Community Board 9 made history earlier this year in appointing the city’s first-ever community board chairperson of Bengali descent.
Mohammed Mujumder, who was born in Bangladesh, was elected as CB9’s chairperson back in June, running unopposed, making him the first Bengali chairperson in the New York City’s history. He replaces Brandon Ganaishlal, the prior chairperson.
Mujumder, who previously served as CB9’s first vice chair and has been a board member since 2010, said that he hopes to see more residents within CB9 attend general community board meetings so that their voices are heard.
“Most people in our district don’t even know there is a community board,” said the 60-year-old Mujumder. “There’s a very small percentage of people who actually know about it — and one of my goals as the (CB9) chairperson is to increase engagement among the residents in these neighborhoods, while also spreading awareness throughout the community that community boards do exist.”
CB9 includes the neighborhoods of Bronx River, Castle Hill, Clason Point, Harding Park, Parkchester, Soundview and Unionport.
As CB9 chairperson, Mujumder will focus primarily on local issues as well as working with elected officials and standing for the safety and well being of Bronx residents in his district.
“I like working with people — and I like playing a role in assisting the community,” Mujumder said. “I really, truly enjoy helping others and helping the community achieve more.”
Mujumder went to high school in Bangladesh and later became a lawyer, before moving to the United States in 1989 in search of a better life.
The poor conditions and minimal resources throughout his native country, including a lack of health care and education along with scarcity of jobs, made Mujumder envision another path for himself and pursue the American Dream.
After moving to the U.S., Mujumder studied law at Touro Law Center in Long Island and later worked for a law firm in Manhattan, although he never officially passed the bar. Mujumder currently manages three law firm branches throughout New York City — his position with CB9 is volunteer and unpaid.
Mujumder’s daughter is pursuing a career as an attorney, while his son currently works as the assistant to Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark.
“In his new role, Mujumder will continue to advocate for all of the residents of (CB9) and serve tirelessly,” said William Rivera, who has served as CB9’s district manager since 2015. “We look forward to his continued leadership.”
Rivera added that under Mujumder’s guidance as first vice chair, the board has strengthened its ties with the Bengali community.
CB9’s neighborhoods of Parkchester and Soundview, along with stretches of Castle Hill Avenue, include significant Bengali populations, which refers to anybody who was born in Bangladesh as well as the Indian states of Assam, West Bengal and Tripura, according to WorldAtlas.
Although Mujumder views being the first Bengali chairperson as a tremendous honor, he said it could also be an example for people of all ethnic groups who aspire to become involved in the local political process, and eventually, become the chairperson of their community board.
“It’s not just about being the first Bengali anything — this should also serve as an example that because someone is a minority doesn’t mean that they can’t achieve and be a part of something,” Mujumder said. “I think this can inspire future immigrants that they can also be part of the political process.”
Mujumder is also the founder of the Mujumder Foundation, a community-based non-profit organization. Last year, he was a recipient of the Joe Biden Lifetime Achievement Award, bestowed on individuals across the U.S. who have completed more than 4,000 hours of community service.
General board meetings for CB9 occur monthly, taking place on the third Thursday of each month, with the exception of July and August, and are open to the public. The next CB9 general board meeting will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 13 at Jimmy’s Grand Café, 1001 Castle Hill Ave., on the second floor.
Reach Steven Goodstein at [email protected] or (718) 260-8326. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes