Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit that operates the park, appointed former public housing executive director Morgan Monaco as their new president and administrator. Monaco is the first Black woman to hold this position.

“I’m honored to be the first Black woman to take over the helm and open space in a sector that continues to diversify,” said Monaco. “I’m humbled to be that beacon, and I hope that another young Black girl sees my picture and says, ‘you know what I never thought about going into open space service but maybe I will.’”

A Manhattan native, Monaco was born and raised on the Upper Westside by a single mother in an apartment near Central Park. She moved to Brooklyn in the early 2000s to make the nearby borough her home. “I’ve had some pretty amazing walks in Prospect Park with my husband. Our love story begins working for the Parks Department together,” said Monaco reminiscing, “Some of my most favorite memories in our whole history of knowing each other have been walks in Prospect Park.”

Monaco served in the city’s parks department under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg from 2007 to 2014 and under former Mayor Bill de Blasio from 2014 to 2020. She was director of the MillionTreesNYC Initiative and later director of stewardship for Forestry, Horticulture and Natural Resources. 

She also served in the nonprofit sector as the executive director of the Red Hook Initiative (RHI), a youth and community development nonprofit for Red Hook Houses public housing development from in 2020. She worked during the pandemic and helped to bring in funding relationships and new staff to help stabilize and grow RHI’s impact. “I felt like I wanted to go deep and work in one neighborhood,” said Monaco.

Monaco will be joining the Prospect Park Alliance team in December 2022. She is the first Black woman leader of the Alliance, further diversifying executive leadership within the open space sector. Monaco succeeds former President Sue Donoghue, who was appointed New York City Parks Commissioner by Mayor Eric Adams earlier this year.

The Prospect Park Alliance has been working on restorations of the Endale Arch, Concert Grove Pavilion, and the Flatbush Avenue entrances. Other projects include reimagining the park’s historic house museum to recognize its role as a site of slavery and tell stories of enslaved Africans and the Indigenous people of the Lenapehoking. The park will also add a monument of political trailblazer Shirley Chisholm soon.

Monaco still lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their 4-year-old son. She said that her son adores Vanderbilt playground in Prospect Park. 

[UPDATED]


Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w

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