Roger Starr Public Service Award
Howard Slatkin Deputy Executive Director for Strategic Planning NYC Department of City Planning
“Planning is the science of everything in New York City.”
Howard Slatkin, Deputy Director for Strategic Planning for the New York City Department of City Planning has always been interested in helping people make sense of how the world around us works, from the smallest scale to the largest. As an undergraduate at Brown University, Slatkin left the study of physics, which seeks to explain how matter behaves, for history, which seeks to explain how behavior matters. Howard is from northern New Jersey, and while he hadn’t ever had a strong interest in living in New York City, he moved here soon after graduation and quickly became fascinated with the urban energy and complex life of the city. “There is something here,” he said “that doesn’t exist elsewhere, and you don’t really understand it until you’ve found it.” Mr. Slatkin received a Masters degree in urban planning from Columbia University in 2000, and that same year began work as a community planner for Brooklyn Community District 1 at the Department of City Planning.
Mr. Slatkin was drawn to a life of public service; “In government you have a responsibility to be able to see multiple sides to every issue – in a sense, it’s less important to be in the right than to understand, and to be solution oriented. Ultimately you are trying to do what is in the public’s interest. While there is often great debate over what this means, it’s something that genuinely drives me and so many of my colleagues – making the city a better place and doing what is in the best interest of the public.” This is, in many ways, the heart of the city planner’s work, listening to varied voices from the community and having the foresight to find nuanced and flexible solutions.