People For President and CEO Ben Jealous Praises Myrick’s Progressive Record as Mayor; Applauds Myrick’s Willingness to Focus Fulltime on Defending American Democracy
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, People For the American Way President and CEO Ben Jealous announced the full-time appointment of Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick as Executive Director of People For and praised Myrick’s progressive record as Mayor. Myrick will transition from his duties as Mayor and part-time executive director of the People For next month, where his expanded duties will include fundraising, donor cultivation, media and public speaking roles, as well as continuing the important work he has already initiated to build strategic partnerships and advance People For’s public safety and democracy reform initiatives.
“There are few leaders in our nation who possess Svante’s ability to build big broad coalitions for change, and the courage necessary to see those changes through regardless of the politics of the moment,” Jealous said. “Despite his youth, Svante has consistently demonstrated the wisdom and steadiness of a seasoned leader well beyond his years. Svante’s record speaks for itself. Ithaca has prospered and his leadership has helped to set national models for how we can reimagine public safety. Our nation is now at a crossroads as our democracy suffers from voter suppression and right wing assaults on our most valued institutions. There is no more critical moment to have Svante expand his role with People For as we seek to permanently repair the damage being done to our democracy by right wing extremists.”
“I love Ithaca. I’ve loved serving this City, and I believe my service has made a difference,” said Myrick. “I also love this country. The American democratic experiment is the reason that someone like me – born into homelessness and raised by a single mother – was able to attend an institution like Cornell, and serve the city he loves. But I am alarmed at the full frontal assault our democracy is facing. I want to protect that American dream for people of all backgrounds, and I believe my service can make a difference. I want to thank Ben for his continued faith, support, and leadership. I am looking forward to working with him against ‘the big lie’, and to protect and defend the right to vote.”
Myrick at age 24, became the youngest Mayor in New York State history and Ithaca’s first Black Mayor after winning a seat on the Common Council while still a junior at Cornell University. Across three terms in office, Myrick’s administration has achieved a progressive overhaul of City government that merged departments and streamlined processes.
“Mayor Myrick is an exceptional example of a reformer with results, a bold progressive who’s pragmatic enough to deliver for the most marginalized and the middle class,” said Tom Periello, Executive Director for U.S. Programs at the Open Society Foundation. “His thoughtful innovations in Ithaca have already had impacts rippling across from policing and drug reform – to adoption of the Ithaca Green New Deal.”
His administration was able to successfully close the largest budget deficit in history – all while improving services and lowering the City’s tax rate.
Mayor Myrick’s approach to equitable economic development has helped Ithaca become the fastest growing economy in New York State. His active advocacy in Albany and in Washington D.C. has resulted in tens of millions of dollars in grants and awards from the State and Federal government. His peers elected him to lead the NY Conference of Mayors in recognition of this ability to advocate effectively.
Mayor Myrick released the Ithaca Plan: a Public Health and Safety Approach to Drugs and Drug Policy that garnered international attention for its forward thinking. He has also gained accolades for strengthening Ithaca’s Sanctuary City status for refugees, passing the Ithaca Green New Deal, instituting sweeping police reforms, rebuilding the Ithaca Commons and completing the largest public works project in the City’s history – a $37 million rebuild of the water treatment plant.
The Mayor has been awarded an Aspen Institute Fellowship, a Rabbi Beerman Peace and Justice Award, the John. F Kennedy New Frontier Award and was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list and the fortune 40 under 40 list.
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About People For the American Way
People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and build a democratic society that implements the ideals of freedom, equality, opportunity and justice for all. We encourage civic participation, defend fundamental rights, and fight to dismantle systemic barriers to equitable opportunity. Learn more: https://www.pfaw.org.