As Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, Victor Calise has been an advocate for people with disabilities in both the Bloomberg and de Blasio Administrations. Responsible for ensuring that New York City is the most accessible city in the world, Calise advises the Mayor and agency partners on accessibility issues, spearheads public-private partnerships, and chairs the Accessibility Committee of the City’s Building Code.
Commissioner Calise began his City service working with the Capital Projects Division of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation where he led efforts to make one of the largest and most complex parks systems in the world accessible by ensuring compliance with the construction standards, managing facilities, and developing training materials. Prior to working in New York City government, he was a disability advocate in the non-profit sector.
Calise has facilitated relationships with businesses in a myriad of sectors including technology, finance, government, and healthcare. His leadership led to the creation of the NYC: ATWORK employment initiative—the first public-private partnership that directly connects jobseekers with disabilities and businesses. The Commissioner also consistently engages with innovators in digital accessibility, communications, and autonomous vehicle development in order to ensure that accessibility remains a priority in technological advancements.
A recognized expert on disability, the Commissioner regularly consults with high-level stakeholders regarding accessibility. He is frequently invited to national and international conferences and has given numerous keynote speeches. Passionate about the human rights of people with disabilities, Commissioner Calise supports the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and works with international partners to ensure that people with disabilities are mainstreamed into society.
The Commissioner received a B.S. in Sports Management from St. John’s University and an M.A in Urban Affairs from Queens College, CUNY. Calise—an avid athlete—competed in the 1998 Paralympic Games in Nagano, Japan as a member of the first U.S. national sled hockey team. A native New Yorker, he lives on the Upper West Side with his wife and two daughters.