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Fifty-Ninth Commencement



Fifty-Ninth Commencement
Hon. Keynote Speaker Adrienne E. Adams

Keynote NYC Council Speaker Adrienne Adams


Keynote Speaker
Hon. Adrienne E. Adams

Elected speaker of the New York City Council by her colleagues in January 2022, Adrienne Eadie Adams leads the most diverse and the first women-majority Council in New York City history as the first-ever African American speaker.

Under her leadership, the Council has been tackling long-standing inequities. She led the lawmaking body to advance women’s health by passing legislative packages to address persistent racial disparities in maternal health and expand access to abortion and reproductive healthcare. She also created a new $5.1 million budget initiative to fund community safety and victim services at the neighborhood level and securing funding to establish New York State’s first Trauma Recovery Centers.

Speaker Adams and the Council prioritized addressing inequities in the city’s workforce, passing legislative packages to confront the historic lack of diversity in the FDNY and gender- and race-based pay disparities that impact municipal workers. She also helped establish the CUNY Reconnect program that has helped thousands of working-age New Yorkers to return to college in pursuit of a degree after leaving school.

Her leadership has set a new tone for the Council’s leadership in addressing the City’s housing crisis. She put forward an aggressive Housing Agenda with a Fair Housing Framework to increase the equitable production of affordable housing development across the City, while prioritizing deeper affordability, housing preservation, and homeownership.

During her first term, Adams secured record funding for her historically underserved district, investing in schools, parks, libraries, housing, and sanitation services. She advocated for crucial resources during the COVID-19 pandemic and spearheaded the Education Equity Action Plan to implement a comprehensive K–12 Black Studies curriculum in all NYC public schools. As chair of the Committee on Public Safety, she shepherded the passage of critical police reform legislation, including ending qualified immunity and requiring the NYPD to report on vehicle stops with demographic breakdowns. Adams also passed legislation to reform the city’s tax lien sale, protect homeowners and fast-food workers, and return unused commissary funds to formerly incarcerated New Yorkers.

Raised in Hollis, Queens, by two proud union workers, she attended St. Pascal Baylon Elementary School and Bayside High School. After briefly studying at CUNY’s York College, she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Spelman College, minoring in early childhood development.

Prior to public service, Adams worked as a corporate trainer at Fortune 500 companies, specializing in executive training, telecommunications management, and human capital management. She was also a childhood development associate instructor.

She first entered public service as a member of Queens Community Board 12 in Southeast Queens, serving three consecutive terms as chair of the second largest community board in the borough. In 2017, she became the first woman elected to represent District 28 in the City Council, which includes the Queens neighborhoods of Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale Village, and South Ozone Park.

An active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and a longstanding member of the NAACP and the National Action Network, Adams is a dedicated wife, mother, and “cool Nona” within her blended family.