Volunteer Profile: Juliana Roberts Dubovsky

Juliana Roberts Dubovsky has been a T.A. member since 2008.
Image Courtesy Andrew Hinderaker

Where do you live? Astoria, Queens.

How long have you been there? Six years now. I was born and raised in eastern Queens and lived on Long Island for several years.

What do you do? I am the Assistant District Manager at Community Board 3 in Manhattan.

How did you end up working at a community board? When I was a graduate planning student at Pratt, I worked at Queens Community Board 1 as a Community Planning Fellow, and I really enjoyed it. I’m very civic-minded, and I loved being part of a truly local government, so when I graduated, I jumped at the chance to work at a community board full time.

How did you get involved with T.A.? In 2007, when Mayor Bloomberg really pushed Congestion Pricing, I worked for Vision Long Island, which fights sprawl and promotes smart growth on Long Island. At a Congestion Pricing rally in Albany, I met T.A. staff and volunteers and was really impressed. When my husband and I moved back to the city in 2008, I joined T.A.

When did you start volunteering? Basically as soon as I joined.
What were your first tasks as a volunteer? I got involved in the local campaigns that impacted my neighborhood. The one I really remember was a push to improve the Columbus Triangle near the Astoria Boulevard subway stop. We surveyed pedestrian movements and went to elected officials’ offices. Eventually, that redesign came to fruition with the help of our work.

What else have you done with T.A.? The second memorable thing I did was convincing my husband to get involved. He eventually became a committee chair. Besides that, I’ve done lots of community outreach. I love tabling. I like going to all the different events and talking to people about their streets. At one point, I earned the title “Social Czar.”

Have you met fun people? Oh gosh, absolutely. I think that’s one of my favorite things about being a T.A. member. I’ve met so many great people. Just on my block, there are a handful of members and my neighbor is the committee’s other co-chair. Through T.A. I’ve met all sorts of amazing people of all ages and backgrounds. I’ve made incredible friends over the years.

What campaign are you most proud of? I’m most proud of the work I’ve done with T.A. recently as part of the 21st Street Traffic Calming Campaign. I did a lot of coalition building and grassroots organizing as campaign coordinator and worked with an incredible team of volunteers. I worked to build a strong relationship with the local community board, to let them know that T.A.’s volunteers weren’t outsiders to the neighborhood, but residents who really cared. Now they want us to come to meetings, give our perspective and weigh in on critical issues. That’s a huge achievement.

As a community board professional, what advice do you have to give T.A. staffers and volunteers? I think building relationships with community boards is key. Organizing is all about people. And despite how it may sometimes seem, T.A. people and community board people actually share a lot of priorities. They both care deeply about their communities. It’s important to remember that when working to find consensus. Part of the job we have as volunteers is to make sure that the community board understands how invested we are in the neighborhood, that we’re all community stakeholders. Moving forward, I think data and technology are going to really help on this front. Numbers, especially numbers having to do with street safety, are really compelling, especially to some community boards where the livable streets ideology doesn’t resonate in the same way. I’m hopeful that the de Blasio Administration will make it easier for advocates to make their case for safer streets by continuing to provide, and improve on, data that supports smart changes.