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New York Mandate Podcast, Ep. 48: Social Worker Diane Pagen

"I love New York.": A conversation with a social worker, policy analyst, and native New Yorker who was removed from her job under the Department of Education's vaccine mandate, and left the city.

“I want to live in a place that has real participatory society that isn’t top down and isn’t run by gangsters. I feel like New York is run—it’s like Boss Tweed all over again. You don’t have any say. There’s a lot of bullying and a lot of just not caring about people and not being respectful of the trust that your citizens have put in you. . . . So I don’t want to live in a place like that, even if it’s my place.” - Diane Pagen

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In this episode of the New York Mandate Podcast, I talk with Diane Pagen, a social worker with 18 years of experience. She had been working for the New York City Department of Education for over six of those years when the DOE announced its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all employees in late 2021.

Diane was put on leave without pay for not complying with the mandate, and received an unsigned termination letter in February 2022. Unable to find sufficient employment in New York with mandates still in place in both the public and private sectors, she sought work elsewhere and eventually moved out of state.

Diane is also a social policy analyst and writer. She talked with me about what it was like to work through the pandemic as a school social worker, her experience with the mandate, and the political, social, and financial forces at play in her hometown.

We began our conversation in February 2023, when she was moving out of the city, and sat down for a longer conversation later that year.

If you think it’s important for people to hear Diane’s story, please share it!


More from Diane:

Diane Pagen’s website
Diane Pagen is a social worker and a social policy analyst and writer. Her site is a human forum to discuss the consequences of social and economic policies.

New York City Department of Health Gives $35 Million for Pro-Vax Doctors
Diane wrote this article published by DailyClout.

I lost my NYC school job to the vaccine mandate — and all New Yorkers are losing too
Diane wrote this article published by the New York Post.

Here are some links related to things we talked about during the episode:

Announcement of NYC Department of Education Employee Vaccine Mandate
This is the August 23, 2021, announcement of the vaccine mandate for New York City Department of Education employees by then Mayor Bill de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter, and Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi.

About the New York Mandate Podcast

The New York Mandate Podcast is an ongoing series of conversations exploring the costs and consequences of vaccine mandates in New York City. I talk with workers, students, and parents who have been directly affected by the mandates, as well as legal and policy experts.

In late 2021, the City introduced a series of requirements for workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. These requirements were put in place through executive orders issued by the administration of former mayor Bill de Blasio. They covered nearly all workers in New York City, in both the public and private sectors. They also barred unvaccinated adults, including parents, from schools.

Current mayor Eric Adams kept the mandates in place until November 1, 2022 for the private sector and February 10, 2023 for City workers, and has encouraged private employers to put their own vaccine requirements in place.

The views expressed in the New York Mandate podcast are the personal opinions of the people speaking, and are not intended to provide medical or legal advice.

Join the Conversation

Have you lost your job, been put on leave, or lost opportunities to work as an independent contractor as a result of your decision not to comply with a vaccine mandate in New York? Did you take a vaccine against your wishes in order to keep your job? Please get in touch with me at