Marsha Gadsden was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY to Barbadian parents. She attended public school in Brooklyn until 11 years old until she was accepted into Prep for Prep, a highly selective academic program. She then went to Poly Prep, an independent school in Bay Ridge Brooklyn for grades 7-12. Afterwards, Marsha attended Georgetown University located in Washington DC and went on to complete her Masters in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government directly afterwards. It was Marsha’s own educational experience that led her to a career in education after having witnessed firsthand many of the disparities in educational opportunities between white students and students of color. After her time at Harvard, Marsha decided to join Teach for America and start her career on the frontlines of education: in the classroom as an English teacher at a charter school in Brooklyn. Soon after, Marsha was recruited into a leadership role at Brooklyn Ascend Middle School, located in Brownsville, Brooklyn, a few minutes away from where she was raised and where she currently resides. In 2015, Marsha was promoted to the role of principal at Brooklyn Ascend Middle School. In this role, Marsha has successfully turned around the student and adult culture of the school and had begun to make a name for herself in the charter industry, by doing away with the punitive, no excuses culture, often found in NYC Charter schools and is leading with love instead of fear. Educators across the nation are visiting her school to learn how to make this successful transition to a more ethical and productive culture and she was recently featured in the NY Times along with her network for this work.
The Brooklyn Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
W.A.T.E. Women in Philanthropy Award
The Brooklyn Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was chartered on March 14, 1949. The new chapter was named the Delta Gamma Sigma Chapter but was not organized until February 11, 1950. The first meeting was held at the Third Avenue Branch of the Brooklyn YWCA. Delta Gamma Sigma Chapter was renamed Brooklyn Alumnae Chapter in 1957.
These twenty committed women organized programs to enhance the educational and cultural life in the Brooklyn Community.
Over the past 68 years, the Chapter has diligently pursued the development of programs based on Delta's Five-Point Programmatic Thrust, awarding over $300,00.00 in college scholarships, sponsoring Black College Fairs, and annual overnight Teen Lift Tours to historically Black colleges and universities, encouraging reading through School America, fostering science, mathematics, and technology with the SEE program and supporting Black businesses. We have provided support to schoolchildren in Sierra Leone and Ghana and supported other International Awareness projects in Haiti, Central and South America, Grenada, and Ethiopia. The Chapter's Poetry Slam provides a public speaking forum for young people while the Black Book Fair provides local and nationally known authors and publishers the opportunity to bring the written word to our community. Brooklyn's youth are further supported by the EMBODI and GEMS programs for boys and girls, respectively.
Taiia Smart Young,(Tee-Eye-Yah) is an award-winning author, writer, editor, speaker and Founder of Smart Girl Media.
Her book Famous! How to Be the Star of Your Show: A Teen Girl’s Guide to Embracing Her Fabulous Self is an empowerment book that remixes the concept of fame. Famous! teaches girls that it isn’t about everyone knowing you, it’s about knowing yourself.
Currently, she’s the managing editor for Latina magazine.
She’s held senior editing positions at Juicy, XXL and ESSENCE magazines. Taiia co-launched Juicy, the first celeb life, hair and beauty pub for women of color in 2010. At Juicy she interviewed tons of celebrities, including Rita Moreno, Taraji P. Henson, Judy Reyes, Jada Pinkett Smith, Chris Rock, Nas and Kelly Rowland.
Taiia also served as the Assistant Director of Communications & Marketing for Girls
Inc. and the Director of Content for SHiNE365.com, where she encouraged teens to become change agents in their communities. At SHiNE, she awarded more than 20K in grants to youths to fund their public service projects.
Her work has also appeared in Ebony, Red, Scholastic, BlackEnterprise.com, girltank.org and MadameNoire.com.
Taiia graduated from Johnson C. Smith University with a B.A. in Mass Communications, and is a proud and active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
She hosts interactive youth empowerment workshops around the country.
A native of Reidsville, North Carolina received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Electronic Technology from Norfolk State University. Upon graduation, Vonne served her country for six years as a communications officer in the United States Army. At the end of her commitment, she moved to New York City to pursue a course of study in audio engineering and production at The Institute of Audio Research. While working as a sound engineer, she saw a need within the entertainment and professional sports industry where individuals were not using their income wisely and consequently were broke within two years’ time, so she began to study accounting and financial planning. Vonne has been supporting clients in accounting, taxation, and financial advisement for the past eight years and specializes in small business and Not-for-Profit taxation. She also assists clients in financial planning and budgeting through seminars and conferences as well as consulting potential entrepreneurs in start-up business planning. She spends her free time volunteering in her community and she enjoys traveling and eating at nice restaurants. Vonne takes pride in assisting clients maximize on every financial opportunity available to them.
Label Jars, Not People! A beautiful girl, Egypt Ify Ufele who resides with her Mom Dr. Reba Renee Perry & senior sister Misperri Fashions Sade Perry in Queens, NY was labeled because of her size. She was repeatedly picked on for her stature at her grade school. She was bullied, called many names, and was even stabbed with a pencil. A child with a heart of gold and the beauty of a queen was made to feel insecure. But instead of letting it get her down, Egypt started hand sewing clothes for her dolls and eventually learned to use a sewing machine to make clothes for all body types. She now has two companies, Bullychasers Anti-bullying & Chubiiline LLC, which create a very busy schedule for an 10 year old girl. Her busy schedule has designed the opportunity for her to be home schooled. She received a Black Girl Magic Award, Believe in a BlackGirl, Danny Glover Achievement Award, Chamber of Commerce, NAACP and numerous others awards because of her achievement and resilience. She has also been featured in Black Enterprise, People Magazine, and other magazines. She is a gem and role model in her community.
Onleilove (pronounced Onlylove) Onleilove (pronounced Onlylove) Alston is the executive director at PICO-Faith in New York, where she leads a multiracial and multifaith faith based organizing federation of 70 congregations representing 80,000 New Yorkers who are working to Build the Beloved City-where some not all of God’s children can live in dignity. Onleilove is also a workshop facilitator, speaker, and writer. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Human Development and African-American studies from Penn State University, she completed a year of service with AmeriCorps Public Allies New York. She is a contributing writer for Sojourners magazine, The Black Commentator, Huff Post Religion and NPR’s Onbeing blog, as well as other print and online publications. Having experienced poverty and homelessness, she has developed a compassion for people fueled by her passion for justice, and knows that the gospel is truly “good news to the poor.” Onleilove serves on Mayor Bill de Blasio's Clergy Advisory Council, the board of directors for Sojourners, ALIGN and on the advisory board for the Micah Institute at NY Theological Seminary. Onleilove writes and lectures on the implicit bias of colorism and its impact on African-American women and leads A Women’s Theology of Liberation for the PICO Network.
Dr. Cineas began her nursing career as a staff nurse in the Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit, then worked as a Quality Management Specialist for the Cardiothoracic Department and became Patient Care Director of Neurosurgery and the Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit at Columbia University Medical Center New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York, NY. Currently, Dr. Cineas is the Senior Director of Nursing at Mount Sinai St. Luke's.
She has a Doctorate in Nursing Practice degree from The George Washington University, a Masters of Science in Management and a Bachelors of Science from New York University, and a Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology from Stony Brook University. She has positioned herself in social circles that continues to propel her career because the value of her intellect and her compassion to live by example makes her sought after by many for her expertise. Dr. Cineas is a member of the American Nurses Association, American Organization of Nurse Executives, New York Organization of Nurse Executives, American Association of Critical Care Nurses, Sigma Theta Tau International (Phi Epsilon chapter) and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. Her passion is leading organizations to reduce hospital-acquired infections through evidence-based practice and improving care received within African American communities.
W.A.T.E. Women in Education Award
Arlise Carson graduated from Norfolk State University in 1998 with a B.A. in Political Science Pre-Law. In 2002, she received her Master of Professional Studies in Urban Ministry from Nyack College Alliance Theological Seminary in New York. In 2005, she received her Master of Science in Education/Special Education Childhood from Touro College Graduate School of Education and Psychology in New York. In 2008, she fulfilled all requirements for her Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in Urban Ministry from Nyack College ATS and she is currently pursuing a Masters in Administration from the College of St. Rose via Center for Integrated Teacher Education in NY. Her career in public education started sixteen years ago. She has worked as an elementary and middle school teacher, dropout prevention specialist, a middle school and elementary assistant principal, dean of students and she presently serves as an elementary principal Brooklyn, NY.
Reverend Arlise Carson is a native of Portsmouth, Virginia. She is happily married to the Rev. Tiate Carson, who she serves with in ministry. The Carsons have two beautiful daughters, Bria and Imani.
Her Vision for Women: "I would love to see women empower themselves by thinking above the mediocre, mundane, manipulative words that have minimized their level of productivity for centuries. I would love to see women tap into the power of Jesus Christ and tear down every stronghold that has plagued their past, infected their future and caused them to feel less than God's best! I would love to see women know who they are and know where they're going as they walk on the destined path that God has created just for them. I would love to see us educated, liberated, celebrated and unashamedly collaborating with other women that help to propel us to a greater level of excellence. For Excellence is Not Acquired by Chance; It"s Acquired by Choice. We as women are going to make the right choice!"
Cassandra L. Phifer
W.A.T.E. Women in Health Award
Born in Brooklyn, New York but raised in Queens, Cassandra Phifer has always been known to give to others wholeheartedly. Learning this from her late mother, she has developed into the most genuine woman who everyone loves and knows because of her huge heart.
In 2011, Cassandra took a fitness class that would lead her on a further journey to becoming a passionate Group Fitness Instructor with various certifications. Over the last three years, Cassandra has made record growth and has maintained success by giving back to her community through fitness classes for Rockaway residents and Brooklyn residents, including local councilmen, senators, NYCHA, reputable health insurance companies, members of churches, small businesses and gyms. After finding out about the rapid growth of obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease in the Flatbush and other surrounding Brooklyn communities, she paired up with a nonprofit organization, HCC- Haitian-American Community Coalition. They offer free fitness classes to the community called "Fitness For Flatbush". This program and been growing rapidly over the last three years and currently reaches over 300 participants per week. Cassie is passionate and loves what she does, and it shows in all her endeavors. She continues to strive to assist others in achieving their fitness goals and creating healthier minds through exercise and healthy eating.
Her Vision for Women: "I believe that most women are strong, powerhouse, capable of multi-tasking, visionaries, nurturing, can handle stress. Women keep the household and family together. We are leaders. My vision is for women to know that they can run a business and maintain a family. Women are dominant in the fitness industry, medical community and pretty much dominant in establishing careers and small businesses. Women can do it all, because we already do."
W.A.T.E. Women in Philanthropy Award
Vikki L. Pryor is Managing Principal & Founder at Change Create Transform LLC, a mission driven organization that leverages the intellectual capital of an Expert Platform to help businesses succeed and grow.
Vikki was President & CEO of SBLI USA Mutual Life Insurance Company for 11 years. She was the first African American female CEO of a life insurance company. The company was twice named among the 50 best places to work in New York City. Leading a legislative mandate to turnaround a 60year old organization, under Vikki's tenure, assets increased, while she fostered a climate of innovation, creativity and inclusion. Women comprised 60% of the company's board of directors, and 57% of its employees were women. Assets grew $200 million and reserves were rebuilt after a 10year decline; the company served over 250,000 customers with $1.5 billion in assets.
Over the years, Vikki has fostered philanthropic efforts which have included fundraising and volunteerism for many organizations. The Change Create Transform Foundation has funded over $250,000 in scholarships for over 50 students to attend college or professional school. Vikki has served on the National Board of the USA and as Regional CEO of the American Red Cross in Greater New York. Vikki was 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.
Vikki holds a B.A., magna cum laude, and J.D. degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She is admitted to practice law in New York and Illinois. She holds an MBA degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the mother of an adult son, Daniel and a granddaughter, Dakota.
Her Vision For Women: "The future for women is very bright. Now is a great time for each woman to design her life according to her unique talents and purpose. Our freedom lies in our voice: being who we are without hesitation, explanation or shame. As women continue to grow, learn, contribute and make a difference, we strive for a world where all people are included as they are. Our future lies in having the courage to live authentic lives. We let our light shine and set an example for others to do the same. We are a transforming energy that is essential for all of us to thrive".
Dr. Millicent Comrie
W.A.T.E. Women in Health Award
Dr. Millicent Comrie grew up in Kingston, Jamaica and came to the United States to continue her college studies at Morgan University in Baltimore, MD and Howard University in Washington, DC, graduating with honors from the latter. She attended SUNY Downstate Health Science Center of Brooklyn, where she obtained her medical degree in 1976, and later went to Columbia University School of Public Health, where she earned a Masters in Public Health, with particular focus on Maternal and Child Health. She has been given the Master Teacher Award in Obstetrics and Gynecology by the SUNY Downstate Alumni Association. She is a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Brooklyn (now under NYU). She has dedicated her practice to the education, the diagnosis and the treatment of one of the most devastating health conditions facing the Black woman today - uterine fibroids. Women of color, particularly those of Caribbean descent, suffer from this disorder at a disproportionately higher rate than their Caucasian, Hispanic or Asian sisters. Dr. Comrie is a pioneer in the compassionate care and surgical treatment of fibroids, developing techniques that allow women, particularly young women, to retain their uterus and not have to undergo a hysterectomy, thus preserving fertility.
Her expertise in the operating room has enabled countless women who would otherwise have been barren to enjoy healthy pregnancies and know the joy of being a mom. Patients universally praise Dr. Comrie no less for her expertise as for her compassion and empathy. She has also been lauded as one of 25 Influential Black Women in Business and Career and has been named among the Best Black Doctors in the Tri-State Area by The Network Journal, a monthly publication focusing on black professionals and businesses.
She also has consistently landed in New York Magazine's list of "Best Doctors in New York City". She is known and loved as the doctor who listens.
Dr. Delica M.B. Garnes
W.A.T.E. Women in Education and Technology Award
Born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in California, Dr. Delicia M. Benjamin Garnes was divinely prepared and born for leadership.
Education has always been important to Dr. Garnes. After graduating from the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education, she continued to broaden her horizons and graduated from Long Island University's C.W. Post Campus with a Masters in School Guidance and Counseling. The blood and the adrenaline continued to flow, thus she completed a successful journey by receiving her Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership from Regent University. Currently, she is the Director of Information Technology at LIU Brooklyn, as well as an adjunct professor for the Computer Science Department.
Dr. Garnes is married to Bishop Eric D. Garnes, Senior Pastor of Tabernacle of Praise in Brooklyn. She carries the title "First Lady" and sometimes may be addressed as Lady Garnes. Lady Delicia Benjamin Garnes truly supports her husband in the ministry serving as the Church Administrator. In addition, she serves in various roles and oversees several ministries within Tabernacle of Praise and the United Covenant Churches of Christ for which her husband serves as Chief Prelate. The two of them are proud parents of a daughter and son, Darian and Bryanna.
Lady Garnes has been the recipient of several awards. She is also an illustration to the flock of believers that woman are precious and divinely made by God to handle anything. She is recognized for her wisdom to communicate, with the "mature" as well as the "young." She is a wife, a mother, a career woman, a friend, a "First Lady," and definitely a special woman of God.
She is without a doubt, a modern day Virtuous Woman (Proverbs 31).
Dr. Louise S. Pyant
W.A.T.E. Women in Counseling Award
Dr. Louise Shalomah Pyant is a Family and Marriage Therapist and has a private practice. She provides counsel to individuals, families and marriages. When she began her private practice, she asked God for guidance and His reply was, "You have been called to loose the shackles from the minds of my people." God has empowered her with many disciplines. She says her therapy practice is designed to guide clients toward identifying the root of a negative situation and dislocate the root. Her Cognitive Behavioral therapeutic approach in therapy has encouraged many to embrace truths and make change in their lives.
Her multifaceted drive sets her apart from many other educators because of the time she has invested into studying the human spirit and becoming a nurturer of the human soul by making individuals responsible for the active part they play in relationships and with the world. She is a graduate of Walden University and holds a Doctorate in Human Services with a Specialization in Family and Marriage Counseling. Dr. Pyant graduated from New York University with a Masters in Reading Psychology, and holds a second Masters in Administration and Supervision.
In 1998, Dr. Pyant founded the Higher Steps After-School Tutorial Program and Summer Camp. She began tutoring children in the home, and later had the vision to use the church for a tutorial and summer camp program. The program provided jobs for women and teens in the community, and a safe, social environment for the academic at-risk children that she served. The program enrolled more than sixty students for summers of fun, as well as employed youth from the Summer Youth Program. Dr. Pyant has a strong belief that children need to develop social skills for their success and future. She trained her staff to support the children's social development, as well as provide small group tutoring.
In 2008 Dr Pyant authored the book Relations- Holding on and Letting Go from a Psycho- Spiritual Perspective. In doing all these great things, Dr. Pyant is married to Bishop Issac Pyant of Temple El Shaddai. She is the mother of eight children of which four are adopted. In addition they parented more than twenty foster children. Nonetheless, as licensed foster parents for fifteen years, God has blessed and continues to bless their home.Dr. Pyant serves as wife, minister, educator, therapist, and motivational speaker. She says that working to help people is her life, her mission. She is a woman of faith, vision, and perseverance. Dr. Pyant is a Pillar in her home, church, and community.