New School Year, and Some New Staff

New School Year, and Some New Staff

Despite the hurricane and the earthquake, I hope you had a great end to the summer and are looking forward to the new school year, as New York City’s public schools start this morning.

There are, of course, many pressing political debates surrounding public education – budget cuts, class size, overcrowding, high-stakes testing, accountability, achievement gaps, curriculum, special education, parent involvement – that I’ll have more to say about as the year goes on, and that I look forward to hearing about from many of you.

But for today – like millions of other parents – I’m full of hope for a great year for our kids, and grateful to the teachers and specialists, principals and administrators, school food staff, crossing guards, custodians, PTA parent leaders and volunteers, and so many others who make it all possible.

Two quick notes:

  • From time to time, my office brings parents together from across the district to work on education issues. Working together last year, we put together the “School Food Rocks” conference, organized around budget cuts and teacher data reports, and sponsored the Brooklyn PTA 5k run for schools. Please let us know if you are interested in being part of that conversation by emailing me at lander [at] council [dot] nyc [dot] gov (subject: Please%20add%20me%20to%20education%20issue%20email%20list) .
  • Changes at the John Jay High School campus, where Millennium Brooklyn High School opens today, have focused our community’s attention on the strengths and needs of the existing schools there – the Secondary Schools for Journalism and Law, and the newly-renamed Park Slope Collegiate. One way to support students there is by volunteering to becoming a mentor – and I’m pleased to report that Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope will be recruiting and placing volunteer mentors with students who need their support. If you are interested, please email my office at lander [at] council [dot] nyc [dot] gov (subject: Mentoring%20at%20John%20Jay%20High%20School) , and we’ll get you the details.*

Meet Our New Staff

I also wanted to introduce you to some new members of our team, who will be working with me to help address your concerns and issues facing our communities:

Catherine Zinnel recently joined our team as district director to coordinate our constituent service and community issues work. Catherine is a graduate of Hunter College and lives in Carroll Gardens. She most recently served our city at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).

Alex Moore started in July as our new communications and events director, so you will be hearing a lot from him. Alex comes to us from Washington, DC, where he worked for Friends of the Earth and the Hotel Trades Council.

Sigourney LaBarre started with us earlier this summer as our new scheduler and office manager. Sigourney is managing our office’s calendar, helping constituents address problems, and running the day-to-day operations of our office. Sigourney is a recent Barnard graduate who interned with us last summer and fall.

Rachel Goodman continues as chief-of-staff, Michael Freedman-Schnapp as policy director, and Gabi Friedlander as community liaison.

You can reach us at my district office at 456 5th Avenue (between 9th & 10th Street, above Neergard Pharmacy), via e-mail at lander [at] council [dot] nyc [dot] gov, or by calling 718-499-1090.

Good luck in the coming school year,


*If mentoring a student at the John Jay high school campus is not the right fit for you, but you are interested in serving our community in other ways, please visit the service page of my website,, for more opportunities.