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Neighborhood Dinner in Manhattan

Join us at the Neighborhood Dinner in Manhattan as we celebrate courageous leaders that are working to make their communities a better place for all. This year, we’re honoring Cecilia Gastón, Executive Director of Violence Intervention Program, Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, President/Founder of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, Maxine Daniels, Founder of I Bike Harlem, and Melba Wilson, Owner of Melba’s Restaurant and Melba’s Catering. The evening will be emceed by Maria Hinojosa, President and Founder of The Futuro Media Group and Host of In The Thick & NPR’s Latino USA. 

The event will be held at Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Ave (at 103rd Street), New York, NY 10029.

Program will begin at 7:15 p.m.

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September 19, 2017 at 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Ave & 104th Street
New York, NY 10029

NEIGHBORHOOD LEADERSHIP AWARDEES

  • Neighborhood Dinner in Manhattan

    Cecilia Gastòn

    Cecilia M. Gastón began her tenure as Executive Director of VIP in June 2008. She has a strong track record of service to disenfranchised groups, especially in the Latina community.

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    Cecilia Gastòn

    Executive Director of Violence Intervention Program

    Cecilia M. Gastón began her tenure as Executive Director of VIP in June 2008. She has a strong track record of service to disenfranchised groups, especially in the Latina community. In 1998, she was recognized as one of El Diario/La Prensa’s Outstanding Women of the Year for her commitment to social justice and women’s health issues. Prior to heading VIP, she worked at Inwood House, one of New York City’s leading teen pregnancy prevention programs. She has also served as program director of multiple supportive housing programs serving people living with HIV/AIDS.

    Currently, Ms. Gastón has been a board member of The New York State Coalition against Domestic Violence and represents the Coalition of Domestic Violence Providers on the NYC Continuum of Care in the struggle for affordable housing. She has served as a board member for the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc. and the New York Women’s Foundation and has been a member of the New York Women’s Foundation Grants Committee. She was a National Urban Fellow and recipient of the Capstone Award in Public Administration. Currently, she is a member of the NYC Mayor’s Office Commission on Gender Equity, founding member of the Gender Justice Task Force and member of the Mayor’s Office Task Force on Domestic Violence.

    Born in Havana, Cuba to a Cuban father and Mexican mother, she traveled often between the two countries. In 1961, she immigrated with her family to the United States. This uniquely bicultural and multinational background, coupled with her family’s high standard for academics and social awareness, has given her a distinct perspective in her work with Latino and disenfranchised communities.

    Ms. Gastón earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Mary’s Dominican College in New Orleans and holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Baruch College.

     

     

  • Neighborhood Dinner in Manhattan

    Dr. Marta Moreno Vega

    Dr. Marta Moreno-Vega established the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute in 1976, inspired by a vision to create an international organization to promote and link communities of African Descent.

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    Dr. Marta Moreno Vega

    President and Founder of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute

    Dr. Marta Moreno-Vega established the center in 1976, inspired by a vision to create an international organization to promote and link communities of African Descent. She has guided the capital campaign for the renovation of the landmark firehouse at 120 East 125th Street that is now the Center’s new home. Dr. Moreno Vega has been an advocate for cultural equity, cultural studies, and education. As the second director of El Museo del Barrio, one of the founders of the Association  of  Hispanic  Arts, Network of Centers of Color, and the Roundtable of Institutions of Colors, Dr. Moreno Vega has contributed to assuring that the contributions of African and African descendants are

    integral to the lives of civil society in the Americas. She has conducted research in Yoruba belief systems in the African Diaspora and has organized international conferences uniting scholars and traditional experts focused on expanding the knowledge and importance of sacred African Diaspora traditions. Moreno Vega, an adjunct  professor  at NYU’s  Tisch  School  of the  Arts, is  co-founder  of the Global Afro-Latino and Caribbean Initiative (GALCI), a former program of Hunter College/Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program. She is chief editor of Women Warriors of the Afro-Latina Diaspora (Arte Publico Press) and author of The Altar of My Soul (One World/Ballantine, 2001). She is director and co-producer of the documentary When the Spirits Dance.

SPIRIT OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP AWARDEES

  • Neighborhood Dinner in Manhattan

    Maxine Daniels

    Maxine Daniels is the founder of I Bike Harlem, a tour operator that offers historical bike tours of Harlem. For decades, many travelers to New York City have limited their excursions to Manhattan neighborhoods south of Central Park.

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    Maxine Daniels

    Founder of I Bike Harlem

    Maxine Daniels is the founder of I Bike Harlem, a tour operator that offers historical bike tours of Harlem. For decades, many travelers to New York City have limited their excursions to Manhattan neighborhoods south of Central Park. Moreover, those who do choose to go beyond the traditional tourist hotspots often see neighborhoods like Harlem—Maxine’s home for 10 years—from the top floor of a tour bus. I Bike Harlem gives travelers the opportunity to discover Harlem’s deep rooted history, interact with the locals, experience the colorful culture, taste authentic local cuisine, view handsome brownstones and discover vibrant small businesses.

    Originally from Chicago Illinois and current resident of Harlem, Maxine has roots that stem long and strong in this beautiful neighborhood. Her grandparents owned soul food restaurants in The Bronx and Harlem in the 50’s and 60’s and her aunt; whom she is named after, owned a grocery store on 110th street and Lenox Avenue.

    Maxine is an avid traveler whom has explored 6 continents. While on her travel journey, she absolutely loved taking bike tours. She realized riding a bicycle was the best medium to meet new people and explore the many different cultures.  After returning home from a trip to Colombia, she decided to bring the fun and adventure to Harlem. Combining Maxine’s vibrant personality, her love for fitness and her knowledge of Harlem, she decided to share her passion for this amazing neighborhood, on 2 wheels.

  • Neighborhood Dinner in Manhattan

    Melba Wilson

    Melba Wilson was “born, bred and buttered in Harlem.” Today she proudly represents her New York neighborhood as one of the most successful African American women in the restaurant and catering business.

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    Melba Wilson

    Owner of Melba’s Restaurant & Melba’s Catering

    Melba Wilson was “born, bred and buttered in Harlem.” Today she proudly represents her New York neighborhood as one of the most successful African American women in the restaurant and catering business. Her achievements are countless and her reputation in the food service industry is stellar. Her style, poise and love of entertaining have made Melba’s Restaurant a New York landmark  frequented  by music,  TV and movie  stars,  New York City’s  elite, locals and travelers from around the world.

    Melba’s drive to succeed started at an early age with a sharp eye and impeccable insight. Her first opportunity to learn about the restaurant business was at Harlem’s  famous Sylvia’s Restaurant, where she held a variety of service and managerial positions. It was Melba who conceptualized and launched the popular Sunday Gospel Brunch, which was so successful that the restaurant industry’s elite quickly came calling.

    Michael Lomonaco, former Executive Chef of 21 Club and Executive Chef of Windows on the World Restaurants contacted Melba in 1999 to produce and manage a weekly Sunday brunch. Within six months the Champagne Gospel Brunch generated a sixty-five percent increase in revenue. This experience combined with her ability to organize, produce and execute promotional events led to partnerships with renowned restaurateurs, Drew Nieporent and Robert DeNiro of the Nobu empire, Corton, Centrico and TriBeca Grill – as well as Godfrey Polistina of Carmine’s, Virgil’s, Cesca, and Quest Restaurants.

    In 2004, Melba decided to strike out on her own. Today she is the proud sole owner  of  two  Harlem  based  businesses,  Melba’s  Restaurant,  and  Melba’s Catering and is in the process of expanding her landmark restaurant. Melba’s Restaurant has won rave reviews from New York Magazine, Time Out, The New Yorker, The Daily News, Zagat and Interview Magazine. The restaurant was also named Best Brunch for Kids by Time Out New York, Best Soul Food by Zagat and has featured recipes in the “Go Green East Harlem” Cookbook as well as the “Bobby Flay’s Throwdown” cookbook. Melba’s Catering has an extensive  list  of  clientele  including  Target,  Nike,  American  Express,  The Weinstein  Company,  Pfizer,  Time  Warner,  Bank  of  America,  The  NFL, Universal Records, The Archdiocese of New York and several recording artists including Jay-Z, the Zac Brown Band and Katy Perry.

    Melba appears on national news and cooking shows. She was previously featured on The View, The Today Show, The Dish, Good Day New York, NBC’s “New York Live”, the Sundance Film Channel in a documentary entitled, “Love, Lust and Comfort Food,” CBS “The Morning Show”,  the Food Network’s “Throwdown  with  Bobby  Flay”,  “The  Kitchen”,  Food  Network’s  “Savoring Harlem” (which Melba narrated), “The Next Food Network Star”, “3 Days to Open with Bobby Flay”, “Beat Bobby Flay”, “Restaurant Divided” with Rocco DiSpirito, The Insider, and she was the lead judge on TV One’s, “My Momma Throws  Down”.  Designer  Isaac  Mizrahi  handpicked  Melba  as  one  of  his Favorite Ladies to represent his Liz Claiborne line in a series of national advertisements entitled, REAL Women.

    Melba is often credited as being a visionary, opening the first restaurant on Frederick Douglas Boulevard and contributing to The Second Harlem Renaissance. Melba’s has served over 2 million guests via the restaurant & catering, was named the Top Southern/Soul Restaurant by Zagat and by NewYork.com,  Grand Marshall of the African American Day Parade, was a featured chef and curated the menu for the premiere of ‘Harlem on My Plate,’ documenting   the  culinary   renaissance   of  Harlem,   starred   in  CNBC’s ‘Consumed,  The  Real  Restaurant  Business  and  was  recently  honored  by Harlem Hospital and Sydenham Hospital and the Rev. Al Sharpton and The National Action Network.

    The  proud  mother  of  a  17  year  old  son,  Melba’s     first  cookbook,  Melba’s American Comfort published by Simon & Schuster and was honored by The Girl Scouts of America, twice by Ebony Magazine with their Taste of Ebony Award. Melba is the recipient of the Westside Spirit Award, The Entrepreneur Award presented by Congressman Charles Rangel, The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce Award, The Thurgood Marshall Prestige Award, The “Shero Award 2015” and the Heritage Award, to name a few. She is on the board of directors for The NYC Hospitality Alliance, World of Money, Harlem Park  to  Park  and  The  Opportunity  Charter  School.  Melba  donates  to  and supports many causes including Alzheimer’s, The Girl Scouts of America, diabetes, illiteracy, senior citizens causes and takes time to help community outreach organizations in Harlem and throughout New York City.

Master of Ceremonies

  • Neighborhood Dinner in Manhattan

    Maria Hinojosa

    As a reporter who was the first Latina in many newsrooms, Maria Hinojosa dreamt of a space where she could create independent, multimedia journalism that explores and gives a critical voice to the diverse American experience.

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    Maria Hinojosa

    President and Founder of The Futuro Media Group and Host of In The Thick and NPRs Latino USA

    As a reporter who was the first Latina in many newsrooms, Maria Hinojosa dreamt of a space where she could create independent, multimedia journalism that explores and gives a critical voice to the diverse American experience. To that end, in 2010, she created the Futuro Media Group, an independent nonprofit organization based in Harlem, NYC with the mission to create multimedia content for and about the new American mainstream in the service of empowering people to navigate the complexities of an increasingly diverse and connected world. As the Anchor and Executive Producer of the Peabody Award winning show Latino USA, distributed by NPR, as well as Co-Host of In The Thick, Futuro Media’s new political podcast, Hinojosa has informed millions about the changing cultural and political landscape in America and abroad. Hinojosa is also Anchor and Executive Producer of the PBS show America By The Numbers, the first national television series to examine our country’s dramatic demographic shifts, and Humanizing America, a digital video series that deconstructs stereotypes about the American electorate. Hinojosa is also a new contributor to the long running award-winning news program CBS Sunday Morning, and is a frequent guest on MSNBC.

    Hinojosa’s nearly 30-year career as an award-winning journalist includes reporting for PBS, CBS, WNBC, CNN, NPR, and anchoring the Emmy Award winning talk show Maria Hinojosa: One-on-One. She is the author of two books and has won dozens of awards, including: four Emmys, the John Chancellor Award, the Studs Terkel Community Media Award, two Robert F. Kennedy Awards, the Edward R. Murrow Award, and the Ruben Salazar Lifetime Achievement Award. Hinojosa was the first Latina to anchor a PBS FRONTLINE report: “Lost in Detention” which aired in October 2011, explored abuse at immigrant detention facilities, garnering attention from Capitol Hill as well as both the mainstream and Spanish-language media.

    Hinojosa has reported hundreds of important stories — from the restrictive immigration policies in Fremont, Nebraska, to the effects of the oil boom on Native people in North Dakota, to stories of poverty in Alabama. As a reporter for NPR, Hinojosa was among the first to report on youth violence in urban communities on a national scale. During her eight years as CNN’s urban affairs correspondent, Hinojosa often took viewers into communities rarely shown on television. Now at the Futuro Media Group, Hinojosa continues to bring attention to experiences and points of view that are often overlooked or underreported in mainstream media, all while mentoring the next generation of diverse journalists to delve into authentic and nuanced stories that impact their communities. She is currently the Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Chair of Latin American and Latino Studies at DePaul University in Chicago, and lives with her husband, son and daughter in Harlem, New York.