The City University of New York (CUNY) has launched the Terence D. Tolbert Public Service Internship six years after the death of a man who dedicated his life to public service.
The announcement was made at CUNY’s annual luncheon program during the 42nd annual Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus Conference Weekend in Albany.
In addition to announcing its launch, CUNY has also revealed the program’s first intern, Crystal Joseph of the CUNY School of Professional Studies. At the luncheon on Feb. 15, Joseph received an award in addition to academic credit for her recently completed internship experience in the Harlem-based office of New York state Assemblyman and Housing Committee Chair Keith Wright. It is the same office where Tolbert, the internship’s namesake, once served as the chief of staff.
Tolbert, who was born and raised in Harlem, passed away in 2008 at the age of 44. After graduating from CUNY Hunter College, he spent his lifetime working in politics and government service.
An article on CUNY Newswire reveals that during his career, Tolbert worked with the New York State Senate Minority Program, served on the staff of two state senators, worked with Rep. Charles Rangel and served as the chief of staff to Wright for nearly a decade.
In addition to this, he worked on several governmental campaigns. He was the director of John Edwards’ presidential campaign during 2003 and 2004, worked on the campaigns of Sen. Charles Schumer and Eliot Spitzer and served as Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s liaison to ethnic, religious and cultural minority groups in the city during his campaign for a second term.
A previous AmNews article revealed, “At the time of his death, Tolbert was serving as state director in Nevada for presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama.” He died before Obama took office, but his diligent work ethic was never forgotten.
The same article quotes Bloomberg who, after receiving notice of Tolbert’s death, said, “Our administration will miss him, the city will miss him, the country will miss him … sadly, he is never going to come back [to New York], but we will never forget him.”
The new CUNY internship program proves that New York City has not forgotten the work of this dedicated public servant. The public service internship will reportedly provide a highly qualified graduate student with the opportunity to learn by working in the office of an elected official. The intern will be able to work with local community members as well as city officials to address the needs of New York City residents and assist in resolving policy problems.
At the luncheon, Joseph was recognized by Freida Foster, Tolbert’s widow. Joseph said she intends to focus on educational access and advancement in the future—issues that were central to Tolbert’s activism during his lifetime.