Betsy Gotbaum was elected Public Advocate in 2001, re-elected in 2005. She is the second highest-ranking citywide elected official, and only the third woman to be elected to citywide office in New York City history.
Since being elected Public Advocate, Betsy Gotbaum has helped solve the problems of thousands of New Yorkers and advocated tirelessly on behalf of New York’s most vulnerable populations. Her leadership has helped increase access to healthcare, strengthened child and senior welfare services, and helped improve education.
For the past three decades, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum has had a distinguished career in New York City’s public and private sectors. She has worked as an advisor to three mayors, executive director of the New York City Police Foundation, commissioner of the city Department of Parks & Recreation, and president of the New-York Historical Society.
As executive director of the Police Foundation, Betsy Gotbaum secured bulletproof vests for every city police officer. She also developed an innovative citywide health screening and work-site hypertension program for police officers and facilitated an intensive training program for 911 operators.
In 1990, Mayor David Dinkins appointed Betsy Gotbaum the first female city Parks Commissioner. In that capacity, she expanded the Parks workforce through an innovative welfare-to-work training program. She also established the City Parks Foundation, which brought in millions of dollars for park restoration, maintenance and recreation programs. She successfully argued for a change in city policy allowing the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) and other organizations to use Central Park for fundraising events.
In June 1994, Betsy Gotbaum became president of The New-York Historical Society, New York's oldest museum and home to one of the nation’s most extensive research libraries. When she took over, the museum was closed to the public and on the verge of bankruptcy, Betsy Gotbaum rescued it from financial collapse, renovated its landmark building and recalled its collections from warehouses.