Few people can move in different circles and be equally at home and respected as Councilman Robert E. Cornegy, Jr. Combine talent and intellect, a commitment to service and the ability to foster deep connections, and you have Robert. The epitome of dualism, Robert’s rise in local, New York City (NYC) politics has been nothing short of remarkable.
As the NYC Council Member for the 36th District, Robert represents the people of Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights, and has emerged as one of the most effective lawmakers in the city. In just four years, he has fulfilled every campaign promise he’s made and passed legislation in almost every committee on which he has served. Since his election in 2013, Robert has ushered an impressive number of substantive bills into law — virtually unheard of for a Council Member of his tenure.
Bottom line – Robert delivers.
Robert has led the charge, sponsored or authored several key initiatives, including:
- the Chamber on the Go program, which provides a wide array of mobile support services to small businesses. To date, Chamber on the Go, a Council-funded initiative operating in all five boroughs, has served thousands of NYC businesses;
- the commitment from SMJ Development to provide affordable and sustainable retail leasing opportunities for small business owners, which will serve as a model for creating retail affordability throughout NYC;
- a lactation bill, mandating there be dedicated rooms for nursing and breast-feeding mothers in public buildings throughout the five boroughs;
- the Kalief Browder Bill, calling for the Department of Corrections to provide much-needed vocational and educational programming, therapy and other life-changing services to those detained or incarcerated on Rikers Island for longer than 10 days;
- commercial tenant anti-harassment and neglect legislation, offering protection against nefarious landlords by creating a private right of action for commercial tenants facing harassment, and the allocation of $3.6 million to cover the legal costs associated with fighting unscrupulous property owners;
- and the Age Friendly Neighborhood (AFN) Initiative, improving the quality of life of older adults through advocacy, programming and access to essential resources. The initiative was not only recognized by the Mayor’s Office and the New York Academy of Medicine, but is also a model currently being used by the City Council of Columbus, Ohio and the Brooklyn Borough President to develop age-friendly communities.
Robert has also led the way in establishing District 36 as a worldwide cultural destination, making Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights premier hot spots for tourists and natives alike. He appointed the first Director of Arts and Culture in the Council and has collaborated with local arts institutions, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, neighborhood businesses and corporate sponsors like AirBNB, Uber and local galleries. From curated art walks and bus tours to award-winning plays in the park, Robert’s reverence for artists and desire to showcase their works continue to enrich a whole new generation of patrons.
Robert’s dynamism, tenacity and results-driven agenda are just a few of the reasons he was selected as a 2017-18 MIT CoLab Mel King Community Fellow, alongside a distinguished and accomplished group of leaders with exceptional achievements in social justice. During the 12-month fellowship, Robert collaborated and exchanged ideas with both civic and academic innovators around the world through field-based learning and sessions facilitated by MIT, including a trip to Mondragon, Spain to examine models of community and economic planning that have successfully advanced sustainability and inclusive development in economically marginalized urban communities. Over the course of the next four years, the fellows will advance a City- and State-focused policy agenda to create a more robust, equitable economy in NYC.
Not one to rest, Robert has a bold vision for the future. With sharp business acumen, he is particularly focused on ensuring his district is fiscally and economically supported, as reflected in many of the policies he champions and committees on which he serves. As a staunch advocate and former Chair of the Council’s Committee on Small Business, Robert is dedicated to helping small businesses, especially minority-owned businesses, navigate the bureaucracy faced in running their operations and in contracting with the City. He has also introduced a bill to prevent criminals from fraudulently forcing homeowners from their properties. While Robert advocates across a range of initiatives, it’s his uncompromising commitment to improving the quality of life in his community that fuels the daily fight for his constituents.
Alongside his legislative achievements, Robert is Chair of the Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings, Chair of the Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Task Force (M/WBEs), Chair of the Democratic Conference, and a member of the influential Budget Negotiating Team (BNT). He is also an active member of the Committees on Economic Development; Education; Finance; State & Federal Legislation; and Rules, Privileges, and Elections.
Robert is a native of New York City. He attended St. John’s University, playing backup center for their historic 1984-5 Final Four team. He has a degree in Organizational Leadership and a Master’s in Organizational Management from Mercy College.
Robert and his wife, Michelle, have a blended family of six children and live in Bedford Stuyvesant.