2019 Caribbean Life Impact Awardees

Renee Hastick-Motes

Renee Hastick-Motes has carried the mantle of selfless service since she was born in Brooklyn to Grenadian parents.

Currently, Hastick-Motes leads a team of marketers and government liaisons as the Vice President of External Affairs at Episcopal Health — a Rockaways-based hospital serving 44,000 patients a year.

Hastick-Motes also brings her vast expertise to the classroom, serving as an Adjunct Instructor at Hofstra University and Medgar Evers College, where she trains the next generation of marketers, journalists, and public relations experts.

Throughout her 15-year career in public affairs, Hastick-Motes has served as the Associate

Vice President of Community and Government Affairs for one of New York City’s largest

human service agencies, and as the Special Assistant and Policy Analyst to the Deputy Borough President of Brooklyn.

In addition to her impressive professional career, Hastick-Motes used her expertise to positively impact her community at every turn — serving as a member of Community Board 13 in Coney Island, leading numerous community advisory committees, and creating collaborative relationships with various government agencies.

Hastick-Motes — who has received degrees from Notre Dame College of Ohio and Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus — thrives on creating new avenues of collaborations, funding opportunities and building new partnerships/relationships within the public and private sectors.

Michelle A. Nicholas

Michelle A. Nicholas is an advocate and an entrepreneur from Guyana who has dedicated her life helping others.

Nicholas is the Executive Director of Girls Inc. Westchester County — a mission driven organization focused on inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. Nicholas works tirelessly to ensure that young girls can make healthy decisions, resist peer pressure, avoid risky behaviors, and take charge of their health.

An award-winning executive, Nicholas is also the Founder and CEO of The Nico Consulting, Inc. (TNC) — a boutique consulting firm specializing in strategy operations, marketing and communications, personal branding and leadership development. Never satisfied with ‘good enough,’ Nicholas meticulously trains leaders to rigorously examine and implement effective and efficient systems for utilizing resources and personnel.

Passionate about service above self, Nicholas founded Sexual Assault and Family Education (S.A.F.E.) Guyana, Inc. — an organization that provides support for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and cares for those struggling with mental health and other social issues in Guyana and the U.S.

On top of her extraordinary professional career, Nicholas has worked for numerous charitable causes. Most recently she co-created a new award to honor 25 Influential Women Leaders annually in Guyana, who have made an impact in their companies and communities.

Ingrid Joseph

Ever since she came to New York from St. Lucia and St. Croix, Ingrid Joseph had built a legacy as an influencer dedicated to growing nurturing dreams in the hearts and minds of youngsters and adults.

A long journey of educational excellence has lead Joseph to serve as the Principal of IS 392: The School of the Gifted and Talented in Brooklyn, where she passes on the valuable lessons of learning and leadership to the next generation that she gained from her mentors, Martha Rodriguez-Torres and Shirley Wheeler.

“As I continue to carve the path for the others behind,” said Joseph, “I will continue my work with the guiding words of Maya Angelo — ‘Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.’”

Joseph’s community relationships, partnerships, and vision have been instrumental in cultivating a spirit of student-centeredness and acquiring resources to advance the daily lives of the students at IS 392 in Brownsville.

Outside of the classroom, Joseph helps students receive a variety of enriching experiences — including educational trips abroad, computer science programs, college access initiatives, and creative theater productions.

In addition to her outstanding dedication to the youth in Brownsville, Joseph assists with many organizations such as the American Cancer Society and recently the American Lupus Society.

Joseph credits her journey and accomplishments to her parents, her altruistic aunts, and most importantly, she shares this award with the love of her life — her son Kimani — who recently passed from his battle with lupus.

Karen Mitchell

Karen Mitchell is a quintessential entrepreneur with several impressive business ventures under her belt. The Jamacian-born, Brooklyn-bred business tycoon is most renowned as Owner and CEO of the True Indian Hair Franchise, under the Umbrella True Hair Company.

Mitchell began her decade-long career in hair care when she noticed a lack of women and minorities in ownership positions outside of the salons in the hair industry. She immediately saw that she could fill the need with her true passion: connecting image-conscious career women with easy-to-care for luxury extensions.

With only $30,000 and no written business plan, her brand True Indian Hair was born 15 years ago in Brooklyn — and has since assumed its place at the fore-front of the industry. True Indian Hair (TIH) has been featured in many leading publications, and can be seen worn on a plethora of celebrity clients — such as Rihanna, Naomi Campbell, and Kylie Jenner.

Since its inception, the demand for Mitchell’s product has seen the expansion of True Indian Hair from its flagship Brooklyn boutique and salon to midtown Manhattan and Queens. She is now focused on the launch of another series of products under the True Hair Company, and expanding her franchise beyond New York to Atlanta and Los Angeles.

Peta-Gay Clarke

Peta-Gay Clarke is a well-rounded business and technology leader with strong a passion for providing S.T.E.M. education to underrepresented youth.

A first generation Jamaican-American, Clarke works tirelessly to promote equality in the field of technology as the Diversity Manager within Google’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion division. Clarke is the Program Lead for Code Next — the technology giant’s first community-centric initiative to expand tech social capital for Black and Latinx youth.

She also serves as an Adjunct Professor at Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science, and previously worked as the Deputy Director of IT at the Columbia University School of Journalism.

Earlier in her career, Clarke worked as a Software Engineer building web-based applications for a multitude of companies and government agencies — including the Federal Reserve Bank, NYC Department of Education, New York Magazine and COACH Inc.

Furthering her commitment to equality of opportunity, Clarke voluntarily spearheaded the New York Chapter of Black Girls Code — a nonprofit on a mission to increase the number of women of color in the tech industry. As of today, the organization has held technical workshops and events for over 500 young girls of color.

Clarke has been honored for her extraordinary dedication to diversity with many awards and recognitions, and holds degrees from Farmingdale State University of New York and Pace University. She is a native New Yorker and resides in Long Island with her partner and two children.

Vivian Santiago

Vivian Santiago is a self-starter who has risen the ranks of the medical field since 1996.

Santiago began her career at Montefiore Medical Center as a secretary to the three Kidney Transplant Surgeons — but her entrepreneurial spirit soon led her to presuse an accelerated Surgical Technologist program at the hospital.

“It changed my life and career,” said Santiago. “A year later, I graduated and immediately began my career as a Surgical Technologist.”

Her work ethic and dedication soon led her to another opportunity on the Cardio Thoracic team, where she works to scrub both adult and pediatric open heart surgeries — including heart transplants.

Outside of the Bronx-based medical center, Santiago has taken her talents to underprivileged countries to help their underserved citizens with their medical needs — including El Salvador, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Jamaica.

“It was truly a wonderful experience,” she said. “I came home feeling successful and gratified. I could not wait to go again.”

To further her altruistic mission of helping the needy abroad, Santiago dedicates her limited vacation days to her missionary travel twice per year — knowing that she would want others to do the same.

“At the end of the day, it is so worth it,” she said. “If that was my child or family member I pray someone would do the same for them.”

Camille C. Joseph-Goldman

A Bronx native, Camille C. Joseph-Goldman has a long and storied career helping to promote the public’s interest, which she carries on as the Regional Vice President for Government Affairs at Charter Communications.

In her role at Charter Communications, which offers services to consumers and businesses under the ‘Spectrum’ branding, Joseph-Goldman manages all government affairs, strategic partnerships and investments, consumer protection and telecommunications regulation from New Jersey to Maine — which includes the company’s bustling presence in New York State.

Previously, Joseph-Goldman served as the youngest appointed Deputy Comptroller of New York City — where she served as the inter-governmental liaison to the public and various government agencies. Her duties in the Public Affairs department included providing information and assistance to New Yorkers who lacked adequate municipal services, and handling the vast network of outreach with the media and the private sector.

Additionally, Joseph-Goldman further honed her skills as an expert in public outreach as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Special Adviser to United States Senator Kirsten

E. Gillibrand, National African American Vote Deputy Director for the 2012 Obama Presidential Campaign, amd Campaign Manager and Political Director for former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner’s 2013 mayoral campaign.

Outside of her vast professional career, Joseph-Goldman is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, participates as a mentor at various youth empowerment programs across the City, and is involved in several educational and healthcare initiatives for underserved youth in Jamaica and Haiti.

Most recently, Mrs. Joseph-Goldman joined the board of the National Action Network, one of the leading civil rights organizations in the country founded by the Reverend Al Sharpton.

Clive Walters

Jamaica native Clive Walters is a pioneering leader in youth sports, responsible for training dozens of young track and field athletes at the highest levels of competition.

Most recently, Walters has dedicated himself to mentoring the next generation of superstars, including coaching 26 high school All-Americans, and managed multiple award-winning Jamaican national teams.

For his leadership, Walters was awarded the Certificate of Merit from the New York State Assembly in the sport of track and field.

His success on the field comes after a long career as a self-made man. Walters first entered the field of health and wellness at the YMCA, where he moved up the ranks to become the corporation’s Managing Director — managing the corporate wellness and health programs for the YMCA in Jamaica.

Three years later, Walters became an Executive of Human Resources at Cable and Wireless, and later moved to the United States, where he founded a sports and entertainment company called 2C2W.

Walters credits his success to the unstinting, unending work and a quest for perfection that he painstakingly passes on to his pupils, imbuing them with an all-important sense of identity.

Walters is included among the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), serves as a member of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) and the Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC), and worked as the Deputy Chairman for Youth Track and Field Long Island — bringing his expertise with him wherever he goes.

Romola Lucas

A Guyanese-born Brooklynite, Romola Lucas is the founder and Executive Director of the Caribbean Film Academy, where she promotes art from underrepresented creators.

Through her New York-based non-profit film organization, Lucas helps connect filmmakers with resources, film festivals, distribution networks, and more to help foster a bustling art scene among the Carribean community.

Romola believes that the Caribbean arts scene is in the early stages of development, and has worked tirelessly to nurture future artists to ensure that all people are properly represented in film.

In addition to her work in the Caribbean arts industry, Lucas works as an attorney with a Juris Doctorate degree from Howard University School of Law. She focuses her legal work on assisting non-profits and creatives with their business — such as contract drafting and negotiation, estate planning and probate, and real estate litigation.

Lucas is also a passionate advocate for the LGBTQI community, helping disenfranchised citizens navigate the legal system that still fails to provide proper protection and benefits to LGBTQI people — such as lacking adoption rights, forming relationship agreements, and buying or transferring property between one another.

Her tireless efforts on behalf of underrepresented communities comes naturally to Lucas, who maintains a strong sense of justice and desire for equality.

R. Dimple Willabus

When a new generation in Guyana in 1996 demanded inspiration, Dimple Willabus became the heartbeat of a people starved for young and fresh influences when she created ‘Rhythm Nation’ — a popular R&B and Hip-Hop television show.

First hosting the program at the tender age of 19, Willabus quickly helped to incite a rainbow of harmony and celebration that helped soothe the unrest of a nation and gave pride to the entire Caribbean culture.

Her entrepreneurial spirit led her to negotiated the purchase for the exclusive rights to the name and control of the show. Willabus was the first female to achieve such success, drawing on her amazing crossover appeal — and helping to blaze the path for other young females who followed in her shoes.

In June 2000, Willabus was elected Minister of Culture in Guyana’s National Youth Parliament, and went on to play integral roles in the development of a series of social consciousness movements. Through her work with Entertainers Making a Difference (EMAD) — a nongovernmental organization — AIDS awareness was brought to the forefront of the national community.

Never satisfied, Willabus travels internationally to spread pulse and joy of Rhythm Nation — bringing together countries and communities around her art.

Willabus’s influence infiltrated from her television show into the ears of the most powerful politicians and businesses throughout Guyana and the Caribbean, and allowed her to serve as the voice and face of many television and radio commercials.

Willabus later moved to the United States and continued to leverage her knowledge and skills by working at CBS Network as an assistant editor in the newsroom, where she garnered experience in a very competitive and aggressive world while continuing her work as a business owner and entrepreneur.

Still, of her many personal and professional accomplishments, Willabus believes her greatest

accomplishment is the development of her family.

Keanna Hinds

A Brooklyn native, Keanna Hinds has drawn on her personal story of tragedy and triumph to provide life-altering care for hundreds of people throughout her decade-long professional career.

Hinds is a Registered Nurse, where she has worked in direct patient care, case management and hospice care. She has found joy in caring for individuals in different stages of their lives and has experienced a great deal of fulfillment by working in hospice nursing care. With her warm smile and genuine spirit, she is able to care for individuals with life limiting conditions and bring peace and clarity to families.

Outside of the hospital, Hinds is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Kendi’s Korner, LLC, which provides marketing, journalism, and broadcasting services to entrepreneurs, small business owners, and organizations in New York City.

In 2018, Keanna experienced the untimely death of her mother, Ms. Toni Rose in St. Vincent and The Grenadines. This tragedy inspired Keanna to create the Toni Rose Foundation Inc to honor her mother’s life and create a legacy that can touch the lives of many.

The Toni Rose Foundation Inc. is focused on promoting family unity and increasing access to community resources. Toni’s strides as a social worker, community service advocate, mother, and woman of God stood as the framework for all the Toni Rose Foundation Inc stands for.

While still grieving the loss of her mother, Hinds created the foundation’s first project, “Life After Death…The Notorious G.R.I.E.F” — a podcast designed as a safe space to engage in discussions about grief.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, one of Hinds’ biggest accomplishments is her role as a mother to her dynamic daughter — Kendall.

Danielle Jones

Of Barbadian and Jamaican parentage, Danielle Jones has been grounded in her Caribbean heritage throughout her long and illustrious career.

Since 2011, Jones has served as the Regional Director to the New York State Comptroller, where she represents Bronx and Westchester County on all Intergovernmental and Community Relations and serves as a liaison for communication and coordination of services throughout the state.

As Regional Director she aims to be the conduit between her office and the Caribbean population of New York State. She has been instrumental in the establishment and development of the Comptroller’s Annual Caribbean-American Heritage Month Reception, which recognizes and honors Caribbean leaders who have contributed to the enhancement of Caribbean people and culture.

Previously, Jones faithfully served Carl Heastie, the Speaker of the New York State Assembly for six years in various roles — from Constituent Liaison to Acting Chief of Staff in his Bronx.

In addition to her impressive professional career, she has pioneered Young Caribbean Professionals of Westchester (YCPW) — and organization dedicated to providing young Caribbean professionals with a platform to engage with other professionals.

Her passion also led to a recent trip to Senegal, where she adopted a village, started a women’s coalition and donated reusable feminine hygiene products to the women and girls of the village. Not wanting her commitment to this village to be a one time donation, Danielle is currently working with the Days for Girls organization to help the women of the village turn her donation into a business.

Additionally, Danielle has been a steadfast advocate for Alopecia Awareness after her youngest daughter was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease in December 2013. She is the author of a self-published children’s book entitled, ‘A Trip to the Crown Store,’ which features her daughter’s successful journey thus far with Alopecia.

Rodney Leon

Of Hatian descent, Rodney Leon is a world-renowned architect, entrepreneur, and advocate.

Leon is the founder and principal of Rodney Leon Architects PLLC, and has an architectural background as a designer on a diversity of building types — both in the U.S. and abroad.

Mr. Leon has made the design of public spaces the focus of his professional career, and has honed his expertise in Memorial Design, Sustainable Urban Development, and Master Planning for Faith Based Institutions. He has also been an advocate for “Culturally Contextual” contemporary design.

His current projects include a 55,000 square-foot mixed use development for the French Evangelical Presbyterian Church of New York, and a 15,000 square-foot church renovation for Evangelical Crusade Christian Church.

Leon is most widely known for being the designer of the African Burial Ground Memorial at City Hall in New York, which is the first National Monument in the United States dedicated to the contributions of people of African descent.

Recently, Mr. Leon was declared the winner of the international competition by the United Nations to design the Permanent Memorial to the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Mr. Leon’s work was selected from among 310 design proposals from 83 countries in a competition launched by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Mr. Leon’s winning entry entitled “The Ark of Return’, was unveiled at the United Nations Plaza by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on March 25th, 2015.

Ena Garcia

Abandoned at birth, and later cared for by her paternal grandparents on the island of Trinidad, Ena Garcia is the epitome of a humanitarian who has dedicated her life to helping others.

Garcia migrated to the United States in 1968 in search of a better life for her family, and eventually worked as a geriatric nurse — saving up enough money to bring her family with her to America, and eventually become a first-time home owner.

In 1993, Garcia acquired another property, and used the lot to launch the St. Jude Community Center to enable her to give back to her community. She organized many events for the neighborhood youth — including a youth employment program, worship services, event space, cultural workshops, free tutoring, after school programming and a summer camp.

In 1998, Garcia returned to Trinidad roots to commence on another project. She used land passed on to her by her grandfather to establish ‘the Women of the Soil Retreat and Cultural Centre’ — where she launched a meal sharing program for seniors, goods and services distribution, literacy and social programs for young families and holiday events for the locals.

Now — at 80 years young — Garcia continues to travel between both her alutistic organizations to continue their wonderful impact.

Dianne Dixon

The multitalented, Jamaican-born Dianne Dixon has established herself as one of the most dynamic and popular Caribbean actors, hosts, and folklorists working in New York today.

Staring in a plethora of off-Broadway productions — such as ‘Haiti’s Children of God,’ ‘One of Our Sons is Missing,’ and ‘Not About Eve’ — Dixon has gained critical acclaim and notoriety for her wide-ranging talent and energetic stage presence.

Her musical talents have also earned her excellent reviews in such productions such as ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’ and ‘Flambeaux.’

Dixon made her Public Theater debut in the staged reading of Trey Anthony’s ‘How Black Mothers Say I Love You’ — which was directed by Tony award winner Kenny Leon, and has also appeared in a guest starring role in the Emmy award winning web series ‘We Speak New York.’

Throughout her career, Dixon has been nominated twice for the Audelco Award — New York’s highest honor for Off Broadway black theater — and received the New York City Council Award and Proclamation for Excellence in the Arts.

Yet, even as she garners awards and fame, Dixon has never forgotten her Caribbean roots, and works tirelessly to keep Jamaican culture alive in the New York area — including with her ‘Tribute To Miss Lou’ performances at various concerts and events.

Dwayne ‘Extacy’ Reynolds and Patrick Aitcheson

Jamaican-born mavericks Dwayne ‘Extacy’ Reynolds and Patrick Aitcheson have built an artistic empire of Caribbean entertainment and culture.

The two self-made entrepreneurs turned an idea into the massively successful ‘New Vibe

Lounge’ in Rockville Centre, a sprawling venue that hosts major reggae and dancehall stars — such as Spragga Benz, Chris Martin, Nadine Sutherland and Wayne Wonder.

Yet no matter how successful they’ve become, this dynamic-duo has relentlessly preserved and honored the legacy of Jamaican music — and expanded its appeal to a widely diverse new audience.

More recently — with the addition of ‘Karaoke and Amateur Comedy Night’ and the monthly ‘Vibe Playreading’ theatre series — they are offering both new and seasoned artists a platform to showcase their skills.

The two up-and-coming business moguls met in Queens at a printery owned by Aitcheson — when Extacy was seeking a printer flyers that he required for his exciting music promotions.

That chance encounter began a personal and professional partnership that has endured to this day, sparking the young-guns’ entrepreneurial spirit and passion for both art and Jamaican culture.

These two honorees are true Caribbean pioneers who have turned The New Vibe Lounge into a shining Caribbean light in a rapidly diversifying community.

Kenneth Mbonu

Kenneth is of Jamaican and Nigerian parentage, which he attributes contributes to his appreciation and application of diverse views in addressing economic development challenges.

Mbonu currently serves as the Executive Director of the Flatbush Junction BID, which has received international recognition for its application of art and design to address small business sustainability and financial challenges. The BID also applies cultural programming and creative strategies that recognize the strength of the Caribbean community in maintaining the corridor’s diverse business mix and low vacancy.

Mbonu also developed and expanded economic development initiatives as Principal of EastMB Group, where his work focused on urban development priorities, creating effective public-private partnerships, and business acquisition advisory.

He played a key role in the revitalization of secondary commercial corridors in Central Brooklyn, which included business attraction, real estate and business development. Mbonu also worked as a corporate banker with IDB Bank, Bank of America, and its predecessor Fleet Bank — covering specialty finance, apparel, and healthcare companies.

As an entrepreneur, he purchased, operated and sold a specialty chemical manufacturing company in Northern New Jersey.

Mbonu is a certified economic development finance professional, CORO alumnus and board advisor of Dechets a l’Or, a triple bottom line innovative waste management systems company in Guinea, West Africa.

He also serves on the board of directors of the International Charter School of New York, NYC BID Association and Brooklyn’s Community Board 3. Mbonu now lives in Bedford Stuyvesant with his wife and two children.

Jeremy Stennett

Jamaica native Jeremy Stennett is an entrepreneur, marketing expert, and philanthropist.

Stennett is the founding partner at The Lifestyle Agency — an innovative marketing and advertising agency, and manages WasemeStennett — a business advising firm with domestic and international capital development initiatives. Throughout his professional career, he has provided agency strategic planning, media and retail activation for numerous Fortune 500 brands — including Tylenol, Splenda, McDonalds, Hertz and Benjamin Moore.

Stennett grew up in an environment filled with his national culture and steeped in philanthropy. From an early age, received recognition for community service — including the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award and Black Achievers Community Service Award.

Fundraising, awareness campaigns, recruiting, and mentoring for youth and emerging entrepreneurs are areas of concentration for his certified minority agency.

Most recently, Stennett participated in the Caribbean Philanthropic Forum, at the Consulate General of Jamaica in New York. Following the Forum, Stennett penned an MOU with the Caribbean Philanthropic Alliance creating a strategic partnerships that bring together leaders throughout the Caribbean diaspora for collaboration to accelerate global reach and sustainable economic development.

The first in his family to earn a Bachelor’s degree, this Jamaica native grew up without professional mentors, but had a drive to go as far as his dreams would take him. He selected advertising after some exposure to broadcast media in grade school, and he instantly fell in love with the industry.

Stennett created his agency believing he could make a difference for brands by reaching and motivating not just multicultural, but all audiences through relevant, engaging marketing and advertising.

Today Stennett’s goal expands by leveraging his Wall Street advertising agency to create opportunities for emerging fashion designers and creative entrepreneur leaders throughout the Caribbean, starting in his homeland of Jamaica.

Gregg Bishop

Born in Grenada and raised in East Flatbush, Gregg Bishop is the Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS), where he is charged with running a dynamic City agency focused on equity of opportunity, that leads to economic self-sufficiency and mobility for New York City’s diverse communities. SBS actively connects New Yorkers to good jobs, creates stronger businesses, and builds a thriving economy in neighborhoods across the five boroughs.

Since his appointment in November 2015, he has overseen the opening of new Workforce1 Career Centers, certified a record number of minority and women-owned businesses (M/WBEs) to compete for government contracts, helped businesses to open nearly three months faster, and expanded services to women and immigrant entrepreneurs.

Bishop formerly served as Deputy Commissioner of SBS’ Business Development Division from 2012 to 2015. He began his career at the agency in 2008, and was responsible for a suite of programs designed to make it easier for businesses to start, operate, and grow, and to recover from emergencies.

Bishop also served as Assistant Commissioner of the Division of Economic and Financial Opportunity at SBS, where he worked successfully with various community organizations to deliver services, including financing assistance to small businesses and M/WBEs.

Prior to his career in government, Bishop served as the Senior Manager of Workforce Development at NPower, where he was responsible for doubling the capacity of Technology Service Corps — a nationally recognized technology training program for young adults aged 18-25.

Prior to NPower, he served as the Director of Web Operations at Oxygen Media, and as Vice President of Technology Operations at TheStreet.com. He began his career at VIBE Magazine helping to establish the publication’s brand during the pioneering days of the web.

Bishop has a decorated academic record — including a Master’s degree from Florida State University, and a degree from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government program.

Jamie Alleyne-Morris aka Jay Blessed

Jamie Alleyne-Morris — known to many by her sobriquet, Jay Blessed — is the living testament of hard work, determination, and faith in practice. The notable Caribbean Influencer was born in Trinidad and immigrated to New York at age 18, with only $75 dollars and a dream, and has since built a trustworthy reputation in her respective fields.

Having built an international name for herself through the domination of her award-winning website JayBlessed.com — welcoming over 300,000 visitors per month at its peak — Jay nurtured her niche blog which focused mainly on Caribbean entertainment news.

Akin to TMZ, JayBlessed.com was able to break stories, interview Caribbean celebs and leaders, as well as, create original content. JayBlessed.com also broke online grounds by creating a voice for the Caribbean LGBT community, when it hosted the first-ever weekly LBGT column, authored by Caribbean transgendered immigrant, “Denise,” who has since become an Immigration Equality Asylum winner and spokesperson.

In addition to JayBlessed.com, Jay has become a dynamic presence in modern popular culture — appearing in countless global publications across all numerous mediums.

Jay is a staple in her Caribbean community, who serves in many capacities to support Caribbean organizations, businesses, and events — including her work on Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’ Caribbean Heritage Month Committee in 2014, where she was the youngest serving member.

In October 2018, Jay rebranded and re-launched JayBlessed.com, with the addition of fresh original content, focusing on human experiences from a Caribbean perspective. In May 2019, she debuted her very real, very raw, very relatable — and wildly successful — weekly IN MY HEAD podcast, which focuses on highlighting and breaking stigmas and stereotypes on mental health.

For her work in her community, Jay has won numerous awards and recognitions. She lives in Brooklyn with her teenage daughter.

Shola K. Roberts

A proud Grenadian American, Shola K. Roberts is an international performing professional dancer, dance educator, choreographer and fitness instructor.

Throughout her illustrious career, Roberts has had the opportunity to work with many renowned dance companies and choreographers.

In 2019, Roberts was selected as one of the eight candidates to pursue her Doctoral degree in Dance Education at Columbia University, which has helped her in her current role as the Dance Educator and Arts Liaison for MS 354 — The School of Integrated Learning. With her mentorship, Roberts’ students have had the opportunity to perform at a number of community and cultural institutions.

In May of 2017, Roberts was featured on WNYC for her efforts within the community and Dance Education program and was honored by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams for the work she has done in her community. She was also honored in 2016 with Barnes and Noble’s Favorite Teacher Award.

For the past three years she has launched a program between two New York City public schools entitled KÉ™-ˈnek-shÉ™n: The Dance Workshop Series — which helps create a platform for students to have a dance exchange.

In 2015, Roberts was named a Lincoln Center Scholar, where she received a full scholarship to the Hunter College Arnhold Graduate Dance Program.

Roberts has even taken her passion and love for the art form to the island of Grenada and St. Maarten, where she led several dance workshops — including a week long West African Diversity in Dance workshop with over 75 students.

Traveling and taking her message of uplifting people through dance and fitness is something this Howard University Fine Arts graduate has made her mission. Roberts is extremely passionate about the arts and her Caribbean culture and is grateful for the opportunity to share her passion of dance to inspire, to touch and change lives.

Reverend Laurel E. Scott, PhD.

Born in Barbados, Rev. Laurel E. Scott, PhD, is “on a mission from God” to help the people who most need.

A pastor and a scholar, Rev. Scott currently serves her community as Senior Pastor at Newman Memorial United Methodist Church in Brooklyn — where she is an activist minister with a focus on Women’s Issues and Labor Justice.

She became intensely involved in Women’s issues when she managed New York City’s Boro Crisis Centers from 1979 to 1988, where she supervised Crisis Counselors working with victims of rape, sexual assault, family violence, child abuse, and families of homicide victims trauma centers.

She became involved with the worker justice movement while she was pastor-in-charge of historic Old West United Methodist Church in Boston. Since that time, she has relentlessly spoken out on behalf of the working poor — for which she was named one of InterFaith Worker Justice’s 100 Religious Spokespersons for the Employee Free Choice Act.

She has served as chair of the Commission on Religion and Race in the United Methodist Church in New England, and chair of the denomination’s Equitable Compensation Commission. She currently serves as National Vice President of the Black Clergy Women of the United Methodist Church (BCWUMC).

Rev. Scott spent her formative years in Barbados, and later emigrated to the United States, where she graduated from Brooklyn College, CUNY.

She later received her PhD in Practical Theology from the School of Theology at Boston

University. Rev. Scott’s dissertation is entitled “To Welcome the Stranger; Hospitality among Ghanaian immigrants in the United Methodist Church” — which focused on the role of the Christian church on the subject of immigrants. She is also a graduate of New York University, Master of Public Administration, and holds a Master of Divinity from Boston University.

Angela P. Cooper

Born in Bon Accord Village in Tobago, Angela P. Cooper boasts an impressive resume as a philanthropist, humanitarian, youth leader, cultural ambassador, writer, artist, entrepreneur, and more.

Cooper currently serves as the Assistant Director of Communications at NYC Health + Hospitals/McKinney, where she oversees various departments, and all in-house and community-oriented events. She is also the Liaison of the Community Advisory and Auxiliary Board, and often lends a hand to other departments, wherever one is needed.

In addition to her daily duties, Cooper has supervised over 500 young adults in a Summer Youth Program at the hospital for the past 15 years — helping to cultivate healthy values, morals and ethics of numerous young adults.

Outside of the hospital, Cooper can be found all over Brooklyn, volunteering and lending her talents to a vast array of community-based organizations — including with the Tobago Progressive Association and the Trinidad and Tobago Alliance,

Additionally, she serves as the CEO of the Coral Reef Experience, where her dream is to lead Coral Reef to the level for which it was created.

Coral Reef’s definitive vision is to bridge “Youth with Wisdom” because she believes that “An investment in the youth today will be harvested tomorrow.”

At every walk of life, Cooper selflessly hopes to leave a legacy of worth, purpose and service to the hundreds of children whom she has mothered, nurtured and mentored.

Roger V. Archibald

Born in San Fernando in the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Roger V. Archibald is a lawyer, entrepreneur, activist, and mentor.

In 1975, Roger and his family migrated to the United States, where he eventually graduated from Brooklyn College and Brooklyn Law School — before taking time off to earn admittance to the Jamaican Bar, allowing him to practice law in any Commonwealth Jurisdiction.

As a young attorney, Roger honed his skills in Tax Compliance and IRS Regulations with the Big Six Accounting Firm, PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Soon thereafter, he co-founded the firm of Archibald and Hap where he focused on Personal Injury, Criminal Defense, Probate, and Real Estate Litigation.

In 1996, Mr. Archibald’s current firm, Roger Victor Archibald, PLLC, was founded. The firm’s areas of practice include International Law, Medical Malpractice, Employment Discrimination, and General Civil Litigation. The firm currently represents a variety of corporate and individual clients, labor unions, elected politicians and Caribbean nations.

Throughout his impressive career, Archibald has partook in many high-stakes legal cases — including his successful defense of the government of Grenada in a five hundred million dollar oil and natural gas dispute, and his representation of the government of St. Lucia in a multi-million dollar real estate dispute.

He is also currently Counsel to the government of St. Lucia and has previously served as Counsel to U.S. Representative Hon. Yvette D. Clarke, and New York State Senator Kevin Parker.

On top of his personal career, Archibald also invests his time in mentoring the next generation of lawyers. Since 1992, he has been an Adjunct Professor at St. Joseph’s College where he has taught Human Resources Law, Business Law, Negligence Law, and Legal Aspects of Healthcare Administration.

He also hosts internships and externships for many law school programs — where he is an instructor, supervisor, and mentor to law students as they transition into the legal profession.

Additionally, Mr. Archibald funds an annual scholarship at his Alma Mater, Boys and Girls High School, for graduating seniors who express an interest in pursuing a career in law.

Rev. Dr. Les Mullings

Hailing from Jamaica, the Rev. Dr. Les Mullings is the Founder and CEO of Challenge Charter Schools, where he works tirelessly to ensure that every child has access to a good education.

Mullings’ relentless vision led him to develop and create Challenge Preparatory Charter School to serve the needs of the Far Rockaway community — which he helped lead through every stage of development, and oversees all aspects of the school’s day-to-day operations.

The school welcomed its first Kindergarten and First Grade classes in August 2010 — in large part due to Mullings’ dedication — and will soon expand to include a 70,000 square foot educational facility in the heart of Downtown Far Rockaway. The new state-of-the-art facility is worth an estimated thirty one million dollars, and is set to be completed in time for the 2020- 2021 school year — when it will incorporate the newly approved Challenge Charter High School for current and prospective 9th and 10th grade scholars.

Mullings holds a Ph.D. in Urban Studies from the University of London Chelsea and a Masters in Counseling/Psychology. He is a graduate of the Advanced Education Leadership Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Outside of the classroom, Mullings serves as the Senior Pastor of the Community Church of the Nazarene — where he has led the church through the development of multiple programs that serve the greater Far Rockaway community. The church has gone through several expansions and remodeling projects during his term as pastor and is currently in the development stage of a seventy million dollar affordable housing complex that will provide a new church facility and educational programs for the community.

Additionally, Mullings has been a vital member of his community when it has needed him the most. He has helped to provide counseling for children and adults in the aftermath of 9/11, led the Far Rockaway community’s response to the American Airlines crash in November 2007, and helped rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.

He has also hosted numerous community events — such as job fairs and holiday drives — to further help his fellow community members.

Menes de. Griot – African Drummer

Guyanese-born Menes de Griot, also known as Baba Mpho, is a Master Drummer, who has thrilled audiences across his homeland, the United States, and the Caribbean, for many years.

Son, of the late, great, Art Sebastian Broomes, Guyana’s pre-eminent jazz drummer, and cultural icon, who taught and played music for most of his seventy-nine years, no doubt, passed on his genius to de Griot, a compelling drummer, who while growing up in his village in Guyana, was known by the elders as Cicely’s child, due to the bond he had forged with villagers, thorough his drumming skill.

He embraced, his rich multi-cultural heritage from a very young age, and carried it on, while honing his drumming skills. He played at Komfa, (spiritual ritual), and African and Indian ceremonies, which included, births, funerals, and wakes.

de Griot is a well-respected Kwe Kwe – Guyanese wedding ceremony- specialist in the community, while baseball fans at Yankee Stadium, the Trinidad and Tobago national park, and the prestigious Johannesburg stadium South Africa, have enjoyed his spirited rhythms.

The award-winning drummer, has also performed at the Venda South Africa, Toronto Carnival Canada, the Washington D .C. Carnival Redskin Stadium, at the Brooklyn Labor day carnival, the prestigious, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Monument Washington DC, The Blackburn Virginia College, Howard University, and many other venues.

A multi-talented person, de Griot, is a spokes-man, and keeper of the Drums of the People Of The Sun Collective, an organization that has worked with Medgar Evers College, to produce The Tribute To The Ancestors, which turned 30 years in 2019.

He is passionate about his drumming, and uses his instrument, to accompany his verses as a poet, storyteller, and songwriter, skills that keeps him balanced, and focused as he maintains a healthy lifestyle as a Naturalist consultant.

For all of this, he was initiated into the Sangoma tradition during his trip to South Africa to trace his roots. He also shares his knowledge on “Your health is your Wealth,” a Brooklyn radio show.

Marsha Massiah-Aaron

Hailing from the twin island republic of Trinidad & Tobago, Marsha Massiah-Aaron is a decorated entrepreneur and creator.

Currently, Massiah-Aaron co-manages The Idea Room Corp. — a socially-conscious content/concept creation and communications hub — with her husband Christopher, and is the founder and strategist for the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival.

Currently residing in Brooklyn, Massiah-Aaron is also an instructional designer at Brookdale Hospital Medical Center, an organizer, and mother to a wondrous six-year-old boy named Kai.

She received her undergraduate degree with honours from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, and later migrated to the United States — where she earned her project management certification from NYU’s School of Professional Studies.

She is an ardent lover of carnival, Caribbean culture, history, literature, the arts and fitness — and she is unabashedly passionate about the dissemination of knowledge, which underpins all her creative endeavours.

For the last 20 years, she has worked extensively in events management and production. She had also been heavily involved in research and proposal development within the United States and the eastern Caribbean. Her client list — which includes the Center for Gender and Development Studies, UWI, WINAD, DAWN, and the Rape Crisis Center of Trinidad & Tobago — allows her to continue making a postive impact on the issues that she cares about most.

Erwin Papillon

Hatian-born Erwin Papillon is an entrepreneur who has dedicated his life to helping people connect with one another.

Papillon is the founder of Papillon Marketing Group (PMG), which focuses on media and promotional campaigns that works to bridge the gap between Haiti and those living abroad by introducing them to Haitian businesses and products.

A self-starter, Papillion worked his way up from sales management at companies such as Walmart, Target, T-mobile — and later worked among the executive leadership team at Verizon Wireless, where he helped implement successful campaigns and programs that expanded customer outreach and the brand’s mission.

Erwin migrated to the US at the age of six, and knew early on that he would take the less conventional road by owning his business — but he never lost his dedication to the home he left behind.

After having found a disconnect in the business section at home, he created PMG along with his business partner — helping businesses in need of market expansion.

Under PMG, Papillon founded both Siret, and later, Bouche Cosmetics — a full cosmetic line that has partnered with several Haitian and French Antilles artists to build a powerhouse beauty brand.

PMG also boasts clients such as Trace Ayiti, Ayizan TV and Rhum Bakara and is continuously committed to the expansion of the Haitian market — and its people.

Arlington Leon Eastmond, Jr.

Arlington Leon Eastmond, Jr. is the President and CEO of A.L. Eastmond and Sons (EASCO Boiler Corp) — the largest black-owned boiler manufacturing business in New York City.

Recognized as a formidable business leader, Eastmond tuned the company into a multi-million dollar enterprise. He credits his success to his late father — the company’s founder, Arlington Leon Eastmond Sr. — who taught him the importance of responsibility, leadership, and sacrifice when he first began working for the company at the age of 12.

By 1957, Eastmond was promoted to a leadership role at EASCO — handling financing, product development, personnel, marketing, sales, and overall production.

Eastmond has led the company through many stages of its development, and remains responsible for the growth of EASCO’s diversifying business portfolio — which includes the Trump Organization, Yankee Stadium, the School Construction Authority, the New York City Housing Authority, and the New York Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

Civic engagement has long been at the forefront of his priorities, as evidenced by his volunteer work with several organizations — including the South Bronx Redevelopment organization, Boy Scouts of America, and the Bronx Chamber of Commerce.

Additionally, Eastmond established a foundation in his late father’s honor which celebrates students, teachers, and principals who have overcome challenges to make great strides.

At every walk of life, Eastmond — a father of three, and a grandfather of ten — has worked tirelessly to hold up the honorable values that his father instilled in him as a young boy.

Yvette Greene Dennis

Born in New Jersey, Yvette Greene Dennis has ancestry in a vast array of Carrabiean Islands — including Barbados, St. Vincents, Grenadines, Trinidad — which has instilled in her important west Indian values that have guided her along her impressive career path as a barrier-breaking entrepreneur.

Currently, Dennis serves as the Executive Vice President of Program Management for “The Crescent Companies” — as well as President and Founder of Dennis Consultants.

Under the tutelage of her Father Darryl E. Greene — the CEO of The Darman Group — Dennis is a 42 year veteran in the construction industry. At just 16-years-old Yvette became fascinated by the work her father was doing to pave the way for Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MWBE) in the construction arena.

Encouraged by her father during her youth, Dennis worked in multiple arenas outside of the construction arena — largely because she was concerned that the industry was not “female friendly.”

Throughout this experimental phase of her career, Dennis found a passion for education — and began work as a Health Aide for the Department of Education, as well as one of the Mayor’s original Parent Coordinators hires.

Still, she could not shake her passion for construction. She joined the Elevators and Escalators Union as the organization’s second woman of color — which taught her the value of giving everyone a fair chance, regardless of their race or creed.

Having the staple of wearing pink boots and pink hard hat, Yvette has had involvement on many projects throughout the Tri-state area — and has built an impressive career in the field she is most passionate about.

Kemar Blake

Born in Jamaica and raised in Brooklyn, Kemar Blake is an entrepreneur, a businessman, and the owner of Bellyful Restaurant & Bar.

Blake was “born in a poor community, but with rich values” — which has instilled in him the core principles of hard work, determination, and creativity.

After four years of hard work, Blake welcomed diners to Bellyful at 2102 Utica Ave. in Brooklyn, where he cooks up authentic cuisine for a diverse clientele.

“I’m a vegetarian,” he explains. “So I want to be able to provide for people like myself, who has a certain diet — and make sure they are included in the restaurant.”

Blake is a self-starter who built his business on the back of his extraordinary determination and penchant for innovation. He is a God-fearing man who relishes providing others with opportunities.

Never one to miss an opportunity, Blake says he knew from an early age that he would be a successful restaurateur.

At Bellyful, Blake serves up entrees ranging from traditional Jamaican dishes to contemporary fusions of international flavors, and a menu of special drinks and juices — such as their signature Bellyful Breadfruit Punch.

The name Bellyful was inspired by Blake’s grandmother — who instilled in him from an early age a love of his family that he passes on to his wonderful children.

June Persaud

June Persaud is a Guyanese entrepreneur, brand ambassador, and marketing expert with over 20 years of multi-industry experience.

Currently, Persaud serves as the CEO and owner of JAP Marketing LLC — a renowned wine marketing company that brings together brands and consumers with an all-encompassing retail strategy, and gives assistance in management and growth of family liquor store.

Persaud has also taken her skills to several other areas outside of JAP Marketing, including her work putting together the “International Food & Wine Tasting” event in 2010 for Bartenura Wine — which brought together the company and the surrounding community under the same roof in East Flatbush in and effort to grow, develop, and educate both businesses and consumers.

For her outstanding work, she was offered the role of XM Rum Brand Manager for New York and New Jersey — a liquor company founded by fellow Guyanese entrepreneurs.

Outside of her professional career, Persaud has used her skill and passion to help her community in numerous ways.

Persaud proudly serves as Coordinator of BNRC (Brooklyn Night Life Coalition), a 20year veteran of Committee Board 17, a member of the 67th Precinct Community Council, Secretary of the Guyanese American Independence Committee Inc.

She holds a degree in Business Management from New York City College.

Lyndon Taylor

Lyndon Taylor has over 20 years of experience in media and communications, having worked for more than a decade in radio, television and related industries in Jamaica, from which he hails.

Throughout his decorated career, Taylor has provided coverage for numerous regional and international events, covering a range of issues — including entertainment, tourism, transportation, and economic development.

Taylor is key to the public relations efforts for the Jamaica Tourist Board and has secured placements in top consumer publications such as The New York Times and USA Today.

Additionally, Taylor has worked as a publicist for Zinc Fence Band in Jamaica, where he spearheaded the promotion of the group’s single, River, which received tremendous radio airplay in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean.

With a passionate interest in volunteerism, he has served the St. Patrick’s Foundation in Kingston and acted as media center Supervisor for the IX IAAF/Coca-Cola World Junior Championships in Athletics. He also volunteers as a mentor with Catholic Big Sisters & Big Brothers (CBSBB) and serves as a communications consultant with the New York based Jamaican charity Children of Jamaica Outreach (COJO).

With a passion for fashion and lifestyle, sports, and the arts, Taylor currently serves on the boards of House of D’Marsh and Momentum Collective Inc. He also serves as Communications Director for Men of Color in Communication, a community for multicultural men in the communications industry.

Taylor is a graduate of the University of Westminster, where he completed a Master of Arts in Journalism and a post-graduate diploma in Broadcast Journalism. A former member of the International Association of Business Communications (IABC), he holds an M.B.A. in Media Management from the Metropolitan College of New York.

Vayden and Negesti Pinnock

Vayden Pinnock — who hails from Jamaica — and his wife, Negesti Pinnock — who hails from Jamaica and Barbados — are a team of entrepreneurs who built the successful international self-care business ButterMEssentials.

In 2009, Negesti had a dream about how to create a successful hair butter, which came to be known as Creamy Delight Hair Butter — and their business was born.

The former teacher and daycare owner had been searching for a good product for her daughters’ Afro-textured hair — which would often hurt when using normal products. So, when she had her dream, she knew it was a sign.

Relentlessly pursuing her dream, Negesti taught herself the basics of hair product-creation, and eventually hit on her magic formula. It was a blessing to know that her daughters’ finally had a formula that actually worked. Thrilled with her creation, Negesti began giving away her product to other parents to help them care for their children who suffered similar problems as hers.

In 2012, Negesti and her husband Vayden started ButterMEssentials — a fully-fledged Brookly-based company with registered trademarks. Later on, they grew out of the make-shift production space in their basement, and into a larger space — with distribution throughout the United States and Jamaica.

Now, ButterMEssentials make the most amazing natural hair and body products — such as hair butters, pomades, serums, elixirs, body butters, luxury soaps, scrubs, non-sulfate shampoos and conditioners, lip balms and much more.

In July 27, 2019 ButterMEssentials decided to open their 1st Brick and Mortar at 688 Nostrand Ave. In Brooklyn, NY. They now hope to bring their unique products worldwide. As their Motto say: You Deserve to be Buttered!

The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce

Founded in 1896, the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce is a not-for-profit business and community development organization that works to improve the quality of life for local residents — and attract high-quality business to the area.

Throughout its storied history, the Chamber has helped facilitate some of the most important and impactful development projects in New York City — including construction of the George Washington Bridge, planning for the first subway line in the city, and support for the Harlem Renaissance in the 1930s.

Recently, the Chamber has helped aid the construction and development of “Strivers Gardens” — an extraordinary mixed-use residential and commercial development that will bring an influx of both housing and economic opportunity.

Through their tireless efforts, the Chamber has helped revitalize Harlem into a key tourism destination.

Over the years, the Chamber has hosted numerous extraordinary events designed to promote business and community in the area. Perhaps most notably, the Chamber has created “HARLEM WEEK” — which attracted over three and a half million people to its four week celebration last year, which focused on jazz, sports, cultural events, theatre, movie festivals, economic development, business fairs and expositions, carnivals, gospel festivals, nightclub and restaurant special events, and more.

Additionally, the Chamber relentlessly supports its community — from the education of its youth to the aspirations of its budding entrepreneurs — with a host of other programs and events. The chamber has helped to connect hundreds of residents with local businesses during its countless career fairs.

Over the years, the Chamber has provided in excess of six million dollars in scholarships and internships to students attending trade schools and other colleges and universities.