A Post-COVID Queens: What Have We Learned and What Does the Future Look Like?

July 15, 2020  
5:00PM - 6:00PM
Recognizing the Borough's Pandemic Heroes
Event Description

As New York is battered by COVID-19, the people from Queens have responded in remarkable ways: first responders and health care professionals tend to the ill, nonprofit workers care for the most vulnerable, government officials go above and beyond, business leaders support their communities and more. 

Join us for this important discussion as we celebrate Queens including our Queens Power 50 list, Top Ten Elected Officials and 18 Heroes from Queens who we recognize at our Queens webinar. Our Power panel will discuss topics including: 

  • Queens resident commuters to be better served - especially those that live far from subway stations
  • Building up hospitals like Elmhurst and making sure they are better prepared for a second wave
  • Plans for mixed-use at the former Amazon site and for new Amazon delivery station in Maspeth
  • Could Sunnyside Yards ever be decked over and built anew like Hudson Yards?
  • Will Far Rockaway become a magnet for new development?
  • If Rikers Island closes, what should we do with the land?


Representative Gregory W. Meeks
Rep. Meeks is a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, where he serves as the Chairmen of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions which oversees all financial regulators such as, FDIC, Federal Reserve and all matters pertaining to consumer credit and the stability of the banking system. In addition, he serves as a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where he is serves as an influential member on both the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy and the Environment and the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security and Trade. Rep. Meeks earned his bachelor’s degree at Adelphi University and his law degree is from Howard University. He is a member of the Allen AME Church in St. Albans NY and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
Representative Grace Meng
U.S. Congresswoman Grace Meng is serving her fourth term in the United States House of Representatives. Grace represents the Sixth Congressional District of New York encompassing the New York City borough of Queens, including west, central and northeast Queens. Grace is the first and only Asian American Member of Congress from New York State and the first female Congressmember from Queens since former Vice Presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro. Grace is a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittees on State and Foreign Operations, Homeland Security, and Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies. The Appropriations Committee is responsible for funding every federal agency, program, and project within the United States government. She also serves on the House Ethics Committee. Grace is also a Senior Whip and Regional Whip for New York, and a founder and Co-Chair of the Kids’ Safety Caucus, the first bipartisan coalition in the House that promotes child-safety issues. She helped create and serves as a founding member and former Co-Chair of the Quiet Skies Caucus which works to mitigate excessive aircraft noise that adversely affects communities. Grace has passed several pieces of legislation in law. These include laws about religious freedom, making Queens historic sites part of the National Park Service, striking “Oriental” from federal law and protecting public housing residents from insufficient heat. Also signed into law were her measures to assist veterans and members of the military, and provisions to improve consumer protections and safeguards for children. In addition, Grace has fought to expand opportunities for communities of color, young people and women, and she secured resources to help local small-businesses. Born in Elmhurst, Queens, and raised in the Bayside and Flushing sections of the borough, Grace attended local schools, and graduated from Stuyvesant High School and the University of Michigan. She then earned a law degree from Yeshiva University’s Benjamin Cardozo School of Law. Prior to serving in Congress, Grace was a member of the New York State Assembly. Before entering public service, she worked as a public-interest lawyer. Grace resides in Queens with her husband, Wayne, and two sons, Tyler and Brandon.
District Attorney Melinda Katz
Queens County
Melinda Katz was born and raised in Forest Hills, and is a product of our public school system. She has been a public servant for over 20 years. After graduating with honors from the University of Massachusetts, District Attorney Katz attended St. John’s School of Law. The DA interned for future US Attorney General Michael Mukasey in the Southern District of NY, the Legal Aid Society, and the US Attorney’s office in SDNY. District Attorney Katz then went on to serve in the Assembly, where she wrote and passed crucial legislation to protect the most vulnerable in our community. Her efforts resulted in laws that extended the Statute of Limitations for sexual abuse of a child, provided women direct access to gynecologists, and made certain classes of child endangerment a felony. She also co-sponsored bills to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and to establish and strengthen anti-hate crime laws. As a member of the New York City Council from 2002 to 2009, District Attorney Katz served as Chair of the influential Land Use Committee, using her legal background and community ties to steward major projects that helped pull New York City out of the 2001 recession. Under her leadership, the Committee secured private-sector partnerships that led to the creation of over 15,000 units of affordable housing. She championed zoning measures that paved the way for redevelopment projects in all five boroughs, while safeguarding communities from overdevelopment. District Attorney Katz has extensive experience in private practice, working as a securities litigator for Weil Gotshal and as a shareholder of Greenberg Traurig, a position she held until her election as the 19th Borough President of Queens. As Queens Borough President, she worked to seal certain misdemeanor and non-violent felony convictions and grant warrant forgiveness to promote second chances in the communities most affected by mass incarceration. Her father, David, was the founder and conductor of the Queens Symphony Orchestra and her mother, Jeanne, was the founder of the Queens Council for the Arts. District Attorney Katz is raising her two children, Carter and Hunter, in the same Forest Hills home where she grew up.
New York City Councilman Donovan Richards
Chairman, Committee on Public Safety
Council Member Donovan Richards, a lifelong resident of Southeast Queens and the Rockaways, was elected to the New York City Council in March 2013. Richards chaired the Environmental Protection committee for two years and was the co-chair of the Mayor’s OneNYC plan, shepherding in the City’s 80 by 20 resiliency plan. Richards was appointed to chair the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises in the second half of his first term. He worked to negotiate and pass Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability, two affordable housing plans that have captured thousands of affordable units. Richards worked to usher in neighborhood rezonings in East Midtown and East New York, and secured $288 million in investments for his own local rezoning in Far Rockaway. In January 2018, Richards started his second term by being named Chair of the Public Safety Committee. He has held oversight hearings on the NYPD’s crowd control and protest protocols, marijuana enforcement strategies, lack of resources in the Special Victims Division, gang enforcement measures, and school safety. He is also a member of the Council’s Leadership team and lead Council Member on the city’s Fresh program task force.
Rodney S. Capel, VP, State Government Affairs
Charter Communications
Rodney S. Capel is currently the Vice President for Government Affairs within the Northeast Region for Charter Communication. In this role, Mr. Capel oversees and manages all government affairs, strategic partnerships and investments, consumer protection and telecommunications regulation for New York City and New Jersey. Mr. Capel previously served as Special Advisor to the Governor. In this role, he was responsible for a full range of policy, legislative and operational matters affecting the administration. This position also serves as a liaison to members of the State Legislature, U.S. Congress, partner agencies, associations, councils, coalitions, and advocacy groups wanting to learn more about Governor Cuomo’s agenda for the State of New York. From August 2012 to April 2014, Rodney served as Executive Director of the New York State Democratic Committee. Rodney was responsible for the overall management and daily operations of the State Democratic Committee as well as managed the committee’s compliance to state and federal election laws, and financial disclosure reports. Mr. Capel previously served in the Administration as the Director of NYC Intergovernmental Affairs. Mr. Capel has also served as Senior Vice President of Mercury LLC, where he provided strategic consulting and issues management for national, state and city corporations and not-for-profit organizations. And prior to joining Mercury, Mr. Capel served as New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn’s Deputy Chief of Staff for state and federal affairs. In this capacity, Mr. Capel assisted the New York City Council Speaker on all matters pertaining to New York City’s State and Federal legislative issues by serving as the City Council’s lead lobbyist. Mr. Capel's political and legislative career highlights include: serving as Senator Chuck Schumer’s Deputy State Director in 1999; serving as State Director for the New York State Kerry/Edwards Presidential campaign in 2004. Rodney also proudly served in President Clinton’s Administration as a Special Assistant to the Office of Legislative and Congressional Affairs for the U.S. Department of Education. Rodney is a graduate of Syracuse University where he received his B.A. in Political Science and attended graduate School at The George Washington University in Washington D.C. Rodney currently resides in Harlem with his wife Fayola Alibey, their son Lucas.
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