Тhe goal of Urban Dialogues is to foster better understanding among scholars, experts, students, policy makers, and ordinary citizens of the public policies that shape the life of New York City and other urban centers.

The program has three strategic goals:

  • Provide a forum in which scholars, legislators, policy makers, students, and citizens can exchange ideas and discuss issues and trends that affect New York City and other urban centers across the nation.
  • Facilitate the development of urban policy informed by research, analysis, and debate among scholars, policy makers, students, and New Yorkers most affected by social problems and public policy.
  • Introduce the college’s students to the spectrum of ideas, theories, and viewpoints that inform and/or influence urban policy.

Past Urban Dialogues

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Eric Gonzalez made history in November 2017 when he became the first Latino District Attorney elected in New York State. He had been appointed Acting District Attorney by Governor Andrew Cuomo a year earlier following the tragic death of his predecessor, the late Ken Thompson, for whom Gonzalez had served as Chief Assistant District Attorney.

DA Gonzalez began his legal career in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office upon his graduation from law school in 1995 and spent several years as a junior and then senior assistant in various bureaus within the office, including the Sex Crimes and Special Victims Bureau, Domestic Violence Bureau, Orange Zone Trial Bureau, and Green Zone Trial Bureau, where he was promoted to Chief. During his career Gonzalez tried a full range of cases, including homicides.

Promoted by District Attorney Thompson in March of 2014, DA Gonzalez was instrumental in the office’s smooth transition during the change of administrations. Gonzalez successfully guided the launch of several key initiatives, including the creation of the office’s nationally-recognized Conviction Review Unit and the office policy of declining to prosecute the possession of marijuana, which he framed and implemented.

Since his appointment to lead the office, DA Gonzalez has implemented his own trailblazing initiatives, including bail reform, a Young Adult Court, expansion of non-prosecution of marijuana possession, a pre-court diversion program for low-level drug offenders and a policy to reduce unfair immigration consequences in criminal cases.

Following his swearing in as District Attorney in January, Gonzalez launched a ground-breaking initiative known as Justice 2020, to help him carry out his vision of keeping Brooklyn safe and strengthening trust in our justice system by ensuring fairness and equal justice for all. Justice 2020 consists of a 17-point action plan – created by a committee of criminal justice reform experts, defense groups, service providers, law enforcement, formerly incarcerated individuals, clergy and community leaders – to make the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office a national model of what a progressive prosecutor’s office can be. This blueprint will transform the work of Gonzalez’s office by shifting toward preventative and accountability solutions with a track record of success, and away from over-reliance on criminal convictions and incarceration.

Seymour James Jr.
Attorney-in-Chief, Legal Aid Society

Seymour James has devoted his entire legal career to ensuring that the poor in New York City receive high-quality representation. He joined The Legal Aid Society in 1974 as a staff attorney in the Brooklyn Office and has served in various supervisory capacities including Supervising Attorney in the Bronx County Office, Deputy Attorney-in-Charge of the Kings County and Queens County Offices, Attorney-in-Charge of the Queens County Office, andAttorney-in-Charge of the Criminal Practice.  Born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, New York, Mr. James graduated from Stuyvesant High School, obtained an undergraduate degree in economics from Brown University, and earned his law degree from Boston University School of Law.

The Sixth Amendment states that the accused shall enjoy the right to have the Assistance of Counsel for his/her defense. This clause grants to all defendants the right to an attorney from the moment they are taken into police custody.  What has changed?  How does race come into play?” said Dean Humphrey Crookendale, “We look forward to a dynamic discussion with Mr. James.”

Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Associate Justice Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix will join Dean Crookendale in introducing the district attorney.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015
New York State Senator Kevin S. Parker and New York State Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright will share their thoughts on and responses to such issues as

  • Affordable housing
  • Community policing and mass incarceration
  • Gang violence
  • Job creation in local communities
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios-Paoli will be joined by Mr. Gilbert Taylor, Commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services, and Mr. Steven Banks, Commissioner of the Human Resources Administration. They will discuss their careers in government, the genesis of New York City’s homelessness crisis, and their agencies’ plans for addressing this crisis.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Humphrey A. Crookendale, dean of the School for Public Affairs and Administration, is very pleased to announce that Ms. Letitia James, Public Advocate for the City of New York will speak at the next “Urban Dialogue”, to be held from 6 p.m. to 7:50 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 in the conference center on the 11th floor of our Manhattan campus.

Additional details regarding Public Advocate James’s presentation will follow.

Seating will be limited. Therefore, please reserve your seat as soon as possible at events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=fw7m85dab&oeidk=a07eaogz2n40acee566.

Dean Crookendale looks forward to welcoming you on Tuesday, April 14th.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014
For two decades, Gilbert Taylor has dedicated his career to serving New York City’s low-income children and families in the public and non-profit sectors. Well-known for his outstanding record of achievement, he was most recently appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to lead the City’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS), assuming his post as Commissioner on Monday, January 13, 2014.

Commissioner Taylor has proven himself to be a strong advocate and trailblazer, contributing and leading major child welfare reforms for the City of New York during his tenure at the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS).

Announcing Commissioner Taylor’s appointment, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that his years at ACS gave him “an extraordinary understanding of what children face in this City,” regardless of their housing status. “He will use every tool we have to fight homelessness and preserve and protect families,” the Mayor asserted.

“Being homeless is a traumatic event at any age, but especially for children,” said Commissioner Taylor. “As DHS demonstrates its fundamental commitment to provide more comprehensive prevention policies and housing support, we will also put compassion first – always remembering that the families in our system are families in crisis.”

Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Dr. Thomas Kelly will discuss examples that demonstrate how we have already done more and better with less using systems thinking and other examples will demonstrate how it can be applied to virtually any kind of organization – private or public.

Dr. Kelly holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Fordham University. He holds additional graduate degrees in Administration, Teaching of Reading, and two Master’s degrees in History. He has 35 years of experience K – 12, 15 years teaching at elementary and secondary levels and 20 years in administration – building and central office. He also has 13 years of experience as a Professor of Educational Administration, Leadership and Technology at Dowling College, Oakdale NY.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Our guest speakers will include:

  • Trustee Constance Robinson-Turner, the Program Administrator for the Mobile Dental Care Program at the New York University College of Dentistry.
  • Professor Larry Scott-Blackmon, the Deputy Commissioner for Community Outreach for NYC Parks.
  • Alumna Marricka Scott-McFadden, the Deputy Chief Clerk at the Bronx Borough office of the New York City Board of Elections.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Fifty years after the declaration of the War on Poverty, join us for an Urban Dialogue about poverty and homelessness in New York City. The Dialogue will feature New York Times Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Andrea Elliott, author of “Invisible Child: Dasani’s Homeless Life” and a panel of human services leaders.

Thursday, November 14, 2013
Glenn E Martin, Vice President, The Fortune Society
Glenn E. Martin is currently the Vice President of Public Affairs and Director of the David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy at The Fortune Society. He is responsible for leading the agency’s communications work, as well as developing and advancing Fortune’s national and local criminal justice policy advocacy agenda. Mr. Martin works creatively and in collaboration to support the development and implementation of policy reform initiatives intended to decrease our country’s over-reliance on incarceration and remove practical and statutory roadblocks facing individuals reintegrating into their communities. Mr. Martin is the founder of JustLeadershipUSA.

Darius Charney, Esq., Senior Staff Attorney, The Center for Constitutional Rights
Darius Charney is a senior staff attorney in the Racial Justice/Government Misconduct Docket. He is currently lead counsel on Floyd v. City of New York, a federal civil rights class action lawsuit challenging the New York Police Department’s unconstitutional and racially discriminatory stop-and-frisk practices, and Vulcan Society Inc. v. the City of New York, a Title VII class action lawsuit on behalf of African-American applicants to the New York City Fire Department which challenges the racially discriminatory hiring practices of the FDNY.

Prior to coming to CCR in 2008, Darius spent two-and-a-half years as an associate at the New York law firm of Lansner & Kubitschek, where he litigated federal civil rights cases challenging various aspects of New York City and New York State’s child welfare and foster care systems. Darius received his JD and M.S.W. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley in 2001. From 2003-2005, he was law clerk to the Honorable Deborah A. Batts, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York.

Kirsten John Foy, a former top staffer to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio
Mr. Foy, who now heads the Brooklyn chapter of Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, believes that one of these policies, the police department’s stop-and-frisk initiative, has done more harm than good in stopping gun violence, while damaging community relations with the police force in the process.

Adeola Ogunkeyede, Esq. Supervising Attorney, Bronx Defenders
Adeola received her J.D. from Tulane Law School where she was a member of the Criminal Law Clinic, president of the Public Interest Law Foundation, and coordinator of the Street Law Program in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She was the 2008 recipient of the Crest Award for Service and Leadership and awarded the General Maurice Hirsch Award, presented each year to the graduating student who contributes most distinctively and constructively to university or community needs. During law school, she worked for the ABA’s Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project and the D.C. Public Defender Service. After graduation, Adeola interned for Judge Carl Stewart of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit where she worked on federal habeas and death penalty cases. Before law school, Adeola worked on civil rights cases in Washington, D.C. A native of Queens, N.Y., Adeola received her B.A. from Duke University.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013
About the Speaker

Mr. Kevin P. Chavous is a founding board member and executive counsel for the American Federation for Children and the Alliance for School Choice, a noted author, and national education reform leader. As a former member of the Council of the District of Columbia and Chair of the Council’s Education Committee, Mr. Chavous was at the forefront of promoting change within the District public school system. His efforts led to more than $500 million new dollars being made available to educate children in D.C.

A leading national advocate for educational choice, Mr. Chavous helped to shepherd the charter school movement into the nation’s capital. Under his education committee chairmanship, the D.C. charter school movement became the most prolific charter school jurisdiction in the country, with now nearly half of D.C.’s public school children attending charter schools. In addition, Mr. Chavous assisted in shaping the District’s three-sector education partnership with the federal government. That partnership led to $60 million in annual federal dollars for D.C.’s public schools, public charter schools, and the first federal scholarship program which has provided access to private schools for nearly 6,000 children from low-income families since inception.

In recent years, Mr. Chavous has worked to advance charter school and parental choice programs in a host of jurisdictions around the country, most notably in Louisiana and Tennessee. A prolific writer and much sought after speaker, Mr. Chavous’ opinion editorials have appeared in many major newspapers and he has given education reform speeches in nearly every state.

Mr. Chavous is also an accomplished author, having published Serving Our Children: Charter Schools and the Reform of American Public Education, and his most recent book, Voices of Determination: Children that Defy the Odds. Mr. Chavous is involved with many education reform groups and is the Board Chair for Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) and former Board Chair for the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO).

Mr. Chavous was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana and graduated from Wabash College, where he was an NCAA All-American in basketball. He also graduated from the Howard University School of Law, where he was president of his graduating class. He lives in Washington, D.C.