The political action group Arena has announced its Five Boroughs Fellows, a group of impactful residents culled from all of the city’s boroughs. Among the group is native Bronxite John Sanchez, the District Manager of Community Board 6. He’s one of 26 civic leaders that the organization recognized for blazing a new way forward for the city.
Sanchez was singled out by the group for various achievements, including his successful campaign to install a youth court in the Bronx, literacy programs, toy drives, and youth sports engagements. He also lobbied for and eventually was granted $200,000 by the city to fix up storefronts on East Tremont Avenue.
Sanchez says that when he heard about the Five Boroughs Fellows program he wanted to apply because he wanted the Bronx to be represented.
“Its important that Bronx representatives are talking about the future of New York city and how it can be improved,” he said. “The Bronx definitely needs to be at the table.”
Sanchez believes that working at the community board provides him with a “local lens” that allows him to identify the needs of the borough and his district and bring them to the forefront of city advocacy.
Arena tasks each of the fellows with a project over the six month program, including starting a new organization, running for office, or starting a new initiative. For his part, Sanchez said that he’s looking to start an initiative that holds monthly civics classes to educate residents about who their elected officials are and what they do, as well as detailing all the new voting laws in New York State and City and informing about the many elections coming up in 2020. He’s also committed to helping more people register to vote. The final and most important prong of his initiative, he said, will be to “explain to people how they can effectively advocate to their elected officials.”
Joining Sanchez in representing the Bronx in the fellowship was Emerita Torres, a Bronx native who worked as a U.S. Diplomat and now serves on the board of Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation and I Challenge Myself, a non-profit dedicated to helping high school students develop academically and socially through exercise.
Five Borough Future is a vision of self-determination and policy progress for NYC. The 26 leaders were selected from a pool of 127 applications and were chosen because of their commitment to — and vision for — the future of New York City. The 5BF Fellows come from each of the five boroughs. 54% are women and 69% are people of color. They bring an eclectic set of professional backgrounds: a Rhodes Scholar, a founder of Empire State Indivisible, a Public Enemy music video producer turned Sesame Street director, a former Division I college football player turned White House aide, a model turned political organizer, and many more. Together, they represent the future of New York City leadership.