Queens borough president announces senior staff appointments, one steps aside

Photo by Mark Hallum

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards on Jan. 4 announced the first round of appointments to his executive and senior staff, although one stepped aside hours after the initial announcement.

Leading the list of appointees is Franck D. Joseph II, who will be Richards’ new chief of staff and senior adviser. Joseph had previously served as deputy commissioner for the NYC Commission Human Rights.

“There is so much work to be done to support New Yorkers at this juncture. We’re in a moment where so many marginalized communities are looking for help from the government,” Joseph said. “I’ve had the opportunity to lead many of these efforts while at the NYC Commission on Human Rights and am honored for this new appointment working alongside Queens Borough President Richards.”

Previously, Joseph served as Richards’ chief of staff in the City Council. He will be responsible for overseeing the office and advising Richards on policy matters and constituent concerns ensuring Richards’ plans and decisions are implemented, and setting forth the overall agenda.

“Queens is the most diverse county in the United States, something we celebrate, but it was impacted in unimaginable ways due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rising housing costs, inequity in our education system, strain on our business communities, racial tension and other issues,” Joseph said. “Despite these struggles, I know Queens will lead the way out of our current crisis, and I look forward to standing with all its residents and workers to make this a more equitable borough.”

Rhonda Binda and Michael Hurwitz were appointed deputy borough presidents, but Hurwitz withdrew his name after tweets criticizing Israeli policies and lobbying efforts surfaced, according to the Queens Daily Eagle. The Jackson Heights resident stepped aside for “professional and personal reasons” according to Richards’ spokesperson.

Deputy borough presidents are tasked with focusing on specific areas of the office, including land use, technology, food insecurity, criminal justice reform, parks and transportation. Binda previously served as the executive director of the Jamaica Business Improvement District and lived in Jamaica Estates.

“I am honored and humbled to have this opportunity to serve, and am excited to help Queens Borough President Richards implement his vision for our borough and take Queens to new heights,” Binda said. “As a woman of color, it is important to me that Queens Borough President Richards is committed to ensuring that women continue to have a strong voice in our government and community, and that in his appointments he has sought to honor the great progress made by the last four borough presidents, all women who led and moved our communities forward.”

Rounding out his senior staff, Richards appointed Breeana Mulligan as his director of communications. Mulligan is a lifelong Queens resident who most recently served as first deputy press secretary for City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and former Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

“Donovan Richards has been a tireless fighter and advocate for our borough of Queens,” Mulligan said.”During these challenging times, it is imperative to have strong leadership Borough Hall, and Queens Borough President Richards has already demonstrated this in his first few weeks in office. I am thrilled to join the team, lead in building the communications strategy for the Queens borough president’s office and work on behalf of the over 2 million people who call the ‘World’s Borough’ home.”

Mulligan also serves as a District Leader in the 36th Assembly District and was president of the Queens County Young Democrats. She is a St. John’s graduate and was raised in Whitestone. She currently lives in Astoria.

“Throughout their careers, Franck Joseph, Rhonda Binda, Michael Hurwitz and Breeana Mulligan have demonstrated both exemplary talent and tireless dedication to the people of New York City and I am confident they will bring the same energy to Queens residents and families,” Richards said. “I am proud to add these hardworking public servants to my staff, some of whom represent the best of our borough, especially as we quickly move to tackle the ongoing public health and economic crisis. Franck, Rhonda, Michael and Breeana will make great partners in building a stronger, healthier and more prosperous Queens in 2021 and beyond.”

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