News and Speeches

Dennis Walcott Addresses Department of Education Employees at Tweed

4/8/2011

Deputy Mayor Overseeing Education Since 2002; Former Member of the Board of Education; Began Career as Kindergarten Teacher

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has appointed Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis M. Walcott as Chancellor of New York City Public Schools, following the resignation today of Chancellor Cathleen Black. Walcott, who has served as Deputy Mayor since the beginning of the Bloomberg Administration in 2002, has been Mayor Bloomberg’s City Hall point person on all educational and youth policy. Prior to the Mayor’s election, Walcott served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York City Urban League, as a member of the New York City Board of Education, as a kindergarten teacher, and as an adjunct professor of social work at CUNY’s York College.

“The progress we have made in our schools over the last nine years has been extraordinary,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Cathie Black became Chancellor of our school system earlier this year and worked tirelessly to continue to build on our progress. I have nothing but respect and admiration for her, but we both agree it is in the City’s best interest if she steps down as Chancellor. I am pleased to announce that Dennis Walcott – a key part of, and a leader on, all of our education reform initiatives – will serve as the City’s new Schools Chancellor.”

“I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg for this opportunity to serve New York City’s 1.1 million school children,” said Deputy Mayor Walcott. “With my children and my grandson, my family now represents four generations of New York City public school children, and I am determined to ensure that we deliver what our parents expect and deserve – a higher quality education.”

Upon approval from the New York State Board of Regents, Walcott will step down as Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development. as Deputy Mayor, Walcott oversees and coordinates the operations of the Department of Education, the New York City Housing Authority, the Department of Youth and Community Development, and the Mayor’s Office of Adult Education. He also reviews the activities of the New York City School Construction Authority, City University of New York, and the City University Construction Fund. Walcott is also responsible for collaborating with community-based organizations citywide and coordinating policies concerning youth programs and adult education. He currently serves on the board of the Trust for Governors Island, and previously served as Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Commission for Construction Opportunity.

Since 2002, Walcott has been Mayor Bloomberg’s point person on all City educational and youth policy, planning and programmatic efforts. Walcott has been part of every key educational policy decision of the Administration and the Department of Education: helping to champion Mayoral control of the City schools in 2002 and securing its reauthorization; ending social promotion; developing the Department of Education’s capital program; overseeing the opening of 474 new schools; supporting the establishing of 109 charter schools and championing the lifting of the charter school cap.

A graduate of New York City public schools – PS 36, JHS 192, and Francis Lewis High School – and a lifelong resident of Southeast Queens, Walcott began his career as a Kindergarten teacher after graduating from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut with a Bachelor’s degree and a Master of Education. He earned a Master of Social Work from Fordham University and served as an adjunct professor of social work at CUNY’s York College.

Before joining the Bloomberg Administration, Walcott was the President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Urban League, where for more than 12 years he expanded educational and youth service programs including Jeter’s Leaders and Bridge to Brotherhood programs, Healthy Start, Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership, and the 140th Street Building Block Program.  His work centered on academic excellence, promoting attendance, drop-out prevention, and developing college scholarship programs though effective public private partnerships, including with Wall Street.

Mayor David Dinkins appointed Walcott as a citywide member of the New York City Board of Education in May 1993.

Walcott also chaired the City’s Voter Assistance Commission under Mayor Dinkins, spearheading a significant effort to educate the voting public on the importance of participation in community school board elections. In 2000, Walcott was appointed to serve on a broad based task force that studied school governance policies convened by State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Partnership for New York City President & CEO Kathy Wylde.

Prior to joining the Urban League, Walcott served as the Executive Director of the Harlem Dowling Westside Center where he expanded services to children and families, developing integrated partnerships in education and children’s services.  Before joining Harlem Dowling, Walcott worked at the Greater New York Fund/United Way, as well as at Spence Chapin Adoption Services from 1977 to 1979, where he was a foster care worker. In 1975, Walcott founded the Frederick Douglass Brother-to-Brother program, a mentoring program for boys who needed a male model in their lives, which he ran until 1978. In 1997, Walcott was appointed President of Community School District 5. Walcott has served on numerous other boards including Carver Bank Corporation and the Primary Care Development Corporation.

Walcott and his wife Denise have four children and two grandsons.