Dr. Zulema Blair chairs Department of Public Administration at MEC

Dr. Zulema Blair, chairperson, Department of Public Administration, MEC.
Dr. Zulema Blair

Jamaican American Dr. Zulema Blair is currently professor, chairperson of the nationally-ranked Department of Public Administration and the interim executive director of the DuBois Bunche Center for Public Policy at Medgar Evers College (MEC) of the City University of New York (CUNY) in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Dr. Blair, a Brooklyn resident, whose parents hail from Jamaica, is also the chapter chair of the Professional Staff Congress union (PSC-CUNY). She is the only faculty member at MEC to have both Juris Doctorate (law degree) and a PhD.

Dr. Blair serves as the Redistricting Research Director for the Center for Law and Social Justice (CLSJ) at MEC and as the Brooklyn Borough President Appointee for Community Education Council for NYC School District 17.

Throughout her educational career, Dr. Blair has held other significant titles including, director (formerly a dean title) of the Freshman Year Program, where she made marked improvements to the freshman curriculum and recruitment, enrollment and retention (largest in the past decade) of First-time Freshman (FTF) students.

She was the co-author and creator of the first MEC Honors program, and coordinator of the American Democracy Project (ADP), a national organization that is committed to producing graduates who understand and are committed to engaging in meaningful actions as citizens in a democracy; and deputy director.

Dr. Blair said her expertise includes curriculum development, statistical analysis of social class, political behavior, census, redistricting and elections, and research methodology.

Her book, Participation at the Margins: Is it Race or Class? investigates the theories put forth by students of political participation and goes a step further to analyze voters by social class.

She has also written on Black mayoral leadership in medium-sized cities, how low-income populations should be defined, and the benefits of civic engagement to colleges of access and individuals who have been involved in the justice system.

Dr. Blair’s academic activities also spill over into the community, where she has chaired the Black Brooklyn Empowerment Coalition, an organization committed to the political, economic and social empowerment of people of African descent in Brooklyn, founding member of Olori Sisterhood.

She said her role within these organizations has motivated her to work collaboratively with other community leaders “to empower members of the Central Brooklyn community via voter registration drives, political campaigns and higher education issues.”

Dr. Blair said she utilizes these experiences and expertise to consult on the decennial Census and redistricting projects, as well as local political campaigns. She is also a respected analyst at political science conferences.

She disclosed that she is currently working with colleagues at MEC and elected leaders to develop the David Dinkins School of Public Policy and Affairs.

In helping to create this academic school, she said she is hoping to promote a “pass the baton” mentality “that is needed to prepare a new generation of scholars and professional managers, who will serve as positive and transformative agents in their communities, our government, and sustain a diverse and rapidly changing world.

“The school intends to successfully educate Black and Brown students to become the go-to individuals to use government and all its streams and avenues to create better environments and quality of life for themselves and universally,” Dr. Blair told Caribbean Life.

“Instead of being the individuals that are always debated by government officials and public policy analysts, they will be able to use their life experiences to change the political, economic, and social environment for all,” she added. “Once they make it better for themselves, most individuals will also benefit from this approach.

“While public policy experts and analysts are readily available to discuss existing structures and initiatives, many do not speak to the expectations that are needed for a more inclusive and progressive society,” continued Dr. Blair, who received her Ph, D in political science and a Master’s in public administration from Binghamton University, where she was the recipient of the Clifford D. Clark Fellowship.

She also received her JD from New York Law School, and a Bachelor of Arts from Boston College.

Dr. Blair recently received the “Above and Beyond” award from City and State, and is the proud mother of two sons.

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