Press Mentions

Featured Press Mention

Format: 2020-03-29
Format: 2020-03-29

New York, NY (March 23, 2020)—Citizens Committee for New York City (Citizens Committee) has announced the appointment of its new CEO, Dr. Rahsaan Harris, effective March 16. Harris replaces Peter H. Kostmayer, who is retiring after 15 years.

Harris, who has more than 20 years of experience leading nonprofits and international grantmaking, partnering with communities to make local investments, and promoting community organizing, is Citizens Committee’s first black CEO in the organization’s 45-year history. He is a transformative leader and role model who has been a New York City public school teacher, board member of various Harlem-based organizations, devoted Big Brothers Big Sister mentor, and Peace Corps environmental education volunteer in South America.

“Rahsaan is a proven leader and experienced CEO, and is well-positioned to lead our organization into a new era of transformation,” said Chris Ruggeri, chair of the Board of Directors for Citizens Commitee. “We are excited for this new chapter as Citizens Committee helps New Yorkers—especially those in low-income areas—come together and improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods.”

Harris comes to Citizens Committee from the Emma Bowen Foundation—a New York-based organization dedicated to diversifying the media and technology industries by recruiting promising students of color and placing them in paid internships at the nation’s leading companies. As Emma Bowen’s President and CEO, Harris set a new strategic direction that resulted in increased grant revenue and a highly engaged network of students, alumni and influential corporate partners. Harris raised the foundation’s public profile through key speaking and television appearances on outlets such as WABC New York, Fox 5 New York, and Yahoo Finance. Last month, he appeared on CNN to discuss the legacy of Emma L. Bowen, the Harlem community activist who fought to make media inclusive more than 50 years ago.

“I’m honored to be joining Citizens Committee as CEO,” Harris said. “Back in the ’70s, our founders—Sen. Jacob Javits, a Republican, and Newsweek Editor-in-Chief Osborn Elliott, a Democrat—envisioned a better future for all New Yorkers. In the spirit of that bipartisanship—and the beautiful fruits of that labor—we need to remind each other during challenging times that it’s only when we work together that we can achieve real change. And we need each other as never before.”

Harris is no stranger to Javits’s efforts. Emma Bowen worked with Javits in the 1960s and ’70s to end the unwritten policy of preventing black youth from being pages in the U.S. Senate. “Emma Bowen fought so young people of color could have access to the same opportunities as their white counterparts,” Harris said. “As a Harlemite and block association member, I know that positive change happens when New Yorkers work together, not just to improve our neighborhoods and our quality of life—but to create lasting social change.”

Prior to his role at the Emma Bowen Foundation, Harris served as Executive Director of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP), and a program officer at the Atlantic Philanthropies. Harris received his doctorate in Public and Urban Policy from the New School, where his dissertation addressed understanding how socio-economic diversity in the African-American community affects their philanthropic interests. He also holds master’s degrees in Management and High School Science Education from New York University and Columbia, respectively, and a Bachelor of Arts from Princeton University. Harris is a board member of Exponent Philanthropy and is co-class agent for Princeton University Class of 1995 Annual Giving. He resides in Harlem, in a Spanish-speaking household, with his wife Elizabeth and daughter Avery.

Kostmayer, whose tenure ends effective March 27, served seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives in the late ’70s and early ’80s. “Peter has played a critical role in the development and success of Citizens Committee for New York City, and we are grateful for his service,” said Ruggeri. “We will miss his leadership, but we wish him all the best in his retirement and future ventures.”

As the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, Citizens Committee, under Harris’ leadership, has developed a survey to better understand its grantees’ challenges and needs during this time of uncertainty. The survey can be found at, and Citizens Committee is urging all grantees to respond as soon as possible. The organization plans to analyze the results of the survey and share key insights with elected officials and donors. In addition, Citizens Committee has compiled a list of key COVID-19 resources for New Yorkers.

About Citizens Committee for New York City
Citizens Committee for New York City’s mission is to help New Yorkers – especially those in low-income areas – come together and improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods. Residents are uniquely situated to define and act on the issues affecting their communities. When provided with modest support, neighborhood and school groups can effectively mobilize with the assistance of grants, skills-building workshops, project planning assistance and an equipment share library. In 2019, we provided 596 projects with $2.3 million in grants and services, impacting more than 130,000 residents in 164 different neighborhoods across the five boroughs. Since 1975, we have promoted the spirit of volunteerism, local engagement, and social justice that drives our work. Go to to learn more.

Citizens Committee for New York City Names Dr. Rahsaan Harris as New CEO Amid COVID-19 Crisis
March 22, 2020
NEW YORK – Donors to the Citizens Committee for New York City sipped rosé and mingled with community garden members of two Lower East Side gardens on Sept. 24 at an event thanking supporters of an organization that bolsters grass roots initiatives. 
Citizens Committee for New York City helps New Yorkers — especially those in low-income areas — come together and improve their neighborhood.  It supports volunteer-led neighborhood groups, including block and tenant associations, gardening groups and those without 501 (c) 3 non-profit status working on neighborhood improvement projects and quality of life issues. 
To that end, the Citizens Committee for New York City has supported projects in the two East Village gardens that hosted the thank-you evening. 
Supporters of two Lower East Side Community Gardens thank donors for keeping greenspaces thriving
Tequila Minsky
February 18, 2020

BUSHWICK — Enterprising students who have spearheaded projects aimed at saving the planet were rewarded for their efforts by the Citizens Committee for New York City, which awarded grants of up to $1,000 each to the youngsters’ schools. Fifty-four public schools across the city, including 18 in Brooklyn, received grants. Each of the winning schools has a “Green Team,” a club for environmentally savvy students. The winning projects dealt with reducing waste, addressing climate change and creating more sustainable school communities. Cynthia Olsen-Dinkins, a science teacher at Edward B. Shallow Intermediate School in Bensonhurst, said the grant her school received will allow the Green Team members to go all-in on a massive recycling effort. Shallow I.S. has signed up to be one of the first schools in New York City to be a Zero Waste Pledge School, meaning that the school will make a serious effort to reduce waste. 

School ‘Green Teams’ win environmental grants
Paula Katinas
February 06, 2020

NEW YORK – Hundreds of New Yorkers gathered at the Central Park Boathouse on Monday night for Citizens Committee for New York City’s annual Evening on the Lake. The more than $300,000 raised will support CCNYC in its mission to help New Yorkers come together and improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods through volunteer-led, grassroots projects.

This year’s honorees were Heather Lennox of Jones Day, William H. Henrich of Getzler Henrich & Associates, and CCNYC grantee Aleeia Abraham-Toussaint, founder of Prototype Music, which mentors and showcases youth musical talent in Southeast Queens. Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman, who represents the area served by Prototype Music, introduced Ms. Abraham-Toussaint and the performers to the crowd of almost 400 there to support CCNYC. Junior photographers from CCNYC grantee Hamilton Heights Darkroom were on hand to capture the evening on film as part of the nonprofit’s efforts to provide local students with hands-on photography experience. 


Press Release
September 11, 2019

BROOKLYN – Citizens Committee for New York City (CCNYC) and Bank of America are thrilled to congratulate the members of P.L.A.N.T. (Preserving Lincoln's Abundant Natural Treasures) on being named winner of Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Greenest Block in Brooklyn 2019 award. P.L.A.N.T. is a CCNYC grantee whose members have worked incredibly hard to transform their block of Lincoln Place between Nostrand Avenue and New York Avenue into a beautiful and inspiring oasis of greenery in the middle of Crown Heights. Their efforts include installation and care of numerous immaculately-maintained tree beds, window boxes, and planters creatively fashioned out of old musical instruments, popcorn containers, grills, household appliances and other reused items. The group was presented with the honor at a celebration last week hosted by Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

“Our mission is to utilize the collective talents and gifts of our neighbors to build community. This year we saw this mission in motion as neighbors came together to create a wonderful work of art on our block, leading to this joyous accomplishment! Our block has become, in the words of passersby, an ‘oasis’, a ‘wonderful work of art’ and a ‘museum’. Thank you so much to all of the residents who pitched in, to Citizens Committee and Bank of America for their help and to Brooklyn Botanic Garden for honoring our work! This is just the beginning,” said Althea Jones, Lincoln Place resident and member of P.L.A.N.T. 

“We are so proud of P.L.A.N.T. for their stewardship of the greenest block in Brooklyn! It’s always wonderful to see our grantees continue to grow and make such a big impact on their neighbors and community,” said Peter H. Kostmayer, CEO of Citizens Committee for New York City. “I’m thrilled that Brooklyn Botanic Garden recognized that Lincoln Place is a beautiful, thriving block thanks to the dedication of P.L.A.N.T. and the residents. We also appreciate Bank of America’s support, which helps us provide community groups like P.L.A.N.T. with the resources needed to positively impact their neighborhood and city.”

Click the PDF link below to read more on this story.

Press Release
August 20, 2019

HARLEM – Citizens Committee for New York City (CCNYC) and Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz gathered on Monday evening in Brust Park with members of resident-led community groups to highlight and celebrate their efforts to improve their corner of the Bronx. Citizens Committee CEO Peter H. Kostmayer and Assembly Member Dinowitz were joined by members of Stewards of Brust Park, Stewards of Henry Hudson Park and Coqui the Chef to learn more about their grassroots projects’ impact on the community and their efforts to bring their neighbors together towards a common goal. Each group has received small grants and planning assistance from CCNYC in recent years to support their community improvement projects.

“The strength of our community is in the power of the people who live here, working every day to make our neighborhoods a little bit better for everyone. I am proud to have numerous groups throughout my district who have amazing ideas for projects to accomplish just that. Thank you to Citizens Committee for their support of these incredible projects, and also to the people behind those projects who will turn grant money into tangible results for our community,” said Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz.

“These New Yorkers are showing just how big an impact a group of dedicated residents can have on their neighbors and community. I am so proud of the groups we support and the amazing work they are doing to improve the quality of life across the Bronx and the entire city. It’s also a pleasure to work with Assembly Member Dinowitz to make sure these groups have the resources they need. Citizens Committee supports grassroots groups through small grants and project assistance, but at the end of the day it’s the residents who are putting in the work to change their neighborhood for the better,” said CCNYC CEO Peter H. Kostmayer.

Click the PDF link below to read more on this story.

Press Release
August 20, 2019


More Press Mentions

NEW YORK – Citizens Committee for New York City (CCNYC), Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and the Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board (MSWAB) announced that applications are now being accepted for the third year of the innovative “Reduce, Reuse and Repair” grant program. This grant aims to support local efforts to reduce consumption and waste generation and to reuse, repair, refurbish or upcycle discarded items to ensure they do not end up in landfills or incinerators. The grant is part of the city’s Zero Waste initiative and is open to community-based organizations, individual researchers and small businesses based in the five boroughs.

In the first two years of the grant program, 33 projects received awards totaling $50,576. Since 2017, 16 groups that received funding in the grant’s first year have successfully diverted nearly 10,000 pounds of discarded items from landfills, repairing items such as bikes, clothing, electronics and household items while engaging 1,200 volunteer New Yorkers in the process. Please see here for more information about past recipients and the grant program. 


Press Release
May 06, 2019

NEW YORK – Citizens Committee for New York City (CCNYC) is proud to announce that four additional New Yorkers have officially been named to the Young Citizens Committee (YCC) Board of Directors. The Young Citizens Committee is comprised of professionals in their 20s and 30s who care deeply about the city and are passionate about advancing CCNYC’s mission to help New Yorkers – especially those in low income communities – improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods. Duties and responsibilities include meeting monthly, helping CCNYC raise awareness and support for its work, attending special events including visits to grantee’s projects, and helping shape the future of CCNYC as it continues to address local quality of life issues in the coming years.

The new YCC board members are Parul Bhatia of Shearman & Sterling LLP; Sam Fisher of Seven Bridges Advisors; Kiara Reed of JPMorgan Chase & Co.; and Jeremy Shevett of Compass. With the addition of these four newly-appointed members, the YCC Board of Directors currently includes 14 individuals from a wide range of industries.


Press Release
April 25, 2019

NEW YORK – Citizens Committee for New York City (CCNYC) and the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) are proud to announce that 52 public schools have been awarded Public School Green Team grants of up to $1,000 during the spring grant cycle. The funding will be used by each school’s Green Team to implement programs aimed at improving the local environment, reducing waste, addressing climate change, and promoting sustainability within the school community. Programs funded during this grant cycle include equipping classrooms with recycling and composting equipment, creating and maintaining community gardens, and providing reusable water bottles to reduce the amount of plastic in landfills.

See below for full list of schools selected for funding and reply to this email for details on any specific school project.

Press Release
April 05, 2019