A Thank You And Farewell From Harlem To The Hudson By Lynda Hamilton

April 19, 2021

To all of the dear followers of communications that I have sent on behalf of our Forever Mayor, David N. Dinkins, over the past 8 years.

I write this to thank you for your support, pearls of wisdom, warm recollections, opportunities & intell, periodic push back, laughter, and some shared tears during my time running operations for the one and only, David N. Dinkins (DND). It has been the honor of my life to serve in this role during his sunset years as NYC’s Elder Statesman and Professor of Practice at Columbia University-SIPA. Having stewarded all of the historic papers, photos, awards and plaques into their new permanent homes at places such as Columbia University, Howard University, Museum of the City of New York, and the Schomburg since his passing last November. On March 31st, I closed our empty office door behind me and moved on.

What a gift to experience the blazing light of love that showered DND throughout our city and from all of his friends – his inner light was always brightest around children, and witnessing that glow was a pure joy that will fill my heart for the rest of my life! I may never find adequate words to describe how working for and caring for this special person and his beloved Joyce (JBD) became so interwoven within my own world…. the depth of those feelings and certain moments are so precious. But I will carry a forever-awareness of the incredible blessing they were in life and to my spirit.

I arrived to his office in 2013 through our mutual angel, Dr. Roscoe C Brown Jr. Truth be told, that first year was challenging as DND was a tough Marine – Roscoe chuckled at our mutual complaints. But I soon came to understand the deep devotion that his core former staffers held strong for their mayor. After surviving that first year, I had my own spot among that group of staffers who call themselves the ‘Dinkins Kids’ (not a kid in the bunch!). They frequently reunited with him to party and share stories and he loved all of them. The picture above was taken at our last event on Dec 3rd, 2019 where we all celebrated the 30th anniversary of DND’s historic mayoral election- boy, it was great! I look forward to the day that everyone can gather again and properly toast our mayor and his bride for their service to our city and their model of grace and dignity in this world.

It is a comfort to see truths about the Dinkins Administration’s successes and strengths coming into more steady discussion and corrected spotlights. Our Forever Mayor deserves no less than truth, fairness and reverence – I wish this happened in his lifetime. Dr. Ester Fuchs has been one of the most up-front and public voices on that note, DND adored Ester. She was my steady partner in all things here at SIPA, along with Kevin Gully, and I owe them both a highlighted thanks for too many reasons to count, as well as for the friendships I know we’ll continue to share. There is also the core-Dinkins-home support-team; our core Columbia University support team; and our core SIPA-specific support team: all of these fine people deserve profound thanks beyond what I can sufficiently express on behalf of DND and me.

I am humbled to have had this beautiful opportunity and leave Columbia-SIPA a changed person. It is my sincere hope that our re-imagined Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum (https://www.sipa.columbia.edu/forums/dinkins) will continue as an online 3-part series as part of the broader Dinkins Legacy and presence at Columbia-SIPA. External forces sometimes cancel the best-laid plans, like March 30th’s really good and positive event plan… It was unfortunate that our forum (my final event as staff) was used as a pawn in an unnecessarily politicized university conflict by an external opportunist… That event was planned as a memorial of sorts for our mayor/its namesake, SIPA’s Dean had already pre-recorded very gracious opening remarks. DND and I both wanted the online forum series to continue on into a future beyond both of us and to be led by the incomparable Mayor Michael Nutter, our Dinkins Professor Chair. But I can only hope these things solidify, as I let that baby go now…

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Thank you for attending any of our Dinkins Forums over the years, for caring for DND and JBD, and for making this city the gorgeous mosaic that our forever mayor and his bride loved so dearly. Please continue to keep the Dinkins family in your prayers as they contemplate how to best plan a memorial service for both of their parents sometime in the fall. Please stay healthy and safe everyone. My hope is that this is not ‘good-bye’, not really. 🙂

With gratitude,


Lynda Hamilton, Former Operations Manager, Office of David N. Dinkins, Columbia University-School of International and Public Affairs

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