August 19, 2013
By Gale A. Brewer, Member, City Council
New York, NY – As Deputy Mayor, Bill Lynch appointed me Director of the Federal Office in New York in 1990. He was a great boss. We invited Mayors from all over the United States to join Mayor Dinkins in thinking creatively about urban issues, and I organized the conferences and the policy papers. A highlight was being at Gracie Mansion with a group of Mayors when Nelson Mandela “dropped by.”
I remember that it was a very hot day, he spoke brilliantly but for a long time, and we all were ecstatic to be in the audience. As Director of the Federal office, I brought together city agencies to apply for federal grants; this had never been tried, and the agencies were successful in obtaining funds.
With the support of Bill Lynch, I was also appointed the Executive Director of the Commission on the Status of Women. He was known as the “rumpled genius,” and he was that and more. We will all miss him, and how he improved the lives of thousands of New Yorkers in ways they aren’t aware of. He changed the dialogue here and around the world with his branding which was brilliant and unique, and by getting new faces and ideas a seat at the table. One idea that I remember and want to implement, and that was and is controversial but makes sense is to help the residents of NYCHA organize their buildings; hire organizers who will support the tenants.
The beautiful and meaningful service for Bill Lynch on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at Riverside Church was befitting the great person that he was.