Deputy Mayor for Economic and Housing Development
City of Newark
A native of Harlem, New York, Deputy Mayor Adofo-Wilson grew up in Paterson, New Jersey and graduated from Passaic County Technical and Vocational High School.
After high school, Deputy Mayor Adofo-Wilson served in the US Army in Fort Richardson, Alaska from 1986 to 1988 where is won the 1987 Soldier of the Year Award and was invited to participate in the All-Army Solider of the Year competition at Fort Benning, Georgia in 1988. Rather than continue with a highly decorated military career, he decided to end his time in active service and move to Newark to attend college at Rutgers University, eventually gaining a Bachelor of Arts Degree with Honors in English and Sociology in 1992. He also served in the New Jersey National Guard from 1988 to 1992, gaining a second lieutenant commission through ROTC program in 1990. He gained a Master’s Degree in Regional Planning from Cornell University in 1994, and his juris doctorate from University of Pennsylvania in 1997.
Deputy Mayor Adofo-Wilson returned to Newark after law school where he worked as a staff attorney at Essex-Newark Legal Services helping to create the Community Economic Development Initiative, a program to provide start-up organizations with free legal service. In 1999, Deputy Mayor Adofo-Wilson left ENLS to become the New Jersey Director & Senior Fellow of Community Development of the Regional Plan Association, the nation’s oldest private, non-profit regional planning association, serving there until 2003 where he worked on policy issues such as housing, economic development, transportation, arts and culture, and the environment. He also advocated for the expansion of large scale infrastructure projects throughout northern New Jersey which made the NY/NJ region more competitive internationally.
In 2003, Deputy Mayor Adofo-Wilson co-founded and became the National Co-Chair of the National Hip-Hop Political Convention, a project to increase political participation of young people in the hip-hop generation. It was the first national project that used social media to primarily organize young people of color for political activism and electoral politics. The first National Hip-Hop Political Convention was held in Newark, NJ in 2004.
In 2003, Deputy Mayor Adofo-Wilson also co-founded and Executive Director of the Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District, which is now a national recognized creative place-making organization which is creating a sustainable cultural district in Newark. Under his leadership, more than $40 million worth of commercial and residential units in the Lincoln Park were built. He was the developer/general contractor for 10 USGBC LEED Certified buildings. His staff managed North Jersey’s Green Jobs Training Program for the State Department of Labor where 100 participants trained to conduct residential energy audits, air-sealing, and solar installers. The staff also managed PSE&G outreach for their carbon abatement programs in North Jersey, where more than 2,000 residents received subsidies to weatherize their homes. He also created the Lincoln Park Music Festival, an annual multi-genre, intergenerational musical event with crowds exceeding 50,000 people that showcase the genres of hip-hope, jazz, gospel, and dance music and an eco-vendor market place over three days.
In 2013, Deputy Mayor Adofo-Wilson was selected as a Loeb Fellow at Harvard’s Graduate School Design. The Loeb Fellowship is an internationally renowned fellowship in urban planning, real estate development, architecture, urban design and landscape architecture. While at Harvard, Deputy Mayor Adofo-Wilson taught a class called “If Farris Street Could Talk: A Conceptual Plan and Redevelopment Strategy for an Entertainment District in Jackson, Mississippi.” He created and hosted the first African-American Student Union Urban Design Exhibition at the Harvard GSD, which was an interdisciplinary review and pin-up of GSAD African-American students in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, and urban planning, to foster conversations, collaboration, and expanded knowledge across development disciplines for the student body. Because of Deputy Mayor Adofo-Wilson successes, Harvard University asked him to return to Harvard GSD to co-teach an urban planning studio in the Spring of 2015.
In July 2014, Mayor Ras J. Baraka appointed Deputy Mayor Adofo-Wilson to his current post, that of overseeing and spearheading the City of Newark’s Department of Economic and Housing Development. The mission of this department is to create economic opportunity for Newark residents and enhance the vibrancy of the City. The department seeks to position Newark to take advantage of its unique assets, including its strategic location, a diverse and under-utilized workforce, a large amount of developable land, concentration of corporate and business service firms, several major universities, and a wealth of arts and cultural assets.
Divisions in the department include Housing Assistance, Logistics and Industrial Opportunities, the Office of Boards and Commissions, Property Management, Planning and Community Development, the Office of Sustainability, HMSFA Foreclosure Relief Programs, Economic Development, and the ground-breaking Office of Re-entry.