Bay Ridge

De Blasio appoints slate of activists to NYC’s new Civic Engagement Commission

Three Brooklynites among those chosen

April 23, 2019 Mary Frost
The mayor announced the newly appointed Civic Engagement Commission on Tuesday. AP Photo/Hans Pennink

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his pick of eight new members of the city’s new Civic Engagement Commission on Tuesday. All of his choices are activists with long histories of civic engagement, from working with political groups to fighting for the rights of the disabled and immigrants.

The 15-member commission, which will be chaired by Bronx resident Dr. Sarah Sayeed, was formed to get city residents more involved in civic affairs. Backed by City Councilmember Brad Lander (D-Cobble Hill, Gowanus), it was established by the voters as part of an amendment to the City Charter adopted in 2018.

“Through citywide participatory budgeting, expanded language access, stronger community boards, and ideas we have not yet even dreamed up, the commission will help strengthen civic trust and enable us to act together as better stewards of the city we love,” Lander said in a tweet on Tuesday.

Brooklyn commissioners appointed by de Blasio include Murad Awawdeh, a resident of Bay Ridge and Amy Breedlove, who lives in Cobble Hill.

Awawdeh, an Arab-American Muslim, is the vice president of advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition and the political director for the New York State Immigrant Action Fund. He is also president of Yalla Brooklyn, which engages Arab and Muslim Brooklynites in the electoral process.

Vice describes Awawdeh as “a key player behind the protests against the [Muslim] travel ban.”

Awawdeh called the commission “a great first step to enhance civic trust and engagement among New York’s diverse communities.”

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Breedlove is the president of the Cobble Hill Association. She has fought for women’s and LGBTQ+ rights and is treasurer and chair of the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee of Stonewall Community Development Corporation, which helps develop affordable and supportive housing for LGBTQ+ seniors.

Breedlove was named by State Sen. Brian Kavanagh as one of the State Senate’s “Women of Distinction” for 2018 for her work in Cobble Hill lessening the impact of the BQE rehabilitation, preserving local green spaces and more.

“Given the times in which we live, and the size and diversity of our City, it is crucial that everyone be encouraged to engage in civic life,” she said in a statement.

The borough presidents also appoint one member each. Brooklyn BP Eric Adams appointed urban planner and policy analyst Eve Baron, chairperson of the Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment in the School of Architecture at the Pratt Institute. Baron works on issues like affordable housing, zoning and land use issues.

The full list of appointees can be found here.

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