Astoria resident Lorraine Grillo named city’s ‘Recovery Czar’

Astoria’s Lorraine Grillo is tapped as the city’s newly created “recovery czar” to help guide the five boroughs back from the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy of Mayor’s office)

Astoria native Lorraine Grillo has been appointed as the city’s “Recovery Czar,” tasked with leading the COVID-19 rebuilding efforts across the five boroughs. In the newly created post, Grillo will lead the recovery war room at City Hall, where she will coordinate government agencies, nonprofits and the private sector.

“New York City was hit with an unprecedented health care and economic crisis,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Together, we’re taking unprecedented steps to drive a recovery for all of us. As New York City’s first-ever Recovery Czar, Lorraine will cut through bureaucracy, coordinate across all agencies, and reach out to nonprofit and private partners to make sure our recovery is felt in every borough, every neighborhood and every block.”

Grillo will transition from her roles as Commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction and CEO of the city’s School Construction Authority where she has served since 1994.

“I build things. That’s what I do. And together, we are going to build a recovery that lifts up every New Yorker,” Grillo said. “Every job I’ve had serving the people of New York City, from responding to Hurricane Sandy to expanding universal pre-K, has required an intense coordination across different agencies, companies and nonprofits. That’s the same aggressive approach I’m going to take to lead a recovery for us all.”

As president of the School Construction Authority since 2010, Grillo built relationships across Queens as she worked to reduce school overcrowding.

“Mayor de Blasio has made an excellent choice by appointing Lorraine Grillo to the position of senior adviser for recovery,” Councilman Daniel Dromm said. “I have worked closely with Lorraine over the years and know she is a competent professional that city government is lucky to have. I have no doubt that she will turn NYC around and put us on the path to full recovery. Congratulations, Lorraine. I’m so happy you have our backs.”

The borough lost more than a thousand small businesses and restaurants since the COVID-19 pandemic swept through Queens nearly a year ago.

“As a daughter of Queens, Lorraine Grillo is uniquely qualified to understand the needs of Queens and the entire city of New York,” Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Grech said. “We applaud Mayor de Blasio for this move which we have been advocating for quite some time. The Queens Chamber of Commerce is at the ready to continue to support the city and our recovery in any way needed.”

Over the last decade, Grillo was responsible for creating more than 80,000 K-12 school seats and more than 9,000 pre-K seats. She coordinated nearly 4,000 capital improvement projects in New York City buildings and has managed a total of $28 billion in budgets.

“Lorraine Grillo has earned the respect of everyone she has dealt with at every stage in her impactful career serving this city, so much of it based right here in Queens,” Long Island City Partnership President Elizabeth Lusskin said. “We are thrilled that the mayor has created this urgently needed position, and chosen so wisely to fill it. Lorraine is a highly effective, experienced government executive who brings to this work deep understanding of the city and its inner workings, as well as empathy for its residents and businesses. We look forward to working with her to bring the greatest city in the world quickly back stronger and better.”

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