On December 31, 2021, Betsy MacLean and Nisha Baliga will end their tenure as leaders of the nonprofit planning, design and community development organization based in New York City.

Recently named to the City & State Power 50 for Community Engagement, MacLean and Baliga have made their mark on participatory planning and policy making with projects like: CreateNYC: A Cultural Plan for All New Yorkers; Where We LiveNYC: Fair Housing for All; NY State Cities RISE: Equitable Code Enforcement; Together We Thrive: Black Business Network; COVID vaccine access work with Black churches in New York, New Haven, Newark, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Detroit; economic self-determination initiatives in Puerto Rico and the Navajo Nation; new community centers for Make the Road NY and VOCAL-NY; and their work on the 2020 Census that resulted in billions in new federal funding for New York.

Over the past seven years, the pair has guided the growth and evolution of the once small, neighborhood-based organization to a unique, mission-driven, planning and policy powerhouse that works at the intersection of community and government to support community-led change, civic engagement, and large-scale participatory planning and policy. With a formidable footprint in New York City and state, Hester Street counts approximately 25% of its projects in cities across the country.

The Hester Street Board of Directors is spearheading a national search for the next leader or leaders of the 20-year-old organization. Leaders of color, applicants from outside of NYC, and applicant teams of two are all encouraged to apply. The job description and application information will be available on November 15th at: www.hesterstreet.org/careers.

Rasmia Kirmani-Frye, former Director of the Brownsville Partnership and founder of the Fund for Public Housing has been named Interim Executive Director. She will step down from her role on the Hester Street Board, on which she has served for the past five years, effective November 1st and will work with the Board and Hester Street team to ensure a successful leadership transition. She will re-join the Board after a new Executive Director is named.

“The growth, expertise, and impact of Hester Street has been nothing short of phenomenal under Betsy’s and Nisha’s leadership, due largely to their passion, vision, and professionalism,” said Timothy Johnson, Chair of the Hester Street Board of Directors. “I know I speak for the entire Board when I say we are honored and grateful to have worked with Betsy and Nisha, and to be a part of the Hester Street family. We’re equally excited to continue the momentum with our next visionary leader.”

Javier H. Valdés, former co-Executive Director of Make the Road NY and US Director of Civic Engagement and Government at the Ford Foundation said, “Under the leadership of Betsy MacLean and Nisha Baliga, Hester Street catapulted into an invaluable asset for community organizations, partners in government, and philanthropy to help solve the most pressing issues that New York City is facing. We thank them for their leadership and know that our city and our communities are better off because of their work.”

“We love Hester Street!” commented Sheena Wright, Chief Executive Officer of United Way of NYC. “They are our go-to partners for our most ambitious projects – from the epic Census 2020 effort in communities of color across NYC to strengthening Black entrepreneurs in the face of the COVID shutdown to increased vaccine access in Black communities across the country. Betsy and Nisha are superstars, navigating the complexity of government while always centering the voices of Black and Brown communities.”

“Congratulations to Betsy and Nisha, who as the amazing leaders of Hester Street set the bar for inclusive, equitable community engagement that shaped far-reaching planning efforts – equal parts visionary and concrete,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Gonzalo Casals. “They were deeply engaged in CreateNYC, New York’s first-ever comprehensive cultural plan, which collected input from nearly 200,000 New Yorkers and has driven our work in fostering a more diverse, equitable cultural sector. They leave Hester Street positioned to continue to do great work for our communities, and I wish them the best in their next adventure.”

James Brodick, Director of Community Development at the Center for Court Innovation said, “We have worked with Hester Street for so many years – from Brownsville to our work with the Mayor’s Office for Criminal Justice – and it has been an incredible partnership. We celebrate Betsy and Nisha’s leadership and can’t wait to see what they will do next. We are so excited to continue our partnership with HST under new leadership and with the tremendous talent of the entire HST team.”

“This is an exciting time for Hester Street,” remarked F. Javier Torres-Campos, Director of Thriving Cultures program at Surdna Foundation. “We are deeply grateful for Nisha and Betsy’s transformational tenure, building a legacy, team, and organization that is prepared to move forward successfully into the next chapter of their important work!”

For more information, please contact: Timothy Johnson, Board of Directors Chair, at board@hesterstreet.org.

The original press release can be viewed here.

About Hester Street: Hester Street (HST) devotes urban planning, design and development expertise to support community-led change. We create and facilitate deeply democratic planning and policy making to advance racial and economic justice and to radically re-create cities shaped by low-income communities of color.