NYC Gets CTO, Builds Out Civic Engagement Commission


New York City has a fresh slate of civic leaders. Mayor de Blasio has appointed John Paul Farmer as the new Chief Technology Officer. The Mayor also added eight new commissioners to the Civic Engagement Commission and appointed Dr. Sarah Sayeed as Chair and Executive Director of the Commission.

Farmer joins city government from Microsoft, where he worked as the Director of Technology & Civic Innovation. Farmer was based in New York City and during his tenure worked in close collaboration with CUNY, Code for America, DataKind, Civic Hall, the NYCEDC, and others. Farmer also served on the board of the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline, which works to deliver quality technology jobs for New Yorkers and quality talent for New York City’s businesses.

In his role as CTO, Farmer will be working on a number of initiatives including broadband expansion, the city’s tech challenge competitions, and creating guidelines for smart cities and Internet of Things projects in NYC.

Alongside Farmer’s appointment, the Mayor announced that he has filled out the inaugural slate of commissioners for the Civic Engagement Commission. The Commission was established in November of last year through a ballot initiative. The Commission will be responsible for enhancing civic participation, promoting civic trust and strengthening democracy in New York City. It will hold its first public meeting within the next 30 days and launch a listening tour across the five boroughs to hear directly from New Yorkers.

The Commission will be led by Dr. Sarah Sayeed, who has been a Senior Advisor in the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit for the past three years. Sayeed has spent most of her career focused on creating inclusive communities throughout the city.

The other commissioners include:

Murad Awawdeh, Vice President of Advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition

Holly Bonner, Founder of Blind Motherhood and Staten Island Borough Coordinator for VISIONS Services for the Blind & Visually Impaired

Amy Breedlove, Business Strategist at Urban Quotient and President of the Cobble Hill Association

Donna Veronica Gill, Higher Education Officer at Hunter Bellevue School of Nursing and advisor at the New York State Youth Leadership Council

José Hernandez, President of United Spinal Association’s New York City chapter

Linda Lee, Executive Director of the Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York, Inc.

Annetta Seecharran, Executive Director of Chhaya CDC