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100 People of Newark

In celebration of Newark’s 350th anniversary, the 100 People Foundation has partnered with the PSEG Foundation to create a vibrant portrait of the city and its residents. Through a series of 100 photographs and on-camera interviews with Newarkers, we are celebrating the city’s rich history and culture to mark this major milestone. The 100 people that you will meet in this gallery are all residents of the city of Newark, and together they proportionally represent the city by age, gender, ethnic background, and ward of residence. They were nominated by their neighbors and peers for their outstanding contributions to the community. They appear below in alphabetical order.

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Brianna Aaron

Student and Competitive Debater, Science Park High School

Considered the top debater at her high school, Brianna sees her debate experience and ability to think critically as relevant life skills that will help her analyze and assist with complicated issues once she gets out into the professional world. She intends to become a psychologist, inspired in part by an intricate study of national and international race relations that she read in preparation for a debate competition.

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Shaping mindsets through debate

Elizabeth Abitanto

Managing Director of Programs, NJ Law and Education Empowerment Project

Newark was always a source of inspiration for Liz. She was fascinated by the city, its service-minded residents and the arts and cultural events. She made Newark her home while attending college at Rutgers University and now provides Newark students with higher education opportunities as part of her career at the nonprofit NJ LEEP.

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Providing students with the guidance I wish I had received

Pastor Bryant Ali

“Pastor in the Hood”, New Psalmist Worship Center

Pastor Ali is affectionately known as the “Pastor in the Hood.” He suffered from addiction, obesity, and a family with broken relationships, all hardships that led him to his calling as a pastor. Born out of community devastation, he built a thriving safe-haven with the New Psalmist Worship Center where people with struggles and a wide array of experiences are free to hope, unite and celebrate under one roof.

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On keeping it real

Jonathan Alston

Debate Coach and Teacher, Science Park High School

Jonathan started his debate career as a passionate high schooler, taught by the legendary Newark debate coach, Brent Farrand. He now coaches the team at Science Park High School, which he has helped build into one of the most consistent and best high school debate teams in the United States. The importance of making sure that Newark students can successfully compete against the most elite public and private student in the country, and the world, is what motivates him to help as many people as possible master the skills of debate and become good citizens.

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Social justice at the core of debate teams in Newark

Sharif Amenhotep

Community Activist, Anti-Violence and Tragedy Support

23 years ago, Sharif’s love of cars lead to joy riding, a high speed chase, a fatal car crash and an incarceration. Vivid memories of that night serve as motivation for his protests against violent crime in Newark and his efforts to heal communities exposed to violence.

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Working for non-violence in Newark

Sanaa Amenhotep

Student, Athlete, and Activist

Sanaa acquired hands-on activism experience at a young age by participating in protests with her dad while still attending school and playing basketball. She inspired a group of protesters, bullhorn in hand, when struggling Newark schools were at risk of being shut down.

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Learning the importance of teamwork

Mayor Ras J. Baraka

Mayor, City of Newark

Mayor Ras J. Baraka is a true advocate for the people of Newark. He is a native of the City where his family has resided for more than 70 years and his leadership pedigree was nurtured by some of the country’s most recognizable figures. Mayor Baraka works tirelessly to make Newark one of our nation’s Destination Cities, encouraging a cooperative vision among the public and private sectors and taking advantage of the untapped talent of creative Newarkers at his doorstep.

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A true Newarker, born and raised
How to attack poverty without attacking poor people
A city built on hope and dedication

James Black Wolf Barfield

Electrician and War Chief for Seminoles of Central Florida

It was a big transition for James to move from living with his tribe on a reservation in Georgia to living further north in the city of Newark. He fell in love with the culture in the city but he realized that some Native Americans moved away from reservations and chose not to pass along their heritage. He hopes that one day he will have tribal council meetings in Newark to maintain the traditions and culture.

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Honoring one’s ancestry
Negativity is a ‘no go’
Organizing the First People of New Jersey

Sylvia Benavente

Procurement Support Coordinator, New Jersey Transit

When six people were bidding on the same beautiful, historic home commissioned by one of the Tiffany brothers, Sylvia decided to write a letter about her dreams of her children playing in the house and how it would be the perfect place to raise her family. The letter paid off and today, 16 years later, her family comes together under the more than 80 stained glass window panels in the home.

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Making a Tiffany Brothers house a home

Al-Tariq Best

Founder, FP YouthOutCry Foundation, Inc. and The HUBB

From a young age, Al-Tariq was always a passionate Newarker with unfailing belief in the city, but it was not until he and his sons were caught in the middle of a dangerous situation that he realized his purpose of giving back to Newark’s youth. He founded FP YouthOutCry Foundation, Inc. to provide children with a safe place to explore their passions and build on their potential.

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The future potential of Newark’s youth

Eric Boston

Energy Substation Supervisor, PSEG

When moving back to Newark after a few years away, Eric felt like he was coming back home. He is literally an integral part of keeping the city up and running as an Energy Substation Supervisor with PSEG. His experiences have provided him with many stories–from helping families with power outages and updating equipment on substation rooftops to rescuing employees during Hurricane Sandy. He is ultimately proud to say that he “keeps the lights on from Wayne to Newark.”

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Bringing power back to the people of Newark during Hurricane Sandy

Gloria Hopkins Buck

Retired V.P. of the Board of Trustees, The Newark Museum (1978-2016) ; Founding Charter Member and Chair, The Newark Black Film Festival (1974 to present)

A career in social work inspired Gloria to realize the healing power of the arts. She has since devoted much of her energy to keeping art and film alive, thriving, and benefitting families in Newark through her work with The Newark Black Film Festival, The Newark Museum, The New Jersey State Opera, and many other organizations.

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The Healing Power of the Arts

Modia Butler

Democratic Strategist & Public Affairs Executive – Managing Director, Mercury Public Affairs, LLC

In pursuit of a graduate degree in public policy, Modia moved to New Jersey and then to Newark to work with former Mayor, now Senator Cory Booker and to run a non-profit called Newark Do Something. He found himself inspired by the people of Newark agitating for change, got wrapped up in the community and dedicated his career to helping Newark realize its potential. He led an historic transformation of the city parks and uses his public affairs expertise to support the fabric of communities.

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A love for cities and dedication to parks

Kai Campbell

Restaurateur and Historic Homeowner, Burger Walla Restaurant

From a young age growing up and playing baseball in Newark, Kai always felt that he could stay in the city and do his part to add to the inherent value of the community. After years working in economic development and urban renewal, Kai launched his own small business, the popular Indian-themed lunch spot Burger Walla, along with his wife and business partner Tamara Remedios.

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The stigma of New Jersey
Growing up in a place like Newark

Reine Campbell

Daughter, Sister and Future YouTube Star

Reine (right) is a young Newarker, but with just as much passion for the city as her parents. She gets to explore her neighborhood and spend afternoons at the library. She also has the unique experiences of helping her mom, dad and sister renovate their new historic home and run their local restaurant–Burger Walla.

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A new house and sing-alongs

Lisa Conrad

Artist and Founding Director, Newark Print Shop

Lisa moved into a lively artists’ building as an up-and-coming artist working to find her niche. She invested all of her energy in opening a community studio, the Newark Print Shop. Her dream is to continue to make fine art printmaking accessible so that her son and other young people will have the opportunity to experience the community of printmakers she so passionately built.

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The Newark Print Shop

Pamela Daniels

Community Outreach Coordinator, Unified Vailsburg Services Organization ; CEO and Founder, The Brickerati Group

In addition to community development work in her neighborhood of Vailsburg, Pamela facilitates resident-led quality of life improvement strategies empowering her neighbors to effect change. Pamela uses her public relations expertise to cast her hometown of Newark in a positive light as a freelance writer, publicist, and social media warrior and is beloved throughout the community for her extensive volunteer work. She is pictured here with interns she mentored this summer for a summer jobs program.

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Service as a Student
Helping interns find their path

Bruce Davis III

Senior Group Leader, St. Benedict's Preparatory School

When Bruce stepped into St. Benedict’s for his first day of seventh grade, he was immediately struck by a sense of support and brotherhood. Bruce worked his way into the position of Senior Group Leader, which means he is in charge of the daily operations of the entire school and supporting his classmates through the highs and lows of not only being a team, but a family.

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Discipline & Brotherhood
Being a Role Model

Rashawn Davis

Public Servant, Youngest City Council Candidate

A lifelong desire to make his community stronger and brighter led Rashawn to run a campaign as a candidate for the Newark City Council. He became the youngest person to ever be certified on a municipal ballot in the history of the city of Newark at just 21 years old. He is now honing his public policy skills in graduate school, driven by the motto of “purpose before position.”

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Purpose in public policy
Running for City Council

Elizabeth Del Tufo

Historian and President, The Newark Preservation and Landmarks Committee

After the dust began to settle from the riots of the 1960s, Liz acquired a deep love for the richness and resilience of Newark. In the midst of abandonment, arson, destruction and vandalism, she led the effort to save Newark’s architectural heritage by the founding of The Newark Preservation and Landmarks Committee in 1974.

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Recovering from the Riots of ‘67
Preserving the first Black hospital
Memorializing the Champions

Marcy DePina

Program Director, Newark Riverfront Revival

Marcy has always loved exploring Newark, so she found it troubling that she was not able to safely bring her son near the waterfront, even after the city’s collective 30 years of protesting the serious pollution, contamination, and dangerous activity. When she was made aware of the Program Director position for Newark Riverfront Revival, she gladly accepted the opportunity to contribute to her city and help revitalize its waterfront. Today, people are returning to the roots of this port city and becoming reacquainted with the river, thanks to Marcy and her partners’ efforts to beautify that space.

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Protest work to revive the riverfront

Natalie Derosa

Student, East Side High School

Natalie’s mom tells stories of her reading books as early as age three. Throughout her education, the library became her second home and she found joy in bonding with friends over the books and learning from the many pages she read. She is interested in the way that literature shapes society and she plans to go on to study English to advocate for the value of literature and libraries through changing times, including the development of technology.

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When literature inspires social justice

Chasity Diaz

Gardener and Safety Manager, AeroFarms

For Chasity, protecting the environment and healthy eating practices are top priority as she raises her son. She not only gardens and teaches her son about vegetables and growing in her spare time, but she also chose a career in hydroponic indoor vertical farming at AeroFarms where she functions as the facility Safety Manager to ensure safe production of the fresh leafy greens.

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A growing career in vertical farming

Vitor dos Anjos

Student and Robotics Competitor, East Side High School

Vitor grew up in a family of teachers who all valued education and encouraged him to take advantage of educational opportunities as a means for self-improvement. When he started high school, he got involved in a lot of different organizations and found that the robotics club supported his interest in math and science. He is working toward attending an Ivy League university where he will study in a science-related field and gain skills as a community organizer.

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Competitive robotics and being involved

Darwin Duarte

Student, East Side High School

At age 17, Darwin started his journey to Newark from Honduras in search of opportunity. He did not have enough money for the trip, so he and his cousin chose the only option they had. They would hide in abandoned buildings and, as the trains went past, they would run and jump onto the back or top of the trains and ride until the next stop, where they would start the process again. If the trains were going too fast, the already dangerous journey became fatal for some. Darwin and his cousin were separated at the start, but after the risky, solo journey, he is proud to attend school in Newark and work for a better life for himself and his grandparents back in Honduras.

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A long journey from Honduras for a better future

Tobias A. Fox

Founder, Newark Science and Sustainability, Inc.

Tobias used Newark’s “Adopt a Lot” program to transform a vacant lot into a space for urban growing. This green space is now home to a wide variety of thriving produce, a safe haven for school children and the expansion of Tobias’ organization, Newark Science and Sustainability, Inc.

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Serving the neighborhood with greens
Setting goals even in the face of obstacles

Bertha Freeman

Executive Assistant to the Director, Newark Museum Association

Growing up in Newark with extended family all living on the same street, Bertha saw her block as the world. Now, as part of her long career at the Newark Museum, she spends her days helping to bridge cultural gaps and deliver the broader world, in the form of art and exhibitions, to patrons right here in Newark.

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From Block Parties to Global Affairs

Doug Freeman

President and Executive Director, Weequahic Park Sports Authority ; South Ward Republican Committee Chairman and 44th Elected District Leader

Five years ago, Doug (right) and his wife, Joy, were visiting Weequahic Park in the South Ward for an event with their children when they saw the great need for beautification of the park. They started Weequahic Park Sports Authority with their staff of five volunteers and began the process of bringing the park back to life. The fruits of their labor are evident with residents enjoying the park every day, and at special events—from the new kite festival to the first park fireworks show in years and the 100,000 Spring Tulips Initiative.

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A non-partisan coalition to rebuild our parks

Shane Fuller

Rutgers Graduate Assistant and Founder, Them Cloud Kids

Even after living in multiple other cities, Shane was drawn back to Newark. While working as a graduate assistant at Rutgers University pursuing a degree in public administration, he also runs the organization he founded entitled Them Cloud Kids. The group teaches a South African philosophy known as Ubuntu, which means “I am who I am because of who we all are.” The goal is for college students to pass their knowledge onto younger generations by teaching the youth of Newark how to have positive, compassionate interactions with others.

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Using Ubuntu at an open mic
Bringing compassion from the family to the community
Reconciling Newark’s past; planning for a better future

Kim Gaddy

Environmental Justice Champion

When Kim’s daughter and oldest son were diagnosed with asthma she realized something had to be done. She started to think about how many family members developed asthma as adults or died of asthma and heart attacks. Kim realized that air pollution in Newark was disproportionately impacting the health of people of color and low income residents. She is the voice of the voiceless and advocates for clean air, safe and affordable drinking water in our schools and homes. She championed the importance of an Environmental Commission, as well as, passage of the first Environmental Justice and Cumulative Impacts Ordinance in the nation. She has made environmental justice a priority in the State of New Jersey and prepares the next generation of environmental Justice leaders through an Urban Environmental Institute Leadership program.

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Environmental justice for my children

Maria Judite Gavinho

Seamstress and Mother

Maria moved to Newark all the way from Portugal to provide her daughters with a better future. She loves the culture of the city and felt at home for the past 30 years as she watched her daughters thrive educationally and professionally. During that time, she was able to take her passion for sewing and hone her skills as a seamstress in the city—she even designed and created her own daughter’s wedding dress.

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The best decision I ever made

Daniel Geno

Student Auto Designer, Newark Tech High School

Daniel grew up in New York City but says that Newark is where he “woke up” and started putting others before himself. He applies his motto of imagining a better future to his love for cars. He is studying at Newark Tech High School to become a car designer, and anytime he is not in class, at work or at basketball practice, he is drawing or learning the specifics of how cars function.

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Helping the world through auto design

Jacob Gradaille

Student and Filmmaker, The Newark Museum and Arts High School

Jacob created a short film, with friends Veronica and Zoe, used to successfully petition the Newark Museum to extend the age of their Junior Camp Program to fourteen. He then went on to produce a short film about bullying, earning him the Social Impact award at the 2016 Montclair Film Festival.

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Social justice filmmaking and art

Makeba Green

Author, Entrepreneur and CEO, OMG Enterprises

When Makeba was in high school, she was unable to afford a ticket to prom, so she was inspired to start a nonprofit that provides young girls with dresses for the school dance. Years of community involvement and honing her business skills empowered Makeba to develop the idea into much more and she now mentors girls, offers scholarships for students pursuing college degrees, in addition to her extensive work as an author and motivational speaker.

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Everyone should receive a scholarship for their hard work

Richard Grossklaus

Founder, Integrity House

One summer, Richard accompanied his parole officer cousin out on a boat with some parolees and Richard was taken by their desire for guidance. He and his cousin started Integrity House to support these underserved members of the community who included women, drug addicts, alcoholics, juveniles and people with HIV/AIDS. Integrity House has become the largest residential drug rehabilitation program in New Jersey, empowering residents to live strong, productive lives.

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Integrity House

Laila Guzman

Gymnast, Student & Queen, Puerto Rican Day Parade

With big dreams, Laila is always trying new things and is actively involved in lots of activities, including gymnastics and competitive cheerleading. She had the opportunity to hold the American flag on a float, after a pageant in which she was crowned Queen of the Puerto Rican Day Parade. She wants to accomplish lots of things in her life, like being a singer and songwriter, or designing clothes, and exploring the world discovering ancient artifacts or lost places.

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8-yr. old Queen of the Puerto Rican Day Parade

Kimorah Hall

Sister, Student and Peace Keeper

Kimorah uses her drama class performances to stand up for the unity and understanding she hopes for in the world. In the theater, she prefers dramatic pieces that can inspire an emotional response in the audience, but in the classroom and with her family, she functions as a peace-keeper of sorts by listening to others and working through complicated topics.

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Drama performances that start discussions

Debi Hall-Dean

Advocate for "Neighbors With No Address"

Driven by her faith and gifted at motivating people and connecting them with needed resources, Debi found a particular passion in helping her “Neighbors With No Address.” At Thanksgiving she gathers the community to serve over 3,500 meals and is in the process of converting space above a local church to create a “Warming Hope Station” for cold winter nights.

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Giving hope to our ‘neighbors with no address’
Thanksgiving
Relying on faith, patience, and the generosity of others

Javis Hanks

Rapper, Film Producer and Football Player

Javis was first encouraged to try rapping and producing by a mentor who saw his potential. Later, after seeing the impact that the earthquake in Haiti had on his friend’s family, he knew that he could record meaningful music and produce films that would make a difference in people’s lives. Recently, his film A Teenage Love was nominated for Best Feature in the Newark International Film Festival. His personal goal is to continue to rap as the CEO/President of his record label Chasing My Dreams Records, LLC., play football and eventually start his own business.

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Football & Business

Leslie Hernandez

Yoga Instructor and Founder, I'm So Yoga Newark

Leslie fell in love with the city of Newark while searching for a community and sense of belonging. Since moving to the city she started her own business, I’m So Yoga Newark, and is making yoga and its health benefits accessible to the community with free classes in parks and art galleries.

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Yoga as a gift to Newark

Nyeeam Hudson

Motivational Speaker, Author, and Entrepreneur

Deemed the youngest motivational speaker, 11-year-old Nyeeam is already traveling the world spreading a message of anti-violence and inspiring children and adults alike. He hopes that his speeches, books and social media presence will help people learn to love each other and realize their own greatness.

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Career and Dreams
Peace Takes Communication

Chisa Hutchinson

Award-Winning Playwright and Performer

As a student growing up in poverty who always excelled in school and loved to read and write, Chisa felt like she was searching for a place to belong. Through her writing, she found an outlet to explore her interests and give a voice to underrepresented populations and the community that she came from. She is highly regarded and awarded for her work as a playwright and performer and started teaching a university class about author responsibility with regards to race.

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Giving back to the community that nurtures you

Pedro Irizarry

Ambassador, Newark Downtown District

Pedro’s mother and grandmother modeled how to be a close-knit family as they raised him and his four siblings in public housing in Newark..Now, Pedro has two kids of his own and hopes that he can give them everything they would ever want in life. He works very hard at his job with the Newark Downtown District, where he helps beautify the city’s downtown, while simultaneously being a good father-figure to raise successful, independent children.

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Working for my kids’ future

Aleem Johnson

Manufacturing Operator, Anheuser-Busch InBev Brewing Company

Although much of the original manufacturing industry in Newark has moved out of the city, Anheuser-Busch InBev Brewing Company and its passionate employees, like Aleem, still thrive through manufacturing in Newark. Aleem loves working for the brewery because of the constant learning and problem-solving opportunities, and the chance to work with people from the community where he grew up.

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Dedicated to challenge and growth

Jacob Kim

Director of Community Greening, Greater Newark Conservancy

Jacob noticed trash debris piling up in some vacant lots that he walked past every day on his way to work. That daily observation inspired him to do more to beautify the community. His position with the Greater Newark Conservancy allows him to spend his days out in the community working alongside participants from the job re-entry program, cultivating community gardens, cleaning up vacant lots and fixing broken sidewalks. Now on his way to work, he walks past trees that he planted and watches them grow year to year.

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Green jobs and community revitalization in Newark

Yanir King

Student and Musician, Newark Boys Chorus School

At Newark Boy’s Chorus School Yanir has the opportunity to improve his music skills and become a strong person through the school motto of excellence, respect, integrity, and cooperation. He dreams of a community where every kid has a safe place to go after school and plans to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, a Ph.D. and go to law school to advocate for his community.

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Musical expression and becoming a lawyer

Rev. Edwin D. Leahy, O.S.B.

Headmaster, St. Benedict's Preparatory School

As a 13-year-old student, Fr. Edwin felt a strong sense of belonging as he stood in the main hallway of St. Benedict’s; and it later became his permanent home. He listened to the community after the school closed down due to racial tension, and reopened its doors the next year. The school runs from the bottom up, as students manage the day-to-day operations. The brotherhood gives young men a true second chance when they make mistakes and provides an outlet for students who do not think that they have a voice.

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At home at St. Benedict's
A school run by the students

Angel Leston

Restaurant Owner, Casa d'Paco

Angel and his father always dreamed of having a restaurant and opportunity knocked when the perfect building opened up in the Ironbound section of Newark. They designed and built the restaurant by hand, from laying the floors and building the benches to mounting the wall tiles. The restaurant, Casa d’Paco, quickly became a city favorite, serving colorful Spanish tapas cooked by Angel’s father and desserts made by his mother and managed by Angel himself—a true family endeavor.

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Bringing Spanish flavor to Newark

Joy Lindsay

Author and Founder, Butterfly Dreamz, Inc.

Joy started her career on Wall Street and soon realized she wanted a position where she could combine her financial skills with her passion for working with students. Shortly after transitioning to nonprofit financial management, she suffered tragedy when her little sister, Kim, was killed. Kim’s death led her to writing a children’s book as a means of therapy, capturing the spirit of her sister in a beautiful harmony of words and illustrations. As she shared her book with the public, Joy noticed the power of storytelling in empowering and connecting people along their life journeys. Soon she started Butterfly Dreamz, a non-profit that teaches youth how to author their own stories and use their voices to ignite change in their communities.

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From investing in banks to investing in kids
Turning tragedy into healing and hope
Using business smarts to run a not-for-profit

Laila Little

Co-Founder and Coach, FloydLittle's Double Dutch

Laila (in red) and her business partner Shaquannah Floyd started in the two-jump-rope sport of double dutch when they were ages five and seven. They had a bigger vision for double dutch as a way to change the world, as entertainment, a fitness initiative, and as a new avenue of entrepreneurship, so they combined their last names and founded FloydLittle’s Double Dutch. The internationally-competitive team became a safe haven for girls that functions as a method for fighting obesity and keeping students out of trouble, providing benefits that are much “bigger than the ropes.”

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Fighting obesity with internationally competitive double dutch

Fazilla Mahmood

Student and Tour Guide, The Newark Museum and St. Vincent Academy

The picturesque Newark Museum has been a safe haven for Fazilla from the first moment she stepped inside as a shy teenager. She is now exploring her love of fine art and discovered her confident side as a tour guide with the museum’s Explorers program.

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Confidence as a museum tour guide

Emily Manz

Co-Founder, “Have You Met Newark?” Walking Tours

Emily moved to Newark after starting a job there and falling in love with the spirit of the city. Her economic development background provided her with a unique perspective on community engagement, and her passion for connecting people and Newark led her to co-found “Have You Met Newark?” Walking Tours. These tours share the history of Newark with residents and visitors, but more importantly, highlight local businesses and feature guest speakers along the way to help create relationships within the community.

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Have you met Newark?
Making tour guides out of real estate developers
Role modeling for young Newarkers

Alexandra Marques

Student Vocalist, Actress and Volunteer, Newark Boys and Girls Club

For Alexandra, the Boys and Girls Club gave her the opportunity to perform and taught her to support the youth in her community. At only fourteen years old, she is performing all over the country, participating in talent shows, working toward a successful music career and planning to go college. In her spare time, she volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club to provide other young Newarkers the same support that is helping her follow her dreams.

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Performance art skills nurtured at the Boys and Girls Club

Anadina Martinez

Security Officer, Gateway Security

Anadina had to adjust to the English language and the climate in the North East when she first arrived in the U.S. with her mother and sister. Newark is where she discovered more about herself and who she would be as a mother to twins. To support her family, she works as a security officer while she goes to school for architecture, with the goal of designing a new house for her family.

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Discovering who I am in Newark

Anacaren Martinez

Second Grader

Anacaren (left) loves to jump rope, paint and play in the Newark parks with her mom and twin brother, Alberto. As a second grader, her favorite parts of the school day are playing outside and studying science so that she can become a veterinarian when she grows up.

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The fun of being a twin

Jose Mejil

Building Superintendent

At age 18, Jose made the journey from Puerto Rico to live in Newark to make labels in a clothing factory while he got settled in his new home. He met his wife in Newark, started a family, and accepted a position as a superintendent in a new apartment building. Though he does have the occasional tenant knocking on his door at 3am, he has built a great trust with the residents and is able to balance work with being a great father.

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From Puerto Rico to Newark at age 18

Noble Milton

District Leader in the North Ward, Owner of Noble Studios Photography and DJ

Noble grew up playing football in the streets of the neighborhood that he still calls home to this day. He has seen Newark evolve from a “broken” city to a thriving melting pot of service-minded residents. Service is incorporated into every aspect of his life as he works as a photographer, DJ, District Leader in the North Ward, husband and father of six, and volunteers upwards of 20 hours each week. He believes that volunteer work is the backbone of a united community like Newark.

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We’re stronger when we lift each other up

Victor Monterrosa, Jr.

Staff Attorney, Youth Advocacy Center of Covenant House New Jersey

The importance of providing for the community and the less fortunate was instilled in Victor throughout his childhood growing up in Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood. As the Staff Attorney at the Youth Advocacy Center of Covenant House, he is now able to serve, educate and inspire homeless youth on their paths toward stability. (add the following to the end IF space allows: “Victor also organizes Newarkers around issues of housing and social justice. He currently serves as a member of Newark’s first Civilian Complaint Review Board.”)

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Helping the homeless save the world
Changing neighborhoods; rising rents
Christian Activism

Anthony Moraes

Former Policeman, Volunteer EMT and Chef

Becoming a police officer in Newark was Anthony’s way of providing for the community where he grew up and that he was proud to call home. However, he was always inspired by his father’s love of cooking so he went to culinary school, started his own restaurant and worked his way up to the position of sous chef at Facebook HQ in New York. To continue to give back to Newark he is a volunteer EMT on weeknights after his commute.

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Dedicating a small part of Newark to a big part of the community

Nidia Morales

Letter Carrier, US Postal Service

Nidia is a letter carrier and has been delivering the mail on the same route for 18 years. She starts at 7:00 in the morning, sorts the mail, then starts out on her five-hour delivery route. She has been walking her route, watching the city go through its many changes over the years, and though the job can be dangerous in some areas, she loves experiencing her city from the sidewalks every day.

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A day in the life of a letter carrier
From Puerto Rico to Newark and back again
A postal worker’s view of a changing neighborhood

Al Moussab

Teacher, Debate Coach and Chess Team Advisor, East Side High School

At a time when schools in this country are increasingly segregated, East Side High is one of the most diverse schools in the city of Newark. As a history teacher at the school, Al deals with the unique challenges of working with students from all backgrounds, in addition to teaching in an environment where situations in the community greatly impact the students’ ability to learn. Al cultivates his classroom to be an accepting environment where students thrive, inspired to achieve without limitation.

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Teaching social justice in the classroom and community

Juan Muniz

Information Systems Support, NJ Transit

The Ironbound section of Newark is a home away from home for Juan and his Spanish friends. From lively soccer matches to great food and music, Juan found that he can still be surrounded by the Spanish cultures and traditions that he grew up with, all while building a rewarding career with New Jersey Transit.

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Newark’s Little Spain, Spain’s Little America

Butchie Nieves

President, Puerto Rican Day Parade

Butchie always had strong ties to his Puerto Rican heritage. His mother came to the U.S. alone at the age of 14 and made a seven-day trip back to Puerto Rico to give birth to Butchie in her home country, on her birthday. The passion and pride that his mother embodied helps explain why Butchie feels an obligation to do everything in his power to share his cultural identity as President of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc. in the city of Newark.

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Puerto Rican pride in Newark

Amy Niles

President and CEO, WBGO Newark Public Radio

Newark is known for the Arts, and particularly its vibrant jazz scene, which lives on through WBGO . Amy works to enrich the local and global jazz communities and bring musical styles to listeners all around the world.

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Jazz today and cultural riches

Amanda Oliveira

First Generation College Student, The College of New Jersey

In her first years of high school, Amanda spent a lot of time with her mom, who was fighting cancer, but she always wanted to stay focused on getting an education. She was able to get involved in college-bound programs NJ LEEP and Cooperman College Scholars as her mom healed, and is now a proud first-generation college student at The College of New Jersey. She hopes her experience as a Brazilian immigrant and college student will inspire future students to work toward higher education too.

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Putting college funding for low-income families to use

Nirilis Olmo

Student, Luis Munoz Marin Middle School

Nirilis is overcoming the challenges of being a native Spanish-speaker in a primarily English-speaking school every day. She successfully tested into all English classes and was the winner of her school’s 2015 Essay Contest. Her dream is to combine her own language experiences and her grandmother’s love for baking to become a bilingual teacher and a pastry chef.

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A mixing of cultures is better

Al-Tarik Onque

Senior Aide to the Mayor, Co-Founder, Stop Shootin' Inc. Movement

As a third generation Newarker growing up in poverty, Al-Tarik found himself caught up in the drugs and violence of the streets. Inspired by what he learned after a stint in jail, he co-founded Stop Shootin’ Inc. to eliminate senseless gun violence and provide noncriminal alternatives to young people living in the inner city.

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Stop Shootin' in the streets

Nicole Ortiz

Vocalist, Actress and Performance Artist

The arts have been Nicole’s outlet for as long as she can remember. Newark’s bustling, diverse arts scene is where she discovered herself as an artist so she knows that she will always call it home. As her career progresses and she prepares for her 2017 Broadway debut, she plans to continue to provide opportunities and resources to Newark’s youth, to keep the vibrant arts community alive and thriving in the city.

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Performing Arts in Newark

Antonio Padilla

Firefighter and Trainer, Newark Fire Department Academy

Antonio lost family members in a tragic fire so when it came to choose a career path, he became a firefighter to give back and protect other families. He appreciates the need for continuous learning in the field, for the sake of success and survival, and earned the position of trainer with the Newark Fire Department Academy. He has the privilege of preparing young firefighters for the many situations they might encounter out in the community.

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Turning tragedy into a tool
A civil servant to the bone
Putting your life on the line

John Patino

Sheriff Officer, Essex County Sheriff's Office

As an officer for the Essex County Sheriff’s Office assigned to the patrol division in his own neighborhood, John has a vested interest in keeping the parks safe for his children. Branch Brook Park is one of his favorite spots to patrol because of the cherry trees and the opportunity to serve not only his own neighbors, but other Newark residents and visitors, alike.

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Patrolling the Newark parks

Vivian Peralta

Student President, Barringer High School

Vivian’s first years in Newark were a struggle. She and her mother moved from the Dominican Republic and Vivian was bullied at school, struggling to speak English while her mom struggled to find a job. Four years later as a senior at Barringer High School where she is ranked number one in her class, she’s also the Student President and a flourishing artist, gearing up for college.

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Learning English and giving back to my community

Khalifa Pharms

Student and Farm Stand Worker, Greater Newark Conservancy

Khalifa grew up a few block down from the Greater Newark Conservancy community garden and as a dancer he emphasizes the importance of staying healthy. He became a volunteer with the Newark Youth Leadership Project where he runs a farm stand, selling the vegetables grown in the urban farm. He feels that urban farming is an integral part of his community so he is always trying new vegetables and sharing what he knows about healthy eating with his friends.

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Hard work at The Greater Newark Conservancy
Starting my own dance team
What eating well really means

Keven Porter

Yogi and Urban Farmer

In total, Keven’s family has lived in his current home for over 100 years. He lives a minimalist life and considers himself a yogi, leading a life with the intention of benefitting everything and everyone around him. He purchased a run-down lot across the street for $1 with the Newark adopt-a-lot program and developed an urban farm in the space. Due to the way the program is set up, the city could choose to repossess the lot at any point, but in the meantime it adds great value to life in Newark while it lasts.

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Prioritizing peace
Practicing non-attachment with an adopted lot
Changing neighborhoods; glimmers of hope

Jessica Quintanilla

Operations Support, Highway Mural and Newark Downtown District

As a first generation American, Jessica is proud to have been raised by her supportive family in Newark where she was encouraged to focus on education and go to college. Her post-graduate work with the Newark Downtown District has proven to be a unique, rewarding challenge. She supports a variety of projects, from ambassadors cleaning the sidewalks to the 1.39 mile long highway mural project that provides an inspiring visual for daily commuters.

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A mural that hits close to home

Atiya Jaha-Rashidi

Nurse and Special Projects Director, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey

Following in her grandmother’s footsteps, Atiya became a nurse at the same facility she heard stories about as a kid. She built her career at The Beth, and is now program director for The Hire Newark, a unique job-training program that identifies unemployed individuals in the community and offers participation in a rigorous, five-week boot camp that prepares them for employment and places them in jobs around the community. Atiya is going the extra mile, just as her grandmother taught her, and keeping in touch with program participants to ensure that their overall wellness is sustainable beyond the program.

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Putting Newark to work for community well-being

Madalena Ribeiro

Property Manager and Active Ironbound Resident

When Madalena moved to the U.S. from Brazil, she did not speak a word of English, but she always admired the country and wanted to experience something new. The integration process was a challenge as she learned the language and worked through having two cultural identities. She realized that she could help other immigrants find the support she received so she worked as a liaison and built a community network to connect people in her neighborhood.

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Immigrants need understanding and respect

Ramonita Rivera

Matriarch, Puerto Rican Day Parade

In 1952, Ramonita left all of her family and came to the U.S. from Puerto Rico with a small suitcase and $42 in her pocket. She worked in a bakery for 75 cents an hour and became a civic activist to get involved in the community and to find herself. She started a family of her own, had 10 children and did everything in her power to bring a piece of her home country to Newark and grow the Spanish-speaking, Puerto Rican community. At 86 years old, she is still involved as the proud matriarch and ambassador of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc.

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Making Puerto Rican seniors matter in Newark

Linda Rodrigues

Professor of Literature, University Chair of Foreign Languages, Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences

After forty years in education, Linda proudly ended her career with many accolades including the titles of Professor, University Chair, and Dean of Humanities. She continues to write and research but enjoys spending time in the very community where her parents first arrived as immigrants. She lives on the same street where she grew up, across from the home that her family built, and has a view of this ice shed that her parents used to start their own business selling ice to neighbors.

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Family history and careers in education

Gabriel Rodriguez

Homeschooled Student

Six-year-old Gabriel has a love for reading and is always excited to explore the new things he finds in his library books. Homeschool gives him the chance to experience and explore the community, study his favorite subject of math, and stay physically active with his mom.

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Book hunting at the library

Natasha Rogers

Public Sector Infrastructure Finance, Goldman Sachs

One could label Natasha an anomaly. She identifies herself as a kid from Newark who took full advantage of everything her beloved city had to offer. She was born to a heroin-addicted mother and grew up in Newark public housing after being adopted by her foster mom. She taught herself to code in elementary school and her life trajectory changed when an encouraging teacher showed up at her doorstep. She now works in investment banking at Goldman Sachs and considers herself a “different part of the 1%.”

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A different part of the one percent
Listening to what Newark needs
How coding can change a kid’s life

Kitab Rollins

Manager, Broadcast and Performance Rentals, New Jersey Performing Arts Center

Through his work at NJPAC, Kitab takes pride in his ability to bring culturally diverse performers to the main stage. The creative evolution of Newark’s arts scene keeps him excited and thriving as a producer serving the community through the visual and performing arts.

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Newark is Burning

Christina Rouse

Student, Girls, Live, Love, Laugh, Inc.

Christina is proud to be a Newarker because she sees great potential in her after school programs. At school, she loves studying science and staying active at recess, but she appreciates opportunities the Girls: Live, Love, Laugh, Inc. organization provides for her to learn through experiences out in the community—and even to travel to other cities.

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When I grow up, I want to be an inventor

Kevin Blythe Sampson

Retired Police Dept. Sketch Artist, Community-Based Artist

Since retiring from his position as a police composite sketch artist and detective, Kevin has continued making art by taking items found in the community and combining them into unique sculptures. Each of his pieces carries a meaningful message or theme that he hopes will continue to inspire people and influence young artists.

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Healing with art and time

Juan Silva

Restaurant Owner, Café International ; Finance Committee Chairman, Green Party of NJ

Juan and his parents moved to Newark from Ecuador, seeking a better life before his siblings were born. The challenges of living in a new place were coupled with unexpected obstacles, including a house fire, but his family became deeply rooted in Newark nonetheless. Family is his driving force every day as he works with partners to run his family’s restaurant, works at his day job with senior citizens, runs his marketing consultant company, and is starting his own family with his wife.

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The family restaurant

SunHee Simon

National Competitive Debater, Stanford University

SunHee Simon

For the past eight years SunHee has viewed the world and formulated her opinions through a lens highly influenced by debate. A national high school debate championship served as her spring board into Stanford University, where she continues to debate competitively, speak her mind and bring important issues to the forefront of discussion.

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Compassion and early childhood development
The importance of representation in debate

Tashiah Singleton

Manager of Learning Programs for the Eastern Region, Education Pioneers

At age four, Tashiah lost her mother and went on to live with her grandmother who, among many other strong female role models, served as a guiding force of encouragement and support. Over time, education and policy became Tashiah’s passion and she knew that she had to dedicate her career to address the disparity and opportunity gap in the education system.

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Disparities in the education system

Victoria Siwoku

Student, Girls, Live, Love, Laugh, Inc.

Victoria has a big family so she has great experience helping take care of her siblings, nieces and nephews. She wants to grow up to be a model in her spare time, but also a pediatrician so she can care for many more children. She has gained a lot of inspiration and confidence in those dreams through her involvement in the Girls: Live, Love, Laugh, Inc. organization.

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I was there for my mother

Scott Sorensen

Senior Project Engineer, New Jersey Transit

From a kid with a love for riding trains to an engineer fixing bridges, Scott has always contributed to keeping the transportation system running in Newark. He plans to stay in Newark long-term and contribute to the bustling transit hub by taking care of the infrastructure that made the city his favorite center for culture in the first place.

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Fixing one of the biggest transportation hubs
Newark is all about community

Yolanda Stokes

Community Engagement Activist

In addition to being a proud single mom of two boys, Yolanda has dedicated her life to building stronger community engagement, anchoring herself as a “ground trooper.” She believes a child’s zip code should not determine their educational success so she works tirelessly to ensure that all children have access to high-quality educational options in their neighborhoods and that parents have a strong voice. Whether it is bridging the gaps between residents and the police force, advocating for equitable school funding, or learning and teaching CPR to other Newarkers, she is a driving force for growth and improvement throughout the city.

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Community engagement between neighbors and police

Paul Thornton

Associate Headmaster, St. Benedict's Preparatory School

Paul attended St. Benedict’s as a high schooler and moved back to Newark when he was given the opportunity to help reopen the school after the challenges of the 1960’s riots. As an active member of the Forest Hill community, Paul has seen a lot of changes in Newark while a lot has also changed in terms of how they run the school. Now, he finds it most rewarding to watch the students as they enjoy great opportunities for higher education and meaningful adult lives.

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The evolution of St. Benedict's
Unofficial Branch Brook Park caretakers

Patricia A. Stover-Trawick

Director of Nursing, Life Adult Medical Day Care Center

At age 10, Patricia moved to Newark with her aunt for better opportunities, fulfilling her deceased mother’s wish. Struck by the diversity of the city, she chose the people-oriented career of nursing and fell in love with the geriatric population. Patricia loves caring for the seniors at Life Adult Medical Day Care Center and helping them continue to have rich, fulfilling experiences despite their age or circumstances.

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A day care facility for our seniors

Tonya Tucker

Social Worker, Newark Community Solutions

Tonya believes that she has been a “social worker” her entire life. As a child she rescued animals, helped the elderly and provided food for those in need. She believes that our duty as a community is to help others who are in need. Through Newark Community Solutions, an alternative sentencing program to jail and fines, Tonya guides people to navigate the legal system and make positive life changing decisions,She loves being a social worker and providing a variety of avenues to support clients in their life journey through their obstacles and success.

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Social work is my duty to my community

BaJa Ukweli

Artist, Mentor and Bike Enthusiast

BaJa first tapped into his ability to create and draw as a science-loving kid copying comic book covers. Art became a guiding force for him as he dabbled in everything from photography to graphic design and painting murals. His art—along with his work as a mentor and his love for cycling—illustrates his mantra to live a pure, spiritual, truth-seeking life.

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Purpose-driven passion for art and helping others

Chike Uzoka

Serial Entrepreneur, Certified Business Coach, and Investor

Chike’s diverse passions and business-minded personality got him started teaching business workshops for kids. He now has a thriving entrepreneur-coaching and consulting business where he works with clients in six states ranging from schools and universities to small businesses. Chike is also a commercial realtor, investor, and philanthropist and his desire to further invest in Newark inspired him to purchase and renovate a multi-family home and firmly plant his life in the city.

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Entrepreneurship education for kids

Nyla Walker

Student, Girls, Live, Love, Laugh, Inc

The transition from elementary to middle school meant a lot of changes for 5th grader Nyla, but she felt prepared thanks to the Girls: Live, Love, Laugh, Inc. program. It has encouraged her to be herself, to get involved in the community surrounded by inspiring role models, and inspires her to work in community gardens and enjoy the many parks and playgrounds Newark has to offer.

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Girls; Live Love Laugh, Inc.

Linda Washington

Community Activist, Newark Housing Authority

Linda is an activist and community icon. She is the voice for overlooked populations with needs and concerns about quality of life. As the president of four buildings for seniors and disabled residents with the Newark Housing Authority, she connects people with needed resources. She is known for being a spokesperson for everyday people, engaged in organizations all around Newark, and for her lively celebrity impersonations at events.

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Speaking out for seniors’ quality of life

Hakeyh Watkins

Student and Explorer, The Newark Museum and St. Benedict's Preparatory School

Hakeyh learned to adapt to quickly changing situations as a young kid who was transferred often as he and his mother moved for better opportunities. He credits those experiences with giving him the strength and determination to work for a better future. After years learning to be self-motivated and socially aware, he is going off to college to study accounting, finance and Spanish so that he can learn relevant skills to help unite and empower communities.

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Independence at age thirteen

Tyyan Williams

Model, Actress and Fashion Designer

Tyyan always dreamed of showcasing her unique style through fashion. Her talented artistic family encouraged her to look at things creatively and she designed her first outfits at age seven. A successful young entrepreneur, she continues to design regularly and also participates in fashion shows, models, acts, writes and encourages other young Newarkers to aim for the stars.

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Fashion and inspiring youth

Karimah Williams

Community Engagement Coordinator, Office of the Mayor of the City of Newark

Karimah works tirelessly as an integral member of the Mayor’s team to provide services to Newark residents and to address both urgent and long-term needs and concerns. She is focused on working toward a law degree so that she can provide blind justice and progress for her community.

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Stay and fight for justice

Peter Winstead, Jr.

Musician, Managing Owner and Creative Director, The Honors Program, LLC.

Peter’s success in the music industry as a soul singer took him away from his native Newark for some years, but he always felt strong ties to the city and looked forward to performing there in the hopes that he might inspire other Newarkers to follow their own passion. In addition to singing, he is using his business and creative experience to build a supportive music and design community and change perceptions about Newark.

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Bringing Soul Back to Newark
The Newark Times