Nine Jamaicans and Trinidadians were honored on Sunday during the 6th annual combined celebration of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago’s 53rd anniversary of independence.
The “icons” were honored during Brooklyn’s Progressive Democrats Political Association’s (PDPA) “Reggae vs. Soca” gala dinner cruise celebration aboard the Hornblower. The boat departed Pier 40, in lower Manhattan, at 6 pm, circling close to the Statue of Liberty.
The honorees were: Assemblyman Michael Blake (Ja); Dr. Robert Clarke (Ja); Patrick Clarke (Ja); Naomi Henry (T&T); Balfour Peart (Ja); Earnest Skinner (T&T); Joyce Quamina (T&T); Desmond West (Ja); and Shelley Worrell (T&T).
“On behalf of the people of the 9th Congressional District of New York, I recognize and acknowledge this year’s honorees, marking the 53rd anniversary of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, for their contributions to our community,” said PDPA president and founder, Dr. Una S.T. Clarke, a former New York City Councilmember.
“Your collective record of service to the people of Brooklyn, as well as to the people of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to the civil society we share,” she added. “I wish you continued success in the future.”
Several local politicians witnessed the ceremony: Rep.Yvette D. Clarke (9th CD); (Assemblywomen Latrice Walker (55th AD), Diana Richardson (43rd AD), Rodneyse Bichotte (42nd AD); Cory Provost, district leader (58th AD).
Assemblyman Blake, who represents the Bronx, first met President Obama in 2006 when he joined the Obama organization as a participant in the “Yes We Can” political training program.
In 2006, Blake successfully co-organized three state house campaigns in that election cycle and was promoted to become the director of External Affairs for the Michigan House of Representatives serving in Michigan Speaker of the House Andy Dillon’s cabinet.
In early 2007, following the inspiring launch of President Obama’s campaign in Springfield, Ill., Blake was motivated to elect the first African-American President and left Michigan to join the presidential campaign in the ever so critical first step of the election process: the Iowa Caucuses.
Following the campaign, Blake was named the director of National Labor Outreach for the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Committee. Once completing that national assignment, he joined the White House staff as associate director of Public Engagement & deputy associate director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, coordinating African American, minority business and county and statewide elected official outreach.
He created the White House Urban Entrepreneurship Summit series, which sought to foster public, private and not-for-profit partnerships and provide strategic advice to attendees.
Peart has amassed over 25 years of experience in worldwide sales and marketing as director of the Worldwide Sales Department at Ametek- Chatillon Inc., a division of Ametek Inc., an international weighing equipment and force measurement company.
In this capacity, he traveled to more than 90 countries and was responsible for domestic and international sales, and budget control and sales activities.
Prior to serving as sales director for the Ametek-Chatillon Inc., Peart served as International Sales Manager initiated and developed the International Sales Division for the company by researching and identifying the specific needs of various countries around the world.
Peart has had a solid record of community service. A former member of the Society of International Weighing and Measurement Association, he currently serves as treasurer and board member of the Brooklyn-based Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc.(CACCI).
West is a graduate of St. Georges College, Jamaica. A lover of track and field he represented St. Georges at boys championships, and also Eastern Kingston, for over a decade.
West migrated to the U.S. in1986 and was a pioneer in the legalization of commuter vans in Brooklyn. He is the owner of Royal Rose Transportation.
He is also a founding member of the Ex-Correctional Officers of Jamaica.
Skinner serves as community liaison for City Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (45th District,Brooklyn).
He is a retired senior executive with Citigroup and earned a reputation as a bridge builder between the corporate suites and the streets.
While representing Citigroup, his focus was to leverage his knowledge of the corporate structure and culture, and work hard on community relationships, thereby providing the climate to position the bank as a leader in community development lending, social investments, grant-making, banking services and technical assistance.
Skinner has served on the board of directors of several non-profit organizations; and, in the process, has been the recipient of several awards and citations.
But he takes most pride in his role as a political consultant to several young emerging political activists, several of whom have been elected to the U.S., state and local Legislatures.
Patrick Clarke said he is a born-entrepreneur and a hardworking individual, with more than 30 years of experience in running his own business.
He comes from a military background, serving four years in the U.S. Navy. Clarke has been in the restaurant business for over 13 years. He was also a barber for about 15 years.
He is the proprietor of Island CZ Café at 743 Franklin Ave., Brooklyn.
A first generation Caribbean-American, Worrell is a cultural entrepreneur, with extensive experience in multiplatform distribution, brand management, strategic partnerships and business development.
Worrell is also the founder and executive director of caribBEING, whose mission is “building community through the lens of Caribbean film + art + culture” and Worrell Media Group, a distribution platform for Caribbean Diaspora TV / film, entertainment and lifestyle products.
She has worked for top media and technology brands including Google, The History Channel, A&E, Time Warner and The Madison Square Garden, and has led the successful launch of more than100 digital and cable VOD channels.
Quamina is renowned for her continued dedicated service to the Caribbean community. She is the former business manager of the Brooklyn-based West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA).
During her 23-year service to WIADCA, Quamina was not only instrumental in the development of the Labor Day parade but also in the development of several Trinidadian-styled carnivals worldwide.