As we approach the 10th anniversary of Public Works Partners, I am looking back at our firm’s first ten years, reflecting on our successes and challenges, but mainly the impact we’ve been able to achieve. Our focus has always been on centering people where they are, whether that be in their organization, neighborhood, or city – ultimately, making improvements that will make their lives better. I am proud to say that to date Public Works has worked with over 50 nonprofits and almost all the NYC agencies on over 100 projects that have benefited millions of New Yorkers. Over the next ten months we are excited to revisit ten of our most impactful projects. Our #10YearsOfPublicWorks campaign will feature an in-depth look at an influential project each month, leading up to our official ten-year anniversary this December. This moment has provided me with the rare opportunity to reflect on the firm’s early development, its growth, and what’s next.
It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since our beginnings in 2010. At that point I had been independently consulting and was starting to get projects that were too large to take on by myself. My soon-to-be cofounders, Mark Foggin and Scott Zucker were experiencing the same problem, so we decided to join forces. We immediately worked well together, all coming from New York City Government, all being graduates of Coro Leadership New York, and all wanting to bring the tools of management consulting to community-based organizations. After several years of successfully teaming-up on projects, we made it official and founded Public Works Partners. At this point we were a small shop, employing two staff members in addition to ourselves. We did a number of exciting projects and began growing and gaining more brand recognition. From 2015-2016, we took on a pivotal project, working with multiple city agencies, tackling a new range of topic areas. This project further established the firm as a name people knew and opened the door for future community engagement and urban planning work.
In 2016, my co-founders transitioned out of the firm and I became the sole CEO. The transition came with exciting new achievements, but I also had to make some hard decisions in order to do what was best for the company and my team. Defining moments are often a great challenge as well as a great success and this was a defining moment for me. I worked through this period with a smaller core team, learned valuable lessons, and Public Works came out a stronger and more adaptable firm. After that, things started falling into place. In 2017, we became a certified woman-owned business enterprise with the City of New York, quickly followed by DBE, SBE, and WBE certifications with several states and entities. In 2018, we launched our re-branded website that better defined who we are and thought more strategically about our services, breaking out our work into community and organizational health. In 2019, we expanded our planning and engagement work into resiliency and infrastructure. And now in 2020, we have grown our staff by 100% since 2017, and recently expanded our office space at Public Works HQ.
Looking back on this journey so far, the through line that has led to Public Works’ success is staying true to the firm’s values and being a mission-driven organization at our core. I am passionate about the work I do because I am committed to making the world a better place. This mindset is integral to our work and our employees. I am so lucky to work with an incredible team that cares deeply about the work we do and the impact that clients are able to achieve because of our services. Our world-changing value is supported by the internal and external values of transparency, equity, teamwork, adaptability and fun.
It’s hard to know what the next ten years will bring – though I measure everything! – but I am determined to expand our impact and make our services even more accessible. We are already expanding across the Tri-State Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties. The next step will be for Public Works to expand our work with an office in another city and create impact there as well. Let’s just say I’m excited to see what’s in store for our #20YearsOfPublicWorks campaign.