The Brooklyn-based Progressive Democrats Political Association (PDPA) will on Sunday honor 19 outstanding women during its 27th Annual Women Celebrating Women gala at Tropical Paradise Ballroom on Utica Avenue in Brooklyn.
The event — headed by former New York City Council Member, Dr. Una S.T. Clarke — will bestow honor on the remarkable women, whose professions range from nursing to entrepreneurship and business to law to child and family advocacy to community activism.
The honorees are: Irma Gibb, Naeemah Senghor, Danielle Jones, Rhonda Binda, Gisselle Rice, Cynthia Smith, Dionne Bailey, Vaughan Danvers, Elka E. Roberts-Riley, Julia James and Pamela Griffin.
The others are: Coleen Babb, Annmarie Adamson, Jennifer Jones Austin, Michelle Randall Williams, Stephanie Myers, Dorensa Roberts, Joan Alexander-Bakiriddin and Ella Frederick.
“PDPA has been an institution that educates the community for civic engagement,” Dr. Clarke told Caribbean Life on Monday. “Over the past 27 years, we’ve selected women who quietly made contributions to the development of the community — many of whom are civic leaders who help to educate the community and know what involvement in the community is all about.
“This year’s group is significant as any other for the contributions they have made,” she added.
Among the distinguished honorees, Registered Nurse Riley-Roberts, a Brooklyn native, is the daughter of James and Claudette Riley (deceased), and wife of Damian Roberts.
After receiving her New York State Nursing license in the winter 2005, Riley-Roberts applied and was accepted as a nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital (MSH), where she cared for patients with brain and spine surgeries on GP8W.
Riley-Roberts holds the title of nurse manager of the Neurological / Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit (NSICU) at MSH, where she leads a team of 60-odd nurses and ancillary staff.
“I love people, and I always want to help people to heal and get better,” said Riley-Roberts when asked why she chose to be a nurse, reaffirming her commitment to serve others as a nurse, nurse-practitioner and nurse manager.
Crichton-Bailey, a native of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, is also a Registered Nurse.
After her early education at the Kingstown Preparatory School and the Girls High School, she entered the St. Vincent and the Grenadines School of Nursing, graduating as a registered nurse, with a certificate in midwifery.
Crichton-Bailey progressed in her career and became a district nurse and midwife.
She then worked at the Kingstown General Hospital, now known as The Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, where she became supervisor of the 60-bed Pediatric Ward.
In 1982, Crichton-Bailey accompanied three children to New York for open heart surgery at North Shore University Hospital. The trip was sponsored by the Rotary Club of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Later in 1982, Crichton-Bailey migrated to New York. Driven by her passion for taking care of children and the elderly, she worked at the Peninsula Hospital Center as a pediatric nurse for 29 years.
She also performed pediatric private duty nursing with St. Mary’s Community Care Professionals, and worked at several nursing homes in Brooklyn, including Crown, River Manor and Bensonhurst Rehabilitation Center.
Crichton-Bailey has been a long-standing member of the Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Nurses’ Association of New York, Inc. She currently serves as president.
In her role in the nursing group, she has been instrumental in organizing several health fairs, and making donations of supplies to many nursing facilities and group homes.
In addition, Crichton-Bailey is very active in her community, volunteering her services, among others, with the Coalition of Concerned Medical Professionals (CCMP) and Ebenezer Missionary Chapel, where she worships.
Smith, who was born on Sept. 17, 1959, said she is “very proud to be of Caribbean descent.”
She graduated from Adelphi University in 1980 with a degree in Business Administration.
In the late 1980s, Smith said she returned to school, completing a diploma program in cosmetology.
She then immediately opened a beauty spa, where she managed and worked as a licensed esthetician for several years until she took up employment as an executive manager for L.U. 608. After working several years at L.U. 608, she retired.
All the while, she said she was “working under the watchful eye” of her father, Allan Smith, the Vincentian-born owner and founder of Allan’s Bakery on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn.
It was at this point that Ms. Smith, along with her two sisters, Delia and Sharon, said they “discovered the acumen and passion for baking, and enhancing original pastries” that were prepared by their Caribbean parents.
Throughout Smith’s life, while juggling several jobs, she said she “always maintained a love for the community by actively participating in events, such as the annual cancer walks, Labor Day celebrations and many other fundraising events and celebrations.”
Smith said she and her sisters stand by Allan’s Bakery’s slogan, “Quality is our Passion,” “because we love people, and we want them to be satisfied and happy.”
Frederick has taught 7th grade social studies for over 15 years and taught First Day School at her Quaker Meeting house for more than half of that.
She is a supporter of Emily’s List, Moms Demand Action, Black Lives Matters at School and “Free Mom Hugs,” a nonprofit organization that offers mother-like support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth.
Frederick holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from The Art Institute of Chicago and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Fordham University.
A recipient of the Gilder Lehrman Teaching American History Grant, she has presented on Brooklyn’s environmental history at the University of Colorado.
Most recently, Frederick wrote and taught a social studies unit, “Black Agency: 19th Century African-American Communities Making Freedom.”
Lawyer Jones Austin, a child and family advocate, is chief executive officer and executive director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA), an anti-poverty, policy and advocacy organization with 170-member human services agencies and faith partners operating throughout New York City.
Prior to joining FPWA, Jones Austin served as senior vice president of United Way of New York City; Family services coordinator for former Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Deputy commissioner for the NYC Administration for Children’s Services; Civil Rights deputy bureau chief for Attorney General Eliot Spitzer; and vice president for LearnNow /Edison Schools, Inc.