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Photo courtesy of Queens Community House

Queens Community House (QCH) will pay tribute to the Honorable Jacob J. Lew this fall for his lifelong career of public service.

Lew, who served as 76th Secretary of the Treasury and former White House Chief of Staff under President Obama, will be honored at QCH’s Strengthening Neighborhoods Inspiring Change Gala. The gala will take place at the Museum of the Moving Image on Oct. 23.

Lew will be honored alongside Former New York Mets All-Star, Edgardo Alfonzo.

“We are honored to celebrate Secretary Lew, whose ideas about social equality are connected to our organization’s history and have gone on to inspire change on a much larger stage,” said QCH Executive Director Ben Thomases. “His commitment to social justice represents our vision of Queens as an empowered community that values diversity, respect, and mutual responsibility.”

A Forest Hills native, Lew grew up in a brick apartment building on Yellowstone Boulevard. In 1971, at the age of 16-years-old Lew helped organize The New York March Against Hunger, leading him to be interviewed by a reporter from CBS.

“At an early age, Jack already had his own ideas of equality, fairness and decency.” said Rebecca, Lew’s sister. 

The Lew family attended The Forest Hills Jewish Center, led by Rabbi Ben Zion Bokser. Bokser was a huge supporter for the development of public housing in Forest Hills, a stance that was not only opposed by many residents, but also members of his own congregation.

Like Bokser, Lew was in favor of development during the Forest Hills Housing Controversy of 1966-1972. The ultimate compromise, mediated by a then-unknown Mario Cuomo, led to the construction of three 12-story residential buildings and a two-story community center, which is now the home for QCH.

“The housing project that became the original home of the Queens Community House was a major topic of controversy,” said Lew. “While many opposed it, I grew up in a home where responsibly opening the doors to the community was seen as a good thing. That early lesson, both in taking a position on important and controversial issues, and the power of an individual to make a difference, made a big impression on me.”

Over the years, Lew served the federal government in many capacities. He started off as a legislative assistant to Representative Joe Moakley, as a Senior Policy Advisor to House Speaker Tip O’Neill, and as Assistant Director and then Director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Clinton administration. In 2012, President Barack Obama asked Lew to serve as his Chief of Staff and in 2013, he was selected by Obama to serve as Secretary of the Treasury, a position that he held until 2017.

For more information about the gala, visit www.qchnyc.org/gala.

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