J. Phillip Thompson named deputy mayor of New York City

Appointment recognizes Thompson's expertise in urban politics and coalition building. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray have appointed J. Phillip Thompson, associate professor of urban studies and planning at MIT, as deputy mayor for strategic policy initiatives for New York City.

Thompson previously served as deputy general manager of the New York Housing Authority and director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing Coordination under former mayor David Dinkins. Thompson’s expertise in urban politics and coalition building, applied knowledge of interagency collaboration, and sustained efforts to help empower marginalized Americans position him to oversee the de Blasio administration’s signature initiatives.

“Phillip is one of the foremost experts on how to better serve and lift up low-income neighborhoods, and has spent decades fighting in the trenches for progressive causes,” says de Blasio. “He will make sure our agencies are working together to make New York City the fairest big city in the nation. As New Yorkers, we’re all very lucky he decided to come home.”

Thompson’s work at the intersection of urban politics, race, political economy, and urban policymaking is reflected in his writing, teaching, and role as the head of the Housing, Community, and Economic Development group within MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP). As an advisor to a $1.4 billion state plan to revitalize central Brooklyn, Thompson has focused on local participation and empowerment, including the engagement of labor unions to strengthen community relationships and increase employment, safety, and political representation for low-income neighborhoods.

“As a scholar, activist, and public servant, Phil Thompson has never shied away from the tough challenges that affect our communities — from economic, racial, and health disparities to environmental justice and affordable housing,” says McCray. “I’m confident that Phil, as our new deputy mayor, will serve the people of New York City well, and I look forward to working with him on the issues that matter most to our city.”

Thompson will continue to teach 11.S947 (The Politics of Economic Democracy) at MIT this semester. “While it will be hard to replace Phil’s leadership, mentorship, and teaching here at MIT, there are tremendous potential upsides to strengthening our connections to the City,” says Eran Ben-Joseph, MIT professor and head of DUSP. “We look forward to work with Phil and New York City in building productive partnerships and establishing deeper involvement of our students and faculty.”

Story originally published February 28, 2018, by MIT School of Architecture and Planning for MIT News.