aadp 50 fest panel

William Allen

William Allen

Genisha Metcalf    Non Profit Professional

Genisha Metcalf

Non Profit Professional

ELBERT SHAMSID-DEEN    President & CEO: Thruway Builders Inc., Yonkers, NY    President & CEO: Thruway Insurance Brokers Inc., Yonkers, NY


President & CEO: Thruway Builders Inc., Yonkers, NY

President & CEO: Thruway Insurance Brokers Inc., Yonkers, NY

DR. HAZEL DUKES    President of the NAACP New York State Conference


President of the NAACP New York State Conference

Cheryl Wills is a veteran anchor for Spectrum News NY1 – she joined the broadcasting network during its launch in 1992.  She is the host of the public affairs talk show “In Focus with Cheryl Wills” and the primetime anchor of the “NY1 Live at Ten” airing weeknights.

The award-winning journalist is the author of three books about her great-great-great grandfather Sandy Wills who fought in The Civil War:  “Die Free: A Heroic Family Tale, an illustrated children’s book “The Emancipation of Grandpa Sandy Wills” and a YA book “Emancipated: My Family’s Fight for Freedom.”

Cheryl Wills was the first journalist invited to speak before the General Assembly of The United Nations in March of 2011, about the impact of slavery on her family during the UN’s International Remembrance of Victims of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Cheryl takes great pride in being the Founder and Commander of The New York State Chapter of the Sons & Daughters of the United States Colored Troops, a national organization based in Washington D.C. She enjoys teaching students about the contributions of the 200,000 black soldiers who fought valiantly during The Civil War.

Cheryl Wills is a graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, with a major in Broadcast Journalism. She received an Honorary Doctorate from New York College of Health Professions in May of 2005.


Genisha Metcalf is a non-profit professional with 9 years of experience in the areas of corporate volunteerism, community development, training and fundraising. Genisha specializes in leadership development for public service professionals and cultivating public-private partnerships. Genisha has held several community and corporate engagement roles throughout the course of her career. She most recently served as the Director of Community and Corporate Relations for Utica College where she led community engagement, alumni relations and institutional partnership strategy for the New York City Metro area. Prior to joining Utica College, Genisha served as the Corporate Partnerships Manager for City Year New York. In this role Genisha mobilized over 4,000 community and corporate volunteers and generated over $1.5M in corporate sponsorship revenue.

Genisha began her career in child welfare services, with a focus on training, community engagement and behavioral health counseling. Genisha leverages her career experiences in social services to help businesses and nonprofit leaders develop philanthropic initiatives to support high need communities. Genisha is the founder of Creating Our Own Legacy (COOL) Kids, a nonprofit organization that engages youth and young adults of color in community service. Genisha is a member of the District 3 Community Education Council, in this role she oversees educational policy for 9,000+ New York City Public School students.


Elbert has been an independent businessman for over 50 years in the New York area, and he is a wealth of information about business.  He owned a wholesale distribution business for many years and was the first African American wholesale distributor in New York City for several large companies, such as Daily’s Juice and Riceland Rice, He represented a Japanese company for the distribution of shrimp and sweet potato crisps in the U.S.A.  He has also owned and managed a fleet of 15 Hood Ice Cream trucks with two depots in New York and New Jersey.

For the past 25 years, Elbert has owned and operated Thruway Builders, Inc., a construction company that is licensed as a Home Improvement Contractor in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.  Thruway Builders is also certified as an MBE firm with New York State, the MTA, SCA, and Port Authority of NY/NJ.

Over the course of his long business and community service career, Elbert has been honored by many organizations, among them the YWCA of Yonkers (Man of the Year for Outstanding Service to the YWCA); Children’s Village Inc., Yonkers, NY (Annual Appreciation Award – 2009 thru 2014); City of Yonkers (Mayor’s Appreciation Award); Masjid Malcolm Shabazz, Harlem, NY (Pioneer Recognition Award); Business Outreach Center Network, Harlem, NY (Business Achievement Award). He has mentored many individuals who have gone on to succeed in their own entrepreneurial endeavors, including some of his own children.

Elbert and his wife, Darlene, are on the Advisory Board of the African American Day Parade and are very active in their religious community, the Malcolm Shabazz Mosque in Harlem, where they are members of the Annual Juneteenth Celebration Committee.  They live in Marlboro, New York and have been married for 42 years. They have 7 children, 18 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren (with Number 12 on the way!). Allah (G’d) is Great!


Dr. Hazel N. Dukes is President of the NAACP New York State Conference and a member of the NAACP National Board of Directors, a member of the NAACP Executive Committee and well as an active member of various NAACP board sub-committees.  Dr. Dukes is a woman of great strength and courage. Her dedication to human rights and equality is exemplified by her role linking business, government and social causes. Dr. Dukes is an active and dynamic leader who is known for her unselfish and devoted track record for improving the quality of life in New York State.

Dr.  Dukes is President of the Hazel N. Dukes & Associates Consultant Firm, specializing in the areas of public policy, health and diversity.She is also a member of the Assembly of Prayer Baptist Church where she served as Executive Assistant to the Pastor, is a member of the Board of Trustees and teaches the Adult Sunday School.

Dr.  Dukes received a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from Adelphi University, Garden City, New York and completed post-graduate work at Queens College.  In 1990 she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the City University of New York Law School at Queens College and in 2009 was conferred the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Medgar Evers College, Brooklyn, New York.  In 2012 she was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, Harlem New York. Dr. Dukes has many organizational affiliations; she is former President of the Metro-Manhattan Links Chapter, in 2010 was appointed the National Links NGO Representative and is a former trustee of the State University of New York and Stillman College.  Dr. Dukes is a member of the National Council of Negro Women, Inc., and National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, INC.   

Dr.  Dukes is the recipient of numerous awards for her outstanding leadership activities, Ellis Island Medal of Honor, YWCA City of New York John La Farge Memorial Award for Interracial Justice, Guy R. Brewer Humanitarian Award, and the 2007 The Network Journal’s 25 Most Influential Black Women in Business Award, member Ford Motor Company Funds Committee of Honor for Freedom’s Sisters, was honored and received a Proclamation at the New York City Council’s Third Annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Awards ceremony at City Hall in New York. Dukes is an active member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Northern Manhattan Alumnae Chapter and has been selected to receive the sorority’s Althea T.L. Simmons Social Action Award in August 2010.  Dr. Dukes was Incorporated in 2007 as a Pi Eta Kappa Fellow and her biography has been selected for publication in many journals and directories including: Fisk University Library, Minority Women Contribution, American Biographical Institute Personalities of Northeast, Who’s Who Among American Women and Who’s Who Among Black Women.

“. . . if I can help somebody as I pass along; then my living shall not have been in vain.”