A leadership transition for Community Board 3 last night. Gigi Li was elected to serve as chair, after Dominic Berg chose not to run for a fifth one year term. Li, a Chinatown resident, is co-director of the Neighborhood Family Services Coalition. Previously Li was CB3’s 2nd vice chair. She is the first Chinese American to serve as chairperson of any New York community board.
During the meeting, Berg was praised for his dedication to the community. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver presented him with a state proclamation. Outgoing state Senator Tom Duane spoke in glowing terms about Berg, who has played a major role in advocating for gay rights and marriage equality. Erik Bottcher, Governor Cuomo’s community liaison, was also on hand to express gratitude to Berg for his service.
During Berg’s tenure, CB3 ended more than 40 years of acrimony, finally approving a redevelopment plan for the Seward Park development site. He also was a strong advocate for reclaiming Pier 42 at the end of Montgomery Street; this fall the community board will begin discussing plans for turning the dilapidated pier into a park. Berg, a manager of technology for the City of New York, will be staying on as a member of CB3. But now he’ll get to spend a bit more time at home with his husband, Andy Berg, and their kids, Spencer and Olivia.
Li ran for chair unopposed. In recent years, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and City Council member Margaret Chin have made it a priority to appoint more Asian members to local community boards. Chinese residents make up more than a third of Community District 3, which encompasses the East Village, the Lower East Side and most of Chinatown.
Li came to this country from Hong Kong when she was a little girl. In addition to her role as an advocate for families seeking social services, she served as interim co-chair of the Chinatown Working Group. Li received a B.A. from Smith College and has a Master’s Degree in social work from Columbia University. She is obsessed with her pug, Vito, but we’ll have plenty of time to get into that later!