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Conversations with leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors about working together to make NYC greater.

NYC Department of City Planning: Working Within the Crisis to Build a More Equitable City

Throughout the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, many New Yorkers have become far more aware of the inner workings of city and state government, especially through the daily press briefings delivered by Governor Andrew Cuomo. But behind the bullet points is an entire orchestra of government workers, regulators, city employees, and more who are firing on all cylinders to attack the crisis from all angles. Marisa Lago, head of the Department of City Planning and the chair of the City Planning Commission since early 2017, explains exactly what goes into city planning — and what citizens get out of it.


Marisa Lago was appointed as Director of the New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) and Chair of the City Planning Commission (CPC) by Mayor Bill de Blasio in February 2017. Having previously served under Mayors Koch and Dinkins, this is her third stint working for the City of New York.

At DCP, Lago has spearheaded the adoption of transformative neighborhood plans, including in East Harlem and along the Bronx’s Jerome Avenue. Each of these comprehensive plans is the end result of extensive community engagement by the City to identify and meet the needs of longtime and future residents. She oversaw the adoption of the Greater East Midtown plan, which has already catalyzed new modern office development, secured public realm improvements and benefited local institutions in one of New York’s most important and busiest business districts. Under her direction, DCP has published digital tools that encourage civic participation, including interactive data maps. And, for the first time, DCP is now livestreaming CPC meetings for the public.

Before returning to New York City, Lago served in the Obama Administration as Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Before that, Lago was the President and Chief Executive Officer of New York State’s Empire State Development, where she advanced projects such as the construction of Brooklyn Bridge Park, and the expansion and renovation of the Jacob Javits Convention Center.

Lago, who has also worked in the private sector, led the Boston Redevelopment Authority, where she was responsible for the city’s public housing, affordable housing, neighborhood development and job training agencies from 1994 to 1997.

From 1990 to 1994, Lago served as General Counsel of New York City’s Economic Development Corporation. Lago earned a J.D. cum laude in 1982 from Harvard Law School, and a B.S. in physics from Cooper Union in 1977.




Cheryl Cohen Effron

Cheryl Cohen Effron spent most of her career as a New York-based real estate developer. Ms. Effron left full-time real estate work to dedicate her time to tri-sector (government, non-profit and corporate) solutions for urban issues. Ms. Effron is currently board chair of Greater NY, a non-profit she co-founded during the financial crisis in 2009 which pairs civic leaders in the business world with the heads of non-profit organizations in two-year one-on-one strategic partnerships.


Jamie Rubin

Jamie Rubin is a veteran of federal and state government and a longtime investment professional. He served in the Clinton Administration, then spent 15 years on Wall Street as an investment banker and partner with two global private equity firms. Jamie rejoined the public sector in 2012. Jamie is now CEO of Meridiam NA, a developer of large infrastructure projects in the US and Canada. Jamie is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School. He and his wife, author and podcaster Gretchen Rubin, live in New York City with their daughters and a dog.