Thank you Feniosky for that great presentation; let’s give him another round of applause! And,
thank you to Columbia University Medical Center and Ross Frommer, for your hospitality this afternoon. Before we begin, I would like to acknowledge and thank my staff, Seny Taveras, Carmen De La Rosa, Lesly Almanzar, Yokarina Duarte, Russell Murphy, Rita Gomez, Tony Edwards, Noquel Matos, Fior Urena, Julie Cubillete, Eduardo Hoepelman and Kiana Diaz; our interns who help out in countless ways around the office; Camilo and the great volunteers who selflessly give their time; my mother, sisters and brothers; and especially my family, my wife Christina and my two beautiful girls, Yarissa and Ysla. Thank you all for the endless support you provide me. I also want to dedicate this speech to a dear friend who could not be here today as she is fighting a tough battle against cancer in the Bronx, Altagracia Dilone Levat. Altagracia has been a leader in bringing cultural arts uptown and most recently ran the Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center that has grown so well since it opened less than a year ago with her vision. Altagracia, you are in our thoughts and prayers and we hope you pull through this struggle to continue the amazing work you have already done for our community. Thank you. Good afternoon and welcome, thank you all for being here, it means a great deal to me. As many of you know, we hold this event every year to update you on the work completed over the past year; to share what we are doing now; and, most importantly, to share the plans going forward. The future of Northern Manhattan and Marble Hill is bright. As we work toward filling in the details of this plan, I look forward to working with all of you to expand and refine these ideas to ensure your place in the discussion!
I’d like to thank my colleague, Senator Adriano Espaillat, for his kind words moments ago.
Senator Espaillat has a promising future in our community and the country, and we will be working with him for years to come to improve Northern Manhattan and Marble Hill in countless ways. Assembly Members Gabriela Rosa and Denny Farrell, who work tirelessly for Northern Manhattan up in Albany, and Council Member Mark Levine who has already stormed on the Council scene, hitting the ground running in his first term with a strong grasp of both policy and community relations. A lot has changed for this community in the past year, just as it has for our city. We now have a new mayor in charge, meaning a new day for New York! Mayor de Blasio knows and understands the needs of this community and has expressed to me his commitment to improving Northern Manhattan and Marble Hill in a number of ways. In particular, working to find opportunities for the affordable housing we so desperately need; as well as improving our schools from pre-k to college, and supporting our small businesses to grow and thrive. We also elected a brand new speaker of the City Council from Uptown! Una Latina capaz y poderosa, Melissa Mark-Viverito! Over the past few months since she began, time and time again Melissa has demonstrated a keen ability to lead our legislative body with great skill. In one