Jumaane Williams was re-elected as public advocate as Shahana Hanif becomes the first Muslim woman elected to NYC Council.

Two standout Brooklyn College graduates continue to make their mark on New York City as Jumaane Williams ’01, ’05 M.A. was re-elected as New York City Public Advocate and Shahana Hanif ’15 became the first Muslim woman elected to New York City Council. She is from District 39.

Williams was first elected public advocate in 2019 on a platform of truly affordable housing, anti-gun violence measures, fair policing, equity, and social justice issues. In the city council, he passed landmark legislation, including the Community Safety Act, which created the Office of Inspector General for the New York Police Department, and the Fair Chance Act to combat employment discrimination.

Williams quickly made his mark on the office of public advocate, restructuring the office to empower staff to prioritize community engagement, outreach, and service. He has also passed more legislation in his first 18 months in office than any public advocate has in his or her first full term.

Williams said from his Twitter account on Tuesday: “You gave me your trust when you first put me in this role and reaffirmed it with your votes last night. I’ll never take that for granted, and I’ll always be grateful. I’m honored to be the people’s voice. And I know New York has so much more to say.”

Williams enrolled at Brooklyn College as a theater major, then switched to film before finally choosing political science, with a minor in film production. He honed his political consciousness on the Brooklyn College campus, becoming active in student government and following in the college’s long tradition of engagement.

“It was such fertile ground for my growth. I credit the faculty for creating an environment in which we had the space to explore. I got to participate in the political activity happening on campus and put what I was learning in class into practice. I don’t think I could have received that kind of education anywhere else,” Williams stated in a 2017 profile for Brooklyn College Magazine.

Hanif, a Bangladeshi American, majored in Women’s and Gender Studies and is a former Scholars Program student who earned a Marge Magner Stipend Award during the summer of 2015.

On Tuesday night, Hanif said in a statement: “Together we are building an anti-racist, feminist city. We deserve a city that protects its most vulnerable, a city that has equitable education, a city invested in climate solutions that are local and driven by communities, a city where our immigrant neighbors feel at home and heard and safe. This work requires all of us to keep showing up even though the election is over.”

Also featured in Brooklyn College Magazine in 2017, Hanif said that witnessing gender-based inequalities within Brooklyn’s Bangladeshi Muslim community inspired her to become a community organizer.

“My work is my survival,” she said. “I am blessed to be able to connect with people, form deep relationships, and receive trust from strangers who share their stories with sincerity and openness and welcome me into their lives. Everyone I’ve met has survived something, and this drives me and gives me hope.”

On October 26, Hanif joined two other female local elected officials for an event co-hosted by the Brooklyn College Women’s Center that examined the lessons learned from COVID-19—specifically how women of color are capitalizing on the opportunities to organize their communities and re-envision the crisis during this unprecedented time.