Local communities play a significant role in shaping policy, driving social change and determining the direction of public life in New York. So it’s no surprise that many public officials, nonprofit leaders, business executives, advocates and activists prioritize engaging and communicating with communities as a key component of their everyday work. Even as COVID-19 spread across the state, New York’s leaders continued to find ways to mobilize residents. Unprecedented need prompted philanthropic leaders, government officials and community members to launch new initiatives to help people and institutions throughout the health crisis. Activists continued to educate people and rally together – whether in person or over Zoom – on other pressing matters, from criminal justice reform to census outreach.
City & State’s first Community Engagement Power 50 recognizes an array of accomplished individuals who carry out this type of work day in and day out. Unlike other power lists, the Community Engagement Power 50 is unranked and is listed in alphabetical order, given the challenges associated with concretely evaluating one’s ability to engage with communities and comparing it across so many diverse sectors. This list – researched and written by City & State’s Kay Dervishi – features New Yorkers in government, nonprofits, businesses and other organizations that dedicate a great deal of time and energy to connecting with communities across the state.
Vice President of Programs and Partnerships
Brooklyn Community Foundation
Marcella Tillett is dedicated to ensuring the Brooklyn Community Foundation’s charitable funding is aligned with community priorities. Since taking on her current position at the foundation in 2019, Tillett has led the creation of standing community advisory councils made up of local Brooklynites to help offer insight on how grants should be distributed locally. She has also played a key role in ensuring that the foundation’s resources are distributed equitably, taking into account the diversity of organizations' leadership and the size of their budgets.