenage years in the former Bronxdale Houses in Soundview. Throughout his more than two decades in public service he has worked to improve the lives of NYCHA tenants. As borough president he lead the citywide charge for an emergency declaration to allow the agency to speed the procurement process and make necessary repairs faster and convened a public housing task force to examine safety issues in NYCHA. Borough President Diaz has also put forward a robust legislative agenda, having led the charge for a new “living wage” law in New York City, which passed in May 2012 and requires developers that receive heavy taxpayer funding for their project to pay the employees of that development a “living wage.” Borough President Diaz has also put forward legislation to create a letter grading system for nail salons and other cosmetology businesses and to develop a public registry of felony gun offenders. On health, Borough President Diaz has also launched the his “#Not62” Initiative, aimed at improving social and economic factors that will help promote more positive health behaviors within for Bronx residents, including help attain better access to clinical care as well as well improve social and economic factors. In October 2015, The Bronx received The RWJF Culture of Health Prize, which honors communities which place a high priority on health and bring partners together to drive local change, in recognition of those efforts. Since taking office in 2009 Borough President Diaz has provided tens of millions in funding to projects of all types in every Bronx neighborhood, including new technology upgrades to borough schools, green roofs and boiler upgrades, park improvements and more. Prior to his current role Borough President Diaz served seven terms in the State Legislature. During that time, he earned a reputation as a champion for working families in The Bronx and across New York State. He demonstrated a passion for constituent service, social advocacy, criminal justice reform and community empowerment balanced with support for sensible, green economic development and job creation programs. He also sponsored and secured passage of important and innovative laws to address the consequences of the intolerable levels of asthma in the South Bronx, healthcare insurance fraud, and quality of life concerns. In the State Assembly, Ruben Diaz Jr. served as Chair of the Committee on Election Law and on the Assembly’s Standing Committees on Education, Ways & Means, Children and Families, Environmental Conservation and Transportation. He was also a member of the Assembly’s Puerto Rican and Hispanic Task Force and the Black/Puerto Rican and Asian Legislative Caucus. A lifelong resident of the Bronx, Borough President Diaz lives in the Southeast Bronx with his wife Hilda Gerena Diaz. They have two sons, Ruben Diaz III and Ryan Isaiah Diaz. He graduated from Lehman College, City University of New York, with a Bachelor’s degree in political theory. Borough President Diaz is also the recipient of honorary doctoral degrees in civil law from Berkeley College and Mercy College, and a doctoral degree in humane letters from the Metropolitan College of New York, and the President’s Medal from Hostos Community College.
Amanda Septimo
Candidate for NYS Assembly
Alessandra Biaggi
New York State Senator
Alessandra Biaggi is the Democratic New York State Senator in her home district (Bronx/Westchester), and Chair of the revived Ethics and Internal Governance Committee. The granddaughter of Italian immigrants who lived in Hunts Point, she is the fourth generation of her family to live in District 34. Within her first two months in office, Senator Biaggi chaired the first public hearings in 27 years on sexual harassment in the workplace, and led the charge in New York to pass legislation that strengthens protections for survivors and holds employers accountable for addressing sexual misconduct. In a joint effort with her colleagues in the Democratic conference, the Senator worked to pass transformational legislation including tenant-centered housing reforms, bold climate-change initiatives, unprecedented criminal justice reform, comprehensive workplace protections, and expansive legislation making it easier to vote. Before launching her campaign, she served in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Counsel’s Office focusing on the New York State’s women’s policy agenda, advocating for passage of the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act. During the historic 2016 election, Alessandra was the Deputy National Operations Director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, overseeing a budget of $500 million, 38 state directors and 45 associated staff. Her run for office was preceded by a decade of advocacy and service to the people of New York. She interned for the Kings County D.A.’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and was a legal fellow for New York State Homes and Community Renewal, working to ensure that families across New York State had access to affordable housing. She served as Assistant General Counsel for Governor Cuomo’s Office of Storm Recovery, working with small businesses and municipalities to rebuild New York after Hurricane Sandy. She was a 2015 New Leaders Council (NLC) fellow, sat on NLC’s Advisory Board, and is a member of The New Agenda's Young Women Leadership Council. Alessandra attended Pelham public schools and holds degrees from New York University and Fordham Law School. She is also a graduate of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University.

Welcome By Jeff Coltin, Reporter, City & State NY


Introduction By Ruben Diaz, Jr., Bronx Borough President



Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson

Senator Alessandra Biaggi

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark

Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz

Candidate for NYS Assembly, Amanda Septimo 


Closing Remarks, Jeff Coltin, Reporter, City & State NY

Bronze Sponsors