Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today appointed Fatima A. Shama as Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Commissioner Shama currently serves as Senior Education Policy Advisor in the Mayor’s Office, where she previously served as the Health Literacy and Language Access Coordinator.
Born in the Bronx to immigrant parents – her mother is Brazilian and her late father was Palestinian – Ms. Shama succeeds Dr. Guillermo Linares, who resigned the post last month. The Mayor announced the appointment in the Blue Room of City Hall.
“Fatima was at the forefront of our efforts to reauthorize the law on mayoral control of our schools, to raise standards in the classroom, and to increase parental engagement, especially among immigrant parents,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “One of the great advantages of working in an open environment like the City Hall bullpen is that you get to see your colleagues in action every single day. And working in the same room with her, I’ve been impressed with the intelligence, insight, and leadership that Fatima brings to her work. I’m confident she will rise to this new challenge. I also want to thank Deputy Commissioner Erik Paulino for overseeing the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant for the last few weeks.“
“Fatima Shama is uniquely qualified to lead this important city agency,” said Deputy Mayor for Legal Affairs and Counsel to the Mayor Carol A. Robles-Román. “She has distinguished herself in her education reform work with Deputy Mayor Walcott, has been a leader in the areas of healthcare services and language access; and has been at the forefront of developing constructive dialogue and proactive solutions to these and other challenges facing immigrant New Yorkers.“
“I am deeply honored to continue to serve and work with New York’s immigrant communities in this capacity, and build on the great work of Commissioner Linares,” said Commissioner Shama. “Immigrants are one of our city’s greatest assets and I look forward to enhancing this Administration’s conversation with communities, ensuring that we improve the quality of life for immigrant New Yorkers, and address some the challenges many immigrants face.“
As Senior Education Policy Advisor, Ms. Shama – who speaks Arabic, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish – worked on the renewal of the City’s school governance legislation signed into law yesterday by Governor Paterson. She helped design the Service in Schools initiative that is part of the Mayor’s NYC Service agenda, collaborated on the development of the eighth grade promotion policy, worked closely with the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies to improve safety in our schools, and was instrumental in increasing parent engagement efforts.
Prior to joining the Bloomberg Administration in 2006, Ms. Shama served for four years as Executive Director of the Greater Brooklyn Health Coalition, a group of over 100 multi-service organizations that managed public health programs. The programs addressed the needs of residents in north, central and south Brooklyn, particularly immigrant and underserved populations. Before that she managed the Urban Horizons program at the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation in The Bronx; served as a program officer for Research, Action, Information Network for the Bodily Integrity of Women (RAINBOW) an international health and human rights NGO; and was the Program Development and Public Relations Manager for the Arab-American Family Support Center in Brooklyn.
Commissioner Shama is the third New Yorker to serve as Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Prior to Dr. Linares’ service, Ms. Sayu Bhojwani served as Commissioner from April 2002 to May 2004.
Ms. Shama earned a Bachelor of Arts from Binghamton University and a Masters of Public Administration from Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs Executive Program. She completed a management program at the Institute for Not-for-Profit Management at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, and is a graduate of Lehman High School in the Bronx. Commissioner Shama lives on the east side of Manhattan with her husband and two sons.