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Astoria Native Lorraine Grillo Appointed as ‘Recovery Czar’

Astoria native Lorraine Grillo was appointed the city’s “Recovery Czar” Monday (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

Feb. 23, 2021 By Allie Griffin

Mayor Bill de Blasio has created a new position, “Recovery Czar,” to lead the city’s recovery from the pandemic and accompanying economic crisis.

De Blasio appointed Astoria native and CEO of the City’s School Construction Authority (SCA) Lorraine Grillo to fill the position as the senior advisor of the city’s pandemic recovery, he announced Monday.

In the new role, Grillo will bring together government agencies, nonprofits and the private sector to craft a plan to revitalize the city. She will also ensure that New Yorkers of color as well as minority- and women-owned business owners are not left behind in the city’s recovery efforts.

Grillo is a longtime public servant and has led the SCA for more than a decade.

De Blasio praised Grillo at a press conference Monday.

“I’m convinced that Lorraine Grillo will help us supercharge this recovery … and that’s because she’s a great public servant; she’s a great leader,” de Blasio said during a morning press conference. “But I also know her heart. Born and raised in Astoria, Queens, [she is] someone who loves this city to her core [and] the right person to help us take a big step forward in 2021.”

Grillo said she was excited to get to work to bring back the city New Yorkers know and love.

“Our city — my city — has been hit really hard, but we’ll recover,” Grillo said. “As the Recovery Czar, I’ll make sure that we will recover quickly and fairly.”

Grillo has experience in helping the city rebuild. Following Superstorm Sandy in 2012, her team successfully reopened 71 damaged schools in quick time and she made a point of bringing on board minority- and women-owned businesses to do it.

She said she would draw on this experience to help the city rebuild from COVID-19.

“I want you to know that this is my city,” she said at the press conference with de Blasio Monday. “I was born and raised here, I sent my kids to New York City public schools and I’ll be damned if we don’t lead the greatest strongest fairest recovery you’ve ever seen.”

As Recovery Czar, Grillo will lead weekly recovery “war room” meetings that will bring together deputy mayors, agency representatives, business leaders and nonprofits.

De Blasio’s decision to appoint Grillo to lead the city’s recovery was applauded by elected officials and community leaders from across the city, including many from her home borough — like Thomas Grech, CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

“As a daughter of Queens, Lorraine Grillo is uniquely qualified to understand the needs of Queens and the entire City of New York,” Grech said in a statement. “We applaud Mayor de Blasio for this move which we have been advocating for quite some time.”

Queens officials such as Council Members Daniel Dromm and Barry Grodenchik also welcomed her to the role.

“I have worked closely with Lorraine over the years and know she is a competent professional that city government is lucky to have,” Dromm said in a statement. “I have no doubt that she will turn NYC around and put us on the path to a full recovery.”

Grodenchik celebrated the news on Twitter.

“The sad part of this announcement is that we only have one Lorraine Grillo,” he tweeted. “She is an absolutely phenomenal public servant who we are so lucky to have working for us.”

Grillo also earned praised from the Long Island City business community.

“Lorraine Grillo has earned the respect of everyone she has dealt with at every stage in her impactful career serving this city, so much of it based right here in Queens,” said Executive Director of the LIC BID and President of LIC Partnership Elizabeth Lusskin in a statement.

“Lorraine is a highly effective, experienced government executive who brings to this work deep understanding of the city and its inner workings, as well as empathy for its residents and businesses.”

Grillo’s appointment is effective immediately, according to City Hall. She will transition out of her positions as Commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction and CEO of the SCA to take the new role.

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