Second Annual Tech and Job Fair at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center

By Athena Dawson | [email protected]

On Saturday Jan. 27, the Queens Borough President’s office hosted their second annual Queens Tech and Job Fair at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center. Dozens of people showed up in their professional attire with their resumes in tow to network with the participating companies. The  Queens Tech & Job Fair featured many workshop and networking opportunities targeted towards people of color and disadvantaged residents who were interested in the tech industry. Some of the companies and organizations featured included JobsFirstNYC, Hood Code, Greater Nexus,  All Star Code, and Urban Upbound. Residents interested in one-on-one mentoring met with the Black Cornell Tech Student Association in partnership with Meta.

Deputy Borough President Ebony Young explained the importance of the event for the local community. “This all came from the problem right, there is a HR&A report commissioned by Google and Tech NYC that gives a whole synopsis around the state of tech in New York City and unfortunately Brown and Black people sit at the bottom of that report.” 

Networking at the Queens Tech and Job Fair

Young emphasized the importance of creating an ecosystem to nurture local talent and push them into tech. “The ecosystem, really from the borough president, starts with how do we inform people differently? That’s why we have Sky High and JobsFirst here to really look at artificial intelligence using that as a skills based analysis to look at what are your entry points and skills,”  she said.

Many of the residents, like 27-year-old Malik Dixon, an IT admin, were eager to network for opportunities. “I wanted to see what else is out there, if there’s anything that I might not know that is recommended by someone else. Honestly it’s mostly about networking right now… even if you have the skills you have to know someone,” he said. 

For 28-year-old Ph.D. student Liam Albright, his position on the executive board of Cornell Tech Black Student Association aids in fostering inclusivity and equity within the tech space. He felt the job fair was a way to encourage more people to branch into the tech industry. “We’re basically providing general mentorship and advice for anyone interested in careers in tech and higher education in tech. Giving advice on how they can get involved and boost their resume… just general advice for breaking into the tech field.”

Job seekers gather at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center for the second annual Queens Tech and Job Fair

The job fair is part of the borough president’s office’s multi leveled initiative to build Queens into a technology hub. In July, Richards and Young visited Lagos Nigeria, dubbed the Silicon Valley of Africa to incorporate some of their success into the creation of a Black tech hub in Queens. The initiative has already created Greater Nexus through the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation. Opened in 2022, Greater Nexus is a brand new, state of the art co-working hub located in downtown Jamaica.

Shooting Hoops For Mental Health: Queens Borough President’s Office Hosts Mental Wellness Basketball Clinic

By Athena Dawson | [email protected]

On Saturday Jan. 27, the Queens borough president’s office hosted a Queens Mental Wellness Basketball Classic at St. Francis Prep high school. The event was sponsored by Metro Health Plus and Ponce Bank, and featured other local organizations that deal with mental wellness throughout the borough. The basketball game was a friendly event between elected officials and their staffers, NYC agency employees, city employees and NYPD officers. 

Clare Collins, interim director of health and human resources, came up with the idea to do the basketball classic as she is a basketball fan. “We had a staff soccer game and I was like, we should do a basketball game. Let’s invite elected officials, and it turns out January is mental health awareness month so this is perfect.”   

Local elected officials and city workers play a friendly basketball game at St. Francis Prep

Collins worked with her supervisor Kalil Bragg, a St. Francis Prep alum, to organize the teams, reach out to organizations and book the space. Bragg, who is the director of community boards, felt the basketball game was a great way to bring mental health awareness to the community. “We’re just trying to bring awareness to mental health, we want to make sure the Queens community is taking mental health seriously and we want to do it in a fun and engaging way,” he said.

Family members and supporters filled the bleachers in the gym as the friendly game between team gray and team blue began. The basketball game was high energy and closely matched in the first half, with the gray team leading 30-28 before half time. Halftime featured a step show performance by the St. Francis Terriers Cheerleading team, which brought a round of applause from the energetic crowd.  

The teams wait eagerly to get possession of the ball at the free throw line

At half time, Queens Borough President Richards spoke about his optimism in playing the rest of the game. “I’m feeling good. It’s for a good cause, the opposition is holding our own but we’re going to turn it up the next half for our borough. Once again we are focusing on our mental health and finding these moments…I’m glad we can show that we can have a little fun too and let our hair down,” he said.

Assemblyman Ed Brosnstein made an appearance, dropping points on the court, and expressed his excitement about the basketball game. “It’s an opportunity to spread awareness about positive mental health, and it’s also an opportunity to play basketball with the community,” he said. The game came to an end with a final score of 59 to 53, with gray being the winning team.

Community members cheer on their family and coworkers at the basketball classic

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