Arana Hankin is the director of the Atlantic Yards Project at New York State’s economic development agency, Empire State Development. She also serves as the president of the Queens West Development Corporation and project manager for the Columbia Manhattanville expansion project in West Harlem. Hankin has worked to bridge the gap between disgruntled local communities and private developers to ensure that communities have a voice and private developers deliver what is promised. She hosts regularly scheduled public forums, participates in contentious local meetings and meaningfully responds to community concerns, at times altering development plans. Hankin has also initiated a number of public art and beautification projects, further repairing relationships with local communities. She has successfully balanced the demands of private developers with the requests of local communities while ensuring that real estate projects are not stalled.
Prior to working at ESD, Hankin served as assistant secretary for cultural and economic development for the Paterson gubernatorial administration, overseeing 8 state agencies, shaping budgets and dictating policy agendas. She worked closely with private developers and not-for-profit cultural organizations looking to maneuver through local and state bureaucracies and locate obscure funding sources for capital projects. Hankin established a structure for the distribution of $35 billion in federal stimulus funding to every corner of the state. She led discussions that cleared the way for the FDR Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island. She also facilitated policies that aided the equitable disbursement of cultural funds. Aside from Hankin's professional accomplishments, she is especially proud of her role as a founding board member of Soleil Global, a nonprofit organization that distributes solar lights to rural areas of Haiti.
During her fellowship year, Hankin will study creative structures to finance cultural development and strategies that guarantee the delivery of economic and social benefits to local communities.
Watch the video of Hankin's presentation for Meet the Loebs Week.