NYC First Lady headlines women awards

Dr. Roxie Irish’s mom, Rose, (l) witnesses award conferred on her daughter, flanked by Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (L) and ex-NYC Councilmember Una S.T. Clarke.
Photo by Nelson A. King

New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray, who traces her roots to St. Lucia and Barbados, on Sunday headlined the “Women Celebrating Women” gala Award Ceremony at Tropical Paradise Ballroom on Utica Avenue in Brooklyn.

McCray was among 17 extraordinary women who were honored by the Brooklyn-based Progressive Democrats Political Association (PDPA), headed by former New York City Council Member Dr. Una S-T. Clarke.

The event, which was attended by Mayor Bill de Blasio, was in recognition of Women’s History Month, Dr. Clarke said.

The other honorees were: Michelle Akyempong, vice president of Legislation and Political Action of the Social Service Employee Union, Local 371, DC 37; Tanika Allen, a licensed occupational therapy practitioner; Debbie Almontaser, founder and former principal of Khalil Gibran International Academy; Nohemi Anderson, owner of Creaciones Beauty Salon; Paulette Bermingham, educator, minister and matriarch of the Haitian Seventh-Day Adventist Community; Dr. Zulema Blair, director of the Freshman Program and assistant professor at Medgar Evers College; Ingrid Leer-Charles, a PDPA member and qualified disaster response technician; and Dr. Keicha Gosling, the director of the Northeastern Conference Adventist Community Services.

The others were: Pamela Grannum, registered nurse at Mt. Sinai St. Luke’s Organization; Dr. Roxie V. Irish, youth minister at the Miracle Temple Ministries in Brooklyn and president and founder of the United Vincie Cultural Group of Brooklyn; Dolsy Lewis-Wilkinson, registered nurse at SUNY Downstate Hospital; Marilyn D. Mosley, a public school advocate; Lisa G. Wellington, a physician assistant at Montefiore Einstein Hospital; Dr. Inyong Asibong, a physician and member of the Medical Association of Nigeria; Leslyn Stewart, a registered nurse and widow of slain NYDP detective Dillon Stewart; and Allison Williams, owner of Marie Elanne,Inc., an accessories and clothing line.

The honorees also received proclamations from, among others, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke and Councilman Jumaane Williams.

The first lady of New York City said she has been a writer and advocate all her life.

This past year, she played a central role in the de Blasio administration’s successful efforts to establish universal pre-kindergarten and after- school programs for all middle school students.

As first lady, McCray said she is “a fierce advocate for high quality and accessible mental health services.”

She said that, “for far too long, New Yorkers experiencing mental health challenges have been left without the support and services they deserve.”

She is spearheading the city’s efforts on mental health, including ThriveNYC, and $850 million program to bring more services, better services and services that are easier to access to New Yorkers.

The first lady lamented that many are unable to find jobs because of mental illnesses.

“And all mental illnesses are treatable,” she said, adding: “We’ll be rolling out the initiative all this year. All of us can sign up anyone. The class is free. We want to connect people for the first time.”

In addition to mental health, McCray said she has lent her voice and position to furthering the administration’s efforts to expand early childhood development and support survivors of domestic violence.

Additionally, McCray said she is “proud to serve as chair of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.”

The goal of the fund is ensure that all New Yorkers have access to the programs and resources they need to achieve their full potential.

McCray said the fund’s work is focused on health, education, community empowerment and social justice.

As chair, McCray said she brings together leaders in the private and public sectors to support Mayor Bill de Blasio’s progressive agenda.

The public can learn more about her work at FLO.NYC, where she shares her stories, poems, photos and videos.

McCray invited New Yorkers to help her “make the greatest city in the world even greater.”

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