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Jon Kest, Executive Director of New York Communities for Change, Dies

A funeral for Kest will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Sun., Dec. 9 at the UFT headquarters.


Jon Kest, a long-standing member of the Ditmas Park community and an advocate for social and economic justice throughout New York State, died Wednesday night after battling cancer. He was 57 years old. 

Kest was executive director of New York Communities for Change and father of Jessie Streich-Kest, who was struck and killed by a falling tree in Ditmas Park during Hurricane Sandy. 

He is survived by his wife, Fran Streich, and their son, Jake Streich-Kest, as well as his parents, his siblings and their children. 

"Jon was a remarkable man," wrote Working Families Party Executive Director Dan Cantor. "He was to so many of us a friend, a mentor, a colleague, an ally, and an unbelievably stubborn son of a gun... He had both a backbone of steel and a quick and supple mind, and that’s an awfully hard combination to beat."

"Each of us tries to do what we can to make this imperfect world a little better," Cantor continued. "I think it’s fair to say that Jon Kest did more than his share."

A funeral for Kest will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Sun., Dec. 9 at the UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway.  In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to NYCC.

Many allies, New York Communities for Change members, elected officials and many more who were touched by Kest's work made a tribute video to honor him

People also took to social media to express their feelings about Kest. 

"Saddened by the loss of Jon Kest," wrote Speaker Christine Quinn on her Facebook page.

"He was a tireless advocate and a true champion for equality and justice," she continued. "New Yorkers lost a passionate voice for those who so often are voiceless. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and his colleagues at New York Communities for Change for continuing his fight."

"We mourn a brother in the social justice struggle..the definition of 'community organizer' We continue the struggle in memory. RIP Jon Kest," tweeted Councilman Jumaane Williams, D-Ditmas Park. 

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer tweeted: "Jon Kest was a progressive leader who devoted his life to speaking for people without a voice. Today we should re-commit to his ideals. I was lucky to know Jon Kest as both an activist and a kind friend, and I join with so many New Yorkers in mourning his loss."


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