Power Rising: Celebrating Black Women’s Leadership in NYC
At the intersection of Black History Month and Women’s History Month, women.nyc is hosting a panel discussion to highlight the historic representation of Black women in influential roles in NYC, setting an example of how a city’s leadership can and should reflect its diverse population. Moderated by NYCEDC Chief Strategy Officer Lindsay Greene, “Power Rising” will be a candid discussion with the City’s new leaders on their respective paths to become changemakers. Please joins us for this inspiring conversation crafted for an audience of public servants on their own leadership journeys.
When: Monday, February 28 from 4 – 5 p.m.
Where: Webex, Register Here
Maria Torres-Springer (Opening Remarks) – Deputy Mayor for Economic & Workforce Development
Maria Torres-Springer is the NYC Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development, charged with spearheading the Administration’s efforts to strengthen and diversify its economy, invest in emerging industries, bolster small business, connect New Yorkers to family-sustaining jobs and expand access to arts and culture.
She was previously Vice President of US Programs at the Ford Foundation where she oversaw the Foundation’s domestic grant making and made historic investments in support of racial equity, workers’ rights, voting rights, and arts & culture across the country.
Maria has a long track record of public service with the City of New York. She led three agencies with over 3,000 employees and approximately $2 billion in annual operating budgets, addressing some of the city’s most significant public policy challenges. Throughout her tenure in government, she worked to create powerful partnerships among communities, business, and the agencies she has led in pursuit of expanded economic opportunity for all New Yorkers.
Maria served as commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the nation’s largest municipal housing agency. She led the implementation of Housing New York, a five-borough, 12-year plan to create or preserve 300,000 affordable homes. During her tenure, she steered the financing of approximately 60,000 affordable homes, more than any two-year period in HPD’s history. She focused on the production of housing for the city’s most vulnerable communities while launching several new programs to protect tenants’ rights.
Earlier, as the first woman to serve as president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Maria led the implementation of the new city-wide ferry service and made major investments in key sectors of New York City’s economy. Marshaling the energy and drive of community leaders, she also spearheaded several neighborhood revitalization plans across the city.
As commissioner of the New York City Department of Small Business Services, Maria prioritized efforts to raise wages and support women and immigrant-owned businesses. She also launched Women Entrepreneurs NYC and, with the innovative Tech to Talent Pipeline program, worked to prepare New Yorkers for 21st century jobs.
Maria also served previously as the executive vice president and chief of staff at NYCEDC as well as chief operating officer for Friends of the High Line.
Maria earned her bachelor’s degree in ethics, politics, and economics from Yale University and a master’s in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters.
Lindsay S. Greene (Moderator) – Chief Strategy Officer, New York City Economic Development Corporation
Lindsay Greene currently serves as the Chief Strategy Officer at New York City Economic Development Corporation. In her role, she guides corporate strategy, business development, inclusive job growth, and innovation strategy to create lasting prosperity for New Yorkers. Prior to joining NYCEDC, she served as a Senior Advisor for the Deputy Mayor for Housing & Economic Development in the Mayor’s office. Prior to her role in the Mayor’s Office, Lindsay served as Director of Sales and Sales Operations at The Chia Company, a small all-natural consumer food brand. Before joining The Chia Company, Lindsay was the Category Merchant for FreshDirect, and in her early career, she spent six years at Goldman Sachs in real estate private equity and investment banking.
Lindsay holds a BA in economics from Harvard and an MBA from Yale School of Management. She serves on the Advisory Boards of several fresh food consumer product brands and has worked as a mentor and speaker/panelist with various food startup accelerators and boot camps. Since college, she has been a one-on-one mentor to assist young women of color in navigating their high school and early college years.
Adrienne E. Adams – Speaker of the New York City Council
Adrienne Eadie Adams is the Speaker of the New York City Council. Elected in January 2022 by her colleagues, she leads the most diverse and the first women-majority Council in New York City history as the first-ever African American Speaker. Elected to the City Council in November 2017, she is also the first woman to represent District 28, which encompasses the Queens neighborhoods of Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale Village, and South Ozone Park.
During her first term, Speaker Adams secured a record level of funding for her district, which had endured years of disparity and disinvestment, including investments in schools, parks, libraries, housing, and sanitation services. As a member of the Budget Negotiating Team, she championed funding for cultural institutions, health care, digital access, child and adult literacy, community-based food pantries, small business assistance, as well as Fair Futures, an initiative providing mentorship and services for foster care youth. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she fought to secure additional testing and vaccine sites in her district, which lacked equitable resources despite having one of the highest COVID-19 case rates in the entire City. While serving as Co-Chair of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus (BLAC) of the Council, Speaker Adams advocated for additional investments in foreclosure prevention programs, CUNY’s research institutions, and many other community support initiatives. Under her leadership, the City Council also funded the Education Equity Action Plan, an initiative to implement a comprehensive K-12 Black Studies Curriculum for all students in New York City’s public schools.
As Chair of the Committee on Public Safety, Speaker Adams shepherded passage of critical reform legislation to improve police accountability and transparency. These included bills to end qualified immunity (making New York City the first city in the nation to enact such a law); require NYPD to document and report on vehicle stops with demographic breakdowns (race, gender, etc.); and empower the Civilian Complaint Review Board to initiate investigations into police misconduct. During her tenure as Chair of the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Sitings, and Dispositions, she played a key role in advancing the plan to close Rikers Island. Speaker Adams also passed legislation to reform the City’s tax lien sale to protect homeowners, extend protections for fast food workers, require transparency on the Administration for Children’s Services’ emergency removals of children, and return unused commissary funds to formerly incarcerated New Yorkers.
Speaker Adams was raised in Hollis, Queens, as the daughter of two proud union workers. She attended St. Pascal Baylon Elementary School and Bayside High School. After briefly studying at CUNY’s York College, she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, minoring in Early Childhood Development. Prior to serving in the City Council, Speaker Adams worked professionally as a Corporate Trainer at several Fortune 500 companies, specializing in Executive Training, Telecommunications Management, and Human Capital Management, and worked as a Childhood Development Associate Instructor, training child care professionals to obtain their Child Development Associate credentials in accordance with the standards set by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Speaker Adams first entered public service as a member of Queens Community Board 12, the second largest community board in the borough. She was appointed Chair of the Education Committee, advocating for education equity and opposing school closures and co-locations. In recognition of her leadership, Speaker Adams was elected to three consecutive terms as Chair of Community Board 12, serving from December 2012 to November 2017. She advocated for improved delivery of services, economic opportunities, and better quality of life in Southeast Queens.
As a community advocate, Speaker Adams served in leadership positions for community-based organizations and advisory committees. She was appointed by then Queens Borough President Melinda Katz to the Queens Public Library Board of Trustees, overseeing a 62-branch institution that maintained the highest circulation of any municipal library system in the country. Additionally, she was appointed to the Local Planning Committee for the Jamaica Downtown Revitalization Initiative and served as Co-Chair of the Jamaica NOW Leadership Council. In these roles, Speaker Adams guided more than $150 million in funding and investments for workforce and business development, education, health and wellness, housing, and transportation for the Downtown Jamaica area.
Speaker Adams is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, the first sorority for Black college-educated women. She is also a longstanding member of the NAACP and the National Action Network.
Speaker Adams is a wife, mother, and grandmother (“cool Nona”) within her beloved blended family.
Anne Williams-Isom – Deputy Mayor for Health & Human Services
Anne Williams-Isom is a nonprofit executive, attorney and educator with more than 25 years of leadership and management experience in large, complex organizations. Ms. Williams-Isom has been an proponent for children’s rights and advocate for underserved Americans her entire professional life.
She currently serves as the James R. Dumpson Chair in Child Welfare Studies at the Graduate School of Social Service at Fordham University. In her role as the Dumpson Chair, Ms. Williams-Isom works with faculty and students to develop research, programs, and policy analyses that improve services to underserved children and families. She will use an equity and social justice lens to focus on the challenges of and solutions for families of color and promote an interdisciplinary approach toward improving the quality of life for this population.
Previously Ms. Williams-Isom served as the Chief Executive Officer for the Harlem Children’s Zone, before which she served for five years as HCZ’s Chief Operating Officer. As CEO, she oversaw all programs in HCZ’s cradle-through-college pipeline, including the Promise Academy Charter Schools. She led HCZ’s 2,000+ staff, and strengthened the organization’s use of data to improve services and outcomes for 25,000 children and adults in Central Harlem. She also led the development of HCZ’ Healthy Harlem initiative which serves over 7000 children and 3000 adults. Healthy Harlem was designed to combat childhood obesity and promote health and wellness at the community level. She assumed the position of CEO in July 2014 and served in the role for six years.
Prior to joining HCZ, Ms. Williams-Isom worked in leadership at New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) for 13 years, concluding her tenure as Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Community and Government Affairs. While at ACS, she instituted and oversaw the implementation of several innovative initiatives, including the first ever ACS Leadership Academy for Child Protection, a program designed to help the 160 ACS Child Protective Managers lead the 3,800 frontline staff responsible for investigating the 55,000 reports of child abuse and neglect each year.
Ms. Williams-Isom found her calling to help improve the lives of vulnerable children and families when she was still a child herself. Growing up with a single mother in Queens, she witnessed firsthand the many challenges confronting kids in struggling communities. But it was always clear that, with the right support and opportunities—above all, education and a lot of love—all children have the potential to do extraordinary things.
Ms. Williams-Isom earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and psychology from Fordham University. Soon after, she began working in Community Affairs for the New York Police Department in Brooklyn. While working in Brooklyn at the height of community policing in the 1980s fueled her commitment to social justice, it was during her time as a student at Columbia Law School that she fully discovered her passion for advocacy work and came to appreciate the critical role played by communities in finding lasting solutions to social problems. After receiving her J.D., she practiced law for five years at two of New York’s most prestigious firms before joining ACS.
Ms. Williams-Isom serves on the board of directors of Child Trends, a nonprofit research organization; the Advisory Board for Columbia Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Design; the executive committee of the board of trustees of the Central Park Conservancy; the board of Graham Windham; the board of trustees of Collegiate School; the board of the Metropolitan Montessori School; the Board of Fellows of Weill Cornell Medicine and the board of trustees of Partnership Schools. She also served on the Advisory Council of the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, inspired by President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative. In January 2016, she was appointed by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to his Children’s Cabinet Advisory Board and selected to be a member of the spring 2016 cohort of the Aspen-Pahara Education Fellows Program. She is the recipient of a Public Interest Achievement Award from the Public Interest Law Foundation at Columbia Law School (2015) and an Annie E. Casey Foundation Children and Families Fellowship (2007-2008). In May 2018, she received an honorary doctorate from the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service. In October 2019 she was chosen as one of the “Nonprofit Power 100” by City & State magazine and she was chosen as one of the “The 2020 Education Power 100” in February 2020. Most recently in May 2021 she was mentioned on MSNBC as an “unsung hero” on a feature entitled “Forbes’ 50 Women Over 50 Making a Difference in Education.”
Routinely sought after for her expert guidance on child and family wellbeing and community development, Ms. Williams-Isom has been featured in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Barron’s, Crain’s New York, The Economist, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and Essence, as well as on WABC’s Here and Now and CUNY-TV’s Black America and The Historymakers. A native New Yorker, she is a long-time resident of Harlem. She lives with her husband of 30 years, Phil, and with the help of her 90 year old mother who resides with them has raised three children, Aiyanna (28), Phillip (25) and Ande (19).
Dawn M. Pinnock – Commissioner NYC Citywide Administrative Services
Dawn M. Pinnock is the Commissioner for the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS). As a proud native New Yorker, Dawn M. Pinnock is a transformative leader with more than two decades of experience at some of New York City’s largest municipal agencies. Prior to serving as Commissioner, Pinnock served as the Executive Deputy Commissioner for People Operations and Risk Management at DCAS, where she led the agency’s people-centered functions, including Administration, Citywide Equity and Inclusion, Citywide Human Capital, and Internal Audit. In her role, she maintained citywide oversight of services provided to the human resources, equal employment, and diversity and inclusion departments serving at every agency. Pinnock has also served as the Deputy Commissioner for Human Capital, overseeing all aspects of civil service administration and human resources operations. At DCAS, she has led teams that developed both the City’s remote work policy and the return to work policy, launched mandatory sexual harassment training for 360,000+ City employees, and made the City’s civil service process more accessible to current and potential employees.
Prior to joining DCAS, Pinnock served as the Vice President of Human Resources at New York City Transit and as the Director of Human Resources at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). She holds a Master of Science in Urban Policy Analysis and Management from The New School for Social Research and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Baruch College. She is a Certified Human Resource Professional, and a member of both the Association for Talent Development and the Society of Human Resource Management.
Chaplain Ingrid Lewis-Martin – Chief Advisor to Mayor Eric Adams
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Chaplain Ingrid P. Lewis-Martin has been married to Glenn D. Martin I for more than 33 years, and is the proud mother of Glenn D. Martin II and grandmother of Meagan P. Martin.
A proud daughter of Barbadian and Panamanian heritage, Chaplain Ingrid is an advocate for community empowerment, realizing her passion as a 4th grade student when, under the leadership of her African-American studies instructor Ms. Scott, she and other students organized a protest of the local A&P Supermarket to express their displeasure that no persons of color were employed.
Chaplain Ingrid currently serves as the deputy borough president to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. Prior to her current position, she proudly served for more than five years as his senior advisor and for seven years as his chief of staff in the State Senate. Her political career started in 1983, when she volunteered at Renaissance Development Corporation as she awaited her test results from the New York City Board of Education to pursue a career in teaching. Ingrid wrote several grants for the organization, which successfully garnered funding for the organization. This sparked the organization’s executive director, Thelma Martin — who later became her mother-in-law — to ask Ingrid to volunteer on the re-election campaign of Representative Major R. Owens.
With the spirit of a new adventure, Ingrid reported for duty at the campaign headquarters. Within two weeks, she was offered the paid position of deputy campaign manager, and her journey in politics began. After a huge victory, Representative Owens hired Ingrid as a member of his Brooklyn district office team. Ingrid accepted with the proviso that if she passed her exams and could secure employment as a teacher, she would then move on.
Within two months of her employment with Representative Owens, Chaplain Ingrid received her license from the Board of Education, and started on her journey as a middle school teacher in English and social studies.
From 1984 until 1992, Chaplain Ingrid was hired as an educator at IS 320 Jackie Robinson, her alma mater. In addition to her duties as an instructor, she served as a dean of students, graduation coordinator, as well as taught modern and African dance in the after-school programs. During the summer months from 1990 until approximately 2005, Ingrid was the executive director for Youth Development Center, Inc. (YDC), a program she founded and privately funded that annually provided free summer camp programs for 200 youth living in Vanderveer Estates and Ebbets Field Apartment Complex. To date, former campers ask her to reinstitute the camp so that they may enroll their children in the program.
During her tenure at IS 320, Chaplain Ingrid married Glenn Martin and gave birth to their son, “Lil Glenn,” who is the apple of her eye. All the while, Ingrid quietly continued to assist Representative Owens and other elected officials behind the scene. When her son started pre-K, Chaplain Ingrid realized that she wanted to be able to attend his school trips and do other activities with him during the course of the school day. Taking her responsibility as an educator seriously, she realized that it was impossible for her to fulfill her obligations as an educator and fully participate in her son’s various school activities. As such, she applied to and was hired by Medgar Evers College to work as an instructor in one of its programs geared at assisting women on welfare earn their high school diploma and college degree. Within two months, Chaplain Ingrid was hired as the director of their Progressive Adolescent Vocational Exploration (PAVE) program, which allowed high school students to earn a maximum of 12 college credits within four years.
While working at PAVE, Chaplain Ingrid continued to utilize her free time to assist numerous elected officials and individuals who aspired to public office. During the early 2000’s, Chaplain Ingrid helped Roger Green in his bid for re-election, and as a result, Assembly Member Green offered Chaplain Ingrid a part-time position on his team. As a member of Assembly Member Green’s team, Chaplain Ingrid was always called upon to help elected officials on their campaigns, serve as a surrogate, and perform a host of other responsibilities. In her neighborhood, she soon earned a reputation for being the lady who lives on Montgomery Street and helps everyone.
Chaplain Ingrid is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Eastern Star, and New Life Ministries Pentecostal Church. She is a member of the Healing Hearts Chaplaincy, which serves as an ambassador to the United Nations. Chaplain Ingrid is a black belt in Shotokan Karate, loves to dance, and has two titles that she boasts about: the “Empress of Karaoke” and “Grandma-ma.”
Vanessa L. Gibson – Bronx Borough President
On November 2nd, 2021, Vanessa L. Gibson was elected to be the 14th Bronx Borough President to serve the over 1.4 million residents and families that call the Bronx home.
A native New Yorker, Ms. Gibson began her career serving the people of the west Bronx. Beginning in January 2001, while a student at the University at Albany, Ms. Gibson joined the New York State Assembly Intern Program and was assigned to then-Assemblywoman Aurelia Greene. As an Intern, she worked on legislation for the Member, attended meetings and met with constituents and community groups on behalf of the office.
Upon graduation, Ms. Gibson served as Legislative Aide then would rise to District Manager overseeing the Bronx office and was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the district office, supervising the staff and all administrative and constituent services. Ms. Gibson would serve as the District Manager for several years until Assemblywoman Aurelia Greene would resign from office in May 2009 after twenty-eight years in the Assembly. With community and family support, Ms. Gibson decided to run for the New York State Assembly and was elected to this position in a special election on June 2, 2009 to represent the residents and families of the 77th District in the Bronx.
Ms. Gibson would serve for two terms in the NYS Assembly and then decided to run for an open seat in the New York City Council in 2013, to replace the term limited Council Member Helen Diane Foster. Ms. Gibson was elected to the New York City Council in November 2013.
As a Council Member, Ms. Gibson was a leader on education, affordable housing, criminal justice reform, public safety issues and an advocate for alternatives to incarceration, tenant protections, increased training for our police officers and held the distinction of being the first African-American woman chair of the New York City Council Public Safety Committee.
In 2017, she joined then-Council Member Mark Levine in passing the landmark Right to Counsel Legislation, which provides free legal representation for income-eligible tenants facing eviction in Housing Court. Ms. Gibson has also championed legislation related to food equity and policy by mandating the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy create a ten-year food strategy for the City of New York that identifies food policies, access to healthier options, using community gardens, urban agriculture and access to Health Bucks to address food deserts.
In 2020, she announced her run for Bronx Borough President with a mission to move the Bronx forward with a focus on public safety, food equity, housing insecurity, health and wellness, gender equity, support for the LGBTQIA+ community and a myriad of other issues. Ms. Gibson won her primary election in June, general election in November, and now proudly represents the borough of the Bronx as the first woman and African-American Bronx Borough President. Despite several challenges during the beginning of her first term, Ms. Gibson is optimistic for better days ahead in the Bronx, and is honored and thankful for the opportunity to serve for such a time as this in elected office.