The Brooklyn-based Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI) on Sunday evening honored 11 individuals and businesses at a gala celebration marking the organization’s 29th anniversary.
The honorees received medals and certificates at the five-hour-plus-long event at Tropical Paradise Ballroom in Brooklyn.
CACCI founder, chief executive officer and president Grenadian-born Dr. Roy Hastick, also received citations from Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke and State Assemblywoman Helene E. Weinstein (D-41st AD).
The honorees were: Akin Akinsanya, owner of Panel, Events Planning and Catering Services; Zeana Alli, president and chief executive officer, Quantum Direct, LLC; Hector Aponte, co-owner, Tradewinds Contracting Services; Lucille Aponte, co-owner, Tradewinds Contracting Services; Leonora Francis, co-owner, Tradewinds Contracting Services; and Dawn Baxter, manager of community relations, Health Plus Amerigroup.
The other honorees were: Thenga R. Jenkins-Griffin, community relations representative, Health Plus Amerigroup; Angel Deliz, senior executive, American Corporate Benefits, Inc.; Alfred Placeres, attorney-at-law and president of the Federation of New York State Hispanic Chambers of Commerce; Lady Jane Powell, entrepreneur and author; and Dennie Wilson, ex-St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ambassador to the UN and founder of Rockaway Community STEM Charter School.
Akinsanya, a Nigerian immigrant, studied finance in college and is an ex-Wall Street analyst. He describes himself as “a lover of food and culture”, and enjoys food from various parts of the World.
For several years, Akinsanya and his team have been putting together “wonderfully illuminating and subsequently captivating” Pan-African cultural events (“Taste of Africa Event Series”) with PANLA, its sister company, featuring, among other items, exotic African cuisine, traditional African cuisine, fashion and fusion dishes, with entertainment and live performances.
Akinsanya started New York African Restaurant Week, which was born out of these “tastes” of Africa events.
Alli guides investments in several markets in several states, including Florida, Georgia and New York.
She brings to her company a wealth of over 30 years in the fields of real estate investments, retail management and business developments.
Alli served as sales manager at Home Depot in Queens, and was later named the District Operations Manager for the New York Metropolitan area, where she was responsible for commercial contracts that generated millions in revenue for the company.
Her passion to promote self and others has led to her involvement in community activism, catering for the social- religious needs of her community.
Lucille Aponte, her husband Hector, and Francis are co-owners of Trade Winds Contracting Services LLC. Francis, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, is also a registered nurse and serves as president.
Lucille Aponte is also a Trinidadian native with background in banking and construction. She is also a former chief executive officer/founder of an MWBE contracting firm specializing in interiors and carpentry.
Hector Aponte is a former telecommunications professional, who is the company’s chief operation officer/general manager with experience in new business development, service delivery systems, and customer support and client retention.
Baxter is responsible for developing and managing relationships with key decision makers who significantly impact the health care market place.
Baxter has been able to combine successfully her life as Health Plus’ Manager of Community Relations. She is also an ordained minister. She has earned a BA degree in theology and is currently pursuing a master’s in counseling.
She maintains a full time profession while keeping a fulltime schedule seven days a week, volunteering time as member of the Clergy Council of the 83rd Police Precinct visiting the sick and shut-in.
Jenkins-Griffin, who migrated to the US with her mom from St. Kitts at the age of seven, began her first career at the Brooklyn Public Library in the Language & Literature and Marketing and Communication’s departments.
Driven by ambition and motivation, she pursued studies at Baruch College, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
In 2005, Jenkins-Griffith’s administrative and promoting spirit led her to a career in marketing and administration at Care Plus Health Plan, now called Health Plus AMERIGROUP.
In 1976, Cuban-born Placeres became a member of the New York Bar Association, specializing in immigration and business law. He is also the author of “Como Conseguir los Papeles” (How to Get Your Papers).
Placeres also co-hosts “La Ley y Usted” (The Law and You) and serves as the Immigration Law commentator for Telemundo’s Channel 47 morning newscast.
Powell, President of Lady Jane Enterprises Inc., was born in the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. At the age of 18, she migrated from Saint Lucia to Barbados, where she became the first Caribbean woman to work on a ship as a stewardess.
Since migrating to the United States, she has studied fashion design and has maintained her entrepreneurial spirit.
Powell has developed over 11 products, including men’s cologne, therapeutic oils, ginger and banana liqueurs, and her own line of chocolates – all of which have been made from natural ingredients.
For over 23 years, Powell worked full-time as an intensive care nurse at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. A published author and artist, she is currently working on her fourth publication, and specializes in three dimensional trapunto art, a unique endeavor involving sewing and silk screening of hand-painted fabrics of original designs.
Deliz began his life of service by forming the first ASPIRA club in Boys High School (the old boys). He’s a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Brooklyn College (Class of 72), where he was active in the development of the Puerto Rican Studies Program and served as the first president of the Puerto Rican Alumni Association.
Deliz has been in the financial services industry over 30 years, and currently serves as senior consultant at American Corporate Benefits Inc, providing employee group benefits such as health, dental, disability and other services to the Hispanic and Caribbean business community.
His considers being married to his wife, Evelyn, as his “greatest achievement.” He currently resides in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, where he attends Brooklyn Tabernacle Church and serves in the Children’s and Host Ministry “for the Glory of God.”
Founder of Rockaway Community STEM Charter School, Wilson is a former St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ambassador to the United Nations and ex-Speaker of the House of Assembly in his native land.
He has additional experiences in public education and business management, and is adept at program and policy development, budget and resource management, and project coordination.
Wilson has earned degrees in education and political science from Fordham University, Queens College and St. Rose College in Albany. He has also received numerous awards, including an award for Excellence and Distinguished Career from the City Council of New York and the British House of Commons in London.
“I am deeply honored and humbled to be in the presence of such distinguished honorees,” said Wilson after receiving the award. “Awards are special, but this one is a very special one.”
Besides Clarke and Weinstein, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, City Councilmen Jumaane Williams and Dr. Mathieu Eugene, and ex-city Councilwoman Una S. T Clarke addressed the ceremony.