Rachel Noerdlinger (125428)

Rachel Noerdlinger was unwillingly thrust into the spotlight last year, making headlines on a daily basis. Just months after the media firestorm, she is on track to getting her life back.

Noerdlinger, who previously served as first lady Chirlane McCray’s chief of staff, now works at Mercury Public Relations, where she serves as managing director.

Noerdlinger’s background in public relations includes having her own firm, working with PR royalty Terri Williams and, notably, serving as a longtime communications manager for the Rev. Al Sharpton.

However, things came to a screeching and emotional halt late last year when reports surfaced that she did not disclose in a background questionnaire that she lives with her boyfriend, Hassaun McFarlan, who has a criminal record. Further reports put her teenage son, Khari, in the media when he was arrested for criminal trespassing with friends.

She stepped down from her position in November.

The media uproar has died down, and Noerdlinger, in a recent interview with the AmNews, said she’s moving forward. “I’m doing very well,” she stated. “It’s been an excellent new year thus far.”

Her days now consist of meetings and continuing her work in media and communication strategies. She is building up the democratic side of Mercury. She still works with Sharpton and the National Action Network.

“I’m excited to be doing what I love and that’s media activism,” she said. “Using the media to enhance the visibility of key important issues.”

Noerdlinger added that the ordeal with the media and losing her position in the mayor’s office took an emotional toll on her. For days at a time, it was an all too familiar scene of the media outside of her home, taking pictures of her and her family.

“It was very public—like in every tabloid—that I have a lot of debt between medical bills from two accidents my son was in and taxes, and I’m looking forward to gradually pulling myself out of debt with a private sector salary.”

However, she said she’s not bitter and is using the situation as a way to get back on top. “Some of the people who wrote the worst things about me have called me to go to coffee and dinner,” she said. “I think in life you can either use situations like this one to implode or explode. I’m using this to explode. I refuse to implode and be bitter.”

Noerdlinger didn’t have to take on the attacks being thrown at her by the media alone. She had a strong support group of women, who she still looks to for strength. At the height of the firestorm, a group of several notable Black women in the city stood behind her to clear her name.

“I am extremely grateful for the support I received,” she said. “With their support, I was able to get through that dark time. I look forward to working with the people who supported me. I learned from this experience that darkness always makes way for light, and if you have faith and remain humble, adversity can be turned into advantage.”

As far as her son Khari is concerned, Noerdlinger said he is at an internship at news and pop culture website Global Grind. He attends college in New Jersey, where he’s studying music and technology.

Looking back, Noerdlinger said she would have done some things differently.

“[I would have trusted] my instincts,” she said. “When I first got the City Hall job offer, instinctively I felt like I could be equally impactful outside of City Hall as an advisor. Had I trusted my gut, I would have pushed harder for that. I have always been an outside the margins strategic thinker. I should have trusted my gut, and it would have saved me and my son a lot of pain, and it would have spared New York City’s first family the scrutiny.”