Sociology Alumnus Leads Diversity Initiatives for NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission

Malcolm Cain

Malcolm Cain Jr. ’14C, ’15G, a graduate of the combined degree program in Sociology in St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is leading New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission’s newly established Office of Inclusion through a dynamic and challenging time.

Mr. Cain started working for the City of New York during his sophomore year at St. John’s. He began as a college aide in the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearing, a job he secured through University Career Services. At the same time, he also declared his major and applied for the combined degree program.

“My course work in sociology and my work for the city inform each other,” he said. “I like working with people and dealing with diverse groups. In my professional role, I see firsthand the different social and systemic issues that affect people in New York City. The courses I took help me navigate those issues.”

While completing his master’s degree at St. John’s, Mr. Cain moved to the Taxi and Limousine Commission. He was promoted from call center agent to policy analyst for External Affairs, and then deputy director of the unit. In February, Mr. Cain was named inaugural Director of the newly established Office of Inclusion, which focuses on combating discrimination in service provided by taxi and app drivers.

“When I came into the Taxi and Limousine Commission, it was in the midst of a big boom with apps like Uber and Lyft,” he said. “I saw the agency change and transition to regulating a bigger market. Now, I have the opportunity to think beyond the numbers about how policies affect New Yorkers every day.”

An undecided major at first, Mr. Cain considered majoring in Government and Politics but ultimately decided on Sociology. “I realized that this was what I wanted to do,” he said. “Studying race and gender theories helped me understand how institutional racism and diversity affect so many people in the City of New York. The faculty helped me challenge my existing thinking and made my writing stronger by opening my eyes to different viewpoints. St. John’s was the right decision for me; it helped me become a good citizen and a good New Yorker.”

Originally from Philadelphia, PA, Mr. Cain attended the University’s Staten Island campus, which he preferred because of its intimate size and the option to take courses in Queens. While a student, he found a home within Campus Ministry, serving as the President for the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Staten Island, participating in plunges each year, going on retreats, volunteering at the Mobile Soup Kitchen, and serving as lector for Mass.

“After my first semester at St. John’s, I considered leaving, but I went to Mass and found so much love and warmth from my friends in Campus Ministry,” he said. “The campus ministers kept me going and helped me get through. They made me view the world differently and made me passionate about the work of dealing with people.”

Mr. Cain also took advantage of opportunities to travel while a student. In his first year, he studied abroad through the Global Passport program. In his senior year, he also did a winter intersession abroad. He participated in Campus Ministry plunges to Panama, and Guatemala, and was a plunge leader in his senior year.

“There are so many opportunities for students to push themselves outside their comfort zone, from Midnight Runs to study abroad,” he said. To current and incoming students, he advises: “Always take yourself to the limit with volunteering, working, networking, and who you hang out with on campus. Be mindful of who you surround yourself with. Do not just focus on your career trajectory, but experience activities on campus—that can teach you a lot about yourself.”