Under new management: Meet CB1’s new district manager

Community Board 1 hired Lucian Reynolds to serve the group as its lead staffer due to his tech acumen and contacts from working at the Borough President’s office, which is located just a few floors down in the Manhattan Municipal Building from where the civic group is headquartered.
Photo by Colin Mixson

BY COLIN MIXSON

A high-ranking staffer of Borough President Gale Brewer will start providing the civic honchos at Community Board 1 with some much-needed tech savvy on Feb. 12, when he joins the board as district manager, according to the board’s chief.

“We need someone who can use information and leverage it for the benefit of the community,” said CB1 chairman Anthony Notaro.

Lucian Reynolds is moving three-floors up from his current office on the Beep’s floor of the Municipal Building to take his seat as district manager at the community board’s office on the 22nd floor, filling a position left vacant since Noah Pfefferblit stepped down last August.

Reynolds began his three-year tenure with the Beep as an urban planner, but eventually rose to become her advisor on technology issues, helping Brewer craft policies on national issues such as the repeal of Net Neutrality regulations — which she opposed — and guide her in understanding and supporting local tech initiatives, including the city’s open data programs.

A New Jersey native, Reynolds’s family moved to Virginia when he was young, where he did most of his growing up before shipping off to Nicaragua for a more-than-two-year stint with the Peace Corps, helping local tutors integrate modern teaching strategies into their curricula.

Reynolds moved to New York to get a graduate degree in urban planning from Hunter College before signing up with Trees New York, a nonprofit that trains New Yorkers to prune trees, and later putting his degree to work for the Harlem Community Development Corporation as an urban planner.

The civic-minded civil servant also volunteered for a stint on Community Board 11, also in Harlem, and his experience as member of the advisory board uptown helped him get the staff job at the board Downtown, Notaro said.

“He also had a term as a member at CB11, so he can look at it from both sides, as a member and as staff,” Notaro said. “It’s a great combo.”

Working with Brewer also clued Reynolds in to the various bureaucratic players and mechanisms that make the city tick, and he often worked to coordinate sit-downs with small businesses and officials from various city agencies to help mom-and-pop shops navigate the Big Apple’s intense regulatory landscape.

“I would take businesses directly to the agency,” said Reynolds. “Small businesses are good at what they do, but not necessarily knowing every single shortcut getting around a bureaucracy. “

But it’s his tech background that really got members excited, and the board plans on putting Reynolds to work modernizing their website, the way the board uses the city’s open data, and keeping the office wireless network buzzing, according to vice chairman Paul Hovitz.

“There are a number of IT issues that need addressing, and he’s certainly going to be addressing them,” Hovitz said. “There are problems with our connection, problems with the way we database resolutions and information, and with our website itself. Our office needs to be brought up to snuff.”

Reynolds said he was attracted to the district manager position at CB1 by the unique circumstances facing Downtown communities, where locals and city agencies are struggling to adjust to the area’s recent residential transformation, creating all sorts of interesting problems he looks forward to helping solve.

“In terms of economic development and technology, CB1 has it all going on at the same time,” Reynolds said. “It’s such an interesting workload to dig into, and I really want to see what I can do to help improve the conditions Downtown.”

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