Barbara Askins

President & CEO

125th Street Business Improvement District

Barbara Askins serves as President and CEO of the 125th Street Business Improvement District in Upper Manhattan (Harlem) in New York City. Her fields of specialization include Economic Development, Workforce Development and Community Building, Nonprofit and Grassroots Organizing, Urban Planning, Government, and Media Relations. She has done extensive work as a public involvement specialist throughout her career, spearheading countless improvement projects, including projects centered on transportation, environmental and facility planning, among others. Ms. Askins’ work has expanded across several cities that included reconstruction of highways and city streets, upgrading rail and bus systems, improving sewage-treatment facilities, and developing creative public spaces, sports and conventions centers.

Ms. Askins successfully created the first and only Business Improvement District in the Harlem community. She is guiding the development of result-oriented strategies involving retail plans, re-zoning for future growth, cultural sustainability, and evaluating the interplay between science, technology and businesses.  To forge a livable, safe, and inclusive community, she is working with Columbia University researching ways to use technologies built on advances in wireless communications that promote privacy and security while balancing community-defined benefits.

Her public involvement strategies have led to successes such as the annual Harlem Holiday Lights celebration, the first cultural bonus incentive in New York City to be used to shape the future of 125th Street as a cultural destination. Working closely with NYPD bringing together 12 other city agencies she is driving an Inter-agency and community involvement approach that is addressing crime, homelessness, mental illness, sanitation, and streetscape improvements.

She has served as the Chair of the International Downtown Association (IDA), Vice Chair and Treasurer of New York City’s BID Manager’s Association, and Chair of Manhattan Community Board #10 in Central Harlem. She is an adjunct professor at Columbia University School of International Public Policy and serves as a member of CUNY School of Public Health Dean’s Advisory Council.  She has participated in a TEDTalk series, and served as a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for the Journal of Place Management and Development (United Kingdom) and Global Urban Development.

She is highly respected in the downtown management industry and her advice and sharing of best practices has been sought after in the establishment and operation of BIDs globally. Recently this has taken her to the House of Parliament in Sweden to prove the value of Business Improvement Districts. She has received many honors and awards.   

Her passion is art.



BFA, University of North Texas,

Coro New York Leadership Center


  • Chair, International Downtown Association, 2010 – 2011
  • Vice Chair, New York City Business Improvement District Manger’s Association, 1996 – 1998
  • Treasurer, New York City Business Improvement District Manager’s Association, 2017 – 2018)
  • Chairperson, Manhattan Community Board #10 in Central Harlem, 1993 – 1995
  • Member, CUNY School of Public Health Dean’s Advisory Council, 2020 – current
  • Member, International Downtown Association Past Chair Council, 2011 – present
  • Member, Global Urban Development Advisory Board, 2011 – present
  • Vice-Chair, Harlem Commonwealth Council, 2020 to present
  • Vice-Chair, Adam Clayton Powell Statue Jr. Statue Committee, 2002 – 2005
  • Member, Harlem Welcomes President Clinton Committee, 2001


  • Teer Spirit Award For Being a Visionary and Catalyst for Institution Building, National Black Theater, 2017
  • 2019 Power Women, Schneps Media, 2019
  • Leadership Award, Congressman Charlie Rangel, 2019
  • Leadership, Harlem Congregation for Community Improvement, 2017
  • Improving the Quality of Life, Mayor Rudolph Guiliani, 1996
  • Business Advocate Award, NYC Department of Business Services, February 21, 1995
  • Shero Award, Women’s Herstory Month Celebration, March 18, 2016
  • Community Service Award, Showman’s Jazz Club, November 27, 2008
  • Carter G. Woodson Black Heritage Awards, Vision 2000 Ministries Memorial Baptist Church, February 21, 1999
  • Recognition Award, New York City Office of Business Development, June 1990
  • Women’s History Month Award for Excellence, City Council Member C. V. Fields, 1996
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Living the Dream Awards, Coretta Scot King Corporate Citizenship, Alpha Gamma Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha,January 18, 2014
  • Recognition, Manhattan Power 50, City and State, 2020
  • Recognition, Harlem Health Festival, September 20, 2003
  • Women Who Make a Difference, The New York Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, March 25, 1997
  • Honoree, 7TH Annual African American Day Breakfast, William C.Thompson, Jr. September 21, 2008
  • Honoree, Healthfirst Annual Black History Month, July 24, 2015
  • Salute For Leadership, 125th Street BID Board of Directors, July 22, 1999
  • Salute to Harlem, Greatest Show on Earth, April 8, 1996
  • Mayor’s Super Star, Mayor David Dinkins, April 1992

Certificates and Appreciation

  • Certificate of Achievement, Outstanding Contribution to the Harlem Community, August 9, 1995
  • Certificate of Appreciation, New York City Housing Authority, 2010
  • Certificate of Appreciation, Community Directed Ownership, Inc., March 25, 1996
  • Certificate of Outstanding Achievement, Office of Business Development, 1990
  • Valuable Service Certificate, NYPD 28TH Precinct, January 20, 1992
  • Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition, Congressman Adriano Espaillat, December 21, 2017
  • Certificate of Recognition, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, June 28, 2005
  • In Appreciation for Harlem Holiday Lights, Community Board #11, December 18, 2001
  • Certificate of Appreciation, Community Board #10 Chairperson Award, February 23, 2017
  • Certificate of Recognition, Senator Bill Perkins, February 23, 2017
  • Certificate of Appreciation, for Healthy and Clean Campaign, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, October, 2018
  • Recognition, 125th Street Merchants, 1994

Senior Staff

Anthony Baker
Director of Operations


Doslyn Moody
Executive Assistant

A Copper Production
Event Producer

Nicholas and Lence
Public Relations

William Skody
BID Accountant

Daniel Blumenstein
BID Attorney