ECC Former Vice President of Policy Development
A Social Justice Warrior and Dear Colleague
With this fellowship program, Emerald Cities Collaborative hopes to honor the legacy and passion of Felipe Floresca by investing in the development of future environmental and social justice leaders.
Felipe Michael Floresca, 67, passed away of glioblastoma cancer peacefully and surrounded by family and friends on Friday, November 16, 2018 in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Felipe was born in East Harlem, New York City to Olga (Namaga) and Vicente Floresca on September 18, 1951. As a young man growing up in East Harlem, Felipe was inspired by the civil rights, social, political and cultural movements throughout the city during the 60’s and 70’s. His awareness and determination at an early age would drive his life-long commitment to public service and to empowering communities of color.
Felipe began his career in the 1970’s as a Legislative Aide to U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy working to enact the Federal Empowerment Zone Act and Community Reinvestment Act. While still in his twenties, he was appointed to the Urban Empowerment Council and Vice President’s Task Force on Youth Employment under President Jimmy Carter.
Felipe returned to New York in the 1980’s, where he worked in the administration of Mayor Ed Koch as Executive Administrator for Rent and Housing Maintenance, NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development. He was later appointed by the Mayor as Vice President of the NYC Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance Corporation (REMIC) and served as a member of the Mayor’s Ten-Year Housing Plan Task Force.
In Washington, beginning in the 1990’s, Felipe was a President Bill Clinton appointee working with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretaries Jack Kemp and Henry Cisneros. His portfolio included working on a $10 billion urban revitalization program (HOPE VI) and serving as a member of the Federal Task Force on Empowerment Zones. He went on to serve in other key positions, such as Executive Director of the San Francisco Housing Authority; Chief of Staff for Policy for the nation’s first African American U.S. Labor Secretary Alexis Herman; and as Director of Public Engagement for U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan during President Barack Obama’s administration.
In the philanthropic and non-profit sectors, he worked with the Charles D. Smith Jr. Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and the Emerald Cities Collaborative forging alliances with foundations, federal, state, and local stakeholders in an effort to improve housing, economic development, and climate adaptation and resiliency in the aftermath of natural disasters in Puerto Rico, Louisiana, New Jersey, and the Philippines.
In September 2018, adding to previous accolades, Felipe received the Joseph M. Fernandez ’85 Award, in absentia, from Brown University to recognize his enduring commitment to diversity, inclusion and collaboration: “As a former director of the Brown Center for Students of Color (previously the Third World Center), Felipe Floresca played a central role in the lives of Brown’s students of color and in the life of the University. Since leaving the role of director, Felipe has continued to serve Brown throughout the years as a strategic thought partner to countless administrators and volunteers alike.”
Felipe was a descendant of Filipino and Ukrainian American parents. Coming of age in a predominately Latino community, he recognized the richness, significance and value of creating synergy between people from all walks of life, particularly among the Latino, African American and Asian communities. He was a natural connector and consensus builder. Felipe was a man of integrity who dedicated his life in the service of others. He was sensitive to the complexities of the human experience and was passionate about making a difference. He was a compassionate person who gave generously of his time and was a true believer of paying it forward. In Felipe’s own words: “I am proud to have been part of this journey of racial identity, multiculturalism, pluralism and diversity.”
Felipe received his undergraduate degree from Brown University and graduate degrees from Antioch College and Fordham University.Felipe is survived by his wife of 29 years, Providence Rodriguez, mother, and numerous nieces and nephews. Felipe was preceded in death by his father and sister, Olga.