Harlem’s HCCI Expands Board Of Directors And Its Borders

August 12, 2020

The Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement, Inc. (HCCI) Board of Directors welcomed three new members yesterday, expanding its capabilities to guide the organization and maximize its impact in New York City’s Harlem community.

HCCI offers services in Atlanta, GA, Baltimore, MD, and Seattle, WA. The Board also offers a video response to COVID-19, that can be accessed at https://www.hcci.org/coronavirus.

Dr. Joan O. Dawson, HCCI board chairman said, “We are delighted to welcome these esteemed individuals to our board. During this challenging time, we are happy to strengthen the Board with new members who can provide complementary skills, expertise, and experience that will position HCCI to maintain and expand on its mission in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The new members of HCCI’s board are:


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Debra Washington is a Community Outreach Relationship Manager for First Republic Bank. She has over 20 years of banking and leadership experience, primarily in the field of nonprofits and affordable housing. Debra earned her MBA from Metropolitan College of New York and has attended Harvard University’s Leadership Professional Development Program. As a member of the National Black MBA Association, Debra is a champion of financial literacy and the underserved, reaching out to communities that have traditionally been left out of homeownership.

Deacon Beckford’s experience is a diverse professional and social matrix spanning 48 years in business combined with extensive urban community involvement. Beginning as an office boy, for a Wall Street law firm Patterson, Belknap & Webb at age 16, he moved through the ranks to hold positions as an advertising executive, associate director of nutrition, The Executive Chief Steward at the United Nations and the North East Regional Manager at an international beverage company, Vitality Inc., a division of Nestles Inc. Simultaneously Deacon Beckford served in numerous capacities for many community organizations.

Dr. Kimberly Holmes has extensive experience as an attorney and prosecutor. She previously served as a municipal prosecutor in East Orange and as an assistant prosecutor/section chief of the Bias Crimes and Community Relations Unit of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. She was a member of legal counsel for the State Commission of Investigation. She also served as Chief of Staff for the Division of Rate Counsel for 12 years and as Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Newark specializing in Employment Law and Labor Relations Matters. In September 2010, she was appointed by the NJ State Supreme Court as an attorney member to the Fee Arbitration Committee. In 2012, the Chief Justice of the Court-appointed Dr. Holmes as chair of District 5A for Essex County, NJ, and served as the district chair until 2014. Kimberly also serves as an attorney member of the State Supreme Court Ethics Committee.

Malcolm A. Punter, Ed.D., president, and CEO stated, “These new additions to the Board bring the exact expertise needed to help guide our new initiatives in Atlanta, Baltimore, Seattle, and beyond. During this difficult time, it is important for HCCI to share its community-building strategies with other urban centers around the country that also grapple with inequities that present as little to no equity, poor quality housing and residents who need empowerment strategies to rebuild their lives.”

Founded in 1986, HCCI is a coalition of interfaith congregations that has implemented a comprehensive portfolio of programs to provide affordable housing and safe streets; offer opportunities for individuals and groups to become and remain economically independent; increase understanding of and access to health care, and provide substantive educational programs for adults and young people. Through alliances with other community organizations, elected officials, and local residents, HCCI has also helped reduce crime in the community; increase public sanitation, and preserve and transform open space.

In existence for 34 years, HCCI is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation governed by a Board of Directors, and relies on support from grants, donations, and government contracts funds.

Learn more at hcci.org.

Photo credit: Rev. Deacon Rodney A. Beckford.

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