Who We Are

In the spring of 2018, a diverse group of New Yorkers—all ardent fans of the New Deal—came together to form a Working Group charged with bringing public attention to the New Deal’s stunning achievements in the city.

Until the arrival of COVID-19 on our shores, we were meeting once a month at Roosevelt House, a gracious yet modest townhouse on East 65th Street that was home to Franklin and Eleanor during the early days of their marriage. Today, it is part of the Hunter College campus, with Deborah Gardner serving as curator and historian-in-residence. We count ourselves fortunate indeed that Gardner is a member of our group.

All of us dearly hope to meet again in person, once it is safe to do so. But our work continues. In fact, it sustains us.

Now a Chapter of the Living New Deal, we’ve built our forces with the help of the organization’s California founders and through our own networking efforts. The Working Group started out with a half a dozen members, a number that has more than doubled over time. We’ve continued to forge relationships with a broad network of like-minded individuals and organizations, including the American Institute of Architects (AIA New York), City Lore, the Museum of the City of New York, FDR Library, and the National Jobs for All Network, among others.

Working Group

Kevin Baker, Chapter Director

Kevin Baker is a historian, novelist, journalist, screenwriter, and playwright. He is currently at work on a political and cultural history of the United States between the world wars, for which he received a Guggenheim Fellowship. Baker is the author or co-author of five works of history and six novels, including the New York Times bestseller, Paradise Alley. Other work has included writing the story for the Ken Burns documentary, The U.S. and the Holocaust. A contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine, he has written for many major publications in the United States and Europe, and has appeared in numerous television productions and documentaries. His latest book, The New York Game: Baseball and the Rise of a New City, will be published by Knopf in March, 2024. Read more


Deborah Gardner, Working Group Member

Deborah, a founding member of the NYC Working Group, grew up in a New Deal-oriented household. Her mother went to Hunter College and her father went to City College, which were tuition free back then. Both came of age during the 1930s, and both benefited from the institutions of higher learning that helped many first- and second-generation immigrants move up in the world. Read more

Deborah Gardner

Jeff Gold, Working Group Member

Jeff Gold is an urbanist who has earned his living as an acquisitions editor, a partner at new media partnership JIA, and director of the Institute for Rational Urban Mobility (IRUM), an eco-transport nonprofit. He also chairs the steering committee of the Metro New York Health Care for All Campaign and serves on the board of the National Jobs for All Network. And he’s active in electoral politics at the local, state, and national level. Read more

Ruth Messinger, Advisor & Working Group

Born and raised in New York City, Ruth Messinger imbibed her parents’ passion for FDR and especially for the New Deal as a model for what government could and should do. Her long career as a social worker, celebrated New York City politician, and honored social justice leader reflects and magnifies that passion.

At Harvard University, she was inspired by one of her professors, who started every class saying, “I told Franklin….”—a phrase that seemed to connect her to a living past. Read more


Adam Roberts, Working Group Member

Adam Roberts has packed a lot of politics into his young life.

He grew up on Long Island in a family of “proud New Dealers.” At home, FDR was worshipped, he says. It didn’t take long for Roberts to find his calling, and both nature and nurture helped him get there.

During his teens, he dreamed of becoming a dentist, but that dream would soon be replaced by one better suited to his talents and temperament. Read more

Adam Roberts

Grace (“Jinx”) Roosevelt, Co-Founder & Working Group Member

Born on Friday the 13th, Jinx Roosevelt prefers her nickname to her given name, but not because she thinks she’s unlucky. Spanning multiple roles as a teacher and professor, author and activist, wife and mother, she considers herself extremely lucky to have been granted the wide-ranging experiences life has offered her. Read more


Robert “Rob” Snyder, Working Group Member

On December 3, 2019, shortly before the coronavirus pandemic blanketed the city, Rob Snyder was sworn in as Manhattan Borough Historian by former borough president Gale Brewer. Each of the city’s five boroughs boasts its own official historian—an honorary role that dates back to 1950—and Manhattan is lucky enough to have Snyder, a distinguished academic, author, and journalist with a lifelong passion for the city and its history. Read more

Lou Venech, Working Group Member

If you use your imagination and squint a little, you can picture Lou Venech as a behind-the-scenes policy advisor to FDR. Born too late for that particular destiny, he worked for 34 years at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey—a unique transportation agency with a strong public works tradition—as a policy analyst and transportation planner before retiring in 2019. He’s the only member of the NYC working group who has had direct responsibility for planning infrastructure projects. Read more



As well, we’ve recruited a distinguished group of advisors, who have already helped us advance the cause in important ways. These include:

Marta Gutman, Advisor

Prof. Marta Gutman first encountered the New Deal during the late 1950s, when she was four years old. Her father took her to a public swimming pool located in Astoria Park in Queens—one of the five boroughs of New York City—close to the family’s apartment, and gave his daughter her first swimming lessons there. Read more

Marta Gutman
  • Sheila D. Collins
  • Teresa Ghilarducci
  • Ira Katznelson
  • Peter Marcuse
  • Ruth Messinger (also a member of the Working Group)
  • Nick Taylor
  • Mike Wallace

The NYC Chapter includes people from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines, including architecture, history, urban planning, public policy, computer science, journalism, and the arts. What we all share in common is a passion for the New Deal: its physical legacy—visible everywhere you look, if you know where to look!—and its visionary spirit, so urgently needed in our country and our world today.

We invite you to get to know us! Read on for short profiles of today’s New Dealers in a city that’s home to more than 1,000 New Deal legacy sites.

Living New Deal. Still Working for America.