New York’s famed cityscape, with its angular skyscrapers, regal brownstones and well-attended parks, never fails to inspire awe and admiration in visitors and New Yorkers alike. This is particularly true for Veronica White, who was born in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and has spent much of her life living in Manhattan and working in and around the five boroughs. She feels a fair amount of pride when she travels the city by foot, having labored during much of her career in private and public-sector programs dedicated to building and strengthening the city’s affordable housing and its parks and recreation initiatives.
“It’s obviously very gratifying to see your career through the housing and open space of different neighborhoods,” says Veronica, who, among many governmental and nonprofit roles, has served as the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation from 2012 to 2013 and as Founding Executive Director of the New York City Center for Economic Opportunity. The latter, launched in 2006 by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, dedicated $100 million in public and private funds annually to innovative programs to reduce poverty during Veronica’s tenure. She also worked as CEO of the New York City Housing Partnership and previously in various roles in the New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development.
That career trajectory was informed early on by Veronica’s work from 1985 through 1987 as a lawyer at Sidley & Austin and then Brown & Wood (where she incidentally met her husband, former partner Victor Marrero, who is now a senior judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York) before the firms merged. The experience in Brown & Wood’s Real Estate and Government Affairs unit proved particularly invaluable. “The building projects we worked on, the knowledge gained of the city, state and federal environmental laws, the city planning, and the landmark regulations - all served as a great prelude to my next step,” says Veronica, who was lured away from law in 1988 by then-Mayor Ed Koch’s administration and the opportunity to manage its burgeoning affordable housing initiatives.
She recalls one moment a few years ago that exemplified the impact of her service to the city. A young woman had come to work with her as an Urban Fellow at the Center for Economic Opportunity. “She mentioned that she was living in downtown Brooklyn, and after talking with her for a while I realized that she was renting an apartment in a house I helped build 20 years before. She really loved her home, her block, her neighborhood. So to see the direct impacts some of the programs I have worked on have had on people—it’s very moving.”
Most recently, in May 2017, Veronica took on a role leading seven businesses in the Data Analytics & Integration team at Bloomberg; she joined the company in 2014 as the Chief of Staff to co-founder Tom Secunda. She says her typical day involves managing teams around the world, in New York, London, Dublin, San Francisco, Singapore and Hong Kong.
One of the things she finds so attractive about her current employer, Mike Bloomberg, is how his devotion to philanthropy permeates his workforce. “So many people on my team are engaged in different programs such as helping the elderly, planting trees in one of their community parks, sending Christmas presents to children impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. It’s very rewarding to work for a company that also believes in being of service.”
Outside of work, Veronica decompresses unsurprisingly by exploring New York; she and Marrero live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. “It’s fascinating to see the changing of seasons in Central Park, to witness the community and neighborhood changes I’ve seen over my 58 years. I truly still love having the opportunity to continue to learn about our communities as I walk through them.”
Published January 2018
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