April Women’s Breakfast: In Conversation with Kathryn Garcia

2020 and 2021 were big years for women in U.S. politics, with more women running for national and local office than ever before. Here in New York, we had a contentious mayoral election with multiple women candidates leading on the ballot, and we finally got our first woman governor.  So what’s it like to be a trailblazer for women in politics? What does it take to succeed? And how can more women follow that trail?

At LM Live’s April Women’s Breakfast, Director of State Operations and Infrastructure for the state of New York Kathryn Garcia will join Downtown Alliance President Jessica Lappin for an intimate conversation about what it takes to be a woman in politics. The conversation will focus on the challenges Kathryn has faced and the lessons she has learned throughout her accomplished career in city and state government: from blazing a trail as the Commissioner of the NYC Department of Sanitation, to serving over a million meals per day as the Covid-19 Food Czar, to running a mayoral campaign and, now, keeping the lights on for the entire state. Jessica and Kathryn will dig into what it takes to lead in male-dominated industries and under the scrutiny of the public eye. There will also be an opportunity for audience members to ask questions.

This in-person breakfast is a great opportunity to network with women and non-binary folks, as well as their champions and allies. Light refreshments will be served.


Kathryn Garcia serves as Director of State Operations and Infrastructure for Governor Kathy Hochul, where she oversees over 70 state agencies and authorities, including the MTA and Port Authority. She has over 14 years of government experience delivering services that New Yorkers rely on every day. Previously, she served as the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Sanitation, leading its 9,700 uniformed and civilian employees through nearly 15 feet of snow, expanded environmental programs from e-waste collection to the largest curbside organics program, and implemented innovative technology solutions to manage both its personnel and fleet. In addition to her duties at the Department of Sanitation, she served as the City’s Lead Czar, developing a plan to eliminate childhood elevated blood lead levels, and during the winter of 2019, she also stepped in as the interim Chair of the New York City Housing Authority. During the pandemic, Kathryn Garcia served as the COVID-19 Food Czar, delivering over 1 million meals a day to hungry New Yorkers. Before serving at the Department of Sanitation as Commissioner, she served as Chief Operating Officer at the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, where she was responsible for the operation of the City’s water supply, water and sewer system, wastewater treatment plants, and served as Incident Commander during Hurricane Sandy. She earned her B.A. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Jessica Lappin is the President of the Alliance for Downtown New York. The organization manages New York City’s and the country’s largest Business Improvement District (BID) and works to ensure that Lower Manhattan is a thriving and dynamic community. A lifelong New Yorker, former elected official, and previous Crain’s “40 Under 40” honoree, Ms. Lappin has a distinguished record in civic life and public service.

Lappin took the helm of the Alliance in February 2014. She is responsible for providing core sanitation and public safety services that keep the area clean and safe, manages a free bus service, and has made outreach to the street homeless in the area a priority.  She has also significantly expanded the free public WiFi network in Lower Manhattan, produced award winning ads and marketing videos, instituted a district-wide solar-powered recycling program, and helped secure nearly $100 million in resiliency funding for Lower Manhattan. 

Prior to her tenure at the Alliance, Lappin was elected to serve two terms in the New York City Council, representing the Upper East Side, East Midtown, and Roosevelt Island, and was praised by the New York Times for her “steely resolve, dedication, and energy.” She served as Chair of the Committee on Aging and fought successfully to keep 100 senior centers from closing and to secure funding for meals and other critical senior services.  She also played a key role in bringing the Cornell Technion Applied Science and Engineering Campus to Roosevelt Island, oversaw the approval of over 20,000 new public school seats citywide, and spearheaded the successful development of four new waterfront parks. And, as Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus, she authored a nationally recognized, landmark bill to protect women’s health and reproductive rights.

The Aspen Institute, a renowned international think tank, selected her as a Rodel Fellow in 2011. The Rodel program is focused on transcending political partisanship and addressing overarching questions of leadership and effective governance.

She serves on the Steering Committee of the Association for a Better New York (ABNY), the Executive Committee of NYC & Company and the boards of the International Downtown Association, FDR Memorial and Four Freedoms Park, Battery Conservancy, American Skin Association, and as an Ex-Officio member of New York City Center.

Lappin loves to run and cook and lives in Manhattan with her husband and two sons. She graduated from Georgetown University, Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude, and from Stuyvesant High School.

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Date: March 29

Time: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Event Category: