HWS Presidential Fellow and Ithaca Mayor Svante L. Myrick will address Geneva High School on Friday, Jan. 30 at 9:15 a.m. in the GHS auditorium, as part of the LEAP (Lead Excel Achieve Progress) Initiative.
Sworn into office in January 2012, Myrick became, at 24, the City of Ithaca’s youngest mayor and first mayor of color. He was first elected to the Common Council at the age of 20 while still a junior at Cornell University. In 2014, HWS President Mark D. Gearan appointed Myrick as the Colleges’ Presidential Fellow for Civic Engagement.
“Svante Myrick is the personification of the LEAP Initiative’s intent,” says Patrisha Blue ’77 of the HWS Office of Religious Life, who is developing the program. “Over one third of Geneva High’s student body is economically disadvantaged; students falling into that category are typically African American and/or Latino and are at high risk of dropping out of school. Svante’s life illustrates what can be accomplished through perseverance, support, encouragement and having a vision for your life, despite your current circumstances.”
Blue thinks Myrick’s story will resonate “because he is young, has experienced some very difficult circumstances, and has managed to graduate from an Ivy League college and become mayor of one of the most progressive cities in New York State — and that is just the beginning.”
Under Myrick’s leadership, Ithaca has experienced the lowest unemployment rate in the state of New York. His first budget included a radical overhaul of city government that merged departments, streamlined processes and was able to successfully close a $3 million deficit — all while delivering the lowest tax increase in the City of Ithaca since the year 2000.
His advocacy in Albany and in Washington, D.C. has resulted in more than $20 million of grants and awards from the state and federal government.
Myrick has changed the way people in Ithaca view public space by turning his dedicated mayoral parking space into a public park. In addition, after years without fireworks, he’s brought them back to the city on the Fourth of July. He’s also moved Ithaca into the 21st century by embracing social media and overhauling the city’s web presence.
His recent accomplishments include delivering sorely needed revisions to the City of Ithaca’s sidewalk policy, an overhaul of storm water utility legislation, successful implementation of the total rehabilitation of the Commons, Ithaca’s downtown pedestrian mall, and making changes within the Ithaca Police Department in an effort to improve police and community relations.
Myrick has engaged with the HWS community in numerous ways: as a guest lecturer in classes, a host for special events and lectures centered on public service and civic engagement, and a mentor for students, faculty and staff on civic engagement initiatives. He also joined HWS as guest of the HWS President’s Forum Speaker Series in 2013.