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Ayanna Carney

Deputy Commissioner of Economic Development
City of New Rochelle

As Deputy Commissioner of Economic Development for the City of New Rochelle, Ayanna Carney Wayner ’94 is helping to usher-in a massive re-zoning project of 274 acres for a mixed-use development project in Westchester County’s downtown New Rochelle. “What attracted me to working in government was making the world a better place!”

During the first half of the 20th century, New Rochelle saw its Main Street area decline and face a 50% vacancy rate in the 1990s. Today, Ayanna is helping to reinvigorate downtown New Rochelle through the implementation of a multitude of initiatives, the most significant of which is a Master Plan that will include real estate development such as a new, $120-million 28-story tower with about 270 rental apartments, retail spaces and a 10,000-square-foot theater for live performances (the first project of an expected $2-billion construction plan).

Ayanna attended the Waldorf School of Garden City from 2nd grade through 12th grade. Reflecting on her years at Waldorf, she writes, “At Waldorf, students are pushed and challenged in numerous ways. Everyone has to participate in the arts program. Everyone has to play a musical instrument. Everyone has to take a foreign language. From all angles, it’s about educating the whole person and in many ways, that’s what my life and work are all about!”

Upon graduating from Waldorf in 1994, Ayanna attended Barnard College, where she majored in political science and pursued a minor in international relations. “Academically, I felt like Waldorf really prepared me for managing a heavy workload, how to conduct college-level research and how to write.”

After college, she volunteered for an international development project in Honduras. “Initially, I signed-up to teach English, however, the project evolved into an exciting initiative, supported by the Honduran Ministry of Tourism, to spur eco-tourism as a path to growing the economy. We worked with a group of adults interested in learning English to pursue jobs in Honduras’s natural parks and to promote development of the country through environmental conservation.”

Upon Ayanna’s return to the United States, she went on to earn her law degree from Columbia University’s School of Law. “I started studying human rights law; but over time I became interested in the linkage between economic development, real estate law and property rights.”

With her law degree in-hand, Ayanna worked on developing affordable housing for New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. “Working in city government, my eyes were opened to how challenging and vital the issue of affordable housing is, particularly in New York City.”

Developing the financing and legal documents for affordable housing, seeing the development of an actual building and handing the keys to a low-income family after the purchase of their very first home soon became a passion for Ayanna. Now she is working to transformer downtown New Rochelle into a livable, inclusive and vibrant community. By working with the city’s planning boards, zoning boards and buildings department, Ayanna is developing real estate policies and initiatives that will attract economic growth, sustainability and revitalization in New Rochelle. “It’s going to look and feel like a totally different place! It’s about generating more jobs, housing and a great place to live, work and play in the city of New Rochelle.”

Ayanna Carney

2016 Symposium PanelistAlumni
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Ayanna Carney

2016 Symposium PanelistAlumni

Deputy Commissioner of Economic Development
City of New Rochelle

As Deputy Commissioner of Economic Development for the City of New Rochelle, Ayanna Carney Wayner ’94 is helping to usher-in a massive re-zoning project of 274 acres for a mixed-use development project in Westchester County’s downtown New Rochelle. “What attracted me to working in government was making the world a better place!”

During the first half of the 20th century, New Rochelle saw its Main Street area decline and face a 50% vacancy rate in the 1990s. Today, Ayanna is helping to reinvigorate downtown New Rochelle through the implementation of a multitude of initiatives, the most significant of which is a Master Plan that will include real estate development such as a new, $120-million 28-story tower with about 270 rental apartments, retail spaces and a 10,000-square-foot theater for live performances (the first project of an expected $2-billion construction plan).

Ayanna attended the Waldorf School of Garden City from 2nd grade through 12th grade. Reflecting on her years at Waldorf, she writes, “At Waldorf, students are pushed and challenged in numerous ways. Everyone has to participate in the arts program. Everyone has to play a musical instrument. Everyone has to take a foreign language. From all angles, it’s about educating the whole person and in many ways, that’s what my life and work are all about!”

Upon graduating from Waldorf in 1994, Ayanna attended Barnard College, where she majored in political science and pursued a minor in international relations. “Academically, I felt like Waldorf really prepared me for managing a heavy workload, how to conduct college-level research and how to write.”

After college, she volunteered for an international development project in Honduras. “Initially, I signed-up to teach English, however, the project evolved into an exciting initiative, supported by the Honduran Ministry of Tourism, to spur eco-tourism as a path to growing the economy. We worked with a group of adults interested in learning English to pursue jobs in Honduras’s natural parks and to promote development of the country through environmental conservation.”

Upon Ayanna’s return to the United States, she went on to earn her law degree from Columbia University’s School of Law. “I started studying human rights law; but over time I became interested in the linkage between economic development, real estate law and property rights.”

With her law degree in-hand, Ayanna worked on developing affordable housing for New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. “Working in city government, my eyes were opened to how challenging and vital the issue of affordable housing is, particularly in New York City.”

Developing the financing and legal documents for affordable housing, seeing the development of an actual building and handing the keys to a low-income family after the purchase of their very first home soon became a passion for Ayanna. Now she is working to transformer downtown New Rochelle into a livable, inclusive and vibrant community. By working with the city’s planning boards, zoning boards and buildings department, Ayanna is developing real estate policies and initiatives that will attract economic growth, sustainability and revitalization in New Rochelle. “It’s going to look and feel like a totally different place! It’s about generating more jobs, housing and a great place to live, work and play in the city of New Rochelle.”