The interim label was finally removed from Laura Kavanagh’s title Thursday, as she was officially named the first female Fire Commissioner in New York City’s history.
Mayor Eric Adams swore Kavanagh in during an Oct. 27 ceremony that included First Deputy Mayor Lorraine Grillo, Deputy Mayors Meera Joshi, Maria Torres-Springer, Anne Williams-Isom and Sheena Wright and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell.
It’s the first time in New York’s four centuries that women are at the helm of its Police and Fire Departments simultaneously.
“We talked about this moment for so many years of as we went through this journey together on our analysis of government, our analysis of corporations, our analysis of how we run cities and institutions,” said Mayor Adams at the Oct. 27 event.”And that’s what we hear today when you think about what Laura represents and it’s not an easy task to go through the vetting process that she went through. Laura was going to be part of this administration no matter what. We knew her skill set, we knew her abilities, and I shared with her [that] I wanted her to be part of our team from the beginning and she was willing to do whatever was needed. My heart is with the FDNY, but whatever way I could help the city, I’m willing to do so. New Yorkers in New York City’s bravest deserve an exceptional leader, and Laura has the vision, skills, and the compassion to lead the FDNY into the future.”
Kavanagh had been serving as the interim fire commissioner since the February retirement of her predecessor in the post, Dan Nigro.
Receiving the honor officially, Kavanagh expressed her gratitude, as well as her pride and passion for her work.
“To say it is the honor of a lifetime is an understatement. This story, my story, is a quintessentially New York City story,” said Kavanagh. “New York City’s story is fundamentally one of making the impossible possible. Thank you, Mayor Adams, for having faith in me. Thank you to the men and women of the FDNY who inspire me every single day. Truly, you are the reason I get up in the morning. Thank you to my parents for giving me the exact right mix of love and toughness and for instilling a fierce belief that you can make the world a better place if you fully dedicate yourself to making it so. The FDNY has never met a mission that they could not complete.”
Additionally, Kavanagh recognized and highlighted the significance of a woman to be occupying this position and how she hopes this moment will pave the way for more to explore this career path.
“Having a woman in this role is a change, but change provides opportunity,” Kavanagh said on Thursday. “Change, in fact, is the only constant in life, and if we embrace it, change is a gift. It provides an opportunity to bring more people into the gift that is the FDNY. It is a reminder that we are alive and that we can move something we love forward to be even stronger. Change is what has made this department and this city continually stronger. It is why we are the best.”
Ingrid Lewis-Martin, Chief Advisor to Mayor Adams, praised the decision to appoint Kavanagh, saying Adams consistently elevates women in their fields.
“I have the honor of knowing and working alongside Mayor Adams for decades and have seen firsthand his commitment to make sure that government reflects the diversity of the people that it is entrusted to serve,” said Lewis-Martin on Thursday. “Throughout our time together, he has always focused on ensuring women and particularly women of color, have a seat at the table and it has helped us to drive policy for a fairer, stronger, and more equitable New York City. Under his administration there is no glass ceiling.”