Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo represents the communities of Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and parts of Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant. She was appointed as the first African-American woman to serve as the Majority Leader for the New York City Council in January 2018.
She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and attended PS 279, JHS 211, The Berkeley Carroll Day School and Brooklyn Technical High School. She graduated from Spelman College with a BA in Art History and New York University with an MA in Visual Arts Administration. She is proud to have worked and contributed to the growth and development of Prospect Park, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The High Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum and The Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Moreover, she enjoyed serving as a Graduate Professor at Pratt Institute for a decade in the Arts and Cultural Management Program.
Combining her academic training with her cultural experiences, Ms. Cumbo took her graduate thesis at New York University and set it into motion by founding Brooklyn’s first Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) in 1999 within a four-story Brownstone owned by Bridge Street AME Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Through community support, the Museum relocated to a ground floor space designed by the architectural firm of studioSUMO within the heart of the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District in the James. E. Davis 80 Arts Building. MoCADA has gained a reputation for bringing together the diverse community of Brooklyn to address the challenging issues of our time ranging from gun violence and police brutality to homelessness and gentrification. In 2018, Ms. Cumbo’s dream will be realized when the Museum reopens in a brand new state-of-the-art facility in The Ashland designed by architect Enrique Norton, in cultural partnership with the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Brooklyn Public Library, and 651 Arts.
In 2013, Ms. Cumbo successfully ran for public office to represent the 35th District in the New York City Council. She was appointed to chair the prestigious Women’s Issues Committee and was selected to serve on the Finance, Cultural Affairs and Libraries, Higher Education, Youth Services and Public Housing committees. Ms. Cumbo recognizes that every issue is a woman’s issue and has remained a strong fighter and advocate for raising the minimum wage to $15, pay equity, breaking the cycles of domestic violence and successfully championed for the implementation of the New York City Paid Family Leave policy. She has more than tripled the City Council’s investment in domestic violence awareness and preventative services and led the charge to create the Mayor’s Office for Victim Services in order to streamline the process of how victims receive supportive services from New York City agencies. She passed the largest cultural legislative package almost tripling the budget for the Percent for Art Program and advocating for the largest increase in the Department of Cultural Affairs’ budget in thirty-five years. She sponsored and passed legislation to create the first-ever citywide Minority and Women-Owned Businesses Task Force. She has brought innovation to New York City by sponsoring and passing the monumental 911 Text bill that will soon allow New Yorkers to text 911, upload images and video when making an emergency call is not possible. In order to address the epidemic of gun violence in our communities, Ms. Cumbo created the first-ever Mayor’s Office to Prevent Gun Violence. She is a fierce advocate for tenants’ rights and traveled to Albany, where she was arrested with her colleagues and advocates while fighting for the protection of housing rights. During her first term in office, Council Member Laurie Cumbo has passed over two dozen pieces of legislation focused in the areas of tenants’ rights, seniors, foster care reform, sex education implementation, gun violence prevention, arts equity, women’s health, public safety and gender equity, increasing opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses, and campaign finance reform.