CUNY Launches Terence D. Tolbert Public Service Internship and Honors Commissioner Peter Rivera of the NYS Department of Labor

The City University of New York has announced the launch of the Terence D. Tolbert Public Service Internship and presented the CUNY Educational Leadership Award to the Hon. Peter Rivera, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Labor, at its annual luncheon program in Albany during the 42nd Annual Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus Conference Weekend.

The 2014 internship winner is Ms. Crystal Joseph of the CUNY School of Professional Studies who will earn academic credit and an award as part of her fieldwork experience in the office of New York State Assemblyman  and Housing Committee Chair Keith Wright (Harlem), where Mr. Tolbert served as Chief of Staff.  Among the academic priorities she will focus on are educational access and advancement, which were central to Terence D. Tolbert’s activism on a city, state, and federal level.

The event was held on Feb. 15, at Prime on the Plaza located in the Empire State Plaza.

The program also featured the 11th class of the CUNY Caucus Scholars program, an academically rigorous district office internship for students interested in service to the Caucus members of the New York State Legislature.

Carolyn Tolbert (mother of  Terence D. Tolbert) , Crystal Joseph, the 2014 Terence D. Tolbert Public Service Internship winner and  CUNY Trustee Freida D. Foster

Carolyn Tolbert (mother of Terence D. Tolbert) , Crystal Joseph, the 2014 Terence D. Tolbert Public Service Internship winner and CUNY Trustee Freida D. Foster

Interim Chancellor William P. Kelly stated: “The Tolbert Public Service Internship is a singular honor commemorating the extraordinary life of Terence D. Tolbert, who dedicated himself to government and public service. The Hon. Peter Rivera has compiled an exemplary record of public service as New York State’s Commissioner of Labor as well as during his long and distinguished service in the State Assembly and is a staunch supporter of public higher education and CUNY. I also wish to congratulate the students in the CUNY Caucus Scholars program who are receiving first-hand experience in the district offices of State Senators and Assembly members of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus.”

CUNY’s new Terence D. Tolbert Public Service Internship bears the name of one of New York’s lifetime public servants who passed away in 2008.     The internship will provide a highly qualified graduate student with the opportunity to learn by doing in the office of an elected official. The Tolbert Public Service Intern will work with community members and stakeholders in the city to resolve policy problems and address local needs.

Mr. Tolbert, born and raised in Harlem and a graduate of Hunter College/CUNY, dedicated himself to politics and government service. He worked with the New York State Senate Minority Program Office; served on the staff of New York State Senators Martin Connor and Joseph L. Galiber; worked with Congressman Charles Rangel; and was chief of staff to State Assemblyman Keith Wright for eight years. He served as New York State director of John Edwards’ presidential campaign in 2003-04, and in 2004 as Nevada state director of a progressive get-out-the-vote organization, America Coming Together. In former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s bid for a second term, he served as liaison to ethnic, religious and cultural groups in the city. He also worked on the campaigns of Senator Charles E. Schumer and former Governor Eliot Spitzer. He was the New York City Department of Education’s primary representative in Albany and Washington, D.C. He died at age 44 in 2008 while playing a lead role in the Nevada presidential campaign of Barack Obama.

A video tribute to Mr. Tolbert was shown at the CUNY Luncheon as a celebration of his life, and the 2014 Public Service Intern was recognized by Freida Foster, Mr. Tolbert’s widow, a Trustee of The City University of New York.

The Hon. Peter Rivera received CUNY’s Educational Leadership Award from CUNY Board of Trustees Vice Chairperson Philip Alfonso Berry for his strong support, invaluable expertise and exemplary dedication to the academic and professional success of CUNY students.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo nominated Mr. Rivera as Commissioner of the State Department of Labor in 2012. Mr. Rivera was born in Puerto Rico and came to New York City as a child. He served as Speaker Pro Tempore of the Assembly and represented the people of the 76th Assembly District since 1992. He was also chairman of the Assembly Standing Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. Mr. Rivera convened the Mental Hygiene Work group to reorganize the Mental Health system in New York State. He also belonged to the Assembly Committee on Rules and the Judiciary Committee, as well as the committees on Agriculture, and Consumer Affairs and Protection. He chaired the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force. As the highest-ranking Latino in the Assembly, he fought for issues of importance to the Hispanic community, including improving educational quality, strengthening bilingual education, increasing access to healthcare and AIDS-related funding, and establishing a Puerto Rican heritage center at a newly renovated Bronx office of the New York Public Library. Previously, he served as President of the Puerto Rican Bar Association and succeeded in doubling the number of Hispanic judges in New York during his tenure.

The luncheon also included a salute to the 11th cohort of the CUNY Caucus Scholars program, an internship program with the State Legislature for students considering careers and involvement in public service. The program allows students to learn about the work performed by the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, as well as the services provided by the State Legislature to communities of need in New York City.

Selected students are assigned to the district offices of New York State legislators who are members of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus. Interns perform substantive tasks such as constituent case management, legislative research and assistance, and also draft research papers and written logs in which they describe and analyze their internships. All CUNY Caucus Scholars receive academic guidance through enrollment in campus-based seminars with CUNY faculty, as well as regular meetings with members of the Caucus and their staff.

About The City University of New York:
The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847, the University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the CUNY Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY School of Public Health. The University serves more than 270,000 degree-credit students and 218,083 adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The University offers online baccalaureate degrees through the School of Professional Studies and an individualized baccalaureate through the CUNY Baccalaureate Degree. Nearly 3 million unique visitors and 10 million page views are served each month via, the University’s website.


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