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Grandma of Girl Killed Crossing Delancey Among New Community Board Members

By Jill Colvin | April 1, 2013 1:30pm

NEW YORK CITY — The grandmother of a little girl killed crossing Delancey Street, a shop owner flooded during Hurricane Sandy, an opera singer and a fifth-generation New Yorker are among Manhattan's newest community board members, DNAinfo.com New York has learned.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said he hoped to up the diversity on the borough's 12 community boards, which he appoints along with local City Council members.

This year, 34 of 76 new members are in their 20s and 30s, and nearly half are non-white, with 16 new African-American members, 16 new Hispanic members, and two new Asian-American members, a spokeswoman for Stringer's office said.

“With 2013 as my last year of annual appointments, I am proud of the enormous strides we have made to strengthen Community Boards as the first line of defense for Manhattan neighborhoods," Stringer said in a statement Monday announcing the members, which also include NYCHA residents, housing advocates and clergy members.

Among the newest members is Teresa Pedroza, the grandmother of Dashane Santana, the 12-year-old girl who was killed last year as she crossed Delancey Street's nine lanes of traffic.

Pedroza, a lifelong resident of the Lower East Side who also works as a housing advocate, spearheaded the campaign to co-name the street in honor of Santana, petitioning Community Board 3, which she will now join.

Also joining the boards as of Monday is Marco Pasanella, a South Street Seaport resident who owns Pasanella & Son, Vintners wine shop, which was badly flooded during Sandy.

Pasanella, who lives above the shop with his family, has been helping to rebuild the hard-hit neighborhood in the months since the storm, according to Stringer's office. He is also a former New York Times columnist, and has been featured in Vanity Fair, Vogue, and Food & Wine magazines, Stringer's office said.

Jaye Bea Smalley, a longtime disabilities advocate who serves as co-president of the Citywide Council on Special Education, will join the Upper West Side's Community Board 7; the Rev. Keith Fennessy, a fifth-generation New Yorker and pastor of St. Columba Catholic Church in Chelsea, will join Community Board 4; and Sabrina Francis, an opera singer and music teacher at Round the Clock Daycare, will join Harlem's Community Board 9.

In Upper Manhattan, Liliana Saneux, a professional translator, will join Community Board 12, where she'll "serve as a bridge between the broader Latino community" by providing live and written translation of board meetings and initiatives, Stringer's office said.

Stringer, who is running for comptroller, has made reforming community boards a chief focus of his time as borough president. He introduced an independent screening panel to select new members, and also launched a training series to help teach new members the ins and outs of obscure city procedures, such as land use.

Last year, Stringer's appointments focused on adding a shot of youth to the often-stuffy boards, with 40 new members under 40, including an NYU student, a banquet cook at the Waldorf-Astoria and a filmmaker who'd won an Emmy.

With the new members, representation among LGBT, Latino, African-American and Asian-American communities is up 40 percent under Stringer, according to his office.

Nearly 550 candidates applied for the board's 311 posts.