See the official press release announcing the leadership transition here.

Seven years ago, we set out to build on our experience working in East New York, Arusha, Far Rockaway, and Havana—engaging neighbors in the audacious endeavor that is community-driven change.

We were driven to take our work to scale, to advance a vision of the people shaping the cities they live in, to correct far too many years of racism, discrimination and exclusion, to use the power of planning to strengthen community infrastructure, increase neighborhood investment and change systems. We wanted to transform the way government works—by and for the people, not just during elections, but in a constant, everyday kind of way.

Since that time, we’ve grown steadily from a staff of six working away in a Chinatown basement, to our current powerhouse team of 30+ planners, designers, developers and organizers. We’ve scaled our work from small, hyper-local projects to complex, multi-stakeholder, city-wide, state-wide and now, nation-wide efforts. We’ve earned a reputation as leaders in inclusive community engagement, insightful, innovative policy and data analysis, as creative collaborators and trusted intermediaries living in the space between communities and government.

We are so proud of the impact we’ve had on individual projects and on sweeping policy change, the hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in communities of color that our work has generated, the buildings we’ve designed, built and acquired for community ownership, the local organizations and residents we’ve had the honor of working with, and the impact we’ve had on the way government agencies approach community engagement.

And personally and professionally, we are both ready to pursue new challenges in the pursuit of social justice. We welcome new leadership for this organization that has meant so much to us and feel confident that we are handing over a powerful vehicle in the fight for equity and civic power—with a resonant reputation in New York City and beyond, a network of remarkable cross-sectoral relationships in government and in communities of color across the country, with a remarkably talented staff and a powerful corps of senior leaders.

A big, HUGE heartfelt thank you to those who have inspired and challenged us to be better, to work harder, and to do more—our teammates, partners, co-conspirators, funders, supporters, and cheerleaders. Thank you all for a truly extraordinary ride. We look forward to continuing the journey toward more equitable, just and resilient cities, to making good on the promise of democracy, and to building a world of abundance, collectivity, and courage with you.

With love and until the next,

Betsy & Nisha



Dear Friends,

We have been inspired by the vision of our leaders, Betsy and Nisha, and have watched these past seven years as they have pushed, pulled, and shaped Hester Street into an organization committed to social justice that delivers concrete, measurable benefits for and with communities of color. For their innovation, their rigor, their fearlessness, and their deep love for New York City and all cities, we are forever grateful.

The Board has been working closely with Betsy and Nisha to develop a transition plan. Our Transition Committee will release a job description and start the search for our new Executive Director or Executive Directors in mid-November. Please share among your networks and be on the lookout for outstanding candidates.

As we move into Hester Street’s 20th anniversary year, we look forward to the next chapter for our organization in this pivotal time for our country. Hester Street is uniquely positioned, at the nexus of community and government, to take on the challenge of ensuring an equitable recovery from the devastation of the COVID crisis and to heed the national call for racial justice—with people-powered policy and community-driven solutions.

We are thrilled that former HST Board member, Rasmia Kirmani-Frye, has agreed to take on the role of interim Executive Director. She will begin her work with the board and staff next month and will effectively take over the organization on January 1st, 2022 until we find our new leader or leaders.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I invite you to join me in thanking Betsy and Nisha for their leadership, their hard work, and their vision. We are planning an epic celebration in December—in true Hester Street style—so look out for details and join us!

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any ideas, questions or concerns.


Timothy Johnson
Chair, Board of Directors
Hester Street