• Black Lives Matter Summit 2021:
    What Now? What Next?

    Save the Dates:
    April 12–15, 2021

    The 6th annual Black Lives Matter Summit invites anyone who believes in the power of activism, creativity and intellect to overcome injustice. A call to action by LaGuardia students, faculty and staff, the summit will highlight and discuss issues of inequity faced by people of color in contemporary society.

    Keynote speaker Jumaane Williams, NYC Public Advocate, will kick off a series of events in this year’s week-long, virtual Black Lives Matter Summit. The theme – What Now? What Next? – will touch on some of the most pressing issues facing the Black community, including the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations and the continuing struggle for equality in the justice system.

  • Schedule

    RSVP for individual events below using your CUNY login credentials.
    After registering, watch for an email from “President Webinar” or "Deema Bayrakdar" to access the event link.

    Monday, 4/12
    10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
    BLM Summit Kickoff: What Now? What Next?
    Jumaane Williams will kick off the summit by discussing some of the most pressing issues facing the Black community, including the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations and the continuing struggle for equality in the justice system.

    Also hear remarks from campus leadership and the director of CUNY’s Black Male Initiative.
    • President Kenneth Adams
    • CUNY BMI Director Dr. Shawn Best, Ed.D.
    • Public Advocate Jumaane Williams

    • Dr. Jason Hendrickson
    Tuesday, 4/13
    6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
    COVID-19 in Our Communities
    A panel of experts both within and beyond LaGuardia will address the myths surrounding the vaccine, as well as the history of tension between Black communities and medical providers.
    • Dr. Elizabeth Clayborne, MD, MA
    • Dr. Jasmine Bihm, DrPH, MPH
    • Prof. Faith Armstrong, RN

    • Dr. Jason Hendrickson
    Wednesday, 4/14
    3:25 p.m. – 4:25 p.m.
    Student Voices Matter: Where Do We Go From Here?*
    For this student-led event, a panel will center around the Breonna Taylor and George Floyd cases and other incidences of police violence in the Black community, followed by a creative expression showcase that explores themes such as mental health, criminal justice reform, police brutality, inclusivity, intersectionality and learning environments — all under the umbrella of "What Now? What Next?"

    • Kyle-Hollar Gregory, Esq.
    • Professor Charlene Bryant, J.D.
    • Deema Bayrakdar
    • Allia Abdullah-Matta
    Thursday, 4/15
    3:25 p.m. – 4:25 p.m.
    Knowledge Is Power: So You Think You Know Your Rights?
    Join us for a discussion concerning social injustice and criminal justice issues that affect the Black community. Panelists will discuss their unique perspectives regarding the criminal justice system and its impact upon the community while addressing issues regarding human rights, civil rights, criminal justice reform and social justice. The panelists’ unique experiences and expertise will help to develop solutions to our ongoing societal issues.
    • Richard Anthony Celestin, Esq.
    • Prof. Charlene Bryant
    • Devon Simmons

    • Kyle-Hollar Gregory, Esq.


  • Keynote Speaker: Jumaane Williams

    Jumaane D. Williams is the Public Advocate of the City of New York.

    Previously, he served on the NYC Council representing the 45th District.

    Jumaane is a first-generation Brooklynite of Grenadian heritage. He graduated from the public school system, overcoming the difficulties of Tourette's and ADHD to earn a master's degree from Brooklyn College. He began his career at the Greater Flatbush Beacon School and later served as the Executive Director of NYS Tenants & Neighbors. There, he fought for truly affordable, income-targeted housing across New York City and State.

    In the NYC Council, Jumaane championed landmark legislation that fundamentally transformed policing in NYC. Jumaane sponsored the Community Safety Act, reforming the City's Police Department by addressing the abuses of Stop, Question & Frisk in communities of color and creating the NYPD's Office of Inspector General to investigate unlawful & unethical behavior.

    Jumaane has led the fight for better policing and safer streets, affordable housing, and transparency and accountability in City government. As Public Advocate, Jumaane will continue to be an activist-elected official who brings the voices of everyday New Yorkers to City government and makes New York a truly progressive beacon for all.

  • Participants:

    Kenneth Adams was appointed president of LaGuardia Community College by the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York on June 29, 2020. He assumed the role on August 17, 2020.

    Previously, he was dean of workforce and economic development at Bronx Community College (BCC) from 2016–2020—leading the departments of Adult and Continuing Education, Workforce Development, Career Services, Community and Economic Development, and the Center for Sustainable Energy.

    Read more about President Adams.

    Faith E. Armstrong is an Associate Professor in Health Sciences/Nursing with 14-years of experience as an RN specialized in critical care nursing mainly cardiac, telemetry, and respiratory. She is the Coordinator of Fundamentals in Nursing and has taught both Medical-Surgical Lab and Fundamentals in both the RN/LPN program. Her research is on the flipped classroom and fibromyalgia. She is a part of the following professional organizations, including but not limited to the National League for Nursing (NLN), the American Nurses Association (ANA), the Academy of Med-Surgical Nurses (AMSN), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). She has directed two successful mini plays “Letter from Lenora” and “Zingay.” She is involved in the LGBT and homelessness in her community. Her motto: “Be the Best Person You Can Be.”

    Dr. Shawn Best is the University Director of the Black Male Initiative at the City University of New York (CUNY BMI). Shawn previously served as the University Associate Director for CUNY BMI from September 2014 until April 2018, and as a Project Coordinator for the Brothers For Excellence Black Male Initiative Project at Hunter College from January 2012 until September 2014. As the University Associate Director, he co-developed and implemented the site visit structure, a re-branding overhaul and a best practices model for 31 CUNY BMI projects serving over 4,000 students CUNY wide. He also provided technical assistance to approximately 100 administrators/faculty members throughout CUNY system who administer BMI projects. He comes to the Central Office with over 20 years of higher education experience working in Residence Life, Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, Athletics and Admissions.

    Dr. Jasmine Bihm has a passion for public health, particularly the potential to improve health through understanding the role of social determinants of health and opportunity, on health outcomes. Dr. Bihm is a public health official and provides oversight and strategic direction for a portfolio of programs focused on maternal and child health. She also serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Health & Community Medicine at the Tufts University School of Medicine and Adjunct Faculty of Prevention and Community Health at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. She resides in the Washington, D.C. metro area, but is a native New Yorker hailing from Astoria, N.Y.

    Charlene Bryant was born raised in Brooklyn New York. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and studied British Literature at the University of London for two semesters. Professor Bryant received her Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center. She also studied European Union Law at the University of Spain at Madrid. Professor Bryant also served as a summer intern at the District of Columbia Public Defenders Office and with the New York City chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

    After law school Prof. Bryant became a Prosecutor with the Kings County District Attorney's office in the Major Narcotics Unit and the Drug Treatment Alternative Program. She was also a business management consultant in the urban entertainment and clothing markets for several independent clothing companies, artist and music labels. Professor Bryant has also functioned as a Strategic Sourcing Executive, Project and Contract Manager for several Fortune 500 Companies. As a certified a mediator, Professor Bryant was the Director of the Peer Mediation program for the NYC Commission on Human Rights.

    She also served as a community facilitator for the federal stop and frisk case - Floyd v. NYC. Professor Bryant also worked as an Alternative to Incarceration Counselor at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. She also worked in the Community Partnerships Unit as an Education Coordinator. Professor Bryant has been teaching for over 12 years. She has taught at the following institutions - John Jay College, Queens College, Lehman College, and now serves as an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at LaGuardia Community College. She was also a participant in the Rainbow LaGuardia project.

    Richard Anthony Celestin is a graduate of The City University of New York School of Law. While at CUNY Law, he focused his studies on criminal defense and juvenile justice. Prior to entering law school, and since becoming an attorney, he has directed his work towards underrepresented and at-risk youth via the not-for-profit sector and with alternative-to-detention programs in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. He offers his knowledge and insight into the juvenile and criminal justice areas by participating in panel discussions and conducting workshops throughout New York City addressing issues and concerns that affect communities of color, primarily the rising arrest and incarceration rates of youth of color. Richard also serves as a consultant for various organizations seeking to develop youth-based programs within the community, practices various areas of the law, and is an adjunct professor at two CUNY colleges, teaching public speaking, critical thinking, criminal justice and social justice.

    In addition to working with youth involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems, Mr. Celestin created a limited liability corporation, Richard Celestin Consulting Group, LLC, for the purposes of developing and providing legal skill development, self-awareness, youth empowerment, and consequential thinking programs to elementary, middle and high school students in Queens and Brooklyn, particularly with youth of color. Under the LLC, Richard operates the Young Debaters Program, which has been implemented in almost 50 schools and focuses on teaching students the skills behind debate and oral advocacy.

    As a motivational speaker, Richard has over 10 years experience providing relevant, passionate and empowering workshops and speeches to youth, young adults, and professionals. Ranging from small, intimate workshops or professional development sessions to large graduations, Richard brings a unique perspective and unmatched energy to his speaking engagements. The key to Richard’s success is that he speaks from personal experience, sharing stories of success and failure that he has lived as opposed to reading about from other sources, which develops trust and respect from the audience.

    Most recently, Mr. Celestin published his first book entitled “The Hard Facts About Soft Skills”. Targeting pre- and young professionals, the book focuses on the soft skills needed in order to successfully navigate the professional world. These skills include networking, resume development, personal branding and professional handshakes. He hopes to publish additional books in the future.

    Dr. Elizabeth Clayborne was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. She attended Duke University as an undergraduate where she designed her own major in Medical Ethics and Religion. Prior to medical school she completed a two-year research fellowship at National Institutes of Health in the Social and Behavioral Research Branch of the National Human Genome Research Institute with a research focus on race, ethnicity and genetics. Dr. Clayborne attended to medical school at Case Western Reserve University where she completed a dual MD/MA Bioethics degree in 4 years. She went on to complete residency in Emergency Medicine at the George Washington University Hospital and served as Chief Resident in her fourth year.

    Dr. Clayborne is currently a faculty member at the University of Maryland School of Medicine Department of Emergency Medicine with an academic focus on ethics, health policy, end of life care, health disparities and innovation/entrepreneurship. She developed a novel epistaxis device bleedfreeze.com as a resident and in 2015 was awarded the NSF I-Corps grant which helped to launch her company Emergency Medical Innovation, LLC. She is the former Chair of the MedChi Committee on Ethics and Judicial Affairs, serves on the Ethics Committee of the American College of Emergency Physicians and is an active member of the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine, the American Medical Association and the National Medical Association. Dr. Clayborne has been featured on several national interviews (e.g. on CNN) and has recently been featured in a TEDx talk on advance care planning. Dr. Clayborne looks forward to continuing her career as a practicing emergency physician, innovator and leader in health care policy and reform. Twitter and Instagram @DrElizPC

    Devon Simmons is a native of Harlem, New York. He enrolled in John Jay’s Prison-to-College Pipeline program (P2CP) in 2012. During his freshman year at Otisville Correctional Facility his work was selected into John Jay’s Finest the yearly published book of literary works selected by faculty in the English department. Upon release after 15 ½ years, he immediately enrolled into Hostos Community College where he graduated with Honors becoming the first graduate from the program. In Spring 2018 he graduated from John Jay with his bachelor's degree in criminal justice summa cum laude. He’s also a graduate of Columbia University's Justice-in-Education Scholars program. Currently, he is a 2019 Soros Justice Fellow, 2019 Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity and 2017 David Rockefeller fund fellow.

    As a Global Ambassador for Higher Education he has traveled abroad to South Africa, Cuba, England and Jamaica in pursuit of building Prison-to-College Pipeline programs internationally. His goal is to change the narrative of those formerly incarcerated while using education as the integral tool to help empower marginalized communities worldwide.


    Deema Bayrakdar is the Director of the Women’s Center and LGBTQIA Safe Zone Hub at LaGuardia Community College. She has a Master’s in Teaching and Mental Health Counseling and completed her internship in trauma informed treatment in 2020.

    Charlene Bryant is an Assistant Professor in the Social Science Department’s Criminal Justice Program. She is a co- mentor of the Criminal Justice Association. She received her Juris Doctorate from Georgetown Law School and her Bachelor of Arts in English/Creative Writing from New York University. Read more above.

    Kyle Hollar-Gregory, Esq. is a licensed attorney admitted to the New Jersey State Bar and is a certified mediator in the State of New Jersey. He received a Juris Doctorate from Rutgers University of Law – Newark. He began his legal career as an intern for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which was an introduction to the practice of law. Prof. Hollar-Gregory served as a law clerk for the Honorable Siobhan A. Teare in the criminal division of the Superior Courts of New Jersey in Essex County. Also, Prof. Hollar-Gregory worked as a paralegal for the Brandon J. Broderick, LLC law firm in New Jersey.

    As an attorney for the Freeman Law Center in Jersey City, New Jersey he practiced family law, personal injury law, municipal cases and misdemeanor cases. Prof. Hollar-Gregory has been teaching for over 10 years. He has taught at the following institutions – Essex County College, East Side High School – Newark, New Jersey and now serves as an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at LaGuardia Community College.

    Jason T. Hendrickson, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College at the City University of New York. He received his Doctorate and Master’s degree from the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at UMass Amherst and his bachelor’s degree from Duke University.

    As a faculty member at one of the most culturally diverse institutions in the country, Dr. Hendrickson works to enact institutional change as an advocate for student, staff, and faculty voices. There, he serves on the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (PAC), and co-leads the Faculty and Staff of Color Collective (FSOC). He also serves as co-chair of the annual Black Lives Matter Summit, bringing together local high schools with the college community for interactive workshops and guest speakers. Previously, he worked for the National Urban League’s Education and Youth Division.

    Dr. Hendrickson's research interests include educational equity and access, 19th century African American Poetry, hip-hop studies, and gender studies. His scholarship and pedagogy combine literary analysis with contemporary issues of social justice to foster connections between the past and the present. He most recently published on equity in higher education and the intersection between vernacular language, justice, and Black literature. A graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, he is a proud first-generation college student from Long Island City, now residing in Brooklyn.

    Allia Abdullah-Matta is a poet and Professor of English at CUNY LaGuardia, where she teaches composition, literature, creative writing, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies courses. She holds a doctorate in African-American Studies, Certificates in Advanced Feminist Studies, and African Diaspora Studies from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and an MFA from the City College of New York.

    Her research centers literatures and cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora, poetic, theoretical, artistic production(s), and visual culture. She writes about the culture, and history of Black women and explores the presence of Black bodies and voices in fine art and poetry. She has published critical essays and poetry.

  • Black Lives Matter Summit Planning Committee

    Special thanks to our committee members for their work in planning and executing the Black Lives Matter Summit 2021 events.

    Name Department
    Allia Abdullah-Matta English Department
    Deema Bayrakdar Student Affairs
    Charlene Bryant Social Science Department
    Jason Hendrickson English Department
    Kyle Hollar-Gregory Social Science Department
    Sultan Jenkins Natural Sciences Department
    Karen Muehlbauer Marketing & Communications
    Rachel Romain Student Affairs