About Us

The Office of Government & Community Affairs (GCA) is the University’s primary liaison with federal, state, and local government, as well as with residents, community leaders, and civic organizations in surrounding neighborhoods. The office serves as a gateway to Columbia, responding to a range of inquiries concerning the University.  GCA staff also manages Columbia Community Service (CCS), a program through which Columbia faculty and staff contribute to local non-profit organizations.  The office also has special responsibilities with regard to development of the university's campus expansion in Manhattanville and the associated West Harlem Community Benefits Agreement.

Meet Our Staff

  • Trained as an Urban Planner with a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from Columbia and 20+ years of experience, Victoria has participated in a range of inter-agency, as well as public and private planning initiatives in several major cities, including New York City and Philadelphia.  Victoria holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Brown University, a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from Columbia, and is professionally certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

  • Maxine Griffith is the Executive Vice President for Government and Community Affairs at Columbia University and Special Advisor for Campus Planning.

    Reporting to Columbia’s president, Lee C. Bollinger, Ms. Griffith is responsible for the oversight and coordination of Columbia's collaborations with government at the local, state, and federal levels, as well as the strengthening of Columbia's many partnerships with local organizations. In addition, she is a senior member of the team planning for the University’s proposed campus expansion. 

    Griffith brings more than 20 years of experience and a strong background in both urban planning and government affairs. From 2000 to 2005, Griffith served as executive director of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and as the Secretary (Deputy Mayor) for Strategic Planning. Previously, Griffith served in the Clinton administration at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), first as the Regional Representative for New York and New Jersey and then in Washington as HUD's assistant deputy secretary. From 1988 to 1996 she was principal of Griffith Planning and Design, a firm providing planning, urban design, and development services to a diverse list of clients.

    She has also served on the New York City Planning Commission, on the New York State Commission on the Restoration of the Capital, the national Planning Accreditation Board, and the Board of Directors of the American Planning Association. She now serves on the boards of directors of the Architectural League of New York, the Regional Plan Association, and Seeds, an organization building schools and libraries in West Africa. 

    Griffith was born in Harlem, graduated cum laude from Hunter College in New York, and holds a master's degree in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley. She has taught city planning and urban design at Columbia University, New York University, and the University of Pennsylvania and is an accredited member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

  • Loftin is a native of Florence, Alabama, and a graduate of Haverford College with a B.A. in history. He comes to Columbia from Washington, D.C., where he worked most recently at the national offices of the Children's Defense Fund.

  • Karen previously worked at New York University, where she served as Acting Assistant Dean, Arts and Humanities Programs, School of Continuing and Professional Studies, and director, Liberal Arts Programs, McGhee Division, School of Continuing and Professional Studies. She also held the title of Master Teacher at the University. Prior to her ten-year stint at NYU, Karen was the program manager for Cooper Union’s Extended Studies Program.  Karen received her A.B. from Dartmouth College in English and her M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Columbia University in English and Comparative Literature.

  • As Columbia University's Director of Columbia Community Service, Joan Grifith-Lee is charged with engaging the University's community around campaigns that will improve other people’s lives.

  • Flores last served as Chief Strategic Officer for the Abyssinian Development Corporation.  Prior to his tenure at Abyssinian, Flores worked for the Office of the Manhattan Borough President, where he served first as Deputy Director of Land Use Housing and Development and then as Director of Borough President Fields' Northern Manhattan Office.  Flores has also written extensively; his work includes a study of his life as a radical in the 1970's.  Flores holds an undergraduate degree from San Francisco State University.  He received a Masters in Urban Planning from New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and was a Revson Fellow at Columbia.