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Mayor de Blasio Appoints Omar Khan as Director of the Mayor's Public Engagement Unit and Senior Advisor

March 28, 2019

NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio today appointed Omar Khan as Director of the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit (PEU) and Senior Advisor. In his role as Director of PEU, Khan will lead PEU’s efforts to proactively engage New Yorkers in need of a broad range of City services, from healthcare to housing, making them more accessible for everyone. As Senior Advisor, Khan will advise City Hall and City agencies on policies and practices that will make even more of the City’s services accessible to New Yorkers. He also will support the City’s 2020 Census outreach efforts.

Omar Khan brings years of experience leading public engagement programs, building coalitions and serving as a senior official in federal government. As the Director of PEU, Khan will work collaboratively with agency commissioners and senior staff across City Hall to increase civic participation and access to important City services. Khan’s official start date is April 8, 2019.

“Omar Khan holds years of experience conducting public outreach and striking government partnerships to improve people’s lives and to increase fairness across a number of communities,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We’re lucky to have him lead the Public Engagement Unit as we continue to do unprecedented outreach to ensure that New Yorkers are getting the healthcare coverage they deserve and the tenant protections that keep them in the city they call home. I look forward to working with Omar to further our commitment to create a fairer city for all New Yorkers.”

“Omar has led teams across the nation to make a significant difference in the lives of the most vulnerable members of our communities,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Phillip Thompson. “We are thrilled to welcome him to the Public Engagement Unit so we can continue to improve our engagement strategies around data, organizing techniques and grassroots campaigns to affirmatively bring government assistance at the doors of New Yorkers who need it most.”

“I am honored and excited to lead this group of dedicated outreach specialists in our fight to address inequality and make New York City more accessible to everyone who calls this great city their home,” said Omar Khan, Director of the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit. “I look forward to building on Mayor de Blasio’s unique philosophy of proactively reaching vulnerable New Yorkers to ensure no one is left behind and make this the fairest city in the country.”

About Omar Khan
Omar Khan is an experienced government and civic leader, having previously served in several senior positions in the Obama Administration, including as the Director of Public Engagement at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Khan most recently worked at Mercury Public Affairs as a Senior Vice President in the New York City Office, where he provided counsel for clients in public affairs, advocacy, policy and political campaigns. Prior to joining Mercury, he held several senior roles in the Obama Administration. As the Assistant Trade Representative for Intergovernmental Affairs he led stakeholder and public engagement, and managed outreach to non-governmental organizations and state and local governments to address inequality in employment opportunities and promote job creation. He also served as the Director of Public Engagement at the Environmental Protection Agency and as the Director of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations for President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Task Force. In this role, Khan built strategic partnerships with state and local governments affected by Hurricane Sandy to develop policy recommendations that were implemented and continue to guide the rebuilding efforts.

In addition to his work in government, Khan has significant experience working on political campaigns, where he championed expanding voting rights and more inclusive and representative elections. He has worked in various local, state, and national elections, including as the National Associate Political Director in President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and as campaign manager for Charlie Crist’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign.

About the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit
The Public Engagement Unit was created by Mayor de Blasio in 2015 to proactively engage New Yorkers and provide them with individualized assistance in accessing key City services. PEU uses innovative tools, outreach methods and case-management strategies, in addition to multilingual and multimedia advertising campaigns, to help individual New Yorkers understand what services may be available to them and streamline their enrollment process. To date, PEU has reached hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers through targeted outreach and by working collaboratively with other government agencies, community organizations and elected officials.

PEU’s work centers around five teams:

  • The Tenant Support Unit, which knocks doors and partners with community groups to inform tenants in targeted zip codes of their housing rights, identify housing-related issues and connect them with a range of resources, including HRA’s anti-eviction legal assistance and HPD’s home repairs program;
  • The Rent Freeze team, which goes door to door, makes phone calls and holds community events to enroll senior citizens and people with disabilities in the Department of Finance’s rent freeze and homeowner tax exemption programs;
  • The Universal Access to Counsel team, which partners with HRA’s Office of Civil Justice and community-based legal services providers to connect New Yorkers facing eviction in housing court or NYCHA proceedings to free legal assistance;
  • The Home Support Unit, which partners with DHS and community-based organizations to identify and facilitate the rental of affordable, long-term housing to New Yorkers who receive rental subsidies and are transitioning out of shelter; and
  • GetCoveredNYC, which provides free in-person health insurance enrollment assistance and promotes access to primary and preventive care.

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