Walter L. Fields, Jr. is Executive Editor of NorthStarNews.com and principal of Fields Communications, a public affairs company. He has previously served as Vice President of Government Relations and Public Affairs for the Community Service Society of New York, and Publisher of City Limits Magazine. Prior to establishing NorthStar News, he served as the Director of Public Affairs for the New York State Trial Lawyers Association and was the Senior Government Policy Analyst for the Community Service Society of New York.
During his college years at Morgan State University, Mr. Fields was a campus leader and an active member in the university branch of the NAACP. He contributed opinion articles to the editorial page of the Baltimore Afro-American and was the spokesperson for the student government association during a period of campus unrest. Mr. Fields earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science.
As a Patricia Roberts Harris Fellow at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, he received a Chancellor’s Service Award; the Dean’s Award and was chairperson of the Wagner School African American Student Caucus. Due to Mr. Fields’ efforts to promote diversity at the graduate school, the dean appointed him to the Faculty Search Committee, resulting in the appointment of the first full-time African-American and full-time Latina faculty members in the school’s history. His academic achievements at NYU culminated with the distinction of being the Marshal for the Wagner School’s graduating class during the 1990 commencement. It was the first class to graduate under the “Wagner” name, the school having formerly been the NYU Graduate School of Public Administration. Mr. Fields subsequently earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. He also holds a professional certificate in not-for-profit management.
He served for five years as the Political Action Director for the New Jersey State Conference of NAACP Branches and was a member of the executive board. Mr. Fields is also a past Vice President for Programs for the New Jersey Public Policy Research Institute (NJPPRI), a non-partisan not-for-profit think tank dedicated to examining the impact of public policy on the state’s Black community.
Mr. Fields also has significant international experience, having worked on projects in Japan, the United Kingdom and several countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, working as a consultant to the United States Agency for International Development (U.S. AID), the International City County Managers Association (ICMA), and National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA) and collaborating with the African National Congress (ANC) and Operation Black Vote in London
Through his professional work Mr. Fields established the New York Reentry Roundtable, a network of advocates focused on the formerly incarcerated, planned the first Reentry Lobby Day in the New York State capital, in 2005 produced a televised New York City mayoral debate over NY1 cable television, developed and hosted a monthly policy forum focused on the working poor on Capitol Hill – Working for Change, planned a presidential candidates forum in 2007 that featured candidates John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and conceived a tax credit for companies to hire young adults – “disconnected youth” – and worked with New York Congressman Charles Rangel to have the tax credit included in the economic recovery legislation signed by President Barack Obama in 2009. The tax credit model has since been adopted on the state level in New York and Governor Andrew Cuomo has credited it with creating 33,000 jobs.
He has also been active in local communities. His work in his hometown has included creating a program focused on violence reduction between young Black males, convening a county-wide youth leadership summit, and conceiving a summer jobs program for teenagers that received the support of private industry in his native Bergen County. His work on behalf of youth has included sponsoring a summer workshop for Black males and creating a Black parents’ organization for education advocacy. He has been a strong supporter of young people in his current community of residence and supported the creation of a Black Students Union in the local high school. His advocacy on education issues has included supporting a civil rights complaint against his local district that was filed by the ACLU and the UCLA Civil Rights Project, and for which his daughter was a lead complainant. Walter Fields also regularly speaks to youth organizations to encourage their civic engagement and leadership among youth.
Mr. Fields has also had a distinguished career as a journalist. For several years, he wrote a column for The Record, New Jersey’s second most widely read daily newspaper, and The City News, a weekly newspaper serving the state’s African-American community. He was a Contributing Editor for New Jersey Reporter, a public affairs monthly magazine. He was one of the original political contributors on the MSNBC cable news channel and to MSNBC.com. His writings garnered several awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Garden State Association of Black Journalists. He also provided commentary for two years on Newark based National Public Radio affiliate, WBGO 88 FM. In addition, Mr. Fields was a contributor to the nationally syndicated “News and Notes” on National Public Radio (NPR). During his tenure at the Community Service Society of New York, he orchestrated the acquisition of City Limits Magazine, an urban affairs monthly magazine and website, and served as its Publisher. The edition of City Limits he conceived that focused on the plight of Black men in New York City won the New York City Deadline Club award for reporting on minority issues. Mr. Fields also provided voice-over for a radio personality in the 2008 documentary Election Day that chronicles 11 stories shot simultaneously on November 2, 2004.
Among the honors he has received in recognition of his work is a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Wagner School at New York University, a New Jersey Citizens Action Advocacy Award, New Jersey NAACP President’s Award, New Jersey Black Ministers Council Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award, New Jersey Senate Proclamation, New Jersey Assembly Proclamation, key to the city of Dallas, Texas and other awards citing his contributions in the fields of public policy and journalism.
He is a lifelong member of the historic Varick Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church in Hackensack. Mr. Fields is the son of the late Mrs. Mattie Fields and the late Walter L. Fields, Sr. He is married to Donna Wharton and they have a daughter, Jordan Marie, a student-athlete on the track and field team at the University of Pittsburgh.