Born in Brooklyn, NY to immigrant parents, Deputy Mayor Richard Buery has dedicated his life to improving outcomes for young people in America’s most disadvantaged communities. A member of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s senior cabinet, he leads some of the City’s key initiatives to expand opportunity. He is the architect of Pre-K for All, which for the first time provides free, full-day Pre-K for every 4-year old in NYC, growing enrollment from 19,000 to nearly 70,000 children in a year and a half, and is now leading its expansion to three-year olds. He created and leads the Community Schools Initiative, which embeds health and social services in 215 schools, School’s Out NYC, guaranteeing free afterschool programs to every middle schooler, and ThriveNYC, a groundbreaking effort to reimagine how the City’s supports the mental health and wellbeing of all New Yorkers. As the City’s Minority/Women-owned business director, he led the creation of the Mayor’s Office of M/WBEs, and oversees an ambitious multi-agency effort to award 30% of city contract dollars to M/WBEs by 2021, up from the 8% utilization Mayor de Blasio inherited. He is the founding chair of the NYC Children’s Cabinet, coordinating policy among dozens of agencies that impact NYC’s children, and oversees the Mayor’s Young Men’s Initiative to improve outcomes of young men of color. He also oversees the Department of Youth and Community Development, Department of Probation, Department for the Aging, and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, and led the creation of the Department of Veterans Services, the first new City department in decades and the first such in the nation. He also leads the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and serves as the City’s liaison to the City University of New York, a system of 24 colleges, graduate, and professional schools serving 274,000 degree-credit students each year.
Buery graduated from Stuyvesant High School and matriculated at Harvard College at age 16. As a student there, he co-founded the Mission Hill Summer Program, an enrichment program for children in the Mission Hill Housing Development in the Roxbury section of Boston. He went on to establish two other nonprofit organizations, iMentor and Groundwork, Inc.
A graduate of Yale Law School, Buery served as a law clerk to Judge John M. Walker, Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and was a staff attorney at the Brennan Center for Justice, working in the areas of access to justice and campaign finance reform. He taught fifth grade at an orphanage in Bindura, Zimbabwe and was the chief political officer and campaign manager to Kenneth Reeves, the mayor of Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has taught courses in social entrepreneurship and the financial management of nonprofit organizations at Baruch College School of Public Affairs and New York Law School, and has lectured widely at schools including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, NYU, and the University of Michigan.
Buery joined the administration from the Children’s Aid Society, one of New York City’s oldest and largest social service organizations, where he was the youngest president and chief executive officer since the organization was founded in 1853. He led the organization’s efforts to end the cycle of poverty by making long-term investments in children from cradle to college graduation, winning numerous federal, state, local and private grants, and launching a variety of successful programs. His achievements include founding the Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School, a community school that provides rigorous academic instruction and comprehensive social service to high-needs families in the South Bronx. He has served on many nonprofit boards, including the United Way of New York City, the Community Service Society, the Beginning with Children Foundation, Leadership Prep Charter School, Achievement First East New York Charter School, the New York City Independent Budget Office and the Harvard Alumni Association. He currently serves on the boards of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and NYC Kids Rise.
The recipient of many honors, fellowships and awards, Buery was a 1992 Michael Clark Rockefeller Fellow, a 2016 Pahara-Aspen Institute Education Fellow, and a 2012 Fellow of the British American Project. He was named by Ebony Magazine as one of its “30 Leaders of the Future under 30,” by Crain’s New York Business as one of “40 Leaders of the Future under 40,” and has been named to The Grio 100 and The Root 100’s lists of African American leaders. He has received the Mary McLeod Bethune Recognition Award from the National Council of Negro Women; the Extraordinary Black Man Award for Humanitarianism from the United Negro College Fund; the inaugural outstanding alumnus award from the Phillips Brooks House Association at Harvard University, and the Emerging Leaders award from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
Buery lives in Brooklyn with his wife Deborah, a law professor, and his two sons.