Commissioner Benepe To Join Trust For Public Land; Veronica White Appointed Next Parks Commissioner
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg yesterday appointed Veronica M. White, the founding Executive Director of New York City’s Center for Economic Opportunity, to replace Adrian Benepe as Commissioner of the Department of Parks and Recreation. Commissioner Benepe has served as commissioner since January 2002 and has overseen a major expansion of City parks, as well as the largest expansion of waterfront parks in the City’s history. In September, he will begin working in a newly-created position at the Trust for Public Land, where he will be charged with replicating many of our City’s most successful initiatives on a national scale.
“When New York City leads, cities, states, and nations around the world follow. Adrian Benepe has done extraordinary work as Parks Commissioner leading transformative changes in every corner of New York City, and I couldn’t be prouder that he is going to lead the Trust for Public Land’s new initiative to replicate our work in cities across the country,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Looking for someone with the same pioneering spirit to lead Parks didn’t take long, because many of the groundbreaking programs and studies that Veronica White has championed at our Center for Economic Opportunity are already being replicated by the federal government and cities across the country. She has an exemplary record of exploring innovative partnerships and attracting private funds. I want to thank Adrian for his many years of service to our City, and welcome Veronica to one of the greatest government jobs anywhere. I’m confident she will build on Adrian’s successes, and keep making our city parks greener and greater than ever.”
“I have been fortunate to practice public service and oversee the building and maintaining of parks during an unprecedented period of interest, investment, and inspiration,” said Commissioner Benepe. “With Mayor Bloomberg’s dedication to great public space and sustainable urban development, and First Deputy Mayor Patti Harris’s passion for excellence in design, public art, preservation, and programming, I could not have had stronger leadership and support. Similarly, the unparalleled expansion and improvement of the City’s parks system took place because of the substantial commitment and generosity of the citizen partners and volunteers, and the efforts of the professional parks staff. I look forward to continuing my personal dedication to great public spaces and sustainable landscapes in cities across the country and here in New York.”
“I’m thrilled to pick up where Commissioner Benepe has left off and will endeavor to fulfill Mayor Bloomberg’s vision to make New York City greener and greater through its parks,” said Commissioner White. “I will bring to the Parks Department a continued commitment to innovation; a focus on maintaining the vast number of Parks’ properties including the many new investments of our administration. It has been a privilege to lead the Center for Economic Opportunity, and I thank Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs for her great leadership.”
In ten and a half years as the City’s Parks Commissioner, Adrian Benepe oversaw a major expansion of New York City’s parks system, with over 730 acres of new parkland added and 2,000 more acres at Fresh Kills Park on Staten Island still to be added. Over his tenure, the Bloomberg administration budgeted $4.5 billion for building new parks and renovating existing parks, $3 billion of which has already been spent.
The Trust for Public Land is a national non-profit land conservation organization based in San Francisco. Since its founding 40 years ago, it has completed more than 5,200 park and conservation projects and conserved more than 3 million acres in 47 states, and has helped generate more than $33 billion in state and local conservation funding. In the newly created role of Senior Vice President for City Park Development, Benepe will oversee the Trust’s “Parks for People” program, which, just like Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC, seeks to ensure that “no city resident should be more than a 10-minute walk from their local park, garden or safe green place to play.” Benepe will be based at the Trust’s Lower Manhattan office and also direct their Center for City Park Excellence, which is based in Washington, D.C.
Led by Commissioner White since its founding in 2006, the Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) works with City agencies to design and implement evidence-based initiatives aimed at poverty reduction. Each initiative is evaluated to determine which are successfully reducing poverty and increasing self-sufficiency among New Yorkers. Under Commissioner White’s direction, CEO launched 50 new programs, including Opportunity NYC, the nation’s first conditional cash transfer program. CEO also developed an alternative to the federal poverty measure, which paved the way for the United States Census Bureau’s development of its new Supplemental Poverty Measure. Under Commissioner White’s leadership, CEO and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City raised more than $100 million in outside funding to support the CEO’s projects. These funds are in addition to taxpayer funding and contributions from Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Before leading the CEO, Commissioner White was a consultant specializing in strategic business planning and management for non-profits, real estate development and environmental issues, and public-private partnerships. S he was Chief Operating Officer of the New York City Partnership, President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York City Housing Partnership and Deputy Commissioner of Planning, Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs at the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. She practiced law at the firms of Brown & Wood and Sidley & Austin and served for eight years on the New York Advisory Council of the Trust for Public Land. Commissioner White earned a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a JD from Harvard Law School. Born and raised in Brooklyn, she and her husband Victor Marrero have two sons and live in Manhattan.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve,
not by the desire to beat others.”