Lifetime Achievement Award Presented to the Iconic Civil Rights Leader Dr. Hazel Dukes
By Dave Daniels
Brooklyn, NY – With over thirty years of providing support and guidance to many NYC grassroots nonprofit organizations, the Neighborhood Technical Assistance Clinic (NTAC), led by its Founder and President, Rev. Dr. Valerie Durrah, hosted their annual gala on Thursday, June 1, 2023, in Brooklyn, NY. As New York and other states across the country are emerging from the darkness of the pandemic while also having to develop emergency plans to handle large numbers of migrants arriving, the mental health crisis, unemployment, etc., NTAC curated a spectacular gala to recognize not-for-profit organizations and local leaders who regularly do so much to help families experiencing such social and economic hardship.
NTAC’s gala program, attended by some of New York’s top-tier change agents and community-minded corporations included the Honorable Mayor Eric Adams, a representative from the Office of Governor Kathy Hochal, JP Morgan Chase & Co., New York State Attorney Tish James, a video salute by Congressman Hakeem Jeffries to Dr. Hazel Dukes, and the internationally renowned Haitian American fashion designer Victor Glemaud. Mr. Glemaud, whose designs are celebrated for combining comfort with style, was presented with the Caribbean Man of the Year Award at the gala.
Exemplifying a forward-leaning model of corporate responsibility, especially in Northeastern communities grappling with social and environmental challenges, National Grid via its Project C initiative was again a major sponsor. Other business sponsors included Resorts World Casino, Brooklyn Brewery, Northfield Bank, WABC-TV, The New York Women’s Foundation, Transport Workers Local Union 100, BNY Mellon, 1199 SEIU Funds and MetroPlus Health.
And if the glittering stars above Brooklyn’s waterfront and the live Caribbean musical performance hadn’t already stirred the positive energy in the ballroom, when Rev. Dr. Valerie Durrah called attendees’ attention to the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to the former New York State NAACP President Dr. Hazel N. Dukes, people rose to their feet and filled the air with thunderous applause.
Dr. Dukes moved to New York with her family in 1955 and in 1966 became the first Black American to work for the Nassau County’s Attorney’s Office and later worked for the Nassau County Economic Opportunity Commission as a community organizer.
Mayor Eric Adams then spoke about Dr. Hazel Dukes’ powerful history of nurturing the political rise of some of NYC’s major leaders such as his own, the late mayor David Dinkins, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Tish James, current District Attorneys in the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn among others. S important, Dr. Hazel Dukes is deeply appreciated for her many years of openly confronting racism and fighting for the implementation of more equitable legislative policies. On stage during Mayor Eric Adams’ remarks was Medgar Evers College’s President, Dr. Patricia Ramsey and two highly cherished elected officials, now retired, Congressman Ed Towns and Assembly Member Annette Robinson.
|This year’s gala category honorees were awarded as follows:||The honorees in the recognition|
category of New Yorkers
for New York are:
|Faith Leader of the Year Award|
Bishop Dr. Calvin Rice
New Jerusalem Worship Center
of the Year Award
Justin K. Rogers
Greater Jamaica Development Corp.
of the Year
Andrew D. Walcott
Fusion East Restaurant
Dweynie Esther Paul
NY Supreme Court,
2nd Judicial District
President of Communications Workers
of America Local 1180
Executive Committee for the Transport
Workers Local 100 and President,
Coalition of Back Trade Unionists NY
Valerie D. White,
Girl Scouts of America
Consistent with NTAC’s important role of identifying talented not-for-profit leaders, who tirelessly work to improve conditions in the community, Dr. Durrah hosted a pre-gala champagne toast to salute two of this year’s honorees whose work may not typically capture front-page news. These rising leaders were Dave Daniels, Executive Director of the volunteer-driven youth group called The Code Foundation, and Wayne Devonish, Principal Founder/Chairman of 500 Men Making A Difference. The Code Foundation’s core project areas are STEM Exposure, Health & Environment, and Performance Arts. 500 Men Making a Difference, recruits, trains, and provides mentoring to young men. The idea for the pre-gala champagne toast was yet another stroke of genius by Dr. Valerie Durrah; it afforded all of the 2023 honorees a chance to formally introduce and perhaps have an open discussion for potential future collaborations.
NTAC’s gala seemed to have further inspired both the honorees and the large gathering of community stakeholders and elected officials. For information on how you might support the Neighborhood Technical Assistance Clinic or collaborate with any of the honored CBOs, please call (718) 455-3784.