Emma Wolfe, who served as deputy mayor and chief of staff to then-New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, has been appointed Dartmouth’s first vice president for government and community relations, starting June 12.
Wolfe—who stepped down earlier this month as associate vice president and senior adviser to the president for external relations and leadership development at Barnard—will oversee Dartmouth’s relationships with local, state, and federal governments and other partners.
The position reports to Jomysha Delgado Stephen, the incoming executive vice president for strategy, chief of staff, and special counsel to the president, who starts work for Dartmouth in August. Wolfe will also have a dotted-line report to President-elect Sian Leah Beilock, who has led Barnard since 2017.
“At Barnard, Emma’s experience in government affairs and dynamic insights as a communicator and leader quickly proved indispensable. She’ll play a critically important role at Dartmouth and with key policymakers at the town, state, and federal level,” says President-elect Beilock, who also starts at Dartmouth on June 12.
Leading the Office of Government and Community Relations, which had formerly been part of the Office of the Provost, Wolfe’s charge includes maximizing Dartmouth’s connections with key government officials and policymakers in Hanover, Concord, and Washington, the creation of a long-term strategic plan for the institution’s community and town relations, and identifying and optimizing strategic opportunities to enhance Dartmouth’s profile at every level. Among other responsibilities, Wolfe has also been charged with working with partners across campus on leadership development programs and opportunities for Dartmouth employees.
Of her new role, Wolfe plans “first and foremost, to listen and learn” from members of the community who are already engaged in the work.
“There is clearly a tremendous amount of activity and impact already happening,” she says. “I want to understand the strengths that the community recognizes and the aspirations that the institution’s leaders have for the future of our government and community relations. I am struck by the number of people connected to Dartmouth who feel very strongly it is a transformative institution unlike any other. That passion is very compelling.”
A Barnard alumna and self-described “huge Boston sports fan,” Wolfe began her career as a community organizer in Brooklyn and went on to serve as New York and Ohio field director and regional director for the Service Employees International Union. She spent four years as election campaigns director and organizing director for New York’s Working Families Party before joining the Public Advocate’s Office of the City of New York as chief of staff.
In 2012 she signed on to de Blasio’s nascent mayoral campaign as political/field director and deputy campaign manager. After the election, she joined the mayor’s administration as director of intergovernmental affairs, overseeing the federal, state, and city legislative offices in addition to community affairs, and went on to serve as deputy mayor for administration and chief of staff.
Joining Barnard in 2022, she advised President Beilock in external affairs, creating a new government relations model for the institution and overseeing Barnard’s Athena Center for Leadership, through which she created and implemented leadership development programming for staff and faculty and taught an undergraduate course on crisis management and municipal government.
“I love the variation that comes with this line of work—you’re never bored,” Wolfe says. “Government and community relations can be a great source of creativity, as well as support for and amplification of the amazing work that students, faculty, staff, and alums are engaged in. And in higher ed—and of course at the incredibly special place that is Dartmouth—you’re truly never done learning new things.”
Also joining Dartmouth from Barnard is Zoya Chhabra, who will serve as administrative manager and senior executive assistant to Beilock. She also begins work on June 12.
Chhabra received her bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she subsequently spent three years working as chief of staff to the dean of students. She has a master’s degree in higher and postsecondary education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and is currently a PhD student at Teachers College, also in higher and postsecondary education.