Meet the Deputy Commissioners

Liam Kavanagh
First Deputy Commissioner

Liam Kavanagh is the First Deputy Commissioner at NYC Parks. A lifelong New Yorker, Mr. Kavanagh was born in Manhattan, raised in the Bronx, and now resides in Brooklyn. A graduate of the City University's Herbert H. Lehman College, Mr. Kavanagh joined Parks in 1981. He has served as Brooklyn Forestry Director, Deputy Chief of Operations in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and Chief of Operations in Manhattan before his appointment as Deputy Commissioner by Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe on February 25, 2002.

As First Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Kavanagh oversees efforts to improve the quality and increase the number of well maintained greenspaces in public parks throughout New York. He traces his involvement in the field to the renovation of the gardens along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade in 1989, where a great gardener and a willing crew of helpers transformed a lackluster landscape into a showpiece. It remains one of his most memorable projects and it demonstrated the tremendous opportunities for growing great gardens in parks throughout the City. "People respond positively to well maintained greenspaces," Mr. Kavanagh notes, "they've become a hallmark of successful public spaces."

Therese Braddick
Deputy Commissioner for Capital Projects

Therese Braddick is the Deputy Commissioner for Capital Projects for NYC Parks. She leads over 300 architects, landscape architects, engineers and budget staff responsible for investing $300 million annually in parks, playgrounds, and recreation facilities throughout the five boroughs of New York City.

For six years prior to becoming Deputy Commissioner, Ms. Braddick held two titles: Director of Historic Houses for Parks and Executive Director of the Historic House Trust. During this time, she raised millions of dollars, both public and private, for historic house projects; directed the re-branding of the Trust; and increased the Trust’s services to Parks’ 22 historic properties, addressing education programming and long-term planning needs, in addition to emergency repairs, capital improvements and maintenance issues.

Prior to her work with the Trust, Ms. Braddick served as Deputy Director and Director of Development for the City Parks Foundation where she also raised millions of dollars and managed complex restoration projects including the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre in Central Park.

Ms. Braddick first joined Parks in 1983 as an Urban Park Ranger. Two years later, she moved to Natural Resources Group (NRG), first as Education Coordinator in 1985, and then was promoted to the Deputy Director in 1986. Returning to the Rangers in 1987, she served as a Director, where she managed the 100-member uniformed division. From 1990 to 1992, Ms. Braddick was the Chief of Staff to Queens Borough Commissioner Oliver Spellman. She has a degree in Resource Management from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She lives in Queens with her husband.

Margaret Nelson
Deputy Commissioner for Urban Park Service and Public Programs

Margaret came to NYC Parks in 2014, after previously serving as the Deputy Chief of Staff to former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. In that capacity, she directed the Council’s legislative and policy divisions, and helped pass hundreds of legislative bills including Paid Sick Leave and Living Wage.

In her role as Chief of Staff for Commissioner Silver, she served as a key member of the executive management team responsible for establishing agency policies, guiding external and internal communications, and managing stakeholder relationships including non-profit partners and elected officials. Margaret was also responsible for helping to implement the Commissioner’s vision for equity in public spaces, planning and placemaking in parks, innovation and technology, and caring for parks. She spearheaded a number of inter-divisional funding initiatives including securing over $80M for replacement fleet vehicles, and also helping establish a synthetic turf field maintenance and replacement model program.

Margaret earned her master’s degree in Public Administration from The Wagner School of Public Service at New York University and a bachelor’s degree from Duke University graduating Magna Cum Laude. She has two teenage daughters and loves to stay active. In addition to being an avid skier, she enjoys running and cycling in Prospect Park. Margaret also loves animals and has both a dog and cat at home.

Joy Wang
Deputy Commissioner for Administration

Joy Wang has served in New York City government since 2001. She began her City career in the Mayor’s Office of Contracts (MOC), where she oversaw and ensured compliance of Mayoral Agencies’ procurements to City regulations. During her time in the MOC, Joy oversaw the procurement of human service contracts and assisted in preparing the Chief City Procurement Officer for City Council contracts hearings.

Joy also served as the Capital Budget Coordinator for two years at the American Museum of Natural History, where she managed the Museum’s capital contracts from program submission to contract closeout. In addition, Joy analyzed, tracked, and managed the museum’s annual $25-$30 million capital plan.

Since 2004, Joy has served in different capacities at the NYC Department for the Aging (DFTA). In her most recent role as Associate Commissioner in the Bureau of Budget and Fiscal Operations, Joy oversaw fiscal policies at DFTA, a City agency with an operating budget of over $316 million. Joy has been a strong advocate for the funding of the agency, which had over 30 different funding streams. She also implemented policy decisions and carried out special projects affecting aging services and providers throughout the City.  During her time at DFTA, she managed the operation of various units including: Budget, Fiscal, General Services, Information Technology, Facilities, Planning and Research, and Human Resources.  Most recently, Joy also assumed responsibility for the fiscal operations and management of DFTA’s non-profit arm, Aging in NY Fund.

She holds a Master’s of Public Administration from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, a Master’s degree from Fordham University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and French from Rutgers University.  She was also inducted in the Department of Citywide Services Leadership Institute.

Joy currently lives in Queens with her husband and daughter.  She enjoys baking, Zumba, hiking, and musicals.

Mark A. Focht, PLA FASLA
Deputy Commissioner/Chief Operating Officer

Mark Focht is a landscape architect, licensed in Pennsylvania, with over 30 years’ experience in the private, public, non-profit and academic areas of practice.  He comes to New York from Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, where he served as First Deputy Commissioner overseeing operations, maintenance, planning, capital, property management, urban forestry, ecosystem management and security for a 10,200 acre system comprised of 197 passive parks, 55 recreation centers, 97 playgrounds and 71 outdoor swimming pools.

Prior appointments include Executive Director of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park System; Director of the park’s Environment, Stewardship & Education Division; and Director of Capital Projects for the Center City District (Philadelphia, PA), a private sector business improvements district.  Additionally, Mark has over ten years’ experience with two multi-disciplinary design firms and was an adjunct professor in Temple University’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture from 1989-2010.

Mark was inducted as a Penn State University Fellow in 2015 and has received Alumni Achievement Awards from the University of Massachusetts (2013) and Penn State University (2007).  Mark was inducted as a Fellow in the American Society of Landscape Architects in October 2008 and served as the Society’s Vice-President for Communications in 2010/11 and President-Elect, President and Immediate Past-President in 2013-2015.

Mark’s love of parks grew from frequent family camping trips to State and National parks while growing up.  Mark holds Bachelor of Science and Master’s degrees in landscape architecture from Pennsylvania State University and the University of Massachusetts, respectively. 

Alyssa Cobb Konon
Deputy Commissioner for Planning and Development

Alyssa Cobb Konon is the Deputy Commissioner for Planning and Development at NYC Parks. She has spearheaded the creation and implementation of major initiatives, including the Community Parks Initiative, Parks Without Borders, Anchor Parks, and Walk to a Park. She is responsible for Parks' real estate portfolio, represents the agency in complex development projects and land use transactions, and directs approximately 400 park concessions.  She manages the audit and park inspection functions for NYC Parks, helping to inform agency best practices and service delivery. She has expanded Parks engagement on waterfront, marinas and coastal projects, including developing Parks’ first systematic waterfront inspection and planning program, securing funding for aging waterfront parks infrastructure, and guiding Parks’ role in climate change.   

Prior to working at Parks, Alyssa was an Executive Vice President at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, where she directed the Planning, Development and Transportation Divisions.

During her tenure at NYCEDC, she successfully led a diverse set of waterfront, neighborhood development, transportation, open space and real estate projects.  Her work includes the creation of the South Bronx Greenway and West Harlem Piers, unlocking the redevelopment of the Seward Park lots on the Lower East Side, facilitation of Columbia University’s Manhattanville campus expansion, sustaining and growing the East River Ferry service, initiating the City’s first wetland mitigation bank, and advancing strategies that promote economic development.

Alyssa received an undergraduate degree in Human Biology from Stanford University and a graduate degree in Urban Planning from Columbia University.

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