Dianne Morales is a first-generation, Afro-Boricua leader with a fighting spirit that believes that government and politics belong to all of us. Our City thrives when every family has a pathway to economic opportunity and every child has access to quality education. It is time for our government to reflect our communities and put our collective interests first. As the institutions of education, transportation, and housing crumble and keep every New Yorker from reaching their full potential, Dianne is running for Mayor of New York to bring the voice and vision of our communities to city government.
Dianne was born in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn, to two working-class Puerto Rican parents who believed that success was possible for everyone in this country, regardless of race, class, or religion. A secretary for the leather workers’ union and a building manager on the waterfront, her mother and father opened the doors of their home for family and those who were down on their luck, serving as a support system for others where the city’s frayed safety net failed.
Dianne became aware of the barriers to equal access and opportunity when she secured a seat at Stuyvesant High School. There, she experienced dramatic disparities in wealth and opportunity between her family and those of her classmates. In a city where zip code determined much of one’s success, low-income communities–particularly Black and Brown children–were being left behind. This fueled a life-long commitment to fix the broken systems that consistently preclude the American Dream from being accessible to everyone.
In service of this mission, Dianne earned graduate degrees from the Harvard School of Education and Columbia University. In her 20 years as an executive of mission- and measurement-driven organizations, Dianne has built partnerships across the public and private sectors to deliver high-quality services to struggling families–especially women-led households, the formerly incarcerated, LGBTQ youth, and the homeless. She is a co-founder of Jumpstart, a 25-year-old national nonprofit that prepares preschoolers for kindergarten, a leader in education reform, and an innovator of alternatives for youth to succeed. As Executive Director of Phipps Neighborhoods, she developed social service, education, and employment pipelines that support 12,000 children, youth and families in the South Bronx to overcome poverty each year.
As a single mom, Dianne is acutely aware of the barriers for caregivers to support their children’s development and their family’s health. She brought a successful suit against the Department of Education after her daughter’s school failed to provide the needed services for her learning disability. In advocating for herself and family members as survivors of sexual assault, she gained a deep understanding of the dysfunctions in our city’s justice, mental health, and child service systems. Dianne is committed to helping others navigate and overcome challenges to increase access and opportunity.
When Hurricane Maria and government neglect devastated her family’s home island, Dianne provided aid to areas that had been hardest hit. Her work there was a stark reminder of the role strong mothers and young women often play in leading communities through hardship into a better future. Subsequently, Dianne joined with other Puerto Rican women here and on the island to establish Fundación de Mujeres en Puerto Rico to support those community-led efforts. These experiences inspired her to take the next bold step in her path as a public servant and run for mayor.
For decades, career and corporate politicians have failed to fortify our safety net and create a city that works for all. We need a new kind of leader to build the city we deserve. A leader with the courage to fight for every family. One with real connection to the struggles of everyday New Yorkers–and the expertise and creativity to design the solutions our communities truly need. One who has no hidden agenda–just a commitment to delivering the greatest benefit to the most people. Dianne is that audacious leader. She is convinced that the best way to change the future is to create it. The solutions to the problems that our communities face are in the hands of the people who live them. Time will not change things. We will.