Mayor Adams Nominates To Landmarks Preservation, City Planning, And Taxi And Limousine Commissions

August 5, 2022

 New York City Mayor Eric Adams today nominated Sarah Carroll to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).

Including Gail Benjamin and Anthony Crowell to the New York City Planning Commission (CPC), and Anokye Blissett and Elisa Velazquez to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). The nominations will be presented to the New York City Council for its advice and consent.

LPC commissioners serve seven-year terms. CPC commissioners serve five-year terms. TLC commissioners serve three-year terms.

“I am proud to nominate these incredibly capable individuals to bring their expertise to our team and serve New Yorkers across the five boroughs,” said Mayor Adams. “This group defines skill, know-how, and a commitment to community engagement, and I urge the City Council to confirm them promptly so we can continue to ‘Get Stuff Done’ for all of our city’s residents.”

“Elisa Velazquez and Anokye Bissett bring a fresh perspective and extensive legal experience to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “Moreover, their genuine commitment to improving the lives of all New Yorkers will be a great asset for the TLC and its mission of setting policy and standards to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the taxi and for-hire industry and its patrons.”

“We are very pleased to nominate Gail Benjamin, Anthony Crowell, and Sarah Carroll to fill these critical positions on the CPC and the LPC to help shape the many critical land use and historic preservation decisions that our city will be making in the coming years,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. “They each bring significant expertise, experience, and a commitment to our city that will serve New Yorkers across the five boroughs.”

“I am honored to be nominated by Mayor Eric Adams for re-appointment as chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission,” said LPC Chair Carroll. “Preservation plays an important role in the vitality of our city and can revitalize communities, support economic development, and drive investment into existing buildings. I look forward to continuing working under the leadership of Mayor Adams and Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer to create efficiencies in LPC’s review processes, further incorporate equity into the agency’s work, and to advance LPC’s mission to preserve the landmarks and historic neighborhoods that define New York City’s character and make it a global destination.”

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“I am delighted to be considered by the Adams administration for an appointment to the City Planning Commission,” said Gail Benjamin, nominee, CPC. “I have spent most of my professional life involved with issues of planning in New York City and hope that my expertise will add to that of the departmental staff, Chairman Garodnick, the other commissioners, and to facilitating Mayor Adams’ agenda to move the city in COVID recovery and in planning for our joint future.”

New York City is at an inflection point,” said Anthony Crowell, nominee, CPC. “Being asked to serve on the City Planning Commission is a tremendous privilege and one I take very seriously. I will use the experience and perspectives gained from serving New York City’s communities for 25 years to ensure we make proper and equitable planning decisions. We must give all New Yorkers, particularly those most in need, a chance to live and work in a healthy, safe, resilient, and affordable community, where businesses can thrive and provide meaningful and sustainable economic opportunities.”

“I am thankful to Mayor Adams for this nomination and the opportunity to serve the public as a member of such an integral agency for New York City,” said Anokye Blissett, nominee, TLC. “I look forward to working with the administration and my fellow commissioners to provide safe and reliable transportation options for all New Yorkers, visitors, and licensees.”

“As a born and bred New Yorker, I have used taxis all my life,” said Elisa Velazquez, nominee, TLC. “They are part of the DNA of this great city, and I am thrilled to have the chance as a TLC commissioner to work hard to preserve this quintessential New York experience and to help improve, support, and strengthen the taxi industry as a whole. I want to thank Mayor Adams for nominating me and giving me another exciting opportunity to expand my government service and ‘Get Stuff Done!’”

Sarah Carroll

Sarah Carroll serves as both the chair and a commissioner of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). She was appointed in October 2018, and manages a staff of approximately 80 architects, archaeologists, preservationists, historians, attorneys, and administrators, whose mission is to protect the more than 36,000 architecturally, historically, and culturally significant sites across all five boroughs, and identify and designate new landmark buildings, sites, and districts.

Carroll is a lifelong preservationist and a native New Yorker with more than two decades of professional experience protecting historic resources in New York City.

She started her career at LPC, where she has served in various capacities for more than 25 years.

Prior to her appointment, she served as executive director — managing the agency’s operations and working closely with the chair to develop policy and strategic planning agency wide.

As executive director, she oversaw the successful designation of more than 4,000 buildings and sites across the city.

During her time at LPC, Carroll has managed a wide range of preservation projects and has overseen the application, implementation, and modification of the agency’s regulatory policies. In 2012, she received the Sloan Public Service Award for her outstanding work at the Commission.

Chair Carroll has a B.A. in art history from Bates College and an M.A. in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art & Design.

Gail Benjamin

Gail Benjamin worked on land use matters for 36 years and was the director of the New York City Council Land Use Division for 25 years before she retired.

In that capacity, she provided advice, analysis, and expertise to the speaker of the Council, the chairs of the Land Use Committee and its subcommittees, and the 51 members of the City Council.

She oversaw the Council’s approval of New York University’s 2012 expansion, the rezoning of Hudson Yards, and a housing project at the site of the Domino Sugar factory in Brooklyn.

Prior to her time at the Council, Benjamin served as co-director of the city Environmental Review Procedure and as a representative to the now-defunct New York City Board of Estimate.

She continues to be actively involved in land use and serves on several committees and boards.

Anthony Crowell

Anthony W. Crowell is dean and president of New York Law School (NYLS), and a professor of law whose area of expertise is in state and local government law.

Crowell has worked with the NYLS faculty over the past decade to implement new curriculum and programs to advance social justice and economic opportunity for the people of New York City and beyond.

This has included offering a broad range of community-based legal clinics to help meet the vast needs of New York’s underrepresented and marginalized communities.

Before joining NYLS, between 2002 and 2021, Crowell was counselor to former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, where he served as a senior management and policy advisor to the mayor, as well as general counsel to the Office of the Mayor.

He managed a broad portfolio of legal, regulatory, legislative, governance, economic development, administrative, and operational matters focused on enhancing New York City’s performance, competitiveness, accountability, and public integrity.

He worked on numerous civil rights and government-access initiatives and served as Mayor Bloomberg’s liaison to the LGBTQ+ community.

He also served as executive director, counsel, or commissioner for six city Charter Revision Commissions.

From 1997 to 2002, Crowell served as an assistant corporation counsel in the New York City Law Department’s Real Property Tax & Condemnation and Legal Counsel Divisions.

In 2001, he served as counsel to the city’s Family Assistance Center, aiding families’ of 9/11 victims, and directed the city’s World Trade Center Death Certificate Program.

He later worked on issues related to 9/11 recovery and rebuilding.

Crowell began his career at the International City/County Management Association in Washington, D.C., where he engaged in substantial policy work on environmental, land use, and community and economic development issues impacting municipalities.

He also served as a law clerk at the State and Local Legal Center, assisting in the preparation of amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court, including in cases involving regulatory takings and development rights.

Crowell is a member of the City Bar Association’s New York City Affairs Committee, the Citizens Union Foundation, as well as the Board of Trustees of the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL).

As BPL board chair from 2009 to 2014, he spearheaded historic reforms to library governance and worked with library leadership to put in place creative long-term strategies to address the significant infrastructure and capital needs of the system, which are being realized today.

He served as a mayoral appointee to the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board from 2013 to 2021.

Crowell received a B.A from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied urban policy and planning.

He received a J.D. from American University. He is the first member of his family to graduate from college.

Anokye Blissett

Anokye Soyini Blissett has practiced law in New York for over 15 years. She is currently the managing partner of the Blissett Law Group PLLC, a boutique firm that represents purchasers, sellers, and financial institutions in various real estate transactions. 

Prior to focusing her practice on real estate, Blissett spent many years helping clients navigate the immigration system in New York City.

During this time, she represented those seeking permanent residency, naturalization, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) protection, among others.

She also spent almost a decade volunteering for the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Queens, providing free immigration service to the New York Community. 

Blissett fundraised to help Caribbean countries, like the Bahamas, recover from natural disasters, and held community forums for real estate and immigration matters.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, she expanded her fundraising efforts to include domestic violence survivors.

Most recently, she teamed up with private entities to increase registration in West Indian communities as part of the 2020 Decennial Census.

Her commitment to the community earned her the 2013 Rising Star award.

A first-generation American, born to parents who emigrated from Jamaica in the 1960s, Blissett grew up in Freeport, New York.  She received a bachelor’s degree in economics from City University.

After obtaining a full scholarship, she completed her law degree in two and a half years from St. John’s University. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Elisa Velazquez

Elisa Velazquez has spent almost her entire 22-year career in New York City government.

She is currently assistant commissioner and chief contracting officer at the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, where she manages the procurement and fiscal operations for New York City’s water and wastewater utility — totaling approximately $1.2 billion in contracts and $1.5 billion in payments per fiscal year.

Prior to joining DEP, Velazquez was counsel to former Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, where she advised the borough president and staff on various legal and policy issues.

She represented the borough president on the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, the Franchise Concession and Review Committee, the Queens Public Library, and on the Port Authority Technical Advisory Committees for John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport Part 150 noise studies.

She also acted as agency chief contracting officer, overseeing the award of over 100 discretionary expense contracts to non-profits each fiscal year.

From 2003 to 2013, Velazquez was general counsel in the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services, where she advised the city’s chief procurement officer and staff on various aspects of procurement law and general office operations.

Before her time in the mayor’s office, Velazquez was assistant counsel to former New York City Public Advocate Mark Green.

Velazquez also served as assistant counsel to former Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger, where she was the lead counsel with respect to Community Boards, contracts, and FOIL issues, in addition to supervising constituent services.

Velazquez was born in Queens and has lived only in New York City. She received her J.D. from New York Law School and her B.A. from Fordham University. She has two children.

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