Q: Summarize relevant background and qualifications
A: Farah Louis has over 15 years of experience working in and around government. Most recently, Farah was the Deputy Chief of Staff and Budget Director for then-City Councilmember Jumaane Williams (Council District 45). In this role, she represented the Councilmember with the district’s faith community; coordinated amongst not-for-profits in receipt of city funding to ensure services were delivered for constituents; oversaw the constituent services operations for the district office; and managed the participatory budgeting submissions from community groups for the annual City Council budget process. Farah has also developed a number of introductions and legislation to create local laws in her role. Farah began working for then-Councilmember Williams as his Director of Community Outreach. Prior to her time at the New York City Council, Farah spent eight years as a mental health professional and healthcare administrator in Brooklyn, during which she was an active 1199 member. Along with her service in the Council, Farah has successfully launched a number of aggressive grassroots initiative with various city agencies, nonprofit organizations and businesses. She has facilitated workshops across the city and state including Brooklyn and hosted community events with and for various elected officials, including former NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson, then-Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, State Senator Kevin Parker, City Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Assemblymember Helene Weinstein and Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte. Farah Louis is the founder of Girls Leading Up (GLU), an organization that offers educational workshops, programs and mentorship opportunities to prepare young women to become emerging global leaders and to ensure young women are mentally, emotionally and skillfully ready to compete in today’s challenging economic market. Farah holds a Masters in Public Administration, from New York University Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and a Bachelors in English from Long Island University. Farah is also a proud product of the New York City public school system, attending Midwood High School in the heart of Flatbush.
Q: What engagement, if any, have you had with the LGBTQ community?
A: I led our annual budgeting efforts as the Budget Director for then-Council Member Jumaane Williams. One of the budget priorities I am most proud of spearheading for then-Council Member Williams is our office’s work to ensure that the Brooklyn Community Pride Center received funding through the annual Schedule C funding process. It is critically important that the Brooklyn Community Pride Center receive support from districts such as Council District 45, where for a long time openly gay persons may not have felt like a support mechanism existed for them when help was needed. Bringing that kind of support -- budgetarily and through hosting events at the Center for then-Council Member Williams -- was incredibly important to ensure CD 45 knew about its services and persons in-need felt they had a safe space to seek help or assistance of any kind. During my tenure at the City Council, I attended LGBTQ press conferences and events organized by the Speaker's office during Pride Month.
Q: As a Councilmember, how will you increase funding that benefits the LGBTQ Community?
A: Apart from continuing the tradition of the 45th Council District funding the Brooklyn Community Pride Center and groups like SAGE, I intend to work with my colleagues on a host of targeted investments, including holistic housing for LGBTQ seniors and mental health professionals / social workers in schools, with an eye toward ensuring those professionals are trained and understand the pressures and obstacles faced by LGBTQ youth. Two of my key issue areas--housing and education--would benefit tremendously from these investments. An incredibly burdened and under-served community that cuts across the City (including the 45th Council District) is the LGBTQ senior community. Funding affordable housing projects pioneered by groups like SAGE and the Stonewall Community Development Corporation, which look at the critical needs of LGBTQ seniors and intend to co-locate essential services for seniors in those buildings, would make a considerable dent for the LGBTQ community and help develop a model for affordable housing for all seniors. In schools, we’ve seen too many examples of under-reporting of bullying and no outlet for LGBTQ youth to seek help. We need more counselors (whether social workers or other mental health professionals) in schools who can work with youth in need. I will fight to provide school districts with funding to hire counselors for our public schools. Along with these ideas, I am open to any conversation that any group is willing to have with me on new and other ways to fund programs or services that will benefit the LGBTQ community. I also intend to lobby on a number of issues that do not traditionally rely on funding from the Council -- including lobbying my colleagues in the NYS Legislature to include LGBTQ in the MWBE definition, and pressuring the Mayor’s Office to engage with unions that represent City employees to find a way to help unions provide coverage for PrEP and HIV anti-retrovirals in their healthcare plans. These issues have the potential to make a real impact in the LGBTQ community but do not “increase funding” in the traditional sense.