October 2022 Student Spotlight
Marxe student Jacques St. Cloud tells us what it’s like to be Asst. Vice President at NYC Economic Development Corporation, his Marxe MPA experience, and more.
You’re an Assistant Vice President at NYC Economic Development Corporation. Could you tell us a bit more about the organization and what your role entails?
Yes, of course. NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization that works to make NYC’s neighborhoods and economy stronger and more inclusive. Our projects and initiatives are about serving New Yorkers. We work with and for communities through every step of the economic development process—bringing emerging industries to the five boroughs; creating the spaces and facilities they need to thrive and create jobs; giving New Yorkers the tools and training to succeed in those jobs; and investing in the public infrastructure and neighborhood development projects that make this city a great place to live, work, and do business.
Currently, I am the Assistant Vice President in the Design & Construction team at EDC. In this role, I am responsible for managing capital construction projects throughout the entire development process, which includes capital planning, procurement, design, and construction. Projects include capital investments on a variety of real estate assets within the city’s asset portfolio (i.e., industrial, commercial, retail, and market facilities across the five boroughs). Additionally, I oversee the review, approval, and tracking of all tenant work requests performed on EDC’s real estate portfolio.
Could you tell us about your previous role as Manager for the Division of Early Child Education at NYC Department of Education and your involvement in the Universal Pre-K initiative? What were the goals of this initiative?
My experience working at the NYC Dept. of Education to create universal early childhood opportunities for our youngest learners has been the biggest highlight of my career and time in NYC government. I managed the division’s inter-agency coordination work related to the opening and expansion of early childhood sites to ensure they are in a position to safely serve children throughout the academic school year. The goal of this initiative was to provide free, full-day, high-quality pre-kindergarten to the family of every three- and four-year-old that wants it. Our successes with this work led to the integration of all services and supports for children under 5 and their families at the Department of Education, bringing together home-based childcare, childcare centers, Head Start, Early Head Start, and pre-kindergarten into one high-quality system.
What are some of the most unexpected challenges you’ve faced thus far in your career? What about some of your greatest achievements?
Some of the most unexpected challenges I’ve faced thus far in my career was in response to emergency situations while working in city government. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, NYC public schools operated on a blended learning schedule, which meant students either were participating in remote learning or a mix of in-person and remote. However, NYC families and essential workers still needed childcare during the workday to still perform their job responsibilities. In response, the Mayor’s office put together a working group called the “War Room” that included myself and other individuals from a variety of city agencies that was charged with opening childcare sites that continued to operate while DOE schools were closed. This group worked late into the night and in hours too early to be called morning to make sure the children of essential workers had a safe place to go. On top of that, this group made sure that programs had the supplies, information, and support they needed to re-open, even as the definitions of those things kept changing every few days. And as if this weren’t a lot, those of us that worked at the NYC Dept. of Education re-procured the entire NYC early childhood system during this time, putting every program on a stronger, fairer contract. I am profoundly grateful to count myself a member of this group and I continue to be so proud of the work we’ve accomplished together.
You’re currently a student in the Marxe MPA program. What has the experience been like thus far?
In my time working for NYC government, I consider myself lucky and grateful to have crossed paths with several alumni from the Marxe MPA program that hold senior roles in their respective organizations. This made my decision to apply to the Marxe school an easy one and without surprise, it has been a truly powerful and rewarding experience. At the Marxe school, it has been amazing to connect with other like-minded professionals that share a passion for the same socioeconomic issues as me in addition to learning from professors that have vast experience working in the public sector. Also, it has provided me with the means to think about my career and where I would like to be in my professional journey following the program.