Queens College Hosts 2nd School of Business Breakfast

by Sherica Daley 

“My path was quite abnormal” explained Caitlin King. King, a 2018 graduate of Queens College, visited her alma mater to speak to students at Queens College’s School of Business 2nd #QCBusiness Breakfast in the Q-Side Lounge. King answers questions from current Queens College students about her career and her advice on being successful after graduation.

King, an Honors Economics major and Environmental Studies minor, has been growing a career in successfully improving product merchandising and helping with retail financial strategies to generate more sales and profit for major retail companies. Her career path started as a sustainability intern with an ITAC advisement firm and a manager in Idiel Showroom from 2013-2015. After graduation, she became a freelance Independent Consultant in 2019. She next moved on to being a Planning Analyst and Merchandiser for L Brands. Working with L Brands, she was in the licensing division for Victoria’s Secret Swim. In 2020, she became a Planner of LG Household & Health Care with Avon Cosmetic, next she moved on to be a merchandise planner for ANN .Inc., companies: Ann Taylor Loft and Ann Taylor Factory, Since March 2022, King has been Senior Strategy Analyst for Burlington Stores, Inc. Here, she won four Winner of Excellence Awards and a Spotlight Award in 2023. 

“I am passionate about fashion and product development, merchandising, and financial modeling” explained King. Her passion began as a professional model to get through college. She transitioned from being in front of the camera to joining the business team and becoming the mastermind in improving the development of the financial landscape against top competing retail brands. 

She came in bright and early to speak to current Queens College students and faculty, about what she learned and what current students can learn from her career, insights, and transition in careers. The Q&A portion was an engaging session with students and alumni getting King’s perspective on what she had observed and achieved in the retail environment. “ My favorite part of my job is seeing the impact it has on the firm,” said King. “ All the hard work that’s done has tangible outcomes on the success of the firms,” she said. During the Q&A students asked what advice would she give a current student looking for direction. “ I would recommend trying the traditional route of doing an internship that leads into a division they’re interested in getting proper training within that field. “ she explained to the students. 

The topic of resumes came up and students wanted to know what helps potential employers look for in the thousands of resumes that are submitted for a job opening. King advises that when she looks at resumes she looks for achieving metric results. “ On your resume, each bullet should be result-driven,” she explained. “I would be looking for growth in numbers, such as sales, or profit.” she explained “ This can say achieve growth in sales by 10% or achieve X dollars in sales.”

After the Q&A, King spoke one-on-one with students. King liked how engaging the students were and how they came up with great questions. She was next asked her goals for the upcoming year. “ I hope to lead a team this year” she explained. “ But, if someone wanted to follow in my footsteps they need to be resilient and driven” 

As the King enjoyed breakfast and met with staff and alumni, she networked with Queens College’s student clubs. She explains that student engagement and community outreach are important to keep students in school. King and her strategy team at Burlington volunteer at local food pantries distributing essential food. King is also continuing to learn  with  Google Career Certificates. 

King’s visit to the #QCBusiness Breakfast was rewarding, “ I’m honored to be able to share my journey and hope it gave insight into the retail space.” she replied. She ended the Breakfast with a piece of advice that any student can use in their journey at Queens College and life after graduation, “Don’t give up!” 

The next #QCBusiness Breakfasts will be on Tuesday, April 16th and Tuesday, May 7th. The School of Business is also excited to offer summer courses to CUNY and non-CUNY visiting students. Those wishing to enrich their careers are encouraged to contact Queens College Admissions.

Grasso Officially Makes Ballot for Queens DA

By Alicia Venter

[email protected]

 

Retired Judge George Grasso is officially running for Queens District Attorney along the Democratic line, filing 9,500 signatures to run for the position on Monday.

Immediately after leaving City Hall, Grasso hopped on the train to Queens Borough Hall where he shared updates with the campaign, many times delving into fervent monologues about an increase in crime in Queens.

Shooting CompStat statistics off at a whim, Grasso claimed Katz was “too little, too late” in addressing the crime sprees across Queens, particularly Flushing, and called on the current District Attorney to debate him before the primary on June 27.

“We have a crime wave in Queens right now. Crime in Queens is out of control during the tenure of Melinda Katz,” he said.

According to the most updated CompStat information, Grasso passionately stated, NYPD’s Patrol Borough Queens South has seen an increase of major felony crime of over 40% in two years.

“You think that’s bad?” he questioned. “How about Patrol Borough Queens North?” According to CompStat, major felony crime is up over 68%. The 109th Precinct, he said, is up over 126%. While currently running on the Democratic line, Grasso shared that he has begun the process to run independently should he lose the party’s nomination.

Herb Woods, who worked with Grasso in the NYPD, shared a few words in support of his old friend.

“If you don’t acknowledge a problem, you can’t fix a problem,” Grasso announced.

The Grasso for Queens Campaign received 11 endorsements from local law enforcement agencies on Monday, including from the New York 10-13 Association, the Retired Lieutenants Association and Retired Police Association of New York State.

“If you want to bring back safety, security and sanity to the county of Queens, it is so important to vote for Judge Grasso,” said Bob Valentino, the President of the New York City Retired Transit Police Officers Association, which has endorsed Grasso. “With him, you will bring back Queens like it used to be in the old days.”

Herb Woods, former NYPD Assistant Commissioner, Department Advocate, who led police discipline, has known Grasso for 35 years after meeting as police officers of the NYPD. Seeing him rise through the ranks, Woods claimed to be a first-hand witness to Grasso working diligently within the department to create strategies to reduce crime when he was the first deputy commissioner of the NYPD.

“He wanted to immediately create a disciplinary system that was fair, that was transparent, would enforce due process and brought everyone to the table equally,” said Woods. “He made it doubly clear to me that whether you are a police officer or a civilian, no one is above the law.

The first step in Grasso’s plan, he explained, is quality of life enforcement. It is the small things — not enforcing misdemeanor assault and trespassing, or those who avoid tolls — that must be enforced to avoid repeat offenders.

Current district attorneys, he feels, are too muted across the city, citing State District Attorney David Soares as a role model of how all district attorneys should speak out.

“This is real now. I consider this the official first day of my campaign,” Grasso said. “We are going to win on June 27… this is coming. This is happening.”

GJDC’s Justin Rodgers Reimagines Jamaica Avenue

By Alicia Venter

[email protected]

 

Justin Rodgers has been a part of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC) for 17 years — however, Jamaica has been a part of him for much longer, having grown up in the Southeast Queens neighborhood.

Justin Rodgers. Photo: GJDC

Margherita Pizza was the place to be growing up (and today, he noted, as the pizza parlor is still open) for now-President and CEO of the GJDC.

It’s this connection, Rodgers explained, that led the Board of Directors at GJDC to unanimously elevate him to President and CEO in June 2022 after he served as Interim President from November 2021. He is the third president of GJDC since it was formed 56 years ago.

“In the eight months that I was actually interim president, I was able to do a lot in a short period of time. I expanded our business service group and I was able to raise money for the corporation. I was able to really prove that I can run the corporation,” he shared. “That being said, I think that what I had over other candidates is that I’m personally invested in Jamaica. I’m from Jamaica. That’s one hundred percent why I am still here after 17 years.”

To develop Jamaica, Rodgers began his time at GJDC developing Jamaica Avenue, the neighborhood’s bustling shopping corridor.

The street grew in the 1920’s as Jamaica became a transportation hub. LIRR lines, subway lines and buses all converge near Jamaica Avenue, and major shopping centers began to appear.

In 1930, on the corner of 171st St. and Jamaica Avenue, the first King Kullen Grocery Company, which the Smithsonian Institute has deemed ‘America’s First Supermarket,’ was born. It has been home to department stores including Macy’s and Gertz, and now welcomes national brands such as Target, Aldi, Burlington, Old Navy and Primark.

Bringing national brands was Rodger’s project for 14 years, as concerned residents expressed to him how they were driving to Nassau County or hopping on the E train to the Queens Center to shop at those locations.

Now, Rodgers leads the effort to bring mom-and-pop shops back to Jamaica. The key, he explained, is to present real estate that is on the side streets to Jamaica Avenue.

“It’s not financially possible for mom and pop shops to open on Jamaica Avenue due to the high cost of rent. You just can’t make the numbers work. But you can make the numbers work on side streets,” said Rodgers. “So now we’re in the process of working with potential restaurant tours on some of the side streets.”

Retaining businesses was a point of concern during a recent meeting of the Sutphin Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) Annual Meeting, when the board of directors was elected for a newly consolidated BID emerging from the Sutphin Avenue BID, the 165th Street Special Assessment District and the Jamaica Center Special Assessment District. The question arose: What must be done to get businesses to stay open in Jamaica?

The issue with businesses retention, Rodgers described, has a considerable amount to do with the new busways along Jamaica Avenue. Implemented in October 2021, these busways allow only buses, trucks and emergency vehicles to make trips along Jamaica Avenue between Sutphin Blvd. and 168th St. in both directions. This bus project was designed to increase bus speeds and reliability for 14 bus routes on Jamaica Avenue and 19 bus routes on Archer Ave.

On Jamaica Avenue, all other vehicles may make local trips to access the curb, the DOT stated on their website, but must make the next available turn off the busway.

Some businesses have seen a 40-50% drop in business, according to Rodgers, since this was implemented, and the GJDC is trying to work with elected officials and the DOT to try and find ways to modify the busways.

“The busways have really harmed businesses, not only along Jamaica Avenue, but also on the side streets. The reason why is because Queens is a driving community, specifically Southeast Queens,” he said. “It’s very difficult to navigate around Downtown Jamaica if you are driving. Some people just don’t want the headache and they don’t come anymore.”

Rodgers suggested that busways be limited only to peak hours.

The consolidated BID that is coming to Jamaica, Rodgers described, will “100% benefit the businesses,” because its $1.4 million assessment will allow them to provide additional services to the businesses and the community.

Those additional services must be voted on, but they can mean more vendors, security and additional cleaning days.

Crime is a major concern for those who are looking to shop on Jamaica Avenue, especially with the recent shooting of a 22-year-old cop along the street. However, Rodgers emphasized that the shooting was an “isolated incident,” and that efforts by the 103rd Precinct and their Commanding Officer Eric A. Robinson’s involvement in community events and presence have made Jamaica a safer place.

Since taking the helm at GJDC, Rodgers has been able to provide national retailers to the residents of Jamaica, and continues to work in order to ensure small businesses continue to feel supported. For more information, visit https://gjdc.org/.

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