Prompted by Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) Victor Calise’s announcement that he had accepted a position with Walmart, the 504 Democratic Club produced a three-part series entitled “The Future of the NYC Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.”

The virtual event that ran on three successive Saturday evenings in February and March, focused the first two installments on the past, present and future of MOPD with the third installment as a Candidate’s Forum that presented six candidates who have made application for the position. Hundreds of viewers joined the webinar style presentation.

Moderated by Sharon McLennon-Wier, the new executive director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled (CIDNY) candidates were each given time to introduce themselves and speak about their qualifications. This was followed by a question and answer period and closing statements.

Candidates included Quemuel Arroyo who was recently appointed MTA’s First All-Agency Chief Accessibility Officer and previously served as head of accessibility at the City Department of Transportation.

Candidate Eman Rimawi-Doster is an Access-A-Ride Community organizer at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.
Harlem Independent Living Dir. Christina Curry is another candidate. She has been in her position for more than 20 years.
Alex Elegudin, who is also a candidate has been access chief at the MTA and TLC for 10 years.

In addition, Christopher Noel, who has been ADA coordinator for New York City Parks for nine years and previously did mobility outreach at Independence Care System (ICS) has also thrown his hat into the ring.

Also applying for the position was Susan Scheer, who was deputy director of MOPD during the David Dinkins administration; policy director at Public Advocates Office and NYC comptroller’s office; and led the coordination of services for people with disabilities who were affected by the 911 attacks at CIDNY.

According to 504 Pres. Michael Schweinsburg these candidates and any others who apply will be interviewed and considered by the Office of the Chief Council to the Mayor and City Hall. This office will advise and make recommendations to Mayor Eric Adams who will ultimately choose the new Commissioner.

After a later meeting via conference call with the Office of the Chief Council Schweinsburg said, “We came away from this meeting with strong reason to believe their decision making depends on the community’s input.” He also praised Mayor Eric Adams for being the “first Mayor in NYC history willing to incorporate the views of such a broad spectrum of the community that MOPD serves before determining the Future of MOPD and who will lead it.”

Schweinsberg thanked the programs co-hosts that included Art Beyond Sight, Inclusive Features at Project Access For All, The New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, CUNY Coalition for Students with Disabilities, the National Action Network and Able Newspaper.