Meet the nonprofit candidates likely to join New York’s City Council

Alexa Avilés, Democratic nominee for City Council District 38.
Alexa Avilés, Democratic nominee for City Council District 38.
Alexa Avilés, Democratic nominee for City Council District 38.

Meet the nonprofit candidates likely to join New York’s City Council

Here are the individuals on track to win the general election in November.
July 29, 2021

With nearly every June primary now decided, it appears all but certain that New York’s next City Council will be the most diverse and progressive in history. This new wave of legislators is reflected in a group of candidates from the nonprofit sector who are expected to win their general election races in November.

Alexa Avilés, the program director at the Scherman Foundation, emerged from the Democratic field vying to replace Council Member Carlos Menchaca as Sunset Park’s representative on the council. At Scherman, Avilés has directed funding towards local and national organizations working on human rights, the arts, good governance and reproductive rights, among other issues.

“My nonprofit work reinforces and reaffirms my belief that community-based solutions are critical,” Avilés said. “Elected officials shouldn’t be creating policies from the top down – we need to work for and with working-class people in our districts.”

In Northeastern Queens, Linda Lee, the president and CEO of Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York (KCS), appears poised to win the District 23 seat. At KCS, Lee has led initiatives in education, health care, senior services, workforce development, immigration services, and launched the only Korean-led Article 31 Outpatient Mental Health Clinic in the state.

“Running KCS, but especially during the pandemic, opened my eyes to necessary reforms into how we invest and contract for social services in New York City,” Lee said. “I’m particularly passionate about seniors, and so seeing the amount of funding the Department for the Aging gets when compared to other city agencies was particularly frustrating.”

Kamillah Hanks is likely to be the next representative of Staten Island’s North Shore on the council after prevailing in the District 49 Democratic primary. Hanks led the creation of Staten Island’s first YouthBuild program, which helps at-risk young adults complete their education and gain job training. She also founded the Historic Tappen Park Community Partnership, which aims to boost cultural and economic development in that area, as well as Minority Women in Business Association.

Shaun Abreu, a tenants’ rights attorney at New York Legal Assistance Group, came out on top in the primary to succeed Council Member Mark Levine, now the Democratic nominee for Manhattan borough president.

Shekar Krishnan, a civil rights lawyer, won the Democratic primary in District 25 in Queens. The co-founder and chief program officer of Communities Resist, an organization that provides tenant legal services and advocates for housing justice, Krishnan is expected to replace Council Member Daniel Dromm, who endorsed him during the primary.

Althea Stevens won the District 16 Democratic Primary to replace Vanessa Gibson, the frontrunner to be the Bronx’s next borough president. Stevens has worked for over a decade at the East Side House Settlement, a nonprofit located in the South Bronx, where she has served as the department director of elementary programs and community affairs.

Amanda Farías served as an aide to former Council Member Elizabeth Crowley before being tapped as assistant director of the Consortium for Worker Education, a nonprofit organization that acts as the workforce development arm of the New York City Central Labor Council. Farías is also a co-founder of Women of Color for Progress and New York state coordinator for New American Leaders.

Kristin Richardson Jordan currently holds a razor-thin lead over incumbent Bill Perkins in the Democratic primary to represent Harlem’s 9th District. Jordan is a poet and social justice activist whose resume includes organizations such as Directions For Our Youth and Girl Be Heard. She was also the co-founder of Freedom Love Birthright, a writing and community theatre youth program, and worked until recently as a literacy specialist at the Harlem Boys & Girls Club.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Kristin Richardson Jordan was endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America.

Gabe Ponce de León