Mayoral Candidates Forum – First in Series


Join us for the first of our two New York City Mayoral Candidates Forums at 7:00 PM EDT on Monday, May 24. In partnership with our 501(c)(4), WE ACT 4 Change, we will be hosting several mayoral candidates, including Shaun Donovan and Maya Wiley, each of whom will be given 40 minutes to tell us why they are the best candidate and how they will tackle environmental racism in our community. Attendees will also have an opportunity to ask them questions. And you can learn more about these candidates by reading their bios below.

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Shaun Donovan has dedicated his life to public service, tackled the biggest challenges facing New York City and the nation, and fought for people and communities too often left behind.

In his hometown, he is working with residents and community organizations to deliver restaurant meals to families affected by COVID, to revitalize public housing, and to make sure every New Yorker is counted in the 2020 Census. He is also working with local leaders and foundations to rebuild Puerto Rico and help families hit by the devastating storms. He serves as a Trustee of the Urban Institute and on the Advisory Board of Opportunity Insights.

Shaun served in President Obama’s Cabinet for his full eight years in office. From January 2009 to July 2014, Shaun was the 15th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, where he led the fight against the nation’s unprecedented foreclosure crisis. Under his leadership, HUD helped families rent or buy affordable homes, revitalized distressed communities, fought discrimination and dramatically reduced homelessness. After Hurricane Sandy hit his hometown, President Obama asked him to lead the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, leaving a stronger, more resilient region than before the storm hit.

In July, 2014, he was sworn in as the 40th Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. At OMB, Shaun increased investment in key domes c and national security priorities that grew the economy, protected our country and increased opportunity. And he oversaw regulations that reduced inequality, expanded health care, improved education and fought climate change.

Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Donovan served as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. He also served in the Clinton administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Multifamily Housing at HUD and as acting FHA Commissioner.

Deeply affected by the crisis he saw around him growing up, he volunteered in a homeless shelter during college and interned for the National Coalition for the Homeless when he graduated. After studying housing in graduate school, he returned to work for the nonprofit Community Preservation Corporation in the Bronx and across New York City.

Donovan holds a B.A. and M.A. in Public Administration and Architecture from Harvard University. Shaun was born and grew up in New York City, and is married to Liza Gilbert, a Landscape Architect who has designed and restored parks in New York City and across the country. Shaun and Liza live in Brooklyn, where they raised their sons Milo and Lucas.


Maya Wiley has spent her entire life fighting for our communities and against structural racism. She started her education in an underfunded and segregated public school and went on to graduate from Dartmouth College and Columbia Law School. After law school, she became a civil rights lawyer for the ACLU and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where she fought to save neonatal care, and a maternity ward in Harlem. Wanting to give back more, Maya founded a nonprofit and spent the next dozen years fighting to end structural racism as a working mom. In the five years since she resigned from the de Blasio administration, she has taught at The New School and, as the volunteer chair of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, she has held NYPD officers accountable.

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