Leading one of the nation’s first community development corporations, Hope Knight, ’96 (XP-65), aims to write a new future for Jamaica in Queens, New York.
- January 10, 2020
“I have a fascination with the built environment. I look at a city’s transportation and how it’s serving its residents.”
I was a good student in a hurry. I graduated from high school at 16. At Marymount Manhattan College I was educated by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, an order founded on social justice, on going out and helping others. Later, when I was on Marymount’s board of trustees and became its chair, I served alongside the late Sister Teresita Fay, a principal at Arthur Anderson. She was a significant role model for me. I saw her working in the world, making a difference by enhancing the lives of others.
Retail, then city government, were my first jobs. I was director of management, planning, and analysis in the commissioner’s office of the Department of General Services, an agency that handled city real estate, property management, and procurement. When I decided to go to business school, people asked if was intimidated by the brainiacs I’d find there. “Nah,” I said, “I’m dating an economist."
Going to Booth created opportunities for me. I thought I’d go on to consult for public sector clients. Pretty quickly I realized that with a Booth education, I could do anything. The analytical framework I learned at Booth is something I’ve relied on ever since—that rigor.
For advice, I turn to my personal board of directors. My economist husband, my sister, my best friend, former bosses and colleagues. It’s a robust network. For me, the professional and the personal meld—it’s the same for both—and I’m OK with that.
The weekend commute to Chicago for Booth’s Executive MBA Program introduced me to the city’s downtown architecture and planning. I love to visit. Chicago is easy to navigate and get around in. That said, I never got used to the cold.
I read a lot, a little bit of everything, because I need to know a lot about the world to shape it. My hope for this organization is to spur private investment in downtown Jamaica. I want to create opportunities for our moms and pops, our small construction–related firms, so they can expand and participate in the region’s renewal—specifically the $13 billion JFK redevelopment project. Success is attainable. This is a vibrant community with tremendous transportation options for New Yorkers to live, work, and play here.
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