DEBRA MARKELL KLEINERT:
CHAIR, FLUSHING HOSPITAL
of Debra Markell Kleinert
BY FRED CHERNOW
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
I grew up in North Flushing, attended
Flushing High School and graduated from
Queensborough Community College. My early
jobs were in the private sector as a Systems
Manager in the computer industry, working
for a number of Fortune 500 companies. As a
young member of the Mitchell Linden
Civic Association, I helped organize a Street
Fair involving the Union Street stores, including
a sidewalk band.
WHAT CAME NEXT?
I became president of the Mitchell Linden
Civic Association and worked to improve the
quality of life for our residents. For example,
we got the flight pattern changed at nearby
LaGuardia Airport. I was impressed by Claire
Shulman as she began her career. Shulman,
my mentor, became the Borough President
of Queens and together we accomplished
great deal for her constituents. I served as
the Queens Borough Director in the Office
of the Mayor’s Community Assistance Unit
(CAU) with service under both Mayor Giuliani
and Mayor Bloomberg. The CAU is often
referred to as the “eyes and ears” for New
York’s many diverse neighborhoods, as they
communicate with the Mayor’s office. I ran
for the City Council for District 19 in 2009.
WHAT HAPPENED IN 2000?
I married Barry Kleinert, a florist. Even
my marriage had a civic connection. At the
time, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik was the Fire
Department Chaplain. He was a friend and
we chose him to marry us.
It was a beautiful ceremony. My husband
and I met on the internet.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW?
I have been the District Manager of
Community Board 2 for 11 years and work
to help constituents navigate the laws that are
passed. These run the gamut from removing
graffiti, filling potholes and maintaining street
lights, to Access-A-Ride and parking issues. I
work directly with the Mayor’s Office, the City
Council, and the Borough President to resolve
citizen’s complaints. I’m a member of the Saul
Weprin and Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic
Club. At the beginning of my career, I served
as a Board Member of Community Board 7.
HOW DO THE COMMUNITY BOARDS
They are appointed advisory groups in
the district. Queens has14 districts. NST is
in District 13. They advise on land use and
zoning, as well as proposing budget items
and delivery of services. Each Board has up
to 50 volunteer members. Half are appointed
by the Borough President and half by the City
Council members representing the district.
Each Board has a full-time, paid manager.
The District 13 Manager is Mark McMillan.
He can be reached at 718-464-9700.
Community boards were created by Mayor
Lindsay in 1977. Our Board, #13, is the largest
and one of the most diverse districts in the city.
The board works closely with all agencies to
ensure police, fire, sanitation, transportation,
parks and health facilities are available to its
citizens. They meet once a month. Anyone
interested in becoming a member should
contact the phone number listed above.
WHAT WAS YOUR RELATIONSHIP
WITH CLAIRE SHULMAN?
Claire Shulman was my mentor. She was
the first woman to hold the post of Borough
President and served from 1986 until 2002.
Term limits prevented her from running again.
She was hard working, efficient and fair in
her dealings with others and possessed tremendous
people skills. She loved her job and
the people of Queens. For her 90th birthday
when asked what she would like as a gift, she
quickly replied, “A photo of me in front of
the Flushing Meadows Park Pool.” This was
a project she worked hard to get passed.
IS YOUR WORK SATISFYING?
Because it is so people-oriented I find it
very satisfying. The constituents I serve have
presented me with several items of gratitude.
Among other awards, I was honored as the
Little Neck-Douglaston “Woman of the Year”
in 2004. In 2007 I received the Community
Service Award from the YMCA of Flushing/
Bayside. In 2011, I was named the Woman
of Distinction by the New York State Senate.
WHERE DID YOU LIVE BEFORE
COMING TO NST?
We had a lovely home in Whitestone. When
our 13-year-old golden retriever, Sandy, died
the house seemed so empty. We looked at
North Shore Towers and both agreed that
would be a good “fit” for us. It really wasn’t
a downsize when you consider the gym, two
gorgeous pools and Friday Happy Hour. I
look forward to getting active in coop life here.
(l. to r.) Chief Pizzuti, former Borough
President Claire Shulman and Kleinert
Barry Kleinert and Debra Markell Kleinert
Two years ago, North Shore Towers was lucky to have had a dedicated public servant,
Debra Markell Kleinert, move in. a life-long resident of Queens, Kleinert is now the District
Manager of Community Board 2, which serves the communities of Woodside, Sunnyside
and Long Island City. Community Boards play a pivotal role through direct work with
neighborhood groups and by fostering cooperation and coordination with various City
agencies. Now, Kleinert will be able to participate with the new Political Action Committee
in forging links between NST and the various agencies she has worked with for years.
4 NORTH SHORE TOWERS COURIER ¢ August 2017