• Commencement 2015
  • Helen Marshall

    Helen Marshall was overwhelmingly re-elected Queens borough president in November 2005, winning 74 percent of the vote. She was elected to her first term as borough president in November 2001 with 68 percent of the vote. She is the 18th borough president of Queens, the first African American and second woman to hold the post of highest-ranking elected official in a borough with a population of more than 2.2 million residents.

    Since becoming Queens borough president, Ms. Marshall has allocated more than $75 million to the Department of Parks and Recreation. Ms. Marshall has also allocated more than $44 million for new libraries, expansions, additions and technological improvements. In 2005, she was the recipient of the statewide Daniel Casey Library Advocacy Award. She has also helped to fund the expansions of cultural institutions across the borough and provided $60 million in funding to improve neighborhood parks and playgrounds. The borough president’s War Room meetings with education officials have also helped to ensure the timely construction of 30 new schools with more than 17,800 seats. Marshall also provided $6 million in capital funding and spearheaded the historic effort that will result in the first CUNY presence on the Rockaway Peninsula in a newly converted former courthouse.

    Marshall, a founder of the Langston Hughes Library in Corona, has been a lifelong advocate for public libraries, job training programs and economic development. She was a parent activist in the public school system for 15 years and a member of Community Board 3 for 13 years. She was also a founder of the Queens County Overall Economic Development Corporation. The borough president‘s Zoning Task Force has been largely responsible for the rezoning of more than two dozen neighborhoods, protecting many of them from over development. Concurrently, she also created the Commercial Corridor Program that improves commercial strips with landscaping and increased lighting. She also was successful in restoring millions of dollars in funding for services for senior citizens and fought to save a hot meals program that delivers meals to homebound seniors.

    Prior to becoming Queens borough president, Ms. Marshall represented the 21st District in the City Council for 10 years, beginning in 1991, when she secured 91 percent of the vote. She was the founding chair of the Higher Education Committee and fought against the privatization of remedial programs of CUNY. She also served as a member of the Housing and Buildings, Environmental Protection and Women’s Issues Committees, and co-chaired the Council’s Black and Latino Caucus. While a member of the City Council, she supported the expansions and upgrades of every library in her district, restored funding to rebuild a free children’s dental clinic in Corona, led the fight to prevent the sale of Elmhurst and the Queens Hospital Center and provided funding for two new senior centers and for vans to transport. She was also the prime sponsor of legislation to relieve senior citizens’ contributions to Medicare Part B. Before her election to the City Council, Marshall, a native New Yorker, served five terms, beginning in 1982, in the New York State Assembly, where she chaired the Rules Committee and served on the Leland Commission.

    Prior to joining the Assembly, Ms. Marshall was an early childhood teacher for eight years. She left the teaching profession in 1969 to become the first director of the Langston Hughes Library. A post she held for five years. She was also director of the EMCOR Testing Assessment and Placement Program for eight years, placing hundreds of residents in meaningful employment positions.

    Ms. Marshall is a graduate of the City’s public school system and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Queens College. She has also taken graduate courses at the Bank Street College and Long Island University. She is a recipient of the President’s Medal from Hunter College, LaGuardia Community College and St. John’s University. She was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Science from the College of Aeronautics. She has been married to Donald Marshall for more than 50 years and has two children, Donald Jr. and Agnes Marie. Ms. Marshall is also the proud grandmother of Chandler and Chasen, the children of Donald and Charlena.

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