There was nothing but sheer ecstasy last Thursday night as Caribbean Life, the nation’s most-widely circulated Caribbean newspaper, honored its “40 Under 40” Caribbean achievers at a gala ceremony at Sirico’s in the Dyker Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.
The second annual event, held in conjunction with DiasporaDashboard.Com, a New York City-based company headed by former Jamaica New York Consul General Geneive Brown Metzger, who chaired the proceedings, attracted hundreds of patrons.
The honorees — which comprised reporters, college professors, attorneys, actors and business owners, among others, were either born or have roots in a number of Caribbean nations, including Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Guyana.
They were: Natasha Andrews (Trinidad and Tobago), senior production editor and owner of Mastamind Productions; master chef Shorne Benjamin (St. Lucia); attorney Tamika Bent of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy; jewelry designer Mateo Bijioux (Jamaica) of Mateo Bijoux Jewelry; television reporter Ruschell Boone (Jamaica) of NY1 news; Gilbert Bramwell (Jamaica), founder/owner of Rapid Rinse Services; Reeshemah Brightley (Jamaica), manager of Zeno (Caribbean) Radio; Donald Brown (Jamaica), managing director of systems operations of the New York Stock Exchange; Cynthia Carrion (Dominican Republic), deputy director of the Northern Manhattan Coalition; actress/dancer Keisha Clarke Gray (Jamaica), cast member of The Lion King on Broadway; and Geoff Cooper, publisher of CG Caribbean Magazine.
The others were: caterer and author Nadege Fleurimond (Haiti), chief executive officer of Chef Fleurimond Catering; A.J. and V.J. Ghannes (Guyana), owners of the H&N Insurance Agency; Rev. Richard Griffiths (Jamaica), Young Adult Pastor at the Bronx Bethany Church; Omar Hawthorne, Director of Franchise Development for Golden Krust Bakery and Grill; Chasen Hollancid (St. Lucia), owner of Suede Restaurant; Kevin Howell of Anchor Strategy Group – Caribbean and Caribbean-American Disapora Consulting Firm; Jeremiah Hyacinth (St. Lucia), founder, president and vice consul of Project Education; Special Education teacher Alexis James of the city’s Department of Education; Katleen Jeanty (Haiti), founder, owner, president and CEO of Madan BelFwi Fruit Mixes; and Professor Anika Keens Hylton of Brooklyn College and York College.
The rest included: Assistant Professor Natasha Lightfoot (Antigua and Barbuda) of Columbia University; fashion designer Glenroy March (Jamaica) founder and president of House of D’Marsh; Paola Mathe (Haiti), fashion designer and founder of the Ansanm Nou Se Ayiti artisti movement; Verdell Nicholson (Jamaica) of JYD Auto Leasing & Sales; real estate professional Trisha Ocona Francis; accountant Medjine Philis-Volcy (Haiti) of Tax Solution Management; Nickay Piper, president and founder of Market Grubb Media; actor Paul Pryce (Trinidad and Tobago) of the Elm Shakesspeare Company; Mekalia Reid (Jamaica) actress and attorney; dancer, educator, certified group fitness instructor Shola Roberts (Grenada); Regine Roumain (Haiti), director of cultural exchange for the Haiti Cultural Exchange; Professor Kerri-Ann M. Smith (Jamaica) of Queens College; Adjunct Professor Curtis Stephen (Trinidad and Tobago) of Long Island University – Brooklyn; Kimeta Straker (Barbados), academic counselor at the University of Connecticut; Monique Waterman of the East Flatbush Village Youth Development Organization; voice-over actor Germane K. Williams (Jamaica); and Karian Wright (Jamaica), program manager at Stonybrook University.
“It’s such an honor to be here. This group of ’40 Under 40’ is impressive,” said Boone, who addressed the sell-out audience on behalf of her co-honorees.
“I hope you all feel as proud as I do, because I am ecstatic tonight,” said Boone, NY1’s Queens Borough reporter.
Dr. Roy A. Hastick, the Grenadian-born founder and president of the Brooklyn-based Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry offered 10 tips “to guide the young entrepreneurs.”
Hastick, who delivered the keynote address for the second successive year, urged the honorees to do what they love; to stay focused; to exploit online resources; to find a mentor; to take care of oneself; to define a market; to be able to explain your business at a whim; to remember you run a start-up; to keep in mind that there are still rules; to and know when to fold “‘em.”
“Sure, I’ve had success running and selling several different companies, but do you know how many I’ve started and stopped because they weren’t taking off?” Hastick asked. “Tons. Some say nine out of every 10 business fail within the first couple years.
“Don’t let your pride get in the way of closing your company. I learned this the hard way in college when I launched what became my first failure, Utefan,” he added. “I knew that what I was doing wasn’t going to work or make money. I kept putting money into it and spending time on it. Eventually, I had to give up my pride and stop. Know when to let go.
“If you’re not familiar with the classic Kenny Rogers song ‘The Gambler’, then stop what you’re doing and check it out,” he continued. “It offers some of the best advice ever. Why? Just like any great gambler, you have to know when to fold ‘em.
“Instead of continuing to work on a fledgling business, it’s best to walk away and reflect on what went wrong,” the CACCI president said. “It’s not going to be easy, but it’s inevitable. And you’ll take that lesson with you on your next venture.”
The event was sponsored by Zeno Radio, Emigrant Mortgage, MetroPlus Health Plan and the Money Store.
“I’m very excited, honored that we’re part of this event – that we continue to support your entity (Caribbean Life) and the Caribbean community,” Frank Cruz, a mortgage consultant with Emigrant Mortgage, told Caribbean Life.
Neil Dias, a mortgage lender with the Long Island-based The Money Store, said he felt “great” in participating in the event.
Jamaican-born Carline Farrier, of MetroPlus Heath Plan, said it as “an honor” to be part of the ceremony, adding that Caribbean nationals have a significant role to play in the United States.
Chain Gross, director of marketing at the Manhattan-based Zeno Radio, said it was “amazing for what they (honorees) accomplished at a young age.”