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Mayor de Blasio Nominates Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board

February 13, 2020

NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio today nominated Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez for appointment to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Board. Cortés-Vázquez has served as the Commissioner of the Department of Aging since April 2019, and has extensive experience in government, private and non-profit sectors. As an East Harlem native currently living in the Bronx, Cortés-Vázquez will fight for more equitable and reliable transportation for all New Yorkers and to ensure the MTA functions more efficiently as it undergoes operational transformation.

“Lorraine’s vast experience in government, the private and non-profit sectors, partnered with her clear dedication to our city, will make her a great addition to this Board,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “New Yorkers will have an excellent advocate in Lorraine, who will work tirelessly to make our public transportation system more reliable.”

“Growing up in East Harlem, the 103 street station was my subway stop for more than 25 years. Now, as a Bronxite, I’ve experienced transportation from an outer borough perspective. I am grateful for the Mayor’s nomination to the MTA board and will serve as a dedicated advocate for vulnerable New Yorkers who rely on the MTA,” said New York City Department for the Aging Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez. “MTA accessibility, safety, and affordability ensure that New Yorkers are connected to essential services and all that the City has to offer. I look forward to using this seating as a platform to encourage innovation and growth toward a more age-inclusive City and State.”

Speaker Corey Johnson said: “Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez is an excellent choice for the MTA board and I look forward to fighting alongside her to improve our mass transit system. I believe our city needs more control over our subways and buses and I know Lorraine will work tirelessly on behalf of the millions of New Yorkers who rely on public transportation every day.”

Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz said: “Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez has demonstrated a commitment to public service over many years. I welcome her nomination to the MTA Board where she will continue to fight for better and improved bus and subway service.”

“Commissioner Lorraine Cortes Vasquez comes with a vast knowledge of government and advocacy, and I am proud that the MTA Board will be welcoming a strong champion for seniors and accessibility improvements. I look forward to working with her and fellow Board Members to push for the investments needed to build a strong 21st century public transportation system that all New Yorkers – regardless of age – can depend on,” said Council Member Margaret Chin.

“Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez’ appointment to the MTA Board is another vitally important step forward for accessibility in New York City. New Yorkers of all ages and abilities deserve and need full access to our mass transit system. As Commissioner of the Department for the Aging, Lorraine will bring a critical perspective to the MTA and we welcome her leadership,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. 

"The Mayor's nomination of Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez comes at a very crucial time in the MTA's history. The City approved a historic Capital budget program totaling over $54 Billion dollars for the next 4 years. We need to see drastic improvements to our subways and buses, especially in the outer-boroughs where transit deserts impact riders daily," said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chairman of the Transportation Committee. "I look forward to working alongside Ms. Cortés-Vázquez ensuring we make the MTA more equitable, accessible and reliable for all New Yorkers."

"Mayor de Blasio has made an excellent choice in nominating Commissioner Cortés-Vázquez to serve on the MTA board," said Danny Harris, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. "Older New Yorkers won't be able to age in place without a transit system that serves their needs. We expect the addition of Commissioner Cortés -Vazquez to the board will elevate the urgency of making the system accessible to all, and we look forward to working in support of that effort."

Eric McClure, Executive Director of StreetsPAC, said: “A robust and fully accessible transit system is essential to elderly New Yorkers, so we applaud Mayor de Blasio’s nomination of Department of the Aging Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez to the MTA Board. We’re confident that Commissioner Cortés-Vázquez will be a firm voice for those who need to know that they’ll find a working subway elevator or escalator or a reliable, dependable bus whenever and wherever they need it. We urge the State Senate and the Governor to confirm her appointment at the earliest opportunity.”

"LiveOn NY congratulates Department for the Aging Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez on her appointment to the MTA Board," stated Allison Nickerson, Executive Director of LiveOn NY. "We are thrilled to have a staunch advocate for older New Yorkers and those with mobility limitations represented on the Board as key decisions are made about our transit infrastructure moving forward. We know that the Commissioner's presence will ensure that New York can continue to become a more age-friendly city that is truly accessible to all."

"AARP is confident that with her background, including her time as AARP's Executive Vice President for Multicultural Markets and Engagement and her current role as Commissioner of the New York City Department for the Aging, Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez will put the transportation needs of older New Yorkers front and center as a member of the MTA Board. AARP applauds Mayor de Blasio for this wise nomination," said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel.

"We strongly support the nomination of DFTA Commissioner Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez to the MTA Board. Her vast knowledge and expertise regarding the needs of older persons, including those with disabilities and communities of color, will give a critical voice on the Board on behalf of these New Yorkers. She is a true fighter on behalf of underserved populations," said Nancy D. Miller, Executive Director/CEO, VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

About Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez

Mayor de Blasio appointed Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez as Commissioner to the Department for the Aging in April 2019. As Commissioner, Cortés-Vázquez works to advance DFTA’s mission to eliminate ageism, ensure the dignity and quality of life of older adults and support caregivers. Prior to her role as Commissioner, Cortés-Vázquez worked within the Mayor’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs as Senior Advisor to the Mayor.

Prior to serving in the Mayor’s Office, Cortés-Vázquez was Senior Vice President of Corporate Relations and Government Affairs at EmblemHealth, where she was responsible for EmblemHealth’s relationships with key government, community and industry stakeholders, better positioning EmblemHealth for new growth opportunities. Cortés-Vázquez was also the Executive Vice President for Multicultural Markets and Engagement at the AARP where she developed a comprehensive 5-year strategic plan. At AARP, she ensured that the interests of multicultural age 50-plus audiences were integrated into everything AARP does, with the goal of increasing multicultural presence among AARP membership and increasing AARP’s involvement in those communities.

Before joining AARP, Cortés-Vázquez was New York State's 65th Secretary of State, and the first Hispanic appointee to serve in that role. She also served as Vice President of Government and Public Affairs at Cablevision Systems Corporation, a leading media, entertainment, and telecommunications company.

From 1998 to 2004, Cortés-Vázquez served as President of the Hispanic Federation, a nonprofit network of Latino health and human service agencies with a footprint throughout the East Coast. She has extensive experience creating community partnerships to leverage civic participation and increasing the visibility of educational initiatives. In the early 1990s, she served as Executive Director of ASPIRA of New York, the nation's oldest and largest nonprofit Latino youth leadership development and education advocacy agency. Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez obtained her undergraduate degree from Hunter College and earned a master’s degree from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. She is a Toll Fellow and has earned certificates from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and Columbia University’s School Professional Studies.

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