Newly elected MEA President, Darrell L. Sims
From a young age Darrell Sims showed the qualities that made him a strong choice to become the MEA’s new president: hard work, empathy and curiosity. Sims grew up in a working-class family in Ohio. “I could relate to living on the financial edge from paycheck to paycheck, trying to make ends
meet,” said Sims. He took on many odd jobs to help his parents provide for himself and his nine brothers and sisters – including janitorial work with his father, retail work at his mother’s textile shop and bookstore, and working on his grandfather’s farm. After graduate school, Sims became the first African American registered architect employed by New York City’s Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development, the City agency responsible for developing affordable housing.
Equipped with two master’s degrees from an Ivy League university, Sims assumed a management title at HPD, eventually becoming the Deputy Director for the Bureau of Multifamily New Construction Design Review Services in 2007.
One of Sims’ inclusionary housing development projects is the stunning 250 Ashland Place in Brooklyn’s neighborhood of Fort Greene. The 52-story brick and metal building is designed with 586 units of which 282 are affordable housing. He retired from HPD on January 1, 2020, after a 39-year tenure — with 27 years in a managerial title.
“I have always felt good assisting people who were economically less fortunate and of a lower income similar to my family,” he said.
Darrell joined the MEA in 1996 — its instant appeal being its unique focus on managers and their common concerns and interests. As MEA’s President-elect, Sims will address the thorny issue of recruitment, as MEA continues to lose hundreds of its members as their positions are unionized. “I think there’s a personal satisfaction with being a manager that’s beyond what’s written on paper,” he said. “To get people you are responsible for to produce their best work is a big challenge.”
Sims will be working with MEA’s new Executive Director, Alice Wong, who joined MEA at the beginning of 2021. He sees Ms. Wong’s technological savvy as a powerful recruitment tool. “She’s been big on promoting the MEA, using our website and social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, IG, and Twitter to get the message out,” said Sims. “Digital communication is so important.” MEA’s Chapter Directors can also play a larger role in bringing new members to MEA. “We want to empower the Chapter Directors more,” he said. Sims already has a long history with the MEA. He’s been an active Executive Board member for over 25 years. “After serving the MEA for such a lengthy time, I guess it is my turn to accept the challenge of being President,” he said.
It is an honor and I am proud to be elected President of the MEA and I will advocate and represent the best interest of the civil service managers of New York City.
READ ABOUT THE NEW BOARD in our Fall 2021 Newsletter