A great granddaughter of immigrants from Eastern Europe who settled in New York City, Jen Berkley, a life-long progressive Democrat, knows the people of Brooklyn's City Council District 40 are all yearning for a strong leader who will:
- stand up for our community;
- fight to keep our housing affordable for working individuals and families;
- protect small businesses from rising commercial rents;
- bring much-needed resources from City Hall into the parts of our neighborhood that have been neglected for far too long, including the area's first youth/teen community center;
- demand better public transportation throughout the district and revitalize the components of our infrastructure;
- build bridges between residents, community groups, businesses, and government (local, state, and federal) while drawing upon significant experience and knowledge from more than 20 years working in both public and private sectors;
- protect the rights of all who live here, regardless of their age, immigration status, religious beliefs, race or ethnicity, or who they love.
The strength of her character, her passion for helping others, and her unrelenting commitment to our community are what make Jen Berkley the best person to represent Brooklyn's City Council District 40, which comprises the neighborhoods of Ditmas Park, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Prospect Park South, Victorian Flatbush, and parts of Crown Heights and Kensington, on the New York City Council.
For many years, Jen has been working hard to preserve our city's limited supply of affordable housing so that working families, who would otherwise not be able to afford to remain in New York City, have a place to call home. Every day, she fights to keep rent-regulated and federally subsidized housing affordable, and protects tenants from losing their homes through community-based tenant organizing and advocacy. Jen is not afraid to call out landlords for unscrupulous practices, such as she did in July of 2015 when the tenants at 60 Clarkson Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens received unlawful eviction notices over the July 4th weekend. It was Jen who went directly to the building to find out what was happening and devise a plan of action. Today, those formerly-homeless families still call 60 Clarkson home.
Prior to her housing advocacy and tenant organizing work, Jen worked on housing issues for the New York City Council in Brooklyn, and served as communications director for Queens State Assemblyman David Weprin. She also worked on a city-wide initiative to allocate one percent of the city's annual operating budget to arts and cultural programming. She worked in non-profit communications, education, and health care advocacy, and is a veteran of many local campaigns, including a New York State Senate campaign in the Bronx, a local New York State Assembly campaign, and Civil Rights Attorney Norman Siegel's campaign for Public Advocate in 2009. She was also a campaign surrogate for then-U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton’s first presidential campaign in 2007-08.
Before her government and campaign work, Jen was a newspaper reporter and editor in the late 1990s and early 2000s. She received numerous awards in journalism for her work at a large chain of weekly community newspapers in the Greater Boston area. Her work in journalism allowed Jen to get to know a wide variety of people -- sometimes at their best, but also sometimes at their worst. She enjoyed interviewing an aspiring young chef who was about to hit the big time in New York City; she cried alongside a young mother whose son had been stabbed to death just days after he had been admitted to college. She covered the passage of the Massachusetts law to allow same sex couples to legally marry in the state in 2004. These experiences prepared Jen for a life that she knew would be devoted to helping others, something she has continued in her advocacy and organizing work in New York City.
Jen attended public schools in her hometown of Brookline, Massachusetts, where she was raised primarily by her mother. She received her undergraduate degree in Politics and Journalism from Brandeis University. While in college, she interned for Democratic Congressman Joe Kennedy in Boston. She earned a Master of Science in Urban Affairs/Policy from Hunter College/CUNY in 2011, where she focused her studies on urban housing issues.
Jen was first elected to public office in 2015 when she ran for the Brooklyn Democratic Party County Committee and won Kings County's only contested County Committee seat, representing her election district for one term. She is president of her building's tenant association. She is the former vice president of Democracy for New York City, an organization she was involved in for many years.
In her local community, Jen loves to participate in activities in her local community – and she always looks forward to the annual Flatbush Frolic, the Prospect Lefferts Garden House Tour, and J'Ouvert block parties in East Flatbush. She participates in a Jewish social justice organization in Brooklyn and is a former member of the Flatbush CSA. She is a loyal and devoted customer of local businesses and restaurants, and is a member of the Prospect Park Alliance. She actively helps to raise money for the national Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation in honor of her mother, who succumbed to the disease in 2001. She is a former Big Sister volunteer for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC. She is a member of Local 107, AFSCME DC 1707.
Jen proudly lives in a rent-stabilized apartment in Ditmas Park with her husband, Jamie Lampidis, a professor at Medgar Evers College/CUNY, and their two feisty cats, Liberty, who is named for the statue, of course, and Woodruff, who is named for the street near Prospect Park where he first lived after infamously stopping traffic on the Q train while playing dangerously close to the edge of the Church Avenue subway station roof with his littermates.
Jen knows this year's race for City Council isn't just about politics as usual. It's about all of us who call these neighborhoods home, and deserve to have a fighter like Jen working hard for all of us in City Hall. No matter the task, Jen is a hard-worker and she gets things done. Always. Jen works closely with tenants all over the city and teaches them about empowerment, standing up for what's right, and to not be afraid of the powers that be. Jen believes all lives matter and that by working together, we have strength in our numbers. Jen is not the status quo here in the 40th City Council District – her opponents only offer more of the same; we know it’s time for a change. Jen looks forward to working on behalf of this great community as your next City Council member.
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