Adams names former mayoral/comptroller candidate Zach Iscol as head of emergency management

zach iscol
Zach Iscol (center) was named the new head of NYC Emergency Management on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022
Photo by Kevin Duggan

Mayor Eric Adams has named a new head of NYC Emergency Management — tapping former military veteran Zach Iscol to run the city agency responsible for devising and executing plans for responding to all manner of citywide emergencies, and coordinating between agencies to deliver an effective response.

Hizzoner lauded Iscol, who briefly ran against Adams in the 2021 Democratic mayoral primary, for his experience as a Marine Corps officer in Iraq, as well as working for the nonprofit Headstrong Project, where he helped provide free mental health services to veterans.

Iscol ran a short campaign for mayor, before transitioning to an unsuccessful campaign for City Comptroller, but Adams said that after getting to know him on the campaign trail, he knew he wanted to have him serve in his administration.

“We cannot be prosperous without world-class emergency management,” Adams said at a press conference Thursday morning in Downtown Brooklyn announcing the appointment. “We need to make sure that people are not only being safe, but feeling safe. They go together.”

“What I love about this new team we’re putting together is the deep expertise that we already have in serving New Yorkers and putting together a new perspective, a new outlook, a new energy, and Zach knows how to lead a team,” he continued. “We need to be clear on that, he has done that in the most difficult moments. And actually that may be an understatement when you think about his background.”

The new commissioner of NYCEM, which was rebranded in the de Blasio administration after formerly being known as the Office of Emergency Management, said that he had served under great leaders and terrible ones, and that he wouldn’t join the administration if he didn’t think Adams was the former.

“In combat I served under some remarkable leaders. I also served under some pretty terrible ones,” Iscol said. “When I left the service, I made a promise to myself that I would only serve under leaders who led from the front and who put their people first. And Mr. Mayor, I have no doubt that you fall into that category.”

The acting commissioner of NYCEM, Christina Farrell, will stay in the administration as the agency’s first deputy commissioner. She has served in her capacity since Adams took office at the beginning of this year, helming the interagency response to a number of emergencies that occurred in the past several weeks including the deadly fire in the Bronx and a number of building explosions.