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Home  |  Faculty & Research  |  Faculty Directory  |  Ester Fuchs
Professor of International and Public Affairs and Political Science; Director, Urban and Social Policy Concentration; Director, United States Specialization
International Affairs Building, Room 1428
Office Hours: Mondays 3pm-4pm and Thursdays 11am-12am


Focus areas: Urban Policy; Urban Politics; Governance and Management of Global Cities; Urban Fiscal Policy; 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 Public Affairs and Political Science and 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. Prof. Fuchs was chair of the Urban Studies Program at Barnard and Columbia Colleges and founding director of the Columbia University Center for Urban Research and Policy.  Prof. Fuchs recently received the Distinguished Alumna Award from Queens College; Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs Award for Outstanding Teaching; and NYC’s Excellence in Technology Award for Best IT Collaboration among Agencies for Access New York.

Currently, Professor Fuchs serves as Director of the, an online voter engagement initiative. website 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. It is being piloted in New York City and its technology and outreach strategy will be made available nationwide and globally.

While at City Hall, Prof. 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.

Prof. Fuchs was the first woman to serve as chair of the NYC Charter Revision Commission in 2005. She currently serves on the NYC Mayor’s Sustainability Advisory Board, NYC Economic Opportunity Commission, the NYC Workforce Investment Board, the NYC Commission on Women’s Issues, and the Advisory Board for NYC’s Out-of-School Time Initiative. She is appointed to the Committee on Economic Inclusion of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) 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 the International Board of the Hebrew University Rothberg School.  Since 2007, Professor Fuchs has organized and moderated annual international summits sponsored by the Office of the Mayor of New York and New York City Global Partners.  The conference brings together mayoral delegations from cities around the world to discuss important urban policy issues, learn from one another, and share best practices.  Most recently, Prof. Fuchs coordinated the “Business Innovations and Entrepreneurship Summit,” (November, 2011) and the “Public Integrity: Anti-Corruption and Good Governance Summit,” (June, 2012).   

In September 2012, Prof. Fuchs published Innovative Programs in Workforce Development: The UMEZ Career Opportunities in Health Care (COH) Program, a case study that documents an unprecedented strategy for partnering with community-based organizations to break the cycle of chronic unemployment that affects many individuals in the distressed communities of Upper ManhattanProf. Fuchs has been the recipient of many grants including the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the Wallace Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Greater London Enterprise, the US Department of Justice the National Health and Human Service Employees Union AFL-CIO, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation. She has consulted for business and governments and on numerous political campaigns. She is a frequent political commentator in print, broadcast and new media and lectures internationally. She received a B.A. from Queens College, CUNY; an M.A. from Brown University; and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago.

Focus areas: global cities, urban policy, politics and governance, New York City politics, New York City policy, community development, economic development policy, workforce development, education and afterschool policy, environmental and economic sustainability, social policy, political participation, women’s vote, civic engagement, political parties and elections.

Research & Publications

Governing the Twenty-First Century City
Journal of International Affairs
Ester Fuchs
The Continuum of Care: A Report on the New Federal Policy to Address Homelessness
Ester Fuchs
William McAllister