Zara Nasir is a 2016 graduate of NYU Wagner’s Master’s in Public Administration where she majored in Public Policy. Zara came to NYU Wagner after a few years of community organizing with parents, students, and community members in Southeast Michigan on a number of racial and social justice issues, including public education, housing, public utilities, and water rights, as well as immigration reform. As a lead organizer for Starfish Family Services, a social services and educational advocacy non-profit in Inkster, Michigan, she led organizing, outreach, and canvassing efforts around racial equity in education at the city and state level. There, she also helped launch a series of trainings for low-income mothers of color on how to build parent power to fight against educational inequity. Zara also helped start and cultivate the Starfish Community Fellowship Program in Inkster, which gave local residents paid opportunities to become trained organizers and spend a summer at Starfish helping to strengthen and expand outreach efforts. Through the Fellowship program, Zara developed trainings and lead workshops for young organizers to become advocates in their own schools to promote educational equity and organize for more resources and transparency in Michigan’s public school system.
While pursuing her graduate degree at Wagner, Zara took classes focused on housing policy, and furthered her interest in affordable housing through an internship at the Office of Research, Strategy, and Communications at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the lead agency carrying out the Mayor’s ambitious Housing New York plan. Currently, Zara works as the Director of the New York City Council’s Progressive Caucus, where she works directly with local elected officials to organize legislation and advocate for bold progressive policies and budget equity, including right to counsel for low-income tenants in housing court, measures to protect tenants against landlord construction harassment, police accountability and transparency, and fair scheduling and full-time employment opportunities for low-income workers in the fast food and retail sectors. Currently, Zara is working on legislative packages related to domestic workers rights, marijuana and drug policy, and parental rights in the child welfare system.