Mayor names Jessica Tisch as new sanitation commish

tisch tour
New Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch tours the 91st St Marine Transfer Station on April 18, 2022.
NYC Dept of Sanitation

She’s got a heap of work ahead of her.

The Department of Sanitation officially has a new commissioner, Jessica Tisch, following the retirement of incumbent Edward Grayson, who had led the department since December 2020 and was a holdover from the de Blasio administration.

Mayor Eric Adams formally appointed Tisch to her new role as chief of the city’s trash on Monday, April 18, more than a week after her impending confirmation was reported by multiple news outlets.

“Clean, safe neighborhoods will power New York City’s recovery, and innovations in composting, recycling, and collection will secure our future,” Tisch said in a statement. “The Department of Sanitation is essential to building the comeback New Yorkers deserve, and I thank Mayor Adams and Deputy Mayor Joshi for entrusting me to helm New York’s Strongest. I’m honored to help the mayor realize his vision for a safer and more welcoming city.”

Tisch comes to the Sanitation Department (DSNY) by way of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, where she served as commissioner for two years under Mayor Bill de Blasio; before that, she was the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner for Information Technology. Tisch oversaw the development and rollout of several crucial tech platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Vax4NYC appointment scheduler, the NYC COVID Safe vaccine passport app, and the distribution of iPads for remote learning.

She has a dump truck’s worth of work in store as the new commish: DSNY touts itself as the world’s largest municipal sanitation department, collecting more than 10,500 tons of garbage and 1,760 tons of recyclables each day, while also sweeping streets, clearing snow, and performing other tasks to keep New York sanitary. Mayor Adams, however, believes she is up for the job.

“Jessica’s knowledge, experience, and unwavering commitment to New York City cannot be overstated. Put plainly, Jessica is a ‘Get Stuff Done’ leader, who has delivered continuous results on behalf of all New Yorkers throughout her career,” Hizzoner said in a statement. “From revolutionizing policing technology in the NYPD, to overseeing critical pandemic programs to support New Yorkers in need, Jessica’s work has touched millions. All New Yorkers deserve clean, safe, and welcoming streets, and I know Jessica will bring the same energy and deliver results leading the sanitation department as we continue building a just and prosperous recovery for all.”

Sanitation workers’ union head Harry Nespoli had previously expressed reservations about replacing Grayson, a career DSNY employee, with the comparably-inexperienced Tisch, but on Monday said that he’s looking forward to working with the new commish.

“We wish Commissioner Grayson nothing but the best and are grateful for his years of service to the city,” said Nespoli, the president of Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association Local 831. “I look forward to working together with Commissioner Tisch to support our members who keep the city moving every day and to build a cleaner, safer New York City for all.”

Tisch began her first day on the job greeting sanitation workers in Inwood, followed by a tour of the 91st Street Marine Waste Transfer Station on the Upper East Side.

She comes from one of the wealthiest families in New York, with their net worth pegged by Forbes at $6 billion. The owners of Loews Corporation and half of the New York Giants, the family is also one of the most prominent philanthropists in the city, with their names adorning universities, museums, hospitals, and other institutions.

The family is also well-connected politically: members of her family donated $17,000 to Adams’ campaign for mayor last year, campaign finance records show, with several donating the legal maximum of $2,000 under the city’s matching funds program.