CSSW connection: Dianne Morales earned her MSW from our School in 1993.
Path to political involvement: Having served as CEO of Phipps Neighborhoods, a social services nonprofit in the Bronx, since 2010, Dianne Morales took the decision, in 2019, to step down from that role to challenge incumbent Bill de Blasio as the Democratic candidate for mayor of New York City. She is running for office for the first time. Were she to become her party’s candidate in June and then be elected in November of this year, she would have the distinction of being the city’s first woman mayor and its first Afro-Latina mayor.
As a well-known leader in the city’s social services sector, Morales has been in the orbit of city politics for some time. She served on Mayor de Blasio’s Community Schools Advisory Board; and when former Mayor Michael Bloomberg first took office, she helped launch the city Department of Education’s Office of Youth Development and School-Community Services. In making her bid for mayor, she is running on a platform that mirrors her work fighting poverty, stressing her firsthand experience in the delivery of city services, both as a recipient and a provider.
After announcing her candidacy in July 2019, Morales told City & State New York:
It’s time for a new type of leadership, and a new type of vision. And that is more likely than not going to come from the outside.
In a tweeted video that introduced her official campaign launch in November 2020, Morales said:
We’ve had 109 mayors in New York. One was Black. None were women. None were Latino. None were indigenous. None were Asian.
She said in another video:
We’ve seen the devastating and disproportionate effect of the pandemic on our essential workers, our Black and brown communities, and our women… We will not allow ourselves to be managed back to normal—back to the crises of homelessness and the lack of affordable housing, the healthcare and mental health system that are not accessible. We understand that it is time to throw out the old playbook, and we have the courage to build something new, because we cannot build a new city if we follow the old rules.
In an email to CSSW Communications Morales said:
I have had people from all walks of life suggesting I run for office for the last 10 years, Once I opened myself up to the conversation, things seemed to take on a life of their own. We’re at a unique point in the history of our country and I know I don’t want to look back at this time in my life and feel like I didn’t do everything I could to support positive change for our democracy. I don’t expect to spend the rest of my life in politics. But I do think there are critical voices that need to be heard; voices that have been silenced or ignored for too long. I think I can help represent and reflect some of those voices in a meaningful way. This is a way for me to try to contribute as much as I can, on as large a scale as possible, right now.