James Edward Blakely, a native of Thabas, Arkansas, joined the United States Navy in September 1939. He is a true World War II hero. Members of the armed forces like Mr. Blakely, who serve so valiantly and honorably in times of conflict when our country’s freedoms are at stake, deserve special recognition from all residents of our nation. For his service, Mr. Blakely cannot be sufficiently extolled for his dedication and service to his nation.
Ella J. Weiss has been involved in education, the arts and community affairs for her entire adult life. Her professional and volunteer achievements share a common thread – a singular and unrelenting devotion to the betterment and enrichment of Brooklyn as a whole.
As President of Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC), Ms. Weiss has expanded programs and brought stability and leadership. She has greatly enhanced BAC’s partnerships with borough, city and state agencies, and has helped develop innovative new professional services for individual artists and art organizations in Brooklyn. Under her leadership, BAC has become a prominent force on the cultural scene.
Esmeralda Simmons, a resident of Brooklyn, and an activist / leader has been involved in the community empowerment movement and in progressive political causes for more than 38 years. As an attorney, Ms. Simmons specializes in racial justice issues, such as quality public education for students of color and voting and cultural rights. She chooses to work locally with community organizations using advocacy, community education, coalition–building and organizing methods, as well as civil rights and human rights legal tools. A deeply spiritual woman who is grounded in African culture, Ms. Simmons finds constant inspiration in the vision of her ancestors, her belief in peace and her respect for life and cultural diversity.
Sara Horowitz is an innovator for tomorrow’s workforce. As the founder and Executive Director of Freelancers Union – and CEO of the social-purpose Freelancers Insurance Company – Ms. Horowitz has been helping workers build solutions together for nearly two decades.
Job Mashariki is a Founder and former President/CEO of Black Veterans For Social Justice, Inc. (BVSJ). He guided the organization through 30 years of service to veterans and their families, as well as the community at large.
Born in Bedford Stuyvesant in 1943, Job earned his Associate Degree from NY Technical College, his Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and his Masters from the City University of New York. He is also a graduate of the Columbia University School of Business Executives Program.
Bernell K. Grier is the CEO of Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City, Inc. (NHSNYC). Ms. Grier joined NHSNYC in 2004 as its chief operating officer. Prior to this position, Ms. Grier enjoyed a 30-year career in banking beginning at Chase and spanning through Bank of America and its predecessor banks, NatWest USA and Fleet Bank. Parallel to her career in the banking industry, Ms. Grier has over 25 years of experience serving New York communities in leadership positions with a variety of not-for-profit organizations.