I had the pleasure of meeting Deputy Borough President Chapman December 2012. We were at a Holiday Party for Brooklyn Metropolis Lions Club hosted by Colette Burnett, President and Chief Executive Officer of SuperWings NY. Given our Deputy Borough President’s busy schedule, and the many demands on her time, we were honored to learn of her interest in our Club and the community service projects we are engaged in. I will share more information about Colette with you in a future post. For now, let’s spend a few minutes with our distinguished Deputy Borough President.
MBW for Brooklyn Legends (MBW) – I know that you relocated to Brooklyn as a young lady. Please share with our readers a little about your early years and what is your fondest memory of Brooklyn to-date?
Deputy Borough President Chapman (DBP Chapman) – I was born in the city of Georgetown in Guyana and in 1977 relocated to Brooklyn with my family. Being raised in Brooklyn as a teenager, and then a young adult, was like a dream come true. As part of a major urban center, Brooklyn offers the best of both worlds: tremendous cultural riches and yet the small town feeling you experience in any one of our diverse neighborhoods. Perhaps my fondest memory was riding the D train to “America’s Playground,” Coney Island, for a day of surf and sun—not to mention thrill-inducing rides—with my friends and family.
MBW – As Deputy Borough President, I realize this question may have several answers, but can you share with our readers what you feel is one of Brooklyn’s greatest strengths?
DBP Chapman – Brooklyn is proudly known as the place for everyone from everywhere, and there’s no doubt in my mind that diversity is our biggest strength. Brooklynites hail from more than 90 different countries and speak more than 136 languages, all of which adds up to a truly global experience. Whether you’re talking about cultural offerings, or the single-minded entrepreneurism that fuels our economy, the borough’s diverse population is truly what makes Brooklyn great. So many come here from distant points around the globe, bringing along the cultural touchstones of their homelands—be that art, music, food or work ethic—and creating a uniquely Brooklyn brand of the American dream. Tour Brooklyn and you tour the world, no passport required!
MBW – As a representative of what we all know is the greatest city in the world, what, about Brooklyn, would you say has influenced you?
DBP Chapman – The Borough President’s Office is the one agency in Brooklyn that represents all Brooklynites, and as deputy borough president, I work with people from throughout the entire borough. So my biggest influence, the thing that inspires me to do my best, is engaging with the hard-working people I meet every day. Brooklynites work hard in order to support their families and that inspires me to help them deal with the challenges they face, which, I believe, is part of government’s responsibility.
MBW – How would you invest, if you could, in Brooklyn to ensure its future?
DBP Chapman – Our children are Brooklyn’s future so we must invest in our young people. A world-class education and quality healthcare support not just the child, but society at large. Excellent schools contribute to a robust economy, so government and private industry—the public and the private sectors—must make education a top priority to ensure that all children have the skills to compete in a global economy. Young people also need the opportunity to work, including the incentive of a living wage. In past years, the interns at Borough Hall would receive a stipend for working. But today, due to cutbacks, they work without pay. Even minimum wage is an incentive for young people to gain experience and to cover their lunch expenses and travel to and from their jobs.
MBW – What must Brooklyn do to grow, and maintain, its rich history and culture?
DBP Chapman – Brooklyn’s rich history and culture can only survive and grow if our residents thrive. Education, public safety, decent, affordable housing, jobs and economic development are integral to the borough’s growth. When residents are employed, safe and have adequate housing they can accomplish anything, and Brooklyn’s unique history and culture will continue to evolve.
MBW – What advise would you give to our younger generation?
DBP Chapman – I advise any young person to discover his or her passion and choose a career path based on what you love. Another great piece of advice is to find a mentor in your field and learn everything you can from him or her.
On behalf of Brooklyn Legends we would like to thank Deputy Borough President Chapman for being a tireless advocate on behalf of all Brooklynites. Always the epitome of style and grace, the Deputy Borough President is generous with her time and resources. We are honored to share this conversation with you, our readers.
Welcome to Brooklyn Sign – Pinterest via piercingken.blogspot.com
Brooklyn artist David John Kassan – Pinterest via puppiesandflowers.com
Brooklyn artist and photographer Lorna Simpson with James Casebere – New York Times
Dine In Brooklyn – Pinterest via Bailey Wilmot
Peter Luger’s Restaurant – Pinterest via travelleisure.com
Tom’s Restaurant – Brunopion on flickr.com
Prospect Park Bandshell – google.com
Long Island University photo – collegedata.com
Brooklyn College photo – google.com
St. Francis College photo – collegeapps.about.com
St. Joseph’s College – collegefinancialaidguide.com
Pratt Institute – google.com
Medgar Evers College – topboxdesign.com
Kingsbrough Community College – ihdigest.com
Polytechnic University – google.com
Brooklyn Law School – maps.google.com