Urban Conversations: Strengthening the Middle Class with Mayor Adrian Fenty of Washington, DC; Mayor Shirley Franklin of Atlanta; Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi; New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and others.
Andrea Batista Schlesinger
Andrea Batista Schlesinger has led the effort to turn the Drum Major Institute since 2002, originally founded by an advisor to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the civil rights movement, into a progressive policy institute with national impact. Under Andrea's leadership as Executive Director, DMI has released several important policy papers to national audiences including: Middle Class 2004: How Congress Voted, People and Politics in America's Big Cities, and From Governance to Accountability: Building Relationships that Make Schools Work.
Andrea studied public policy at the University of Chicago. Andrea has worked in various capacities to promote educational equity and youth empowerment. She directed a national campaign to engage college students in the discussion on the future of Social Security for the Pew Charitable Trusts, and served as Director of Public Relations of Teach For America before working as the education advisor to Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer.
Andrea has been profiled in the New York Times, New Yorker magazine, Latina Magazine and in 'Hear us Now,' an award-winning documentary about her tenure as the student member of the New York City Board of Education. She has been published in Alternet.org, New York Newsday, New York Sun, and City Limits magazine.
Daniel Cantor is the executive director of the Working Families Party of New York.
Adrian M. Fenty
Adrian M. Fenty is the sixth and current mayor of the District of Columbia, having begun his term of office on January 2, 2007.
Fenty is the youngest person ever to hold the office, and, at 35, was the youngest elected mayor of a major American city.
Former Atlanta Mayor, Shirley Franklin, is currently the Chairman of the Board and CEO of Purpose Built Communities, and the Barbara Jordan Visiting Professor in Ethics and Political Values in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.
Ester R. Fuchs is Professor of Public Affairs and Political Science and Director of the Urban and Social Policy Program at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She served as Special Advisor to the Mayor for Governance and Strategic Planning under New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg from 2001 to 2005. Prof. Fuchs was chair of the Urban Studies Program at Barnard and Columbia Colleges and founding director of the Columbia University Center for Urban Research and Policy. Prof. Fuchs recently received the Distinguished Alumna Award from Queens College; Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs Award for Outstanding Teaching; and NYC’s Excellence in Technology Award for Best IT Collaboration among Agencies for Access New York.
Nicole Gelinas is the Searle Freedom Trust Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. Gelinas writes on urban economics and finance, municipal and corporate finance, business issues, and crime. She is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and a member of the New York Society of Securities Analysts.
Gelinas has published analysis and opinion pieces on the op-ed pages of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union Tribune, the New York Sun, the New York Daily News, the New York Post, the Dallas Morning News, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and the Boston Herald. She has also written for Crain's New York Business and National Review Online.
Brian Lehrer is a radio talk show host on New York City's public radio station WNYC. His daily two-hour program, The Brian Lehrer Show, features interviews with newsmakers and experts about current events and social issues. Lehrer was formerly an anchor and reporter for NBC Radio Networks, and has been in broadcast journalism for more than 20 years.
Lehrer obtained B.A.'s in Music and Mass Communications from the State University of New York at Albany. He holds a Master of Public Health degree from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and a masters degree in Journalism from Ohio State University.
Thomas R. Suozzi
Thomas R. Suozzi is the county executive of Nassau County, New York. He was first elected to the post of county executive in 2001, the first Democratic county executive since Eugene Nickerson left office in 1971. He ran unsuccessfully against Eliot Spitzer for the Democratic nomination for the race to be Governor of New York in 2006.
The grandson of Italian immigrants, Tom Suozzi was born and raised in Glen Cove, New York, one of five siblings, and graduated from all Roman Catholic schools: Chaminade High School, Boston College, and Fordham University School of Law.
Dennis M. Walcott
Dennis M. Walcott is the Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development. In that capacity, he oversees and coordinates the operations of the Department of Education and the Department of Youth and Community Development, as well as maintains liaison with and reviews the activities of the New York City School Construction Authority, City University of New York, City University Construction Fund and the New York City Housing Authority. Walcott is also responsible for maintaining liaison with community-based organizations citywide and coordinating policies concerning youth programs and adult education. He serves as Co-Chair of the Mayors Commission for Construction Opportunity. A product of the New York City public school system, Walcott received a Masters of Social Work from Fordham University and a Masters of Education from the University of Bridgeport.