Yonkers – New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins were among four honorees at the 25th anniversary gala of Sister to Sister International at the Royal Regency Hotel (165 Tuckahoe Road), Saturday, November 2nd.
Shawyn Patterson Howard, president & CEO of the Yonkers Family YMCA who made history three days later as first female elected Mount Vernon Mayor and Pamela Bratton, JD, STSI former Board Member, were also honored at the STSI 25th Anniversary Gala and News12’s Michelle Brown performed mistress of ceremonies duties for the event.
Sister to Sister International highlighted its accomplishments including the recent completion of a research study documenting the significant disadvantages Black girls and women in Westchester face in key educational opportunities, school discipline and the juvenile justice system, certain areas of health, and income-generating opportunities. The rare bright spot revealed in the study — that Black women are opening businesses at far higher rates than their peers – validates a key STSI focus area: promotion of entrepreneurship and economic empowerment.
Major gains also have been achieved in other STSI focus areas of health and wellness, education and global affairs. For 10 years, it has successfully run a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) Camp for Black girls and others of color, a cutting-edge program producing a pipeline of students from middle to high school, college and on to careers. The camp has since evolved into a year-round STEAM Academy with tutoring, field trips and academic enrichment.
STSI also recently held a summit that included training and strategy development related to its premier project, the Black Women Girl Child (BWGC) initiative that advances education, health and wealth of Black females by working in a collective impact framework with community stakeholders.
The nonprofit has conducted several forums, including last April’s Girl Power Forum for participants throughout the Lower Hudson Valley that offered leadership training and education on the prevalence of suspensions for Black girls, “adultification” bias and strategies to recognize and overcome these barriers. Also, healthy lifestyle strategies and mentoring opportunities were shared.
In its quarter century of existence, STSI, which started as a Brannan family initiative to adopt villages in Africa and deliver medical supplies to Senegal and Gambia, attained special consultative status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, collaborated with the World Health Organization on health campaigns, created a literacy campaign and book collection for the Gambian National Library as well as a scholarship program for Ghanaian students.
Senate Majority Leader Cousins and Deputy County Executive Jenkins were among those who applauded STSI for its remarkable accomplishments in improving the lives of scores of Black women and girls not only in Westchester, but also in other parts of the world.
“I am truly humbled to be honored by Sister to Sister International on the occasion of their 25th anniversary gala,” DCE Jenkins shared with Black Westchester. “I am proud to be a long-time supporter of STSI because of the outstanding work they do in support, mentorship and advocacy of black girls.”
Cheryl Brannan remarked that the achievements were gained against the odds and that far too many Black women and girls remain challenged. She continued, “There is much more to be done and we look forward to continuing our collective efforts to make Westchester a better place for all with equal opportunity to live and thrive.”
Sister to Sister International
Sister to Sister International, Inc. (STSI) is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization that links women, girls and families of African descent globally to the resources that connect, advance and strengthen them through advocacy, education and promotion of African culture. Primary areas of focus include health and wellness, education and global affairs, and developing healthy lifestyles, a cornerstone of the organization. STSI sponsors health symposia and campaigns, personal and professional development workshops and seminars; provides student scholarships; global briefings; communications and academic enrichment programs for youth; promotes advocacy and information sharing; dialogue with legislators on key issues affecting women and families; supports UN conferences, networks with women from all over the world, and collaborates with partners to advance our causes. For more information on STSI, visit https://s2si.org/.