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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Mayor de Blasio Nominates Victor Calise to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board

NY City Hall Press Office Photo

NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio on Monday nominated Victor Calise for appointment to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Board. Calise has served as the Commissioner of the New York City Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities since 2012, and is a recognized expert on accessibility. As Commissioner, Calise is responsible for ensuring that New Yorkers with disabilities have equal access to everything that the City has to offer.

"Victor's relentless pursuit to make New York City the most accessible place in the world is exactly the type of ardent leadership we need on the MTA Board," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "Victor believes in his heart that it is our civic and moral duty to make our subways, buses and Access-A-Ride services more inclusive for everyone. From his rich personal history and longtime advocacy for the disability community, Victor will make a great addition to this Board."

"I am honored to be nominated to the MTA Board by Mayor de Blasio," said Victor Calise, Commissioner of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities. "To be the only person with a self-disclosed disability currently on the MTA Board is an important responsibility that I will not take lightly. I look forward to working with the Governor's Office and the State Senate on my confirmation and pledge to advocate for a transit system that works well for everyone—including the millions of New Yorkers and visitors who have intellectual/developmental, vision, hearing or physical disabilities."

“We welcome Mayor de Blasio’s choice of Commissioner Calise for the MTA board,” stated Kim Zimmer, President and CEO of Helen Keller Services. “At a time when the city is striving to make its subways, buses and Access-A-Ride service more inclusive for everyone, Commissioner Calise will be a strong advocate for those with disabilities. I’m confident his voice on the MTA board will help make New York City more accessible for blind and low-vision men, women, and young people who depend so strongly on public transportation.”

“VISIONS is delighted that Victor Calise has been nominated by the Mayor to the MTA Board. Accessible, reliable transportation is the key to independence and employment for people with disabilities. Victor's voice on the Board is an important addition,” said Nancy D. Miller, Executive Director/CEO VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

About Victor Calise

As Commissioner of the New York City Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, Victor Calise has been an advocate for people with disabilities in both the Bloomberg and de Blasio Administrations. Responsible for ensuring that New York City is the most accessible city in the world, Calise advises the Mayor and agency partners on accessibility issues, spearheads public-private partnerships, and chairs the Accessibility Committee of the City's Building Code.

Commissioner Calise began his City service working with the Capital Projects Division of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation where he led efforts to make one of the largest and most complex parks systems in the world accessible by ensuring compliance with construction standards, managing facilities, and developing training materials. Prior to working in New York City government, he was a disability advocate in the non-profit sector.

Commissioner Calise has facilitated relationships with businesses in a myriad of sectors including technology, finance, government, and healthcare. Understanding the importance of increasing diversity in the workforce, his leadership led to the creation of the NYC:ATWORK employment initiative—the first public-private partnership that directly connects jobseekers with disabilities and businesses. Realizing the ever-evolving nature of technological advancements, he also consistently engages with innovators in fields including digital accessibility, communications, and autonomous vehicle development.

A recognized expert on disability, the Commissioner regularly consults with high-level public and private stakeholders about inclusive best practices. He is frequently invited to national and international conferences and has given numerous keynote speeches including in Italy, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates. Often networking with representatives from around the world, Commissioner Calise supports the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and works to ensure that all people realize the full spectrum of their human and civil rights.

The Commissioner received a B.S. in Sports Management from St. John's University and an M.A. in Urban Affairs from Queens College, CUNY. Calise—an avid athlete—competed in the 1998 Paralympic Games in Nagano, Japan as a member of the first U.S. national sled hockey team. Calise was born and raised in Ozone Park, Queens and currently lives on the Upper West Side with his wife and two daughters.

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