The Dominican-born, newly-elected president of the Brooklyn-based West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), organizers of what is largely considered to be the largest Carnival Parade in North American, has stressed “safety and quality” as hallmarks of her tenure.
“Our focus this year is on safety and quality,” said Dr. Jean G. Joseph, a certified public accountant (CPA), who replaced Jamaican Dr. Ionie Pierce in April, after serving for just one year, during WIADCA’s general elections, in announcing plans for the staging of the 52nd Carnival spectacle.
The annual Caribbean Carnival in New York culminates with a massive parade on Labor Day Monday, Sept. 2, on Brooklyn’s sprawling Eastern Parkway.
Historically, Trinidadians have dominated and led WIADCA’s Board of Directors. Joseph and Pierce are the first non-Trinidadians to head the organization.
“We have been meeting with the relevant authorities in devising strategies to keep the parade on its sustained track record of safety,” Joseph said. “To help accomplish this, we have implemented a public awareness campaign reminding both masqueraders and masses that preservation of our culture and our parade is the key.
“We continue to promote the idea that this is our culture, and the parade is our stage,” she added. “Therefore, it is imperative that they be preserved for future generations.”
Along with a new board, WIADCA said its new president “has been infusing the organization with ‘new blood’, particularly incorporating the ideas of younger people.”
“We are in the process of establishing a youth arm of the organization to help move this agenda forward,” said Joseph, WIADCA’s 7th president.
WIADCA’s first president was the late Trinidadian Carlos Lezama, who brought West Indian carnival to Brooklyn, from Harlem, in 1967, serving as its president until his retirement in 2001 due to ill health.
“Joseph brings her business acumen and years of experience in corporate America to the organization in particular in the areas of internal control and marketing,” WIADCA said.
During Thursday’s launching of the 2019 West Indian American Day Carnival, at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Joseph said: “As we celebrate 52 years of community service, Caribbean cultural stewardship and youth development, we are reminded that shaping our communities to reflect all of us is very important.
“We are a year-round, non-profit organization, made up of 90 percent volunteers, who work very hard with our community and our partners to keep culture alive through pop-up programs, mas, wire bending and pan workshops, immigration forums, etc. – all of which have been supported by many of our city agencies and government entities, and we thank you for that,” she said. “We strive to be a beacon of change, where we embrace, promote and celebrate all aspects of Caribbean heritage, and expect all to do the same.
“We take pride in demonstrating our commitment by creating opportunities, business and entrepreneurism for many in New York City, New York State and this great Borough of Brooklyn,” she added. “This is our legacy for the generations to come. I look forward to another 52 years with this great Caribbean institution, with your help.”
Joseph – who served as a member of WIADCA’s fundraising committee and an auditor, for a number of years, for the non-profit corporation – is an expert in tax planning, estate, trust and gift tax.
She told Caribbean Life that she served as a manager for several blue-chip tax firms that “oversaw the preparation and review of financial statements for companies of various complexities.”
Dr. Joseph has worked for American Express & Business Services. She also served as a manager in the tax department at the Wall Street firm of Goldstein, Golub, & Kessler; Anchin, Block and Anchin, as a CPA; and Lionel Lewis CPA.
Currently, she is the sole proprietor of the Brooklyn-based Joseph Tax and Consulting Services, LLC., “excelling in servicing a whole array of clients, including individuals, corporations and not-for-profit organizations.”
Joseph said her corporation has received the Minority and Woman-owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) Award from New York State Department of Economic Development.
“Much to the delight of paying patrons, WIADCA has put together a cast of headline performers from around the Caribbean” for this year’s five-day Carnival extravaganza, starting this Thursday, Joseph said.
“The formula of four nights of concerts at the massive Brooklyn Museum outdoor stage and two street parades – one for children (and) the other for adults – remains the same,” she said.
Besides Joseph, the newly-formed WIADCA Board of Directors comprise: Co-chairpersons Angela Sealy and Valarie Katz McLeod; Patricia Warwick, 2nd vice president; Karen D. Williams, treasurer; Cecille Ford, board secretary; and general board members Anne Rhea Smith, Deborah Benjamin, Leah Clark Brisard, Christine McLeod, Karen Crawford, Calvin Collin, Dr. Pierce, Michelle Gibbs and Michael Young Lao.
Board lawyers are Frank R. Seddio Esq., general counsel, and Lucericia Messiah.