Focus areas: Urban policy, urban politics, governance and management of global cities, urban fiscal policy, urban sustainability, American government and policy, social policy, American parties and elections, New York City politics, sustainable economic development policy, workforce development and community building policy, education and after school policy, democratic theory and practice, federalism, ethnicity, race and gender

Ester R. Fuchs is Professor of International and Public Affairs and Political Science and is the Director of the Urban and Social Policy Program at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She served as Special Advisor to the Mayor for Governance and Strategic Planning under New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg from 2001 to 2005. Previously, Professor Fuchs served as chair of the Urban Studies Program at Barnard College and Columbia College and founding director of the Columbia University Center for Urban Research and Policy.

Professor Fuchs serves on the faculty of the Earth Institute, executive committee of Columbia’s Data Science Institute and its Smart Cities Center, the board of American University’s Metropolitan Policy Center, Senior Fellow of the Global Cities Institute at the University of Toronto, and an Associate at the University of Technology Sydney Institute for Sustainable Futures. Fuchs is also a member of the Faculty Steering Committee of the Eric Holder Initiative for Civil and Political Rights and Provost’s Just Societies Task Force at Columbia.

She received the Bella Abzug Leadership Award in 2017, the Above & Beyond Exceptional New York Women of 2017 Award for Education, the NASPAA Public Service Matters Spotlight Award for WhosOntheBallot.org, an Award for Outstanding Teaching at SIPA and the City of New York Excellence in Technology Award for Best IT Collaboration among Agencies for Access NYC. She also received the Distinguished Alumna Award from Queens College.

Currently, Professor Fuchs serves as Director of the WhosOnTheBallot.org, an online voter engagement initiative for New York City. Whosontheballot.org is designed to improve voter turnout through a single online portal that provides easy access to customized sample ballots, polling place locations, and candidate information.

While at City Hall, Professor Fuchs coordinated three significant mayoral initiatives: the restructuring the City’s delivery of Out-of-School Time (OST) programs to children, youth, and families; the Integrated Human Services System Project (Access New York) to streamline the screening and eligibility determination processes, case management, and policy development and planning functions within and across the 13 human services agencies through the use of technology; and the merger of the Department of Employment with the Department of Small Business Services to align the City’s workforce development programs with the needs of the business community.

Professor Fuchs currently serves on the Committee on Economic Inclusion of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Town and Gown Advisory Board, and is a member of the boards of the Fund for the City of New York, the Citizens Union, the Museum at Eldridge Street, the Jewish Community Relations Council, and Global Cities, Inc. a project of Bloomberg Philanthropies. Professor Fuchs was the first woman to serve as chair of the NYC Charter Revision Commission in 2005. She has also served on the NYC Mayor’s Sustainability Advisory Board, the NYC Workforce Investment Board, the NYC Commission on Women’s Issues, the NYC Economic Opportunity Commission, and the Advisory Board for NYC’s Out-of-School Time Initiative.

Professor Fuchs has been working with former New York City Mayor David Dinkins organizing the David N. Dinkins Leadership in Public Policy Forum since its inception in 1995. She also organizes the Global Mayors Forum at SIPA. Between 2007 and 2013, Professor Fuchs organized and moderated annual international summits sponsored by the Office of the Mayor of New York and New York City Global Partners. The conferences brought together mayoral delegations from cities around the world to discuss important urban policy issues and share best practices.

In April 2017, Professor Fuchs collaborated with Professor Patricia Culligan of the Columbia University Data Science Institute to complete a study for the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, “Stopping Trash Where It Starts: A Project to Mitigate Floatable Trash NYC Waterways through Targeted Street Litter Reduction.” It is being replicated by the City of Dallas. In July 2017 she published a study for the 125th Street Business Improvement District, “Promoting a Cleaner and Healthier Harlem: Reducing Street Litter in the 125th Street Business Improvement District.”

Professor Fuchs has been the recipient of many grants including ones from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, the Laurie Tisch Illumination Fund, the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the Wallace Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Greater London Enterprise, the U.S. Department of Justice the National Health and Human Service Employees Union AFL-CIO, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation.

Professor Fuchs is an expert in urban politics and policy; American politics; and American parties and elections. She consults for governments, NGOs, businesses and political campaigns. She is a frequent political commentator in print, broadcast and new media and lectures internationally. She received a BA from Queens College, CUNY; an MA from Brown University; and a PhD in Political Science from the University of Chicago.

Research & Publications

July 2017|Ester R. Fuchs

Promoting a Cleaner and Healthier Harlem: Reducing Street Litter in the 125th Street Business Improvement District

February 2017|Daily News|Ester R. Fuchs, Patricia Culligan
April 2016|Queens Tribune|Ester R. Fuchs, Patricia Culligan

The Real New Yorkers Win Their Primaries: Can We Count On Them To Deliver?

June 2014|Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs Case Study Series in Global Public Policy|Ester R. Fuchs, Sarah Holloway, Kimberly Bayer, Alexandra Feathers
April 2012|Journal of International Affairs|Ester R. Fuchs

Governing the Twenty-First Century City

November 2008|NYC Department of Small Business Services|Ester R. Fuchs, Rachel Hare, Hannah Nudell

Innovations in City Government: The Case of New York City’s Workforce Development System

November 2001|Social Capital and Poor Communities|Ester R. Fuchs, Robert Shapiro, Lorraine Minnite

This collection of papers shows the significant achievements that can be made through collective strategies that empower the poor to become active partners in revitalizing their neighborhoods. The 12 chapters are: (1) "The Role of Social Capital in Combating Poverty" (Mark R. Warren, J. Phillip Thompson, and Susan Saegert); (2) "Social Capital and the Culture of Power: Lessons from the Field" (M. Lisette Lopez and Carol B. Stack); (3) "Social Capital in America's Poor Rural Communities" (Cynthia M. Duncan); (4) "Crime and Public Safety: Insights from Community-Level Perspectives on Social Capital" (Robert J. Sampson); (5) "Making Social Capital Work: Social Capital and Community Economic Development" (Ross Gittell and J. Phillip Thompson); (6) "Housing, Social Capital, and Poor Communities" (Langley C. Keyes); (7) "Social Capital, Poverty, and Community Health: An Exploration of Linkages" (Sherman A. James, Amy J. Schulz, and Juliana van Olphen); (8) "Transforming Urban Schools through Investments in the Social Capital of Parents" (Pedro A. Noguera); (9) "Social Capital, Religious Institutions, and Poor Communities" (Michael W. Foley, John D. McCarthy, and Mark Chaves); (10) "Capitalizing on Labor's Capital" (Margaret Levi); (11) "Social Capital, Intervening Institutions, and Political Power"; and (12) "Social Capital, Political Participation, and the Urban Community" (Ester R. Fuchs, Robert Y. Shapiro, and Lorraine C. Minnite).

December 2000|Urban Affairs Review|Ester R. Fuchs, E. Scott Adler, Lincoln Mitchell

Win, Place, Show: Public Opinion Polls and Campaign Contributions in a New York City Election

November 2000|Ford Foundation|Ester R. Fuchs, J. Phillip Thompson , William McAllister

New Voices in State Fiscal Policy

June 2000|London-New York: The Economies of Two Great Cities at the Millennium|Ester R. Fuchs, Tony Travers
November 1999|Fordham Urban Law Journal |Ester R. Fuchs, Robert Himmelberg

In this transcript of a symposium held at Fordham University School of Law on November 16, 1998 on the Future of New York, the six participants addressed the broad subject of what the future can bring as New York celebrated its centennial year. Professor Hammack spoke first. He focused on the future of “Greater New York” by discussing the creation of it, the hopes at the time and the changes that occurred since. Next, Professor Siegel addressed the challenge of the telecommunications revolution as New York faced an economic downturn, and possibly an impending national recession. He recounted some of the complexities of the revolution, decentralization of the economy as a result of telecommunications and New York’s advanced standing in the revolution resulting from early deregulation. Third, Professor Fuchs spoke about the common characterization of New York as exceptional. Reviewing the past century, she explained in what regards New York, a global city, was indeed exceptional. Looking forward, Professor Fuchs argued that a successful future was dependent on continuing a course of being exceptional, as opposed to “making New York like the rest of America,” through political innovation. Professor Jackson spoke last. He first dispelled the conception that circumstances are presently worse than they were 100 years ago and then briefly commented on the remarks of the earlier speakers. Dean Robert Himmelberg of Fordhan’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences gave an introduction, followed by brief remarks from Professor Daniel Soyer, a member of Fordham’s History Department who organized the conference. The six participants were: (1) Robert Himmelberg (Chair); (2) Daniel Soyer (Moderator); (3) David C. Hammack (Panelist), Elbert Jay Benton Professor of History at Case Western Reserve University and Pulitzer Prize nominated author; (4) Fred Siegel (Panelist), Professor of History at Cooper Union for the Arts & Sciences in New York, author, and a Senior Fellow of the Progressive Policy Institute; (5) Ester R. Fuchs (Panelist), Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Barnard College and Columbia University, Director of the Columbia Center for Urban Research and Policy, and author; and (6) Kenneth T. Jackson (Respondent), Jacques Barzun Professor of History and the Social Sciences at Columbia University, author and editor of the Encyclopedia of New York City.

November 1998|Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation|Ester R. Fuchs, Sasha Soroff

Translating Your Vision Into Success: Basic Manual for Preparing a Business Plan

November 1998|U.S. Department of Justice|Ester R. Fuchs, Robert Shapiro, Peter Messeri

Implementation of National Voter Registration Act in NYS Social Services Offices

July 1998|Breaking Away – Innovations in Urban America|Ester R. Fuchs

The Permanent Urban Fiscal Crisis

January 1998|Children and Their Families in Big Cities: Strategies for Service Reform|Ester R. Fuchs

The Permanent Urban Fiscal Crisis (Reprint)

January 1997|B-C Center for Urban Policy/Hispanic Education and Legal Fund Opinion Research Project|Ester R. Fuchs, Robert Shapiro, Lorraine Minnite

Political Participation and Political Representation in New York City with a Special Focus on Latino New Yorkers

December 1996|Ester R. Fuchs, William McAllister

The Continuum of Care: A Report on the New Federal Policy to Address Homelessness

December 1996|Cross-National Research Program Columbia University School of Social Work|Ester R. Fuchs, J. Phillip Thompson

Urban Community Initiatives and Shifting Federal Policy: The Case of the Empowerment Zones

December 1996|The Twentieth Century Fund Press|Ester R. Fuchs

Essays in Memory of Robert F. Wagner Jr.

December 1994|SUNY Press|Ester R. Fuchs, J. Phillip Thompson

Racial Politics in New York State

November 1992|University of Chicago Press|Ester R. Fuchs

Mayors and Money: Fiscal Policy in New York and Chicago

December 1988|Russell Sage Foundation|Ester R. Fuchs

City-State Relations in the Criminal Justice System

December 1983|Urban Affairs Quarterly |Ester R. Fuchs, Robert Y. Shapiro

Government Performance as a Base for Machine Support