Melva Miller, a top economic development official in the Queens borough president’s office for the past eight years, was promoted on Tuesday to deputy borough president.
Borough President Melinda Katz announced the appointment during a speech before a breakfast meeting of the Queens Chamber of Commerce at St. John’s University.
Miller will fill the vacancy left after Leroy Comrie departed to take his seat in the New York State Senate last month.
“Economic development is a key priority of my agenda for Queens, and Melva’s multidimensional expertise to this end is second to none,” Katz said. “Her understanding of Queens’ neighborhoods is extensive and comprehensive, from both the holistic, macro-policy level to a block-by-block community basis. Melva’s ideas, professionalism and experience in government have been tremendous assets to my administration. For the communities, her focus is relentless, her passion is unwavering. Melva has also been a trusted member of my senior leadership team since day one. Her ascension as my deputy is a natural one, and I thank her for accepting this responsibility.”
Katz made the announcement in front of an audience made up of community board members and dozens of Queens residents. Many in the audience were graduates of St. John’s, a point that the school’s new president Conrado Gempesaw stressed.
Gempesaw spoke before Katz and talked about the intertwined fates between the school and the borough.
“What’s good for Queens is good for St. John’s,” Gempesaw said, referencing Katz’s State of the Borough speech when she stressed the importance of families. “And what’s good for St. John’s is good for Queens.”
Gempesaw than invited Katz to speak. She praised the service of community board members, whom she called “the first line of defense when issues come up. It’s because of them that government runs so well.”
Katz’s announcement of Miller’s appointment elicited applause from the audience.
Miller has served as the director of economic development for the Queens Borough President’s Office since 2007. Previously, she was the founding executive director of the Sutphin Boulevard Business Improvement District and of KECDE!, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing the arts to community youth through dance. Miller was also previously the project director for the Downtown Jamaica Cultural District and a community organizer for the Laurelton Local Development Corporation. A lifelong resident of southeast Queens, Miller has dedicated her life to community advocacy through creative organizing and citizen participation.
“It’s an honor to be tapped by Borough President Katz to help execute her vision for the World’s Borough,” Miller said. “Government makes the biggest impact when it is continually engaged with our communities. I am grateful that Borough President Katz chose to promote from within and is allowing me the opportunity to continue building the economic viability of the borough and expand to other service areas of the borough. Across all issues – from education to housing to quality of life to tourism and culture – economic development and community development are one and [the] same.”
Speaking at the the D’Angelo center on the school’s campus, Katz made several other announcements about her economic development strategy for the borough. She mentioned that $6 million has been collected to restore the New York State Pavilion, a site from the 1964 World’s Fair that Katz called a “treasure” that could become a tourist attraction. She expressed a desire to create jobs on the western Flushing waterfront, an area that Mayor de Blasio singled out for affordable housing during last week’s State of the City speech.
Katz also talked about the “Jamaica initiative” to stimulate the business district’s economic activity.
“We want to invest heavily in Jamaica’s infrastructure and local businesses,” she said, without elaborating on any specific projects.
As former head of the borough’s economic development team and now as deputy borough president, Miller will play a key role in helping Katz to push forward Queens projects.
“This is an exciting time for Queens, and in this chapter of growth, development and opportunities for our borough, it’s an absolute privilege to work with a dynamic leader of such passion and vision,” Miller said.
Miller received her master’s degree in social work from CUNY Hunter College School of Social Work and her Bachelor of Science from CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She is an active doctoral candidate in social welfare at the CUNY Graduate School and University Center. Miller currently resides in Laurelton, Queens.
- These five Queens neighborhoods were the borough’s hardest places to sell houses in 2014
- Francis Lewis HS staff and students ‘Shake It Off’ in YouTube video
- City installing new traffic lights along Cross Bay and Woodhaven boulevards