Mayor Walsh announced the appointment of Maria Maldonado Lewis to a newly-created position in the City Department of Neighborhood and Business Development focused on diversity, inclusion and financial empowerment. Lewis, who has served as the city’s constituent services advocate since 2018, will be Program Manager for the Mayor’s Office of Inclusion Diversity Equity and Accountability (IDEA) and the Syracuse Financial Empowerment Center.
“Maria is uniformly trusted and respected in city government and throughout the Syracuse community. Her caring and empathetic approach has made a positive impact on the lives of city residents during the past four years as our constituent services advocate,” said Mayor Walsh. “Combining those same traits combined with her experience in project management and financial counseling makes Maria a perfect fit for this new role.”
As constituent services advocate, Lewis has helped guide city residents to the services and programs they need and has helped people problem solve challenges with local government. She has also played a key role in the city’s response to the pandemic and is a member of the IDEA team.
Prior to joining City Hall, Lewis was a program coordinator with Molina Healthcare. She also worked as a Home Headquarters housing counselor and a parent liaison at Delaware Elementary and Middle School. She founded “I Know I Can Radio” in 2016 to provide community residents with resources and information on mental, physical, financial and spiritual health to help them escape poverty and work on positive paths to live happier and healthier lives. Lewis is a certified Financial Empowerment Counselor and holds a Bachelor of Science from Columbia College.
Mayor Walsh launched the Syracuse Financial Empowerment Center in 2019 to provide free, 1:1, professional financial counseling to city residents. To date, participants have increased their savings by a combined $1,000,000 and eliminated over $2,000,000 in debt. The Mayor created the IDEA office in 2020 to improve inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility in city government.