Channeling his oft-referenced campaign theme of a “Tale of Two Cities” (a theme first introduced in a speech here at The New School) Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio appointed New School for Social Research alumna Lilliam Barrios-Paoli as Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services today. The appointment marks a continuation of a career dedicated to helping some of New York City’s people that struggle the most. Since completing her PhD degree in Anthropology in 1978, she has gone on to hold roles in three of the last four mayoral administrations, as well as lead many of the city’s largest nonprofits, including the United Way and Safe Space.
As quoted in a Politicker article announcing the appointment, Mr. de Blasio expressed his admiration for Barrios-Paoli’s work:
“Lilliam has dedicated her career to protecting the most vulnerable New Yorkers. No one understands better than she the consequences of this Tale of Two Cities we are living. To lift families out of poverty and to sustain vital services, we need real leaders who can put bold ideas into practice. That’s what Lilliam is going to deliver.”
As the new Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, Barrios-Paoli will oversee agencies that include the Department for Aging, Department of Health and Mental Health, and the Department of Homeless Services, among others. In a time where mounting poverty and historic levels of inequality batter New York City, the new Deputy Mayor has her work cut out for her. Two of Barrios-Paoli’s major and immediate challenges will focus on addressing the rising number of homeless in the city and access to health services.