Most Likely to: Run for Office
Favorite Quote: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss
There was a time when our private lives were understood as wholly separate from our public personas. That time has come, and it’s going—but not without a fight. This fight can only be won by people who not only see that the private and public are one in the same, but also understand that the personal is inherently political. Anyone afraid to reckon with these truths is not an ally; they are an adversary. This is what makes Eugene Resnick, Deputy Communications Director and LGBT Liaison for Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adam, so fascinating to watch. Though he works in politics, he’s not a politician. Whereas a politician divorces themselves from their moral convictions to get what they want, Eugene’s politics are informed by what he actually believes—and they’re aligned, so far as I can tell, with who he is. In this political landscape where “fake news” gets more traction than what’s actually happening, my hope for Eugene—as he ascends on his journey to do great things in office—is that he continues to keep it real with the people he serves; and most importantly, with himself.
What is your earliest memory associated with what you do now?
My journey into politics and public service began when I started my high school’s Young Democrats chapter at Midwood High School following September 11th. I then channeled that enthusiasm for political activism by getting involved in volunteering for former Speaker of the City Council Gifford Miller’s campaign for NYC Mayor in 2005.
When did your occupation become real to you? Like, you knew this was what you were going to do?
Growing up as a low-income, Russian-Jewish immigrant in a one bedroom apartment on Ocean Parkway shaped my world in many ways. My family and I moved from Moscow, Russia, to Brooklyn in 1992 just after the breakup of the Soviet Union. My mother was disabled from polio at a young age. I originally wanted to be a doctor, which is what my parents instilled in me to be from an early age, but then September 11th happened. That completely changed my interests and career trajectory. I started watching CNN and MSNBC religiously, trying to educate myself on the Bush administration, particularly the Iraq War, the “War on Terror,” and the events around the 2004 presidential election.
During that election, same sex marriage was a hot-button issue that was getting significant public attention. There were debates about whether LGBTQ people should have this and that right. It felt that my rights as a young gay man were being placed at the ballot box for a popular vote. It felt wrong. That feeling was only made more concrete when marriage bans passed across the country. That public rebuke, followed by difficulties with coming out to the family at home, was the moment when I knew I needed to make government, politics, and public service my life mission and future career. It’s incredibly important for me to get involved in advocacy and make a difference in people’s lives. To make our country a better place to live for everyone regardless of who they are or who they love.
How does Brooklyn/your neighborhood particularly inform your work?Brooklyn is a microcosm of cultures, ethnicities, histories, languages, and so much more! Considering my work for Borough President Eric L. Adams, everything we do touches lives across the borough—whether that is education, environmental conservation, health, housing, or transportation. Greenpoint is a great example of the complex changes that are taking place across Brooklyn between existing communities (such as the vibrant Polish community there) and new arrivals from around the country and all over the world.
I speak to people all across the borough who express their views on issues on how Brooklyn can be better for everyone. My day-to-day job also involves engaging with private and public sector organizations, including non-profits, to understand their needs and how we can collaborate on campaigns, issues, and policy proposals. All are part of a Brooklyn that is changing, but I work every day to ensure that we build a borough that is safe, sustainable, and as equitable as possible for everyone.
What do you feel is most challenging about where you are now?
Every day is different at Brooklyn Borough Hall. Whether it is writing talking points for the Borough President as he plans to speak at an event on diabetes, or a media advisory or press release that needs to go out to journalists that day, my job is to get the public and media’s attention and to ensure the Borough President’s positive and forward-thinking agenda is visible and impactful to the communities we serve.
The issue that is most challenging in the current circumstances is that we live in troubled times where facts are distorted and people’s attention spans are really short. It makes for a media and public that are cynical and difficult to mobilize. In this arguably “post-truth” era, we need to fight these trends and continue to inspire people despite all the negativity, corruption, and scandal that envelopes our news and our public discourse nearly daily.
What’s most rewarding?
The most rewarding part of it is when people come to me with deep concerns in the community and I can offer good advice on which services are available for that issue, and if I don’t have the information myself I can point them in the right direction. It’s incredibly fulfilling to help other organizations deliver their services more effectively and be a connector and facilitator of shared dialogue and cross-collaboration throughout the borough.
5 spots in Brooklyn people should know about?
- The Barge Bar in Greenpoint (amazing views and great vibes right on the East River waterfront.)
- Milk and Honey Café in Flatbush-Ditmas Park (and check out the beautiful and colorful porched houses in the area)
- Brooklyn Bridge Park in the summer
- Di Fara Pizza in Midwood (delicious!)
- Grand Prospect Hall in Park Slope
What’s your most significant accomplishment to date?
In the summer of 2010, I had the incredible honor of serving as a White House Intern for President Barack Obama. It could not have been more humbling to serve in the Office of Presidential Correspondence, sorting and responding to letters sent to the President from Americans across the country. It’s definitely my most significant achievement and it still pains me to see where we are now as a country and that office’s current occupant.
Who/what inspires you?
I’m inspired by people who work hard to make a living for themselves and their families—and who never give up hope for a better future. I’m also inspired by people like Barack and Michelle Obama; Bill and Hillary Clinton; every journalist seeking the truth out there, and people on the frontlines around the world and here in America working to make people healthier and safer every single day.
Thinking about the future, where do you see yourself in the next 30 years?
As a kid from Kensington, I ended up going to UVA for college, then the London School of Economics for graduate school, which resulted in me living in London for 5 years and traveling to dozens of countries around the world. That near-decade split from Brooklyn taught me to never plan too far ahead, because you really never know what surprises life will bring. Life is short and every moment must be cherished. I know that in 30 years, wherever I’ll be and whatever I’ll be doing, I’ll be working to help inspire people and make our communities better for all. For now, I’m here to make some noise!