Playing Politics. Telling Your Story.

Make sure elected officials know how you contribute to your community.

Nonprofits and small businesses can improve their visibility in the community by establishing a connection with local elected officials and telling their story.

Once these politicians are acquainted with you, they’re able to advocate for you and help you secure funding or assistance. But they can only do so if they know who you are.

Your goal might be requesting or keeping discretionary funds allocated by a city councilmember or state legislator, being invited to participate in community projects or gaining access to information and in-kind resources, such as staff training. Clearly, it’s vital to be on a first-name basis with the elected officials who serve your neighborhood — and especially with their staff.

On Memorial Day Weekend, East Harlem Block Nursery hosted a block party and celebration of its 50th anniversary. Government leaders from the state, city and community were invited to mark the occasion.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and State Senator Bill Perkins joined in the celebration. Each spoke to the attendees and read a congratulatory proclamation. In addition, Mayor Bill de Blasio sent greetings and a representative of Comptroller Scott Stringer presented a commendation. And, an aide of Public Advocate Letitia James and an administrator from the Department of Education also attended.

In sum, four of the top four leaders of New York City and Manhattan (and their respective staffs) were apprised of the existence and success of this nonprofit, and its remarkable 50-year track record.

Here are photos of the politicians and aides who participated in the momentous day.

The opportunity for the Executive Director, teachers, parents and students to speak with these officials and administrators, plus give them a personal tour of the school, was invaluable. In this first year of New York City’s Universal Pre-Kindergarten, funding for the program at the nursery is precarious, so building relationships with various arms of city government is a priority.

The fact that several officials sent their aides was not necessarily a disappointment. These public servants are likely to run for office themselves someday, so it makes sense to start connecting with them now. As an example, New York City Councilmember Vincent Ignizio, who once was an aide representing a Staten Island councilmember at an event, was later elected to serve that very district. From staffer to elected official — a lesson to remember.

Are your local officials acquainted with your business or nonprofit group? Contact me at, set an appointment here or call me at 212.677.5770. Let’s consider how best to introduce you and get the attention of the appropriate elected leaders.

Click here to read prior issues of this newsletter.

Click here to subscribe to this monthly newsletter and make sure you don’t miss the next issue.