Johnny Runs For District LeaderBy Jose B. Rivera
Johnny C. Rivera, a community activist for most of his life is running for a leadership position within the Democratic Party, he is running for District Leader in Party A in East Harlem. Although Mr. Rivera has usually been seen as one who helps others with their political campaigns , this is the first time that Mr. Rivera is the candidate. Johnny C. Rivera is a product of East Harlem, born and raised.
Mr. Johnny Rivera was Congressman Charles B. Rangel’s representative in East Harlem, where he was the director of operations for more than three years. In his autobiography, Congressman Rangel specifically mentions Johnny: “Holding down and keeping me up in El Barrio/East Harlem is Johnny Rivera, who shares his experience with me and is a great Community Adviser.” Those are remarks befitting someone who has impacted positively on El Barrio/East Harlem.
Johnny’s commitment to Community Service began many years earlier when he was a teenager participating in the Youth Action Program. He learned form this experience that in spite of being poor we have a duty and responsibility to serve our community and be part of the solution. Later on, he organized a successful protest demanding that the local elected officials stop blocking state funds to renovate an abandoned building to be used for affordable housing. The protest was a rousing success, the funds were released and the building was renovated providing much needed housing for the people of East Harlem. This magnificent accomplishment won Johnny recognition from the Citizen’s Committee of New York City who conferred upon him their prized New Yorker for New York Award.
Johnny also partnered with philanthropist Eugene Lang to create the celebrated “I Have a Dream” Program back in 1982, which provided graduates of elementary school PS 121 located on East 102 Street, with assured college tuition and enrichment programming. Johnny developed the intervention model used to prevent high school drop-outs and increase access to a college education that is used throughout the Nation and also abroad. In her celebrated book, titled Within Our Reach, Elizabeth Schorr writes, “It became the mission of trouble-shooter Rivera to carry the message (stay in school and go to college) in his frequent encounters with the youngsters.” Since the first program at P.S. 121 in 1981, the “I Have a Dream’ Program has helped over 15,000 students from low-income communities nationwide reach their education and career goals.
School Board Member
Thereafter, Johnny Rivera was elected to the school board and served as its president. In that capacity, Johnny lobbied City Hall for funds to restore the Auditorium in PS 57, and as a result, $1.3 million dollars were earmarked for the renovation.
Community Board # 11
Since then, Johnny has also been the Chairman of the Land-Use Committee for Community Board #11, served on the Professional Advisory Committee to the Little Sisters of the Assumption and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, the Youth Action Program, and the East Harlem Block School Nurseries.
Mr. Rivera graduated from Hunter College with a degree in Political Science, and is presently earning a Master’s Degree in Urban Policy at the Milano School for Management and Urban Policy of the New School. He and his lovely wife have been married for 13 years, and they have an 11year old son who attends a local public school. Mr. Rivera and his family are life long residents of East Harlem.
Webmaster’s Note: East Harlem.com rarely endorses candidates for local offices. But Johnny C. Rivera is one of the few exceptions in this year’s races. Johnny is a very determined individual who can re-build and strengthen Part A. You can’t do better than vote for Johnny.