Mayor de Blasio Appoints Julie Menin as Commissioner of Department of Consumer Affairs

April 24, 2014

Video available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwAbbfz2kYQ

Former small business owner and community leader brings consumer law expertise and neighborhood outreach experience to DCA

Administration pledges to ease punitive fines and enhance engagement with small businesses; increase information pathways for consumers and employers

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today appointed Julie Menin as New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner. In this role, Menin will lead the administration’s engagement efforts with businesses and consumers from neighborhoods across the five boroughs to ensure the city’s consumer protection laws are followed, inspector fines are fairly levied, and consumer complaints are handled quickly and efficiently.

A former restaurant owner, regulatory attorney and community leader, Menin brings two decades of experience to the department. Menin will be charged with empowering consumers and businesses to ensure a fair and vibrant marketplace by placing a major focus on respectfully enforcing the city’s consumer protection laws, and implementing aggressive outreach targeted at consumers and businesses in all five boroughs. 

“My administration is committed to ensuring that both consumers and businesses are armed with the information they need to build up the city’s vibrant economy,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Julie understands that small businesses are the key to economic growth in our city—and I know she will apply regulations with public safety, not city revenues, in mind. From getting the word out about paid sick leave to helping immigrant businesses access assistance programs, Julie will play a key role in the administration’s efforts to protect and support businesses and consumers alike.”

In her work as a regulatory attorney, Menin specialized in consumer protection law, helping to ensure businesses complied with product safety regulations and protecting against deceptive advertising. As a former restaurant owner in lower Manhattan and as the founder and president of a non-profit dedicated to the revitalization of lower Manhattan after September 11, 2001, Menin has navigated the complex relationship between city regulatory agencies and small businesses. Menin also brings years of experience working successfully with diverse city constituencies to DCA. As chairperson of Community Board 1, she worked successfully across a variety of neighborhoods and brokered key compromises among diverse communities.

“I became a lawyer decades ago to protect consumers and help businesses comply with the law—and I’m thrilled to lead an agency that pursues this goal across all five boroughs. This department has a real impact on the daily lives of all New Yorkers and plays a critical role in educating and protecting our city’s consumers and business owners. I look forward to supporting the Mayor’s vision of providing all business owners, employees and consumers access to the resources they need to keep our city’s economy growing,” said incoming Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin.

“From running her own business to stewarding the return of lower Manhattan to vibrancy, Julie knows what it takes to get the job done. As commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs, I know Julie is going to be a tireless advocate for small businesses in every borough and will ensure their growth,” said Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez.

“The Department of Consumer Affairs plays an essential role in ensuring our city’s consumers are treated fairly, and providing small and immigrant-owned businesses the resources they need to thrive. Julie has worked tirelessly for decades to uphold consumer safety laws  and to support this city’s small business community in lower Manhattan—and she knows, first-hand, what local businesses need from the DCA. I’m thrilled the Mayor is bringing a former small business owner and talented community leader to head this critical department today,” said Deborah Wright, President and CEO of Carver Bankcorp.

“As a former small business owner and a leading community activist, Julie will fight to protect small businesses by ensuring the enforcement process is fair and the laws are better understood by business owners across every neighborhood in New York City. We look forward to working with the new commissioner, so that New York City’s small businesses, the engine of our economic growth, are respected and encouraged to grow and prosper,” said Carlos Scissura, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.

“Reaching out to businesses and to workers to ensure that the expanded paid sick leave law is rolled out smoothly is important to all of us who fought for it. In putting Julie at the helm of DCA, the Mayor has made a great choice of someone who really understands the business community and regulatory law, as well as the concerns of workers,” said Nancy Rankin, Vice President for Policy Research at Community Service Society.

“Julie Menin is a great choice for Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs. She’s been a longtime community advocate and a small business owner, as well as a community board member and chairperson. After September 11, Julie was a key voice and advocate for all the diverse communities that comprise lower Manhattan and fought tirelessly to ensure that residents and small businesses received the grants and loans they needed to recover and rebuild their homes, their businesses and their lives, and to stay in the community. She understands the needs and concerns of both consumers and workers, is deeply committed, and will use her considerable frontline experience to protect their rights and interests. She will make an outstanding commissioner,” said Christopher Kui, Executive Director of Asian Americans for Equality.

About Julie Menin:

An accomplished lawyer and community leader, Julie Menin began her career as a regulatory attorney at Wiley, Rein & Fielding in Washington D.C. in 1992, and worked as a senior regulatory attorney at Colgate-Palmolive in New York City beginning in 1995. Menin specialized in consumer protection law, helping ensure businesses complied with product safety regulations and were not engaged in deceptive advertising. In 1999, she opened and operated Vine, her own restaurant, market and catering operation, in lower Manhattan.

After September 11, Menin founded and ran the non-profit Wall Street Rising to help lower Manhattan recover. Menin helped small businesses collect business interruption insurance, grew the organization to 30,000 members, and created a variety of community programs, including the Retail Attraction Program—which helped more than 600 small businesses stay in lower Manhattan.

Beginning in 2005, Menin served as Chairperson for Community Board 1 for three consecutive terms, and was widely recognized as helping spearhead lower Manhattan’s recovery after September 11. In 2009, she created, hosted and produced NBC’s Give & Take, an interview show focused on politics, current events, media and health. Menin has served on the boards of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, The NYC Redistricting Commission, the Municipal Art Society, Governor’s Island, and the WTC Performing Arts Center, among others. Menin ran for Manhattan Borough President in 2013.

Menin earned her B.A. Magna Cum Laude at Columbia University and attended Northwestern University School of Law. She resides in lower Manhattan with her husband and three sons.

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