University at Albany

Q & A with Alex Rias, MPA '09

You very recently stepped into a new role. Tell us about it.

Alex: I'm excited to be the new deputy chief of staff and director of legislation and budget for the chair of the finance committee. As deputy chief of staff, I will supervise the operations of the council member's legislative office. This includes oversight of the member's director of communications, director of special projects and initiatives, and the director of scheduling. I will also manage and direct the member's legislative and budget (local, state and federal) goals as director of legislation and budget for the member. The purview of our office is both local and citywide.

Prior to your new position, you were the director of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus with the New York City Council. If you had to condense that job description into an elevator pitch, how would it read?

Alex Rias, MPA '09 and his mother at
Commencement, May 2010
Alex: The Black, Latino and Asian Caucus is comprised of 27 of 51 members of the City Council. As director, I managed and coordinated the budgetary and legislative goals of the Caucus, and expressed the advocacy and communications arms of the Caucus. Special projects, initiatives and community relations efforts were also managed through my office.

What about your job inspired/excited you every day?

Alex: On any given day I was working on public safety policy with council members, while coordinating a press conference on education issues between meetings with advocates on items in the budget, attending rallies, hearings, and organizing a workforce and small business development event. It's inspiring and exciting to be able to not only be part of the fabric of this unique city but also be afforded an opportunity to add my own woven parts to the tapestry.

How did Rockefeller College prepare you for your career?

Alex: Rockefeller helped me to think outside the box. My favorite professors painted a picture of the landscape, and gave direction toward the stepping stones necessary to chase the horizon in MY vision. Rockefeller helped me to embrace my professional curiosity and to explore how I wanted to develop my career uniquely and creatively.

What is one piece of advice you would share with a current Rockefeller student?

Alex: Network, network, network. Rockefeller's social capital is superior as its faculty and students all represent various career paths, visions of society, and backgrounds. Getting to know some of my peers and advisors reinforced and expanded my interests and passions beyond what I expected.

When you're not on the job, where can you be found?

Alex: When I'm not at City Hall, you may find me speaking with student leaders about personal and professional development to foster their growth toward the next stages in their lives. I co-founded Step Above, a youth leadership development company in 2011, and I'm proud of the work we've been able to with students. If I'm not doing that, you might catch me on a basketball court somewhere trying to relive my childhood hoop dreams!