Westchester County honored four remarkable African American citizens for their professional accomplishments and community efforts at the 19th Annual Black History Month and Trailblazer Awards ceremony on Thursday, February 22nd. Hosted at the historic Jay Estate in Rye, the Trailblazer Awards were sponsored by County Executive George Latimer, the African American Advisory Board and the Westchester County Board of Legislators.
The 2018 Honorees were Dr. Jim Bostic, Executive Director of the Nepperhan Community Center in Yonkers, who received the Jerome Holland Award for Leadership,Vikki L. Pryor, Managing Principal and Founder of Change Create Transform LLC, who received the Madame C. J. Walker Award for Economic Development, Hon. Alfreda Williams, Vice Chairwoman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, who received The Betty Shabazz Award for Social Justice and Frank Williams, Jr., Executive Director of the White Plains Youth Bureau, who received The Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award for Civic Engagement.“These four gifted individuals have contributed immeasurably to the African American history and culture of our County,” said Latimer. “The honorees we are celebrating should be recognized for their steadfast commitment to public service, and the generous use of their talent, which together create a brighter future for us all.”
Barbara Edwards, Chair of the African American Advisory Board, reflected on another celebration of the valuable contributions of the African American community in Westchester. “As we celebrate the victories of men and women who believed in the idea of a just and fair America, we remember that, throughout history, our success has been driven by bold individuals who were willing to speak out and change the status quo,” said Edwards. “Black Americans’ beautiful legacy of courage, sacrifice and integrity in the face of injustice continues to move our country closer to fulfilling its promise.”
Highlights of the evening included music from the Performing & Visual Arts Magnet Orchestra of Mount Vernon and a video tribute to the Trailblazers. Darryl Mack served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening. High school volunteers from the Mount Vernon Youth Bureau helped make the program seamless.
Suzanne Clary, President of the Jay Heritage Center acknowledged that it was especially meaningful to host the event at one of Westchester County’s 13 African American Heritage Trail sites and a place of ongoing archaeological discoveries and research about local black history. Joining her in welcoming the over 150 attendees to Rye were newly elected Rye Mayor Josh Cohn, Rye City Council Members Sarah Goddard, Danielle Tagger-Epstein, Ben Stacks and Julie Souza.
See video from Fios 1 News here. More about the honorees and their accomplishments below. Photos by Kim Crichlow Photography.
The Jerome Holland Award for Leadership: Dr. Jim Bostic
Dr. Jim Bostic was born in Yonkers, New York, the son of Bishop William and Etta Jackson. He is a graduate of Charles E. Gorton High School and New Mexico State University, where he majored in Personnel Management. He also obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Ministry from the Bibleway Institute of New England, and both a Masters and Doctorate Degree in Theology from the Open Bible Institute and Theological Seminary. He received All-American honors in basketball at New Mexico State University. After college he was drafted by the Kansas City Kings of the National Basketball Association, and also played for the Detroit Pistons. Upon completion of his basketball career, Bostic began a successful coaching career at many school districts in Westchester County. Most recently Bostic coached at Leake & Watts High School in Yonkers, where he led them to two straight Class D Section I Championships, and the Team Sportsmanship of the Award in the same season.
Bostic now serves as Executive Director of the Nepperhan Community Center in Yonkers, responsible for all staff and programs. Since assuming leadership of the Center, Bostic created numerous programs including the Nepperhan Youth Corp, a violence prevention program which features one of the region’s top drum and bugle corps. Bostic is also responsible for the addition of an outdoor basketball court for the Yonkers Midnight Basketball Program, a major food drive to feed the hungry, a black tie gala, a walk-a-thon, the creation of the state’s first Parent Teacher Student Association sponsored by a community-based organization, five youth tackle football teams and several after-school programs in Yonkers. The agency has expanded to several offices throughout Westchester County, and is also helping to provide after-school programs in Africa and Haiti.
Bostic is the author of the recently published book “Daily Words of Encouragement to Live By.” He is a former member of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church for over 50 years, and is currently a member and youth pastor at Union Baptist Church in New Rochelle. Bostic also teaches bible study at Westchester County Jail in Valhalla, as well as at other New York State Correctional Institutions. Bostic is the recipient of numerous awards including the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award, the Outstanding Young Men of America Award, the Outstanding Teachers of America Award, the Ossie Davis Award, the Champion of Human Rights Award and numerous Community Service Awards and commendations from the City of Yonkers, County of Westchester, State of New York, State of New Mexico and United States Congress. Bostic also serves as a member of the Education Advisory Committee, co-chair of the Faith Based Health Initiative, founder of the City of Yonkers Violence/Gang Prevention Coalition, a member of the Board of Directors of St. John’s Riverside Hospital, a member of Mayor Mike Spano’s Advisory Committee, Chairman of the Hudson Valley After School Network and Chairman of the Lower Hudson Valley My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. He is happily married to the former Pearlie Goodman and they are proud parents of two children, Donica and Jim Jr. (deceased), and three grandchildren. Bostic’s entire adult life has been dedicated to the service of youth and their families, people who are in need and the cause of racial equality.
The Madame C.J. Walker Award for Economic Development: Vikki L. Pryor
Vikki L. Pryor is Managing Principal and Founder of Change Create Transform LLC, a mission-driven organization founded in 2010. It leverages the intellectual capital of the ExpertTerre® Membership platform to help businesses, organizations and individuals succeed and grow. A sought after advisor and Executive Leadership Development Expert, she has provided strategic vision, operating leadership, consulting, coaching, seminars, workshops, presentations and keynotes to a range of organizations and industries over the past 20 years. Pryor also serves on the Board of Directors of Sagicor Life Insurance Company – USA.
Twice named by Crain’s New York Business as one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in New York, and by Black Enterprise Magazine as one of the 75 Most Powerful African American Women in Business, Pryor is a seasoned executive who believes in a bold new future for business, community and people, and has held senior leadership positions with Oxford Health Plans, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Allstate and the Department of Treasury. While President and CEO of SBLI USA Mutual Life Insurance Company for 11 years, the Company was twice named among the 50 best places to work in New York City. Women comprised 60 percent of the Company’s Board of Directors, and 57 percent of its employees were women. Assets grew $200 million and reserves were rebuilt after a 10 year decline; the company served over 250,000 customers with $1.5 billion in assets. She also served on the boards of NYISO, Keyspan, Riversource Funds, UST Bank, The Prim Board, the Small Business and Agricultural Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the New York Women’s Forum and the Partnership for New York City.
With giving back as a core value, Pryor has volunteered and raised funds for many organizations. As President and Founder of the Change Create Transform Foundation, she has provided leadership development training, and funded over $300,000 in scholarships for over 80 students to attend college or professional school. She serves on the boards of the University of Buffalo Foundation, Emeritus Dean’s Advisory Council at SUNY Buffalo Law School and the Quorum Initiative. Pryor also served on the National Board of the Girl Scouts of the USA, and as Regional CEO of the American Red Cross in Greater New York.
Pryor has a BA magna cum laude and JD from SUNY Buffalo, where she has received its Distinguished Alumni Award. She is admitted to practice law in New York and Illinois, and holds an MBA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Pryor is a CPA, CLU and ChFC, has honorary doctoral degrees from Sacred Heart University, The College of Mount Saint Vincent, The Presidential Medallion from Bronx Community College and the Dean’s Medal from SUNY Buffalo Law School. She is the proud grandmother of Dakota and JayR.
The Betty Shabazz Award for Social Justice: Hon. Alfreda Williams
Alfreda Williams represents Legislative District 8 on the Westchester County Board of Legislators, which encompasses the southernmost part of Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown, Elmsford, northern Greenburgh and parts of White Plains. She served as the Chair of the Community Services Committee for 6 years, through December 2015. The Committee provided legislative oversight for the Departments of Social Services, Health, Community Mental Health and all programs that fall under them. Under her leadership, the committee fought hard for child care funding, human services, and to keep the parent share for subsidy low. Williams also ensured the closure of Mental Health Clinics did not cause an interruption of services for patients, passed the Source of Income Law and passed the Reproductive Health Law for Westchester County residents.
As the Chair of the Community Services Committee, she worked tirelessly to ensure services were available for all people in need, that the County invest early in children by providing programs that enrich education, that the homeless have a place to go and that the County provided public health services to everyone. In January 2016, Williams was elected to the leadership position of Majority Whip by her colleagues on the Board of Legislators. Williams is now proudly serving her fifth term representing District 8 and the Westchester County Board of Legislators as Vice Chairwoman. She has been appointed as a member of the following Westchester County Board of Legislators Committees: Budget & Appropriations, Legislation, Rules, Labor and Housing, Social Services and Seniors & Constituents.
Williams’ professional career includes several years with the New York State Education Department and the New York State Department of Labor. She was also employed for many years by major health care institutions, including Mount Sinai Medical Center and Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. In 1994, Williams was elected as the first African-American Greenburgh Town Clerk. Williams also assisted in obtaining Greenburgh’s first designated historic site — the former residence of Gordon Parks in the Parkway Gardens. Williams also established the Town Clerk Internship Program, which sponsors local high school students.
Williams has always been an active and involved Greenburgh citizen, moving there with her family in 1974. She is a member of the Westchester Black Women’s Political Caucus, Inc., former parliamentarian of the organization and former director of the Greenburgh Chapter. She is a life member and former president of the White Plains-Greenburgh NAACP. She is a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International and former president of the Hartsdale/Greenburgh Club. She is also a member of the Black Democrats of Westchester, and was a member and former vice president of the Westchester Town and City Clerks Association.
Williams earned a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Queens College, and a Master’s Degree in Psychological Counseling from Teachers College, Columbia University. Williams is an active member of St. Francis & St. Martha’s Episcopal Anglican Church in Greenburgh. She enjoys spending time with her daughter, traveling, listening to jazz, reading mystery novels and taking brisk walks around her lovely town.
The Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award for Civic Engagement: Frank Williams, Jr.
Frank Williams, Jr. has had a long and distinguished career in human services, serving as the Executive Director of the Yerwood Center in Stamford, CT, and later working in New York City as Director of Employment and Training for Grand Street Settlement.
In 1987 Williams joined the White Plains Youth Bureau, initially as a Youth Specialist. During that time, he developed programs such as the Juvenile Education Program, the Homeless Education Program, the Youth Council, the Youth Bureau’s Speakers Bureau and many others. He was appointed Deputy Director in 1990 and Executive Director in 2001. Under his watch the Youth Bureau has become a premiere youth service agency, nationally recognized for providing pathways and options for youth. As a result of his leadership, the White Plains Youth Bureau has been recognized as a Best Practice Youth Development Agency by the US Department of Education, and a Model Youth Development Agency by the United States Conference of Mayors. White Plains was also named one of the 100 Best Communities for Youth in our nation by America’s Promise Alliance. Serving more than 7,000 kids each year, Williams works to ensure White Plains youth reach their potential, and have caring adults to serve as role models.
Williams is a member of the Bethel Baptist Church in White Plains and serves as deacon. He developed the Renaissance Institute After-School Program, a Senior Ministry, a Women’s Ministry and a Computer Learning Center. He is leading the church to adopt a health and fitness strategy to combat obesity, diabetes and hypertension. One of his proudest achievements has been leading the church to mentor and adopt the young boys who live at 11 Fisher Court, a public housing facility adjacent to the church.
Williams is concerned with the plight of African children and is involved in African relief efforts impacting children in Rwanda, Kenya and South Africa. He is former President of Esther’s Aid, a 501©3 organization that helps needy and abandoned children throughout the world. Williams is a board member of the Association of New York State Youth Bureaus, President of a Passage to Excellence, member of the Black Scholars Committee, board member of the Theodore Young Community Center, and a member of the Beta Alpha Alpha Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He has received nearly 100 awards for community work including the National Volunteer Service Award from President Barack Obama, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Dr. Carter G. Woodson Award for Excellence in Human Services, Westchester Community Foundation Circle of Giving Award, Family Service of Westchester Champion of Youth Award and the City of White Plains Human Rights Commission Distinguished Service Award among others.
Williams holds a degree in Sociology and Anthropology from Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi. He has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Fordham University. He is married to Ann Williams and they have two daughters, Cherylyn and Timeka Williams, and are proud grandparents of John Berryhill IV. His motto is, “if it’s to be, it’s up to me.”