We posted on social media asking the readers who would you like to see us featured in our Women’s Month issue. On the suggestion of one of our readers, Stephanie Swan, Black Westchester proudly spotlights Janeira Forté a Greenburgh native and a true unsung hero.
From the age of 8 years old to a young adult, Janeira resided in Greenburgh Housing Authority, then moved to Manhattan Avenue. At the age of 10, she became involved in the Town of Greenburgh’s Summer Leadership Training Project, founded by Dr. Bob Petrillo. She saw this as an opportunity to earn money ($2.00/hr) while learning leadership skills. This program became Janeira’s safe haven in many ways. When the founder tragically passed away, and the organization was facing closure, Janeira became the Executive Director at the age of 24, continuing the annual tradition for 15 additional years. This program helped thousands of young people deal with the everyday stressors of being adolescents throughout the community. It helped young people make positive choices and stay drug-free. When asked what made her keep the doors open, she said, “to provide young people from my community with the same safe haven I had growing up.”
Since moving on from the Summer Leadership Training Project, Janeira continues to impact our community. She recently co-founded Ride 4 Justice, which directly responds to police brutality, murders, and injustices against Black people. Ride 4 Justice is a unique and peaceful way to fight for the right to live as Black people in America. The first ride brought in over 400 freedom fighters from all of Westchester County and beyond who rode their bikes 15 miles in the name of justice. Ride 4 Justice has held two bike rides during the pandemic, and they look forward to many more. To evoke change on a systemic level, Janeira is on the Greenburgh Against Systemic Racism Committee to recommend police reform policies where needed.
In her professional life, she is currently serving as the Interim Chief Program Officer for a national non-profit organization, uAspire – helping young people from low-income neighborhoods get the resources they need to attend college. Janeira’s personal, educational journey led her to work in college affordability. Out of high school, she attended Lincoln University, her dream school but unfortunately did not have the financial resources to continue at Lincoln.
“Being a first-generation college graduate, I personally understand the circumstances of families who may lack the necessary tools, resources, or knowledge to find affordable pathways to postsecondary education,” Janeira shared. “uAspire is impacting the lives of students who desire to pursue higher education through its three-prong approach of training, advising, and policy work to increase equity while pushing toward systemic change.”