Public Advocate-Elect Letitia James Unveils Transition Committee Comprised of 15 Distinguished New Yorkers

Transition will be focused on top issues facing New Yorkers and take input through committee work and town hall-style public meetings

New York, NY – Today, Public Advocate-Elect Letitia “Tish” James unveiled her transition team including a transition committee, sub-committees, and an executive director. The transition team will examine how crucial policy areas will be addressed through the Public Advocate’s Office.

Rossana Rosado (chair)

Reshma Saujani (co-chair)

C. Virginia Fields (co-chair)

Hon. Emily Goodman (co-chair)

Nermeen Arastu

José Calderón

Hector Figueroa

Betsy Gotbaum

Richard Kahan

Kenneth Knuckles

Victor A. Kovner

Jenny Low

Sonia Ossorio

Arva Rice

Dr. Lester W. Young Jr.


The transition effort will feature sub-committees on key areas the Public Advocate’s Office is expected to focus on. The sub-committees will be comprised of:

  • Affordable Housing/Economic Development (chair – Kenneth J. Knuckles)
  • Education (chair - Dr. Lester W. Young Jr.)
  • Human Services (chair - Arva Rice)
  • Legal Services (chair - Victor A. Kovner)
  • Public/Private Partnerships (chair – José Calderón)

A full list of members of the sub-committees will be announced in the coming days.

Moreover, Public Advocate-Elect James will host town hall-style meetings in every borough as part of the transition effort. In addition to Public Advocate-Elect James, members of the transition committee and the individual sub-committees will attend the meetings and take input from New Yorkers.

Along with the input taken at town hall-style meetings, the work by the transition committee and the sub-committees will help shape the direction and structure of the Office of the Public Advocate.

New Yorkers who wish to apply for jobs or volunteer opportunities at the Office of the Public Advocate are encouraged to email resumes to

“Every single day that I’m the Public Advocate will be an opportunity to fight for working-class New Yorkers in every borough. And the work starts now,” said Councilwoman and Public Advocate-Elect Letitia “Tish” James. “I’m grateful to the outstanding group of distinguished New Yorkers who have joined our transition team and who will play an important role in transforming the Office of the Public Advocate and bringing progressive change to the City of New York.”

Karine Jean-Pierre will serve as the Executive Director of the transition and oversee all operations. Jean-Pierre is a well-respected political professional with deep national and city-wide experience, including her tenure as campaign manager during James’ successful runoff campaign. “I’m honored and humbled to continue working with Public Advocate-Elect Letitia James to help ensure a successful transition,” said Karine Jean Pierre. “Tish’s thoughtful approach to this transition and the enthusiasm so many New Yorkers feel for her role as the next Public Advocate will help to truly transform the office.” 

Rossana Rosado: “I am honored to chair Public Advocate-Elect Letitia James’ transition committee and lead this innovative transition that will seek input from New Yorkers and use it to shape the Office of the Public Advocate as a platform for addressing the most pressing challenges of our time.” 

Ms. Rosado is the Publisher Emeritus of El Diario La Prensa, the oldest and most read Spanish-language newspaper in New York.

C. Virginia Fields: “Serving as a co-chair for Public Advocate-Elect James is a real privilege, particularly because I share Tish’s vision of fighting for working families. I’m eager to contribute to this transition and build a strong platform for the Public Advocate to engage with New Yorkers and meet the challenges that await our great city.” 

Ms. Fields is a former Manhattan Borough President and long-time civil rights leader.

Reshma Saujani: “I’ve seen, first-hand, how hard Public Advocate-Elect Letitia James works to reach out to New Yorkers and make sure every single voice is heard. That’s why I’m proud to join Tish’s transition committee as a co-chair and help build the foundation for a successful Public Advocate office that works for working people and moves our entire city forward.” 

Ms. Saujani is the founder of the national non-profit organization Girls Who Code and a former Deputy Public Advocate. 

Hector Figueroa: “I’m honored to serve on Public Advocate-Elect Letitia James’ transition committee because working men and women in our city need a champion in the Public Advocate’s Office. I know Tish will bring the same passion to this transition effort that she displayed in the campaign and throughout her tenure as an exemplary public servant.”

Mr. Figueroa is the President of 32BJ SEIU, the largest property services union in the country representing 145,000 property service workers. 

Hon. Emily Jane Goodman: “For years, Tish James has embodied what it means to be a public advocate. Now, she will officially be the New York City Public Advocate and continue to be a champion for progressive causes in our city. I’m honored and privileged to serve as co-chair of the transition committee and help make the Public Advocate’s Office a real vehicle for change.”

Judge Goodman is a former New York State Supreme Court Justice. She has been a respected voice for women’s rights and civil rights and her work has been widely published. 

Richard Kahan: “Public Advocate-Elect Letitia James’ transition will be just the first – but a critical – step in creating a dynamic and forceful office that looks out for every single New Yorker. I am honored to serve on her transition committee and eager to continue working with Tish as she fights for communities and neighborhoods throughout New York City.”

Mr. Kahan is the founder and CEO of the Urban Assembly. He has also served as Chair and CEO of the Battery Park City Authority and as President and CEO of the New York State Urban Development Corporation.

Nermeen Arastu: "I am honored to work for our city by serving on the transition committee of Public Advocate-Elect Letitia James. As the first woman of color to be voted into city-wide office, Tish has proven she can break barriers and overcome odds.  Under her dynamic leadership, we look forward to setting a foundation for a strong and robust Public Advocate's office which elevates the marginalized voices of our city."

Ms. Arastu is a clinical law professor and supervising attorney in the Immigrant & Non-Citizen Rights Clinic of Main Street Legal Services at the City University of New York School of Law. She serves on the Muslim Bar Association of New York (MuBANY).

Sonia Ossorio: “This transition will be the start of a real, substantive effort to make the Public Advocate’s Office the go-to place for progressive change in New York City. Public Advocate-Elect Letitia James understands that we can’t tackle the big issues like affordable housing, education, and poverty if we don’t put women and families front and center.”

Ms. Ossorio is President of the National Organization for Women, New York City Chapter (NOW-NYC). She is a former journalist and a respected authority on women’s rights.

Arva Rice: “I am honored to serve on the Public Advocate transition committee and I’m confident that we will use this process to make the Office of the Public Advocate even more responsive to the needs of everyday New Yorkers. I’m excited to continue working with Public Advocate-Elect James as she leads our city into the future and takes on the very real challenges facing New Yorkers in every corner of the city.” 

Ms. Rice is the President and CEO of the New York Urban league and a long-time veteran of in the not-for-profit sector. 

Victor A. Kovner: “Holding a transition process that is inclusive and thoughtful is exactly the right approach to boosting the Public Advocate’s Office so it works more effectively for New Yorkers. I’m proud to join Public Advocate-Elect Letitia James on the transition team and look forward to engaging with leaders and the public at large throughout the transition.” 

Mr. Kovner is a prominent attorney, serving as a partner at the firm Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP. He is a veteran of Democratic politics and New York City government.

Dr. Lester W. Young Jr.: “Councilwoman James has distinguished herself in the City Council and she will be a great Public Advocate who works tirelessly on behalf of all New Yorkers. I’m truly honored to serve on the transition team. Together, we will listen to the concerns of New Yorkers and use this input to come up with a progressive roadmap for the Public Advocate’s Office.” 

Dr. Young is a renowned education expert and a member of the New York State Board of Regents. He has been credited with various accomplishments in the field of education including the successful establishment of schools across NE York City.

José Calderón:  "At the Hispanic Federation, we've been on the front lines of the most pressing issues facing the Latino community and all New Yorkers. It's why we appreciate the need to have a strong, active Office of the Public Advocate that takes on issues like civil rights, economic and social justice, and access to quality healthcare, education, and housing. I'm honored to serve on the Public Advocate-Elect's transition committee and look forward to contributing to a successful transition." 

Mr. Calderón is President of the Hispanic Federation, the nation’s premier Latino non-profit membership organization.

Jenny Low: “I join the Public Advocate-Elect’s transition committee with a great sense of purpose and excitement. I look forward to contributing my business and civic experience to help Tish create a responsive and forward thinking Public Advocate’s office that gives voice to every community in New York.” 

Ms. Low is a Democratic district leader from Chinatown and brings a wealth of experience in business and community activism.

Kenneth J. Knuckles: “The Public Advocate’s Office can be a tremendous platform for advancing innovative polices that help uplift neighborhoods and communities across the City. I’m honored to play a role on Public Advocate-Elect Letitia James’ transition team and to help set the stage for a promising tenure that will boost New York City in the areas of housing, economic development, healthcare access, overall quality of life.”

Mr. Knuckles is the Chair and CEO of the Upper Manhattan Empire Zone Development Corporation and the Vice-Chair of the City Planning Commission.

Betsy Gotbaum: “As a former Public Advocate, I am honored to join the transition committee and offer my advice and experience in an effort to shape a Public Advocate’s Office that serves New York’s present and future needs. I look forward to working with Public Advocate-Elect James and sharing my institutional experience. I know Tish will be a remarkable Public Advocate and continue to fight for working families across every borough of our city.”

Ms. Gotbaum is a former New York City Public Advocate who served two terms with distinction.

More about sub-committees: 

  • Affordable Housing/Economic Development Committee – Working-class New Yorkers continue to be priced out of their own neighborhoods by rising rents and stagnant incomes. The committee will examine ways to boost and preserve affordable housing in the City, how to build more workforce housing in every borough, and the need for responsible development that creates good-paying jobs while supporting local communities.


  • Legal Services– With a seemingly endless list of legal fights to be waged on behalf of working people, the committee will consider bringing experts from the field of law together, including as part of a pro-bono network of lawyers who take on cases on behalf of the Public Advocate’s Office. The Public Advocate will act as a public interest lawyer who fights for the city’s underprivileged and those who need representation at the highest levels of government.


  • Education– Over the last decade serious problems have emerged in our educational system, namely an over-reliance on test taking, a growing achievement gap, a lack of college-readiness, and forced co-locations. The committee will examine how the Public Advocate’s Office can address these issues, study the top concerns faced by parents around New York City, and come up with a roadmap for using the Public Advocate’s Office to return parents’ voices into our school system.


  • Public/Private Partnerships – Following years of neglect, the not-for-profit infrastructure is in need of immediate greater support. The committee will study ways to strengthen the City’s not-for-profit sector and better connect it with private industries resulting in partnerships that uplift communities. It will examine how can the needs of individual neighborhoods and communities be better addressed by not-for-profit groups and what role can businesses play.


  • Human Services – One need look no further than the alarming rate of homelessness to find a symbol for the need to urgently address human services in New York City. The committee will consider the City’s social safety net and how to best repair it. One area it will specifically address is establishing an Immigrant Outreach Unit in the Public Advocate’s Office.

The transition committee will shortly announce the dates and locations of town hall–style meetings.


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commented 2013-11-22 21:49:10 -0500 · Flag
The people have spoken. I firmly believe that as Public Advocate-Elect you will continue to now represent with zeal a much wider constituency. All the best in your new charges.
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