Witnessing my students’ pain at the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, compounded by the growing COVID crisis compelled me to action. To provide immediate relief, I organized a fundraiser to hand deliver direct aid to our families, and connected undocumented residents with additional support.
In the absence of in-person education, we reimagined how People’s Theatre Project could continue to serve our community. First, I committed to keeping my staff employed. Then we launched a weekly web series to amplify stories of hope and resilience, highlighting the small businesses, nonprofits, and government officials working to get us through these dual epidemics. And when the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) was cut from the city budget in June, I brought together 14 local arts & culture nonprofits to create a virtual arts summer camp for over 200 children and teens.
As part of my work on the New York Immigrant Coalition’s Leadership Council, I met with Senator Chuck Schumer to demand all immigrant New Yorkers be included in the federal COVID relief bill, which was later gutted by Republicans. While co-organizing a Children’s March for Black Lives in Upper Manhattan that featured a line up of youth speakers and was attended by over 1,000 people – I realized running for office needed to be part of my plan.