25 MOST INFLUENTIAL GROUPS, PEOPLE, AND ORGANIZATIONS ON THE NORTH SHORE

1. NYC Council Member Debi Rose, 49th District - Politician

Debi Rose was born and raised in West Brighton on the North Shore of Staten Island. She attended P.S. 18, I.S. 27 and then Port Richmond High School, where she was a member of the Staten Island’s NAACP youth group and the Vice President of her senior class.

After graduating Hofstra University with a degree in American History, Debi went to work with one goal in mind: helping those in need. In the early 1970’s, Debi started her career as a Children’s Supervisor with the New York State Division of Youth. In the years that followed, she joined Community Board One and worked in a variety of roles at the New York Urban League, National Council of Negro Women, Department of Transportation and Sea View Hospital and Home.

In 2001, Debi announced her bid for the North Shore City Council seat. She bucked the local party establishment and ran against two well-known candidates. With a focus on education, healthcare and transportation, Debi’s campaign had the momentum in the race and her candidacy gained strong support from the community.

Ten days before the primary, The New York Times endorsed Debi’s insurgent candidacy saying: “Ms. Rose has shown a particular energy and persistence in the face of party opposition to her candidacy. We endorse Deborah Rose, who hopes to become Staten Island’s first African-American political officeholder.”
Following her second narrow loss in February, Debi gathered with friends and supporters to plot the next move. Debi had the opportunity to take one more chance, and challenge the incumbent in a primary. After mulling it over for weeks, Debi announced in May that she would seek the Democratic nomination for the council seat.

After a hard-fought campaign, Debi came out victorious on primary night, beating the incumbent by 16 percentage points. The final tally was 55% (4,656 votes) to 39% (3,344 votes). Staten Island’s political establishment was rocked following Debi’s victory. She was now on the cusp of becoming the borough’s first African-American elected official, her life’s dream.

Debi easily defeated both of her opponents in the November 3 general election with nearly 60% of the vote. After losing two prior elections by razor-thin margins, Debi finally fulfilled her lifelong dream and became Staten Island’s first African-American elected official.

2. Edna Greenwich - "Opera Exposure" - Arts and Culture

 “It is our mission to support emerging artists and build new audiences” said Opera Exposures founder Edna Greenwich” Everyone loves opera…they just don’t know it yet”. The non-profit organization began in 2004 when she was invited to present a program for National BlackHistory Month by Department of Citywide Services (DCAS )of New York City at the Municipal Building. The overwhelming success of that performance made her acutely aware that there was a need to provide a forum for young professionals in diverse venues; at accessible prices. 

Edna has an ongoing collaboration with St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery, which has permitted Opera Exposures to expand to different communities: a cabaret at the Columbus Club; recitals at the Reformed Church of Staten Island and the Unitarian Church of Staten Island; and Snug Harbor, Staten Island.

At St. Bart’s Chapel on Park Avenue Edna produced “The Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield Story,” about the black American operatic soprano (1817-1876) who became one of the most celebrated artists of her time and, sang a Royal Command Performance in 1854 for Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace.

3. National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) - Organization

The NCNW was founded in 1935 by Mary McLeod Bethune, whose parents were born into slavery, was a distinguished educator, and government consultant. Mary McLeod Bethune saw the need for harnessing the power and extending the leadership of African-American women through a national organization. In The early years of NCNW, the small volunteer staff operated out of Bethune’s living room in Washington D.C.

The National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) is a non-profit organization with the mission to advance the opportunities and the quality of life for African-American women, their families and communities. NCNW fulfills this mission through research, advocacy, national and community-based services and programs in the United States and Africa. With its 28 national affiliate organizations and its more than 200 community-based sections, NCNW has an outreach to nearly four million women, all contributing to the peaceful solutions to the problems of human welfare and rights. The national headquarters, which acts as a central source for program planning, is based in Washington, D.C., on Pennsylvania Avenue, located between the White House and the U.S. Capitol. NCNW also has two field offices.

The Staten Island Chapter of the NCNW was founded by Mrs. Louise Brown visited Mrs. Willie Mae Taylor (both deceased), in her home at 52 Harrison Avenue Staten Island, New York on a Wednesday afternoon, February 1966.  Their discussion centered on the average non-professional woman and her need to participate in the community, social affairs and other than church activities.  They agreed that the Women of Staten Island need more social and community involvement.  The idea was brought to a group of women in the community.  Out of this idea, the Women’s Council was organized with a beginning membership of thirty-five. 

Mrs. Louise Brown was elected President, Mrs. Willie Mae Taylor, Secretary and Mrs. Muriel Carrington, Treasurer.  After the election of officers, a yearly calendar of activities was planned including education tours, sightseeing trips, movies and theater parties.  The organization operated on monies obtained from fundraising activities and the assessment of yearly dues from each member.

The Women’s Council gave their first luncheon, April 24, 1967.  The luncheon was held at the Plaza Casino on Castleton Avenue and the guest speaker was Mrs. Daisy George of the National Council of Negro Women.  Mrs. George was impressed with the work of the Women’s Council and she expressed the potential of greater growth.  She suggested that the Council become the National Council of Negro Women of Staten Island.  Mrs. George’s interest led to her becoming the Coordinator.  At the Regional Conference in Stratford, Connecticut, June 22, 1968, the Women’s Council received its charter and became officially known as the National Council of Negro Women, Inc., North Shore-Staten Island Section.

4. Slyvia Dalessandro - Sandy Ground Historical Society/Community

Sylvia is a lifelong Staten Islander. born on the South Shore of  Staten Island She is the youngest of five daughters born to Milford and Mae Pedro Moody of Sandy Ground.

 Always concerned about her community, Sylvia was a member of the Founding Board of the Harlem YMCA Black Achievers in Industry Mentor Program, where African American Employees of Major Corporations acted as mentors to African American students who were interested in a career in the Mentors field.  She also served as a Marshall in the Puerto Rican Day Parade.  Sylvia was a Founding Board member of the Sandy Ground Historical Society.  She served as President, Treasurer and presently serves as the organization’s Executive Director.  In that capacity. she educates approximately 3,000 school children a year and approximately 2,000 adults a year on Sandy Ground and related African American History.  She serves as a Judge for the Staten Island Advance Women of Achievement Awards Committee and as a member of the Staten Island Not For Profit Association.  Sylvia is a member of the N.A.A.C.P and The Purple Hat Society.

Sylvia has received many awards for her contributions to the community. 

To name a few:  Harlem YMCA Black Achievers in Industry; The Aleh Foundation Community Service Award; “Excellence in Service Award” from the New York State Congressional Delegation; Staten Island Advance 1998 Woman of Achievement; The Rossville A.M.E. Zion Men’s Club; The Harriet Tubman Humanitarian Achievement Award; The International Rotary Club of Staten Island; the 369th Veterans Association; the N.A.A.C.P. William A. Morris Humanitarian Award and Grandmothers Around the World of New York

She is a lifelong member of the Rossville A.M.E. Zion Church.  Sylvia says that growing up in the church, and participating in the activities available in church helped her to develop into the person she is today.  

Sylvia is an avid traveler.  Under the Missionary Umbrella of the church, she developed the Traveler’s Ministry.  She uses her culinary skills to bake pastries and sells them to church members, family, and friends.  When she travels she brings a monetary gift from the Rossville Travelers Ministry to a small church in the community where her travels take her.  She has presented gifts to the  A.M.E. Zion Church in Barbados; St. Petersburg and Tampa Florida; and the Berkshires in Massachusetts.

Sylvia was employed for 45 years as an Administrator in the Health Care Industry.  She worked for 10 years at N.Y.State Disability Determinations; 25 years at Blue Cross Blue Shield and 10 years at Health Plus.  She developed provider networks and was the liaison between the Physicians and her Health Plan, directing the activities of 45 employees.

Sylvia attended  Tottenville High School and Baruch College.

Sylvia believes that “ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE WITH GOD”.

5. Sadja Ladner - Universal Temple of the arts - Arts & Culture

Sadja Ladner, Executive Director of Universal Temple of the Arts, an innovative arts, cultural and educational organization, that has provided free and low-cost services to Staten Island communities for 45 years.  UTA quickens the creative spirit in the individual and fosters brotherly love through their programs.

As an organization with a rich history in the making, UTA strives to stay connected to people  from all  ages, backgrounds and  walks of life by offering programs that nurture talent and creativity through a myriad of art forms and related activities.

Under Sadja’s leadership UTA’s programs have reached thousands of people over the years, and are designed to cultivate  each  individual’s inherent talents. UTA believes that through the arts every person can be inspired to offer something unique and wonderful to his or her community and to the world at-large.

Sadja’s states, “though  we have touched and continue to reach many, there is still much work to be done”. I encourage you to explore our website to find out ways in which you can join us in this important and fulfilling work through volunteering your time, talents or services; through a financial contribution with a donation; or by becoming a UTA member.

We need partners like you to help support us on our continued journey to promote the arts as a universal language, to be understood and respected by all.

6. Ronnie & Chandra Heath - Heath Tax (Entrepreneurs)

7. Alfred Curtis - Entrepreneur

Alfred B. Curtis, Jr., is past president and CEO of the United Nations Development Corporation. As President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations Development Corporation, established by the New York State legislature as a $280 million public benefit corporation, he led the effort to develop and operate facilities for the United Nations community in New York City. He was successful in the sale of the four-star United Nations Plaza Hotel, transacting one of the City’s most significant privatization projects.
 
Currently, he is head of A. Boima Curtis Associates, LLC, a consultancy firm based on Staten Island.
 
Professionally active in the public as well as the private sectors, Curtis was appointed Commissioner and Agency head for New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYS) by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in 1994. Additionally, he assumed responsibility as executive director of the City’s Inter-Agency Coordinating Council on Youth, serving in this capacity until 1996. A Chemical Bank executive for five years before entering public service, Curtis attained the position of Division Head, serving dually as Operations Manager.
 
Concurrent with his appointment to the Staten Island University Hospital Systems Board of Directors, Curtis served on the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York, heading the Faculty, Staff and Administration Committee, Fiscal Affairs Committee and served as the University Board’s Parliamentarian. Curtis is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Richmond County Savings Bank Foundation, member of the Advisory Board of the Graduate Division of Touro College, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Staten Island Employment Education Consortium, Chairman of the Staten Island Advisory Board of the Salvation Army and is former Chairman of the Board of Directors Global Medical Relief Fund.
 
Curtis is a former President of Staten Island Community Television, was a Commissioner of the Redevelopment of the Staten Island Naval Station, and is  past President of the Staten Island Chapter of the NAACP.   He served on many other Boards, including the YMCA, Seamen’s Society for Children and Families and served on the Staten Island Borough President Ambassador for peace committee, to name a few.
 
He received outstanding community service awards from the Korean-American Senior Citizen Association, the Staten Island Liberian Community Association, the Turkish Culture Center and the Palestian Civic Association!
 
Al Curtis is a 32nd degree Master Mason and is the Worshipful Master of Silver Lake Lodge #59, Prince Hall.
 
Known as a great philanthropist, civil rights leader and humanitarian, Curtis is the recipient of more than 100 honors, commendations and awards, including the prestigious New York Governor’s Award for “African Americans of Distinction” , The President’s Medal from the College of Staten Island and Medgar Evers College, as well as the Emma Lazarus Award from the Associated Builders and Owners of Greater New York and is the only individual in New York State to be honored as “Man of the Millennium,” with an official proclamation issued by the New York City Council to authenticate this honor.
 
 
A graduate of the College of Staten Island with degrees in Economics and Business Administration, Curtis was awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters Degree (Honoris Causa) from Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York.
 
Curtis and his wife, Aurelia, former Principal of Curtis High School, a public school on Staten Island, have three children: U. S. Air Force Major Alfred III, Tiffany and Gillian.  

 

8. Harriet Tubman Purple Hat Society - History

The Harriet Tubman Purple Hats Society was founded in 2007 by the lateThomasina Williams, an Advance Woman of Achievement in the Class of 2000, and the late Andrew Gill.
 
The mission and goals of the Society are to empower women to live in the spirit of Harriet Tubman, one of the greatest heroines of her era, by participating in cultural, social, economic and political activities that will have a profound impact on the quality of life in their communities.

The State of New York has authorized March 10 as the official Harriet Tubman Day. 

9. Rev Maggie Howard - Community Service

Reverend Maggie M. Howard has been affiliated with the Union American Methodist Episcopal Church, Inc. for more than twenty years. Upon connecting with Stapleton UAM.E. Church of Staten Island, New York, she enveloped a desire to articulate on God & boundaries under the phenomenal leadership of the late Reverend Dr. William H. Beasley. Reverend Howard established a Women’s Ministry of Stapleton U.AM.E. Church, which is called “Women With A Purpose “This ministry focuses on the needs of women within the community and works to empower them through education, job placement, reading and writing programs, as Well as a career and financial planning workshops. Rev. Howard has recently founded a group and Named it “Girl Talk “The group works to improve the quality of life for young girls.

Reverend Howard’s education consists of a Bachelor of Finance Degree from the College of Staten Island, Staten Island, New York and a Bachelor of Theology Degree from Boulden Seminary, Inc. of Wilmington, Delaware. She is a Certified Teacher for the Internal Revenue Services; with a letter of commendation which qualifies her to teach for the department throughout the United States and overseas. After 14 years Rev. Howard retired from the Internal Revenue Service.

Reverend Howard has also taken continuing education classes at New York Theological Seminary, New York. Rev. Howard was mentored by the late Rev. Dr. Charles C. Davis who declared He taught her everything she knows about preaching. Under the tutelage of Dr.Davis, she received several public speaking awards and commendations. Reverend Howard is the mother of two lovely adult children Clayton Michael and Kathryn Marie. She has a son-in law Bryant and beautiful granddaughter Brýona S. Pearson. On May 26, 2002, at the Second &Third Districts #39; 189th Annual Conference of the Union American Methodist Episcopal Church, Reverend Howard was given the Charge as Pastor of Stapleton UA M.E. Church, Staten Island. Under her leadership, the church is experiencing growth and ministries are being formed to strengthen the communities young and elderly.

10. Kurron Mangin - Entrepreneur

 Kurron Mangin is the owner and founder of Craft House which is located at 60 Van Duzer street in Staten Island, New York. A native Staten Islander Kurron was born in 1975, to Michelle Gilmore and the late James Mangin. As a child, he grew up in borough’s Stapleton houses and attended New Dorp High School.

Kurron fell prey to the gritty street life that permeated the community in which he grew up.  At the age of 22,  he was sent to prison and sentenced to serve a term of six years to life. Such a verdict might have damaged some young men but, Kurron was not your typical young man. He did not let his sentence determine his fate. While incarcerated he came up with a plan for his future. He had always loved to cook. A skill that he had perfected while growing up in a single parent household. Owning a restaurant would be a lifelong dream of his. When he was  released, he set out to make his dream a reality.  In 2002,  after serving five years of his sentence he was determined not to fall into a pattern of repeat incarceration.

Kurron  went to work on his first business venture as a mail order music distributor.  The business was lucrative, but Kurron’s real passion was cooking, as  evident by the many cookouts and dinners that were hosted for his friends and family at his home. As a means of additional income, Kurron obtained a CDL license and embarked on a career as a truck driver. He began delivering paper and plastic goods to the bodegas, restaurants, and supermarkets in the tri-state area. While working in this capacity he became familiar with the ins and outs of the food service industry.

When Kurron found himself faced with the reality of his past he realized that his prior life was no longer for him.  He decided to defy the odds and naysayers and  accomplish his dream of owning his own business. In 2007, he opened his first restaurant Against Da’ Grill on Montgomery Avenue. Kurron created a welcoming atmosphere and a menu of great tasting food that was able to be enjoyed by all.  After two years Against Da Grill moved to 60 Van Duzer Street. Despite the fact that Against Da’ Grill was a neighborhood favorite the restaurant struggled financially.

After six years of operating Kurron was considering throwing in the towel;  until he received a phone call from the producers of an upcoming television show called Restaurant Divided. The concept of the show was to  divide the restaurant space in half and put his menu up against a totally different concept (a barbecue restaurant). Both restaurants would be open for one night and compete for side-by side serving real customers. The  customer’s favorite would be the one that would remain.

In 2013,  Craft house was established at the former Against Da’ Grill location.  The show allowed Kurron to see that running a restaurant was something that couldn’t be done without any training.  restaurant ownerships is a very tough business and requires a lot of focus and dedication. Today Craft house is a staple in the community serving up craft beers, burgers and BBQ.

Kurron credits his business expansion to George Christo of Door to Door Realty, who believed in his vision. He also credits his good friends, Vincent Lima and Sean White. Mr. Lima is his business partner at Craft house and Mr. White the founder of Against Da’ Grain barbershop, for building a successful brand. Craft house supports and rejuvenates the community by being visible at toy drives, school supply drives, and neighborhood gatherings.  Kurron supports the revitalization and improvement of not only his neighborhood,  but the people that live there. 

Kurron has shown that rehabilitation is more than just a word. He has risen beyond adversity to shine as a role model to not only his children Kasson and Gabriel but to those coming behind him. 

11. Edward Josey - President of the NAACP SI Branch

Edward, the oldest son of James and Anna Josey was raised in the Tottenville section of Staten Island and attended Tottenville High School and the College of Staten Island. In 2001 Edward was inducted into the College of Staten Island Alumni Hall of Fame. He was also a member of a selection committee to select a new president for the college.

Edward received his foundation as an activist from his parents who were always involved in some community activities. As a student Edward was always on Basketball or Baseball team; either the school team or some outside league.
 
 From January 1964 to August 2000, Edward worked in the Communications field with NY Telephone Company, A.T&T and Lucent Technology.  He became a shop steward and challenged the company on many issues concerning the rights of the employees.
 
Edward has been a member of : Bethel United Methodist Church,  Sandy Ground Historical Society, Peace Action, SI League for Better Government, Brown Bombers Social & Athletic of Staten Island, Inc., SI Branch NAACP.
 
Edward Has received many awards for his years of service. In 2014 Edward C. Josey received the “NYS E.T. REED Achievement Award”, the highest Achievement Service Award given by the New York State Conference of NAACP Branches.
 
Edward is starting 21st year as President of the Staten Island Branch of the NAACP, he has also served this branch as a Treasurer and Vice President. His primary function as President is to uphold the mission of the NAACP and the Constitution and By-Laws of the Organization.
 
Under Edward’s leadership, the Education Committee of this branch is amongst the best in the city if not the State of New York. No one does the College Fair like Staten Island. At our 2016 Freedom Fund Luncheon, union representatives gave our Criminal Justice-Labor Committee a plaque for the outstanding job they are doing training so many people for union apprentice jobs.
 
Over the years we have been involved in many criminal justice issues. We have used the Civilian Complaint Review Board with a degree of success when people have had issues with the NYPD. We have attended many court hearings with people and their lawyers when asked. Edward and members of the SI Branch have rallied and demonstrated in every borough of NYC for justice in major cases of police violence against Black People.
 
After the Killing of Shawn Bell, Edward spent at least one day each week in the Queens Court House for the duration of the trial. On a freezing Sunday members of the Staten Island Branch Stood around a camp fire across the street from the precinct of the Police Officers that killed Shawn Bell. We stood in protest seeking justice for Mr. Bell and his family. When a man was in jail for a rape that he said he did not do, working with the man, his family and his lawyer we were able to get the man his freedom and all charges were dropped. We saw to it that the SI Advance printed a story indicating the man was falsely arrested and also arranged to send a story clearing his name to the newspaper in his home country.
 
Edward has spoken at the College of Staten Island, Wagner College, and St. Johns University; High Schools, Churches and many organizations. He has also worked with many other organizations.  During his presidency, the Staten Island Branch has been present at every National Convention, Regional or State Convention of the NAACP.
 
Edward has been married to his wife Doreen for over 40 years.

12. Judge Ronald Gregg - President/SI Black & Minority Chamber of Commerce

Ronald A. Gregg, Esq., the President of the Richmond County Black & Minority Chamber of Commerce, is senior partner of the Staten Island law office of Gregg and Associates.  Gregg served as a Senior Administrative Law Judge for the New York State Division on Human Rights for over a decade before retiring and entering into full-time private practice in April 2007.  
 
Gregg is also president of The Global Lawyers, an international network of attorneys working in immigration and business law counseling immigrants and corporations alike.  Gregg is licensed to practice in New York State, the District of Columbia as well as being admitted to the United States Supreme Court Bar, a high honor bestowed upon a comparatively small percentage of lawyers. It is one of the top ratings available for few attorneys in the United States.
 
Gregg is a member of the District of Columbia Bar Association, New York Bar Association, Federal Court of the Southern and the Eastern Districts of New York State, New York State Court of Appeals, as well as member of Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association, Hattie M. Strong Foundation, Staten Island Mental Health Society and the United Way, Greater New York and the Executive Board of the NAACP.  
 
But more than anything, Gregg considers his top priority to be that of a mentor to African-American youth and the business community.  Recently Gregg was elected as the President of the Richmond County Black & Minority Chamber of Commerce, a trade and lobbying organization affiliated with the National Black Chamber of Commerce in Washington D.C. 
 
Judge Gregg’s focus is to make an imprint not just for the moment but also for the black community of Staten Island for the future.  “Each individual has to make a determined effort to do what they can to be a mentor, and or leader in their community”  “It allows you to look back from where you came and show young people that they, too, can also achieve success.” 
 
Before entering private practice full-time, Gregg spent more than 30 years in law enforcement, starting out as a New York City police officer.  And becoming the youngest Correction Administrator in the United States When Mayor David Dinkins Appointed him Trial Commissioner over Rikers Island the Largest Correction Facility in the United States. 
 
Gregg, who graduated from New York Law School, is the recent recipient of the Louis R. Miller Business Leadership Award, The Mayor’s Urban Affairs Fellowship, the NAACP “Award for Outstanding Service” and the New York City Council Outstanding Community Service Award.   

13. Shawn Stradford - Owner/ Stradford Funeral Home & Cremations Services

 Shawn J. Stradford, Sr. was born to Mr. Rudolph and Mrs. Reverend Yvonne Stradford, and was raised in the West Brighton section of Staten Island along with his four siblings: Wendell Stradford, Dr. Terrance Stradford, Brandon Stradford and Rhema Stradford. He is a HHeHgraduate of Susan E. Wagner High School and the University of The District of Columbia (HBCU), with a degree in Mortuary Science. He excelled in his embalming class, so much that his professors on many occasions, had asked him to teach the class. After graduation, he has been invited to his alumni several times to lecture to the new students. Shawn J. Stradford Sr. was the 2nd African American appointed as a Forensic Medical Examiners Assistant for Nassau County. A position in which he proudly performed over 2,000 autopsies spanning five years before resigning to answer the calling to open Stradford Funeral Home (www.Stradfordfuneralhome.com). Shawn has over 20 years of funeral service experience where he has fine-tuned and further developed his natural capabilities for compassion and sympathy in the funeral business.  He also is also the owner of Stradford Home for Funerals & Cremations Inc; now permanently located at 1241 Castleton Avenue, in the heart of West Brighton, Staten Island, New York where he and the staff continue their ministry of funeral service and commitment to excellence to the community. Stradford Funeral Home is still the only African-American owned, independent funeral home in Staten Island! Formerly located in Tompkinsville back in 2000, he and the staff served well over 1,600 families in the community. Stradford Funeral Home has gained its prominence in the community through extensive activism, community youth outreach programs such as Occupy the Block and by tailoring and customizing each funeral to meet the financial needs of a family without sacrificing quality service. Of course, Stradford Funeral Home is known for their it’s caring, and compassionate staff always there to share in every family’s grief, making a unbearable time just a little bit more bearable. Shawn J. Stradford, Sr. is a licensed New York State Funeral Director, is licensed in the District of Columbia, certified by the National Board of Funeral Directors, is New York State Board Certified, and among the founding members of the Occupy the Block: Staten Island initiative. He is also an Executive 

Board Member of the Non-profit Family Life Center, and Vice President of the Black and Minority Chamber of Commerce, the District Deputy Grandmaster Emeritus under the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, and most recently an Honorary member of the St. Phillip’s Heat Drum Line. Shawn is also a past Master of Silver Lake Lodge No. 59 the only Prince Hall Masonic Lodge in Staten Island; Member of The Long Island Consistory No. 61, where he became a 32nd degree Mason; Honorary Past Potentate of Abu Bekr Temple No. 91 Prince Hall Shriners, The Associate Patron of Silver Queen Chapter # 43 Staten Island , Prince Hall Order of Eastern Stars (and yes it is the only Prince Hall Chapter on Staten Island). A former board member of Seaman Society; a board member of the New York Urban League and a member of the New Brighton Citizens Who Care (Community Organization). Shawn also created God’s Whisper Burial Fund a Non-profit organization to assist families to obtain finances for burial in which he is awaiting 501C3 tax exempt status.  Mr. Stradford is a recipient of numerous Community, Congressional, Civic and Humanitarian awards. After going through the arduous task renovating a Beautiful 10k square foot building for the new Stradford Funeral Home. The new facility has a chapel that holds over 200 people, a state of the art memorial and memory room where families may go to peacefully reflect on the lives of there loved ones, with spacious seating and very large waiting areas. Stradford Funeral Home is now one of the larger funeral establishments in seating capacity on the North Shore and parking and handicap capabilities. This will enable him and his caring staff to better serve families. And with all of the new amenities His prices have not gone up, which still allows him to be able to have many creative pricing options for ALL families who are in need of their services. Shawn and Jennaire are the proud parents of 6-year-old Shawn J. Stradford II. “We all will Die one day , so the goal is not to Live forever . But to Create Something that Will. Being Blessed by the Heavenly Father to be put in a position to help my community by extending the Olive Branch of Friendship and True Compassion to all those who need it regardless of their situation is what myself and Stradford Funeral Home dedicate to each and very family.” I feel that is appropriate that I share this with you in the spirit of Black History Month, “In order for us have financial stability in our own communities we MUST STOP spending our monies with those who do not care about the issues in our communities and only have a interest in taking our money to build their own communities. I believe that when this is accomplished our communities will become empowered and not taken for granted”. May God Bless You All!!

 

14. Cynthia Davis - President/National Action Network/ Individual

Cynthia has been involved with and is known for her Community Activism in New York City for over 20 years. She worked as National Crisis Director of Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network for 15 years.
 
Upon moving to Staten Island six years ago the reputation of her activism closely followed. Cynthia strongly believes that people should not hunger for food. Because of her strong belief in God and the power of Prayers she has been placed in the position where she freely feed hundreds of families on a weekly basis included a weekly hot community dinner.

15. St. Philips Heat Drumline - Youth Organizers

Philip’s Heat Drumline which targets education and sense of family through music, North Shore Community Festival which focuses on bringing the community together in celebration and the Thanksgivings night of serving which is sought to feed those in need while also bringing the community together no matter the race, gender or creed.

The Drumline is a mentoring program that focuses on keeping the youth out of trouble and help send them off to college. 

16. Gregory Bloomfield CSI Continuing Education - Youth Mentor/Community Service

For almost a decade, Emanuel Bloomfield-Jones has worked tirelessly to transform the dynamics of the Staten Island community. Mr. Bloomfield-Jones is an Advisor for Workforce Development and Innovation at the College of Staten Island, A City University of New York. In his current role, he has successfully recruited over 100 unemployed and out of school young adults from the North Shore of Staten Island and connected dozens of them to free credential programs and post-secondary education so they can obtain high-quality jobs and career ladders.

In addition to his work at the College of Staten Island, Mr. Bloomfield-Jones also coordinates a transformative mentoring initiative of the NYC Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety that helps young adults make the attitudinal and behavioral changes necessary to avoid criminal activity and violence. He has recruited, mentored, and transformed the lives of over 70 at-risk young adults who reside in or near New York City Housing Authority developments.

In the past, Mr. Bloomfield-Jones also developed and successfully implemented a supported education and employment program for secondary and post-secondary students which received city-wide recognition. He placed over 300 Staten Islanders to internship and full-time and part-time employment.

Mr. Bloomfield-Jones also spearheaded several initiatives that reduce barriers for Staten Islanders by offering free OSHA 10 and Scaffolding training, Security Guard training, job fairs, and quarterly healthcare recruitment events that assisted the community with gaining free healthcare insurance and flu shots.

Mr. Bloomfield-Jones has been recognized on a local, city, state, and national level which includes receiving the 2017 National Council of Negro Women “Harambee” Humanitarian Award and 2015 NAACP & William A. Morris; Humanitarian Award. He is honored by all his recognitions but remains humbled by believing he is merely a vessel used by God. Alumni of Long Island University-Brooklyn, Mr. Bloomfield-Jones holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work.

He’s currently finishing a Master of Social Work degree at CUNY, College of Staten Island. Mr. Bloomfield-Jones continues to collaborate and provides strategic assistance to a plethora of organizations, schools, groups, churches, managed care companies, and city, state, and government agencies. As a community leader, Mr. Bloomfield-Jones is proactive and innovative. He initiated countlessly
community events, such as the Annual Jesus in the Community Back to School Fair, Staten Island Mental Health Awareness Month Community Fun Day, Fatherhood Resource Fair, and the Community in Crisis Trauma Event following the death of Eric Garner, as well as various health, wellness, and resource fairs.

Mr. Bloomfield-Jones is also the Co-Founder of Precise Leaders, which is a financial literacy program that uses a multigenerational approach to change the financial dynamics of families. Through community outreach, email, and social media, Mr. Bloomfield-Jones provides members of the community with a range of resources and opportunities to empower them in a variety of ways. His support helps multitudes with job placement, financial literacy, and educational tools that otherwise wouldn’t be readily accessible. His commitment and dedication have been invaluable to bolstering and developing the community as a whole.

Finally, in addition to his numerous humanitarian, civic, and professional work, Mr. Bloomfield-Jones is a faithful Christian, Deacon-elect, father, husband, and advocate.

17. Occupy The Block/ M.A.S.K - Non Violence/Violence Prevention

After an apparent spike in violence in the North Shore neighborhoods of Staten Island in late Spring 2015, community activists Bobby Digi, John McBeth, and Tanisha Franks began discussing solutions. After seeing an article about Newark’s mayor Ras Baraka’s initiative called Occupy the Block, where community members would “hold court” in neighborhoods plagued by crime and violence, they collectively decided to start Occupy the Block on Staten Island. After discussion, an open meeting was called to begin planning. There, it was decided that with the help of local funeral director Shawn Stradford, local men (only) would have a presence with a casket and resource table on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays between the hours of 8pm and 12am in all North Shore neighborhoods throughout the summer. The casket served as shocking imagery of where street violence ultimately can lead. It was often the start of many of the conversations with people passing by.

The resource table contained various fliers, pamphlets, and announcements about free and low cost programs or activities from local organizations and agencies. Any individual that expressed a need was given the appropriate materials to follow up with a program or agency, and if the resource table did not have anything that suited the needs that the community member sought to have fulfilled, additional research was done.

Men from various organizations across the island vowed to be present on blocks in Park Hill, Stapleton, New Brighton, West Brighton, Port Richmond, Mariners Harbor, and Arlington. Their successful 2015 season led to an equally successful 2016 seasons, and currently the group is actively planning for the upcoming 2017 season.

In 2016, a sister group, Mothers Against Senseless Killings (M.A.S.K.) Staten Island, debuted. Many community women had expressed interest in joining the Occupy the Block actions, but after recognizing the value in having an exclusively male organization to function in the aforementioned manner, the women formed their own organization.  M.A.S.K. Staten Island is a chapter of an organization that got its start in Chicago when its founder Tamar Manasseh decided to occupy a block in the violence riddled neighborhood Englewood.  The members of M.A.S.K Staten Island have a different approach to anti violence.  They believe that solving violence in our communities is  proactive work.  If young people develop certain characteristics through ongoing engagement in positive experiences, they will be less likely to get involved in the activities that plague low income neighborhoods.

The M.A.S.K. Staten Island participants, during the spring and summer months, gather information about free and low cost activities offered by local organizations, institutions and agencies. They walk through the Park Hill, Stapleton, New Brighton, West Brighton, Port Richmond, Mariners Harbor, and Arlington neighborhoods every weekend armed with the information that have gathered to match families with possible activities and programs.  The participants of M.A.S.K. Staten Island, like their brother group are gearing up for the upcoming 2017 season. 

18. True 2 Life/ Central Family Life Center - Violence Prevention

True 2 Life Initiative is an organization that provides mentoring, fatherhood and Mentoring, mediation, anger management and art programs for young teens to adults in the Staten Island, New York area. The intention is to stop violence and develop a community based solution to violent conflict resolution. The method is to change community norms that accept gun violence as the initial way to resolve conflict. Our Team of credible messengers consist of Violence Interrupters, Hospital Responders, and Outreach workers. True 2 Life have been doing this work in the Staten Island areas of Park Hill and Stapleton specifically. The True 2 Life team are as follows:

Rev. Dr. Demetrius Carolina – Executive Director
Mr. Romel Shuler – Program Manager
Mr. Mike Perry, Sr. – Outreach Worker Supervisor
Mrs. Charmaine Parker – Administrative Assistant
Mr. Felix Polanco – Hospital Responder Lead
Mr. Elome Guinn – Outreach Worker
Mr. Mike Gordon – Outreach worker
Mr. Michael Hines – Outreach Worker
Mr. Malcolm White – Violence Interrupter/Hospital Responder
Mr. Tyshon Prysock – Violence Interrupter/ Hospital Responder
Mr. William Crabbe – Violence Interrupter

19. Abraham Tucker - Presides/SI Liberian Community Association

President, Staten Island Liberian Community Association (April 2015 to present) provide services such as referrals – jobs, health, immigration, etc.; cultural awareness, advocacy; provide a link between the diaspora Liberian community and homeland Liberia.

20. Bobby Digi - Community

Bobby Digi, social entrepreneur, founder, community organizer, educator, and lecturer (newly elected President of the Staten Island Democratic Association SIDA) has devoted his life to strengthening and building community on a local and global scale. Born in Brooklyn, New York to parents of Nigerian descent and raised in the multi-ethnic Clifton section of Parkhill/Stapleton Staten Island, Bobby has always been inspired by the desire to bring people of diverse backgrounds together to discover solutions to the most challenging issues of our time. Bobby leads by example and utilizes his educational and professional opportunities to give back to the community and to inspire the next generation of leaders.
Bobby received a Bachelor of Science degree from The College of Staten Island (CSI-CUNY) where he completed a quadruple major in Finance, Economics, Accounting, and Business Management. Bobby’s entrepreneurial spirit was sparked while attending CSI and working at the Doctors Hospital of Beth Israel. A casual conversation with one of the resident doctors about the need many doctors shared for having their vacation homes maintained and managed, inspired Bobby to create Henry’s Home Improvement, Inc.  Bobby started with one doctor who was pleased with his services and word spread quickly. This experience helped to develop his knowledge of real estate, property management and maintenance and this became the first of many entrepreneurial ventures that Bobby would create.
After graduating from CSI, Bobby saw an opportunity to take his entrepreneurial passions global by creating Thello Entertainment Inc., a Japanese/New York-based record label that specializes in artist development, event management, and music production. It would be the first African American-owned entertainment label established in Tokyo representing and bringing diverse artists together from Asia, Europe, North America, Jamaica, and Africa, which quickly created a sensation in the music and entertainment industry. 
After spending seven years in Japan, Bobby returned to his hometown of Staten Island in order to strengthen the Thello brand in the United States where he saw the need for a live music performance venue and production studio. He created the popular Notes Lounge, which fast became the premier performance venue in Staten Island attracting top performers, artists, musicians, fashion designers, politicians, tourists and locals alike for a unique cultural experience and exchange.
The global success that Bobby had achieved made him a recognized role model and leader within the community and this inspired Bobby to found and incorporate Island Voice, Inc. in 2007. The creation of this not-for-profit organization would give Bobby the platform to become a social entrepreneur and to empower those most in need locally and globally with a focus on youth empowerment. Through a partnership with Wagner College, Island Voice hosts an annual Youth Empowerment Summit that gives young people a voice to express their thoughts, ideas, and challenges in a team building approach, with professionals from the community, that focuses on leadership development, education and job readiness. Through Island Voice, Bobby also founded the first African Heritage Parade in Staten Island in 2008 to celebrate the diverse African Diaspora cultural heritage in Staten Island. The Parade has grown to become a signature event in Staten Island attracting locals and tourists alike to experience the Borough’s diversity.
Island Voice also hosts the Annual Shaolin Chess Tournament. Bobby believes that if children can learn the game, they can also apply those same lessons and strategies to making well thought out life decisions. In addition, Island Voice sponsors the annual Holy Moe Basketball Tournament in the Park Hill section of Clifton in order to surround the youth with positive adult mentors and to provide the youth with safe outlets to channel their energy during the summer months. In 2015, Bobby recognized that gun violence had become an epidemic in the North Shore Community that he grew up in. He and two other community leaders  implemented the Occupy the Blocks Initiative in partnership with concerned community members in order to empower the men of the community to secure their blocks throughout the summer months, while simultaneously connecting the youth in the community to resources and opportunities to keep them on the right path. Within months of the implementation of Occupy the Blocks, gun violence decreased to an unprecedented low with other communities looking to replicate the successful model.
On a local and global level, Bobby has utilized Island Voice to advocate for women’s rights and he has been instrumental in advocating for the return of the 276 Nigerian girls who were kidnapped by the Boko Haram terrorists group while the girls were preparing for their year-end exams. Locally, he has organized participants for the Annual Father’s Day Pledge held in Staten Island that unifies men to pledge against all forms of violence against women.
When Superstorm Sandy hit Staten Island, Bobby realized that he and several of his neighbors on the Bay Street corridor were severely impacted by the storm that flooded the community. They asked him to advocate on their behalf, and he co-founded the North Shore Business Association and was elected President to provide services, information, and support for local businesses in the area. Bobby was instrumental in leading press conferences, rallies, and panels on the recovery efforts of Hurricane Sandy by working with city, state, and federal agencies to secure critical resources. After testifying before the New York State Senate, Bobby was appointed by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to the New York Rising Committee, which is focused on Hurricane Sandy Recovery and strengthening the State’s infrastructure and critical systems. Bobby has successfully advocated and secured $250,000 for the study of the St. George Promenade.
Bobby launched his own consultancy group in 2014, building on his years of experience in not-for-profit management, business development, branding, and marketing. Bobby Digi LLC is a consulting agency based in New York City that specializes in social-political campaigns, branding, marketing, small business development, community outreach, and job training.  

Bobby Digi is currently the Executive Director of Island Voice Inc., Founder of Canvas Institute of Arts, Culture & Civic Engagement, and the President of The North Shore Business Association; he was appointed to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Transition Committee, and to New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s New York Rising Committee, Collective Impact Education Executive Committee, Bay Street Corridor Advisory Council, Department of Justice Community Relations Service Council, Staten Island African Advisory Council. He is a member of Jasrac and Ascap, and the only foreign member to sit on the Japanese music panel Link Di Vibes.

Bobby has received an Honorary Program Degree in Not-for-Profit Management from Columbia University, The United Nations Excellence in Humanitarian Services Award, Jewish Community Center Youth Mentorship Award, Community Leader of the Year by Staten Island Promotions, The Star Network’s King of Staten Island Champion Award, Staten Island Economic Development Corporation’s 20 under 40 Award, and Staten Island Advance Under 30’s Professionals To Watch. He has received numerous citations from state, city, and local elected officials for his active role in community development and empowerment.
Shereese A. Mullings
Island Voice Inc.
F: Facebook.com/Islandvoice
T: @islandvoiceinc
(917) 232 5942

 

21. Janet J Robinson - Kwanza Lady - History & Culture

Janet J Robinson started the history of Kwanza on Staten Island at the end of the 1980’s Early 1990’s. She educates kids and adults on the history of kwanza, how it began, how it started, and what it means. Every year for 42 years now ms Robinson also known as the Kwanza Lady has been doing Kwanza events in the College of Staten Island, other events that are held by Ms Robinson are:
the summer Kwanza Fest
Kwanza Presentations
Monthly Birthday Celebrations
July Amusement parks

22. Rev. Kathlyn Barret-Layne - Reach Out and Touch Ministries/Spiritual Leader

In 1994 a group of people came together to minister to people who were incarcerated, in homeless shelters, in drug rehabilitation facilities, and in nursing care facilities to bring a message of caring and hope. This group came together to effect changes in the lives of women, men, and children who were in institutions, often not getting visits or seeing anyone come through their doors to say “We love you” and “We care about you”. By May 1996, Reach Out and Touch Ministries Int’l was officially incorporated as a non-profit organization and continued its work with the Ministry’s food pantry, Outreach, Performing Arts Ministry, and Christian Education being the bedrock that drove the organization’s purpose. Teaching and training were conducted on regular intervals to prepare members and equip members to effectively reach people who were experiencing life altering events that challenged their faith in God.

Today, Reach Out and Touch Ministries continues this foundational work. Challenges along the way have not deterred the original intent and purpose for this ministry. The ROTM continues to build and thrive as ministry and outreach efforts continue. Reach Out and Touch Ministries Int’l has expanded to other states in the United States and has partnered with many other ministries inside and outside the United States. Under the leadership of senior pastor Rev. Dr. Kathlyn Barrett-Layne the ministry continues its outreach, Christian education, leadership training, conferences, performing arts, and ministry to men, women, and youth through the varied programs that continue to grow year after year.

23. Duane Felton - Entrepreneur

Formerly Chairman of the SI Branch NAACP Legal Redress
Committee
Board member of the Canvas Institute
Member of Occupy the Block
Member of the Staten Island Branch NAACP

24. Kelly Vilar

Kelly Vilar has invested her life’s work in helping people to hope, dream and take action in their lives. She has always been passionate about helping others to be socially and economically conscious, and to be activists in their own lives–thus living and sharing her mantra –leadership development though leadership involvement.

In recent years Kelly has been active on Staten Island as a member of Community Board No. 1 chairing the Youth Committee and helping to move forward an agenda for north shore youth to include finding new funds for programs such as the first YouthBuild Staten Island program ever in the borough. Kelly has founded the Let’s Rebuild Cromwell Community Coalition dedicated to raising the community voice on youth recreation needs and common sense community development.

Kelly is passionate about her volunteer work with the Staten Island NAACP as they annually host the first and only Historically Black College Fair held on the island. At her church, Kelly is a Youth Ministry leader, Chair of the Scholarship Committee and helped to lead the Pastoral Search Committee at Brighton Heights Reformed Church. She also co-founded alongside Yvette Washington Wheatley, the Brighton Heights Reformed Church Youth Orchestra.
Kelly is Vice Chair of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, a multidisciplinary center for global afro-descendent culture integrating arts, education, and social activism.

In Kelly’s early years, part of her life’s work included an invitation from the African National Congress where she traveled with a group of NYC youth to meet the Honorable Nelson Mandela shortly after his release from prison to participate in South Africa’s Conference on Transitioning Government.
Kelly founded several organizations and groups that include the Circle of Sistahs, a youth conference bringing together young women of color to enter into mentorships with adult women achievers and the MUEVETE Youth Conference which still today more than a decade later brings together Puerto Rican Youth as they celebrate and educate each other on Puerto Rican culture and history. Over the years Kelly has worked closely with many organizations past and present such as UPROSE–an Environmental Justice organization, Cathedral St. John The Divine, NYS Youth Coalition, Ms. Foundation, National Latinas Caucus, AIDS & Adolescent Network of NY, Hispanic Corporate Achievers of Verizon, and NY Urban League to name a few.

For more than 20 years Kelly and her partner have had an award winning business in the financial services field. She holds a Masters Degree in Science- Urban Policy & Planning from the New School For Social Research.

25. Marjorie Garvin - The People's Mayor of Staten Island

Ms. Marge has been a huge advocate for Staten Island for over 30 years. From getting people registered to vote, raising money for the community, bringing the community together, One of the founders of SI Black Heritage Day, Staten Island’s biggest parade annually. You name it, Mrs.  Marge has done it!