HONOREE: Melva Miller: A Community’s Voice Is Heard Inside Borough Hall

Melva M. Miller, resident of South East Queens, has dedicated her life to community advocacy through creative organizing and citizen participation. The daughter of a community activist, Miller commenced her community development work in 1993 when she began working with children using the arts as a tool to instill a sense of social responsibility while fostering positive imagery of youth in the community. This work gave Miller the opportunity to collaborate in creating programming that used dance, music and artistic expression as a conduit to introduce community awareness.

Melva Miller

Melva Miller

She then sought to professionalize her community development skills and attended the Hunter College School of Social Work where she earned a Master’s degree in Community Organization and Planning, and received the school’s Dorothy North McNeal Award for achievement in Community Organization.

Upon graduation, Miller quickly put her formal organizing training to work when she was appointed the position of Executive Director for the Sutphin Boulevard Business Improvement District (BID).

During her tenure, she was charged with providing supplemental sanitation and security services throughout the District as well as providing promotion for the area, advocacy for the interests of the local businesses, and enhanced neighborhood quality of life for local businesses and residents. While at the BID, she also served as Project Director of the Downtown Jamaica Cultural District, formed to contribute to the artistic development of downtown Jamaica through marketing, brand identity, cultural development, public space utilization and real estate initiatives.

In July of 2007, Miller joined the Office of Queens Borough President Helen Marshall to serve as key advisor on small businesses throughout Queens, and develop a borough-wide workforce development initiative to support the borough’s economic growth and sustainability. In June of 2008, she was promoted to Director of Economic Development and among her new responsibilities included implementing a $13 million dollar capital improvement program designed to encourage pedestrian activity in commercial corridors throughout Queens.

In November of 2009, New York City’s mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed Miller to serve on the Board of Directors for the New York City Economic Development Corporation. She represents Queens on the New York City Industrial Business Zone Commission, New York State Regional Economic Development Council for New York City, and in March 2013, the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force created by President Barack Obama.

Upon winning the Queens Borough President race in November of 2013, Borough President Melinda Katz requested that Miller stay on in her current role and charged her with creating and implementing a borough-wide strategy to enhance Queens’ appeal for economic opportunities through branding and financial investment.

In February 2015, Katz named Miller Deputy Borough President

“Economic development is a key priority of my agenda for Queens, and Melva’s multidimensional expertise to this end is second to none,” Katz said. “Melva has also been a trusted member of my senior leadership team since day one. Her ascension as my Deputy is a natural one, and I thank her for accepting this responsibility.”

In addition to her responsibilities as deputy borough president, Miller is currently leading two neighborhood-based planning and development efforts designed to engage local stakeholders in process of increasing quality employment, economic diversity, and financial security to support livable neighborhoods.

Miller represents the Borough of Queens and the Borough President through her work on various Boards of Directors including the Council for Airport Opportunity and Queens Economic Development Corporation as well as oversees and provides technical assistance to the Boards of the twelve Business Improvement Districts. Miller is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program for Social Welfare at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center.

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