Pierina is an Afro-Dominicana, daughter of immigrants, and lifelong Bronxite, born in University Heights and raised in Kingsbridge, where her family strove to make a life for her and her brothers. She learned the value of hard work at an early age – watching her elders sell oranges, drive taxis, clean buildings and schools – to ensure she and her generation had a chance at higher education and opportunity in this country.
Pierina grew up watching her elders sell oranges, drive taxis, clean buildings and schools to ensure she and her generation had a chance at higher education and opportunity.
Pierina is a proud alumna of Bronx public schools P.S. 46 and M.S. 45, and the Academy of Mount Saint Ursula. She knows the value of public youth programs because the Bronx Community College Upward Bound program helped her excel. She went on to graduate from Harvard University on a full scholarship, and earn a Master in Public Affairs degree from Princeton University.
From the community board to the White House, and from advocacy to City Hall - Pierina has been and will continue to be a fighter for immigrant families, racial justice, affordable housing, good jobs and meaningful investments in our children, families and seniors.
Pierina began her career in public service in the summer of 2007, and it propelled her into a career in public policy and urban planning. She advocated to expand early education programs at Agenda for Children Tomorrow, and helped immigrant families stabilize their status in the U.S. Starting in 2010, she spent 2 years working in the City Council District 14 office, supporting thousands of her neighbors with their concerns, including organizing buildings to fight landlords for repairs. In this position, she secured millions of dollars in City funding for nonprofits and schools in the community, including the funds to construct the Harrison Circle location of the Morris Heights Health Center.
After her master’s program, Pierina served in the Obama White House and then as an urban planner at Regional Plan Association. At RPA, Pierina was committed to the mission that any long term plan for the New York region must be built on a foundation of equity and social justice. She partnered with frontline community organizations like Community Voices Heard, New York Communities for Change, and Make the Road to include thousands of low- to moderate- income voices from immigrants and communities of color and shape the critical planning process. During this time, Pierina was also a member of Bronx Community Board 5, where she fought for deep affordable housing and meaningful investments during the Jerome rezoning process.
She partnered with frontline community organizations to include thousands of low- to moderate- income voices from immigrants and communities of color and shape the critical planning process.
Most recently, Pierina was a Senior Advisor for Housing, Economic Development and Labor in City Hall, where she advocated for progressive housing, economic development and land use policies, and resources for NYCHA. When COVID-19 struck, Pierina’s work pivoted to the City’s response and she focused on bridging gaps in service to the hardest hit low-income and communities of color. Alongside colleagues, she pushed to add testing sites, distribute protective equipment, and ensure the meal delivery system was reaching every New Yorker in need. Pierina also developed an action plan to protect our neighbors in NYCHA.
Today, Pierina is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Pratt Institute, where she teaches a course on gentrification and public policy, and is a Senior Fellow at the Pratt Center for Community Development, working toward a just recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that focuses on the most impacted and the most vulnerable.
When she is not serving the public, Pierina enjoys brushing off her Taekwondo and salsa dancing skills!