Baruch College Alumni Chosen for Top City Hall Positions
February 7, 2022
Five Baruch College alumni have been appointed to high-ranking city government positions by NYC Mayor and City College alumnus Eric Adams, who assumed office on January 1.
These appointments are another example of Baruch alumni’s indelible contributions to New York’s government, economy, and culture.
“We are proud of our alumni who have been chosen to serve in Mayor Adams’ administration,” said Baruch College President S. David Wu. “This is a critical moment in the City’s history, and Baruch alumni are the highest quality and most resilient leaders New York City needs to meet the challenges of today and lay the foundations for a better tomorrow.”
President Wu added, “These appointments are great testimonies to the caliber of leadership and relentless pursuit of excellence in Baruch alumni, who continue to make outstanding contributions to iconic organizations in our City, our State and beyond.”
The following alumni have all been named to top posts in Mayor Adams’ administration:
Manuel Castro (MPA ’14)
Manuel “Manny” Castro was appointed as Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), marking the first time the post will be held by a formerly undocumented person.
Prior to his appointment, Castro was the Executive Director of New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE), a Queens-based nonprofit and member organization of the New York Immigration Coalition, with over 15,000 registered members fighting for the labor rights of immigrant New Yorkers.
Before leading NICE, Castro led NYIC’s state and Federal campaign work. A fierce advocate and exceptional organizer, he has spent 15 years fighting for immigrant rights. Castro holds a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Anthropology from Hampshire College and received his Master of Public Administration Degree from the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch.
José Bayona (’09)
José Bayona will lead the newly created Mayor’s Office of Community and Ethnic Media, where he will act as the liaison to City Hall for more than 300 print, digital, and broadcast outlets that provide news and information in three dozen languages in neighborhoods all over the city.
Bayona earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from the CUNY Baccalaureate Program in 2009, with the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences as his base college, then went on to get his master’s degree from the CUNY Newmark School of Journalism. In addition to his work at City Hall, Bayona is the CEO and founder of Grassroots Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in politics and multicultural communities. He’s also worked for the Daily News, writing for and covering the city’s Spanish-speaking communities, and for NY1.
His past work in city government includes serving as press secretary for Mayor Bill de Blasio, for the city’s Administration for Children’s Services, and for the city Department of Transportation.
Lisa Fitzpatrick (’99, MPA ’10)
Lisa Fitzpatrick has been appointed as Administrator at the HRA, where she will help to oversee all program areas and ensure that New Yorkers are able to access essential benefits such as emergency rental assistance, food assistance, and domestic violence services.
According to a press release from the Mayor’s Office, “With over 37 years in HRA, Lisa Fitzpatrick has worked her way up the ranks, from an eligibility specialist to the chief program officer for the Medical Assistance Program and the Family Independence Administration (FIA). She has also held a wide variety of other positions, including as assistant deputy commissioner of the Office of Procedures and Deputy Commissioner for FIA Operations. Fitzpatrick is a strong client and staff advocate who continuously looks for ways to improve access to benefits and services.”
Fitzpatrick earned both her Bachelor of Business Administration from the Zicklin School of Business and her MPA from the Marxe School.
Eric Ulrich (MPA ’16)
Eric Ulrich, formerly a New York City Council Member serving southwest Queens, was named a Senior Advisor to the Mayor in early January.
First elected in a special election in 2009, Ulrich served his district with distinction for twelve years. During that time, according to a press release from the Mayor’s office, Ulrich was “instrumental in passing legislation that established the New York City Department of Veterans Services.”
Following Superstorm Sandy, Ulrich led the relief effort at City Hall, helping the residents of his district rebuild and recover. In 2016 he earned his Master of Public Administration from the Marxe School.
The Mayor’s Office described Ulrich as “the product of New York City public and parochial schools, and the first member of his family to earn a college degree.”
In May, Mayor Adams appointed Ulrich as commissioner of the Department of Buildings (DOB) and Kazimir Vilenchik, P.E. as first deputy commissioner. As part of the leadership team at DOB, he will enforce the city’s construction codes and zoning resolution, as well as the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law, to protect workers and the public on construction sites and in the city’s nearly 1.1 million buildings. Ulrich will also help play a key role in advancing the city’s sustainability goals.
Ivette Davila-Richards (’03)
Ivette Davila-Richards will join City Hall as a deputy press secretary, working to help Mayor Adams communicate his agenda to the media and the public. Davila-Richards, who was born in Puerto Rico and raised in Brooklyn, earned her bachelor’s degree in corporate communications from the Weissman School.
According to the Mayor’s Office, “Davila-Richards previously served as a national assignment editor at Fox News Channel and an associate producer at CBS News, where she produced content for CBS This Morning Saturday, Sunday Morning, and 48 Hours.
Davila-Richards is the current secretary-treasurer of the National Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). She is also the vice chair of SPJ’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee, serves on the Deadline Club NY Chapter Executive Council, and held leadership roles at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.”
Baruch Alumni: Power Positions in Public Service
This latest round of high-profile appointments to the new Mayoral Administration is a prominent example of Baruch’s track record educating New York’s leaders, but it’s only one piece of a much larger picture.
For example, Diana Richardson (MPA ’10) was just appointed Deputy Borough President in Brooklyn. Also, two Baruch alumni were just recently elected (or re-elected) to public office, including:
- Vanessa Gibson (MPA ’09), Bronx Borough President
- Francisco Moya (MPA ’14), New York City Council Member
There are an additional seven elected officials who attended Baruch College and are now serving in public office in New York State:
- Carl Heastie (MBA ’07), New York State Assembly Speaker
- Simcha Felder (MBA ’89), New York State Senator
- Emily Gallagher (MPA Candidate), New York State Assembly Member
- Ron Kim (MPA ’06), New York State Assembly Member
- Yuh-Lin Niou (MPA ’11), New York State Assembly Member
- Gary Pretlow (’78), New York State Assembly Member
- Karines Reyes, New York State Assembly Member
Another way that Baruch has aided the new administration is through the CUNY Civic Engagement Internship program, which placed nearly 50 CUNY students with the Mayor’s transition team. These interns, 10 of whom are Baruch students, are helping to lay the foundation of Mayor Adams’ agenda through research and policy development.
Behind the scenes, countless Baruch alumni have long careers as public servants, working across a wide range of offices and agencies to do the work of government. Their dedication to public service is an admirable example for future graduates in any field to follow, and the College is proud to have contributed to their success and efforts.