Chirlane McCray Headshot
Report a problem with this profile
[email protected]

Chirlane McCray            

New York City's First Lady, Writer & Poet

Chirlane McCray is a writer, poet, editor, communications professional and political figure. She has published poetry and worked in politics as a speechwriter. Married to current New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, she is the First Lady of New York City.

McCray was born in and spent her early years in Springfield, Massachusetts. Her mother was an assembly worker at an electronics factory, and her father was an inventory clerk at a military base. She is of Bajan and St. Lucian descent, but traces her grandmother's last name to Ghana."

When McCray was ten years old, her family moved to Longmeadow, Massachusetts, becoming only the second black family in the area. Other families in the neighborhood circulated petitions demanding they leave.

In high school, McCray was for a time the only black student in her entire school. McCray cites this early experience with racism and bullying as part of the reason she began to write, using her poetry as an outlet for her anger. She also wrote a column for her school newspaper, in which she denounced classmates for their racism.

McCray enrolled at Wellesley College in 1972. While studying at Wellesley, McCray became a member of the Combahee River Collective, a black feminist lesbian organization, which inspired her to write prose and poetry.

After graduation, she moved to New York City to work for Redbook. She published an essay in Essence Magazine in 1979, entitled "I Am a Lesbian," an essay described as "groundbreaking" for how a black woman discussed her sexuality in a black magazine. The purpose of the essay was to "dispel the myth that there are no gay black people." Some of her poetry is included in "Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology."

In 1991, McCray entered politics. She worked as a speechwriter for the mayor, David Dinkins. During the Clinton administration, she worked for the New York Foreign Press Center as a public affairs specialist. She also worked as a speech writer for the state comptroller, Carl McCall, and the city comptroller, Bill Thompson.

In 2004, she left Thompson's office to work in the private sector. She worked for five years at Maimonides Medical Center. She also worked for Citigroup in their public relations department for six months, before deciding it was "not a good fit." During her husband's campaign for mayor of New York City in the 2013 election, she edited his speeches and helped interview candidates for staff positions.

In November 2015, McCray led the launch of ThriveNYC, a plan to overhaul the city's mental health and substance abuse services, promoting a shift from a traditionally more reactive model, which can strain police, prisons, hospitals, and schools,[21] to an integrated public health approach, focused on awareness and early identification.

McCray has expressed a desire to run for office in 2021.

McCray and de Blasio have a daughter and a son and live in Park Slope, Brooklyn. They plan to move into Gracie Mansion.


The Power of Chirlane McCray -- New York Magazine

In a supremely self-conscious display of parental support, Bill de Blasio and Chirlane McCray introduced their daughter to the crowd, expressing admiration for ...

We Are All Bad Mothers Now: Chirlane McCray and the New York ...

Is Chirlane McCray, New York City's First Lady, a bad mother? Only if any woman who speaks honestly is, too.

Chirlane McCray's top aide, Rachel Noerdlinger, rises from PR ...

The first time Rachel Noerdlinger met Chirlane McCray, the city's future First Lady had just been outed as a former lesbian.

How Chirlane McCray Became New York City's Ideal First Lady

New York magazine awarded this week's cover slot to a long profile of New York City first lady (and object of public fascination) Chirlane McCray. Early on in the ...

NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray Attends NAMI #IWILLLISTEN Day

The National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City, Inc. (NAMI-NYC Metro) held their first ever #IWILLLISTEN Day on Saturday, May 9th.

Talking to Chirlane McCray About Mental Health, Voting for Hillary, and Closing Rikers

Since the moment New York Mayor Bill de Blasio took office in 2014, his wife Chirlane McCray has been the object of fascination, controversy, praise, and hundreds of weird tabloid stories. This week, she talked with Jezebel about her ambitious plan to revamp New York City’s mental health services, her support for Hillary Clinton, and why closing Rikers Island is “a great idea.”

Chirlane McCray hits D.C. in push for mental health funding - NY ...

First Lady Chirlane McCray is taking her mental health push on the road this week. McCray, in an unusual move for a First Lady, will head to Washington, D.C. , ...

Chirlane McCray helps raise reelection money for Mayor de Blasio ...

The city's First Lady Chirlane McCray emailed her husband's supporters on Monday, asking people to “show that you stand with us and a progressive future.” .

De Blasio says his wife 'kept him grounded in the bedroom' - NY ...

Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray have some unorthodox pillow talk.

Related Speakers View all

More like Chirlane