SERIES | Her Team: Beep’s comms director credits trajectory to Gibson’s belief in young people

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Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson’s communications director, Michael Ivory, has spent his whole political career under her leadership.
Photo Christobal Vivar

In the “Her Team” series, the Bronx Times sat down with key leaders on Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson’s team, to learn the story behind the faces who will help guide her administration.

“The staff that we have here and the new staff we will bring on will be some of the most creative and boldest minds in the Bronx, and the City of New York,” Gibson told the Bronx Times. “We’re going to make sure the staff is reflective of the diversity of the Bronx.” 

Were you contacted by the Borough President’s office? It was probably given the stamp of approval by 26-year-old Michael Ivory, Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson’s director of communications.

Ivory knew he was interested in government as early as 12-years-old, when he watched the news with his grandma in their Mott Haven apartment about Barack Obama, an Illinois senator at the time, running for the presidency.

And ever since the summer before his senior year as a political science student at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, he has climbed the ranks of Gibson’s team.

First, he was placed in Gibson’s office as an intern in summer 2016, through Bronxworks’ Summer Youth Employment Program.

“I remember just being in awe, because I had no idea about local government,” Ivory told the Bronx Times. “When you study political science, they teach you about the federal level, so you really have to take it upon yourself to learn about what’s happening on the local and state level. So to find out there was a woman of color, a Black woman, who was a councilwoman here in the borough that I grew up in was so impactful.” 

Ivory interned for Gibson again over his winter break, and joined her staff as an outreach liaison just a few weeks after graduating college. In a matter of months, he was promoted to Gibson’s director of community engagement, at which point he also worked as the office’s LGBTQ liaison. Just over two years later, he became the director of communications in January 2020, shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Ivory is still Gibson’s communications director, but now for her boroughwide office.

He credits his success to Gibson’s dedication to empowering young people, and that first opportunity to intern in her office.

“A lot of times when you enter these spaces you don’t see people that are your age doing this work,” Ivory said. “And I still think there is a stigma that if you are a young person, that you just don’t have the knowledge, or you should be ignored … I never had that feeling about her (Gibson). She was always willing to listen to me or to any other young person that she hired.”

Gibson’s council staff was noticeably young, which Ivory said “amazed” people. He is hopeful other politicians will follow suit.

“I think it’s so incredibly important to amplify young people,” he said. “Especially young people of color, young queer people of color, we need to give them the opportunity. That one opportunity that Vanessa (Gibson) gave me is the reason why I am here today. She believed in me.”

Ivory grew up in the South Bronx and attended Herbert H. Lehman High School in the east Bronx, the two areas he spent the most time in. But working in Gibson’s office has helped him learn more about different parts of the borough that he was less familiar with.

Along with engaging with the press, Ivory wants to use social media as a tool to inform Bronxites about the borough’s happenings, highlight Bronx businesses and encourage young people to engage with local politics. 

Ivory also wants to support other communications directors for Bronx elected officials, like by discussing the everchanging role of various social media platforms.

Click here to read our last profile on Gibson’s chief of staff, Justin Cortes, and click here to read about Gibson’s first month in office.

Reach Aliya Schneider at aschneider@schnepsmedia.com or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.

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