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Board Celebrates Black History Month; Honors Local Education and Business Leaders

https://www.westchesterlegislators.com/images/Newsroom/2019/20190225_BHM_JohnsonHolland.jpg

White Plains, NY — The Westchester County Board of Legislators on Monday celebrated outstanding leaders in education and business -- New York State Board of Regents representative for Judicial District 9 Judith Johnson and pioneering business leader Robert "Bob" Holland Jr. -- as part of the Board's annual Black History and Heritage celebration.


Board Chairman Ben Boykin (D - White Plains, Scarsdale, Harrison) said, "Tonight we celebrate two outstanding honorees. The Honorable Regent Judith Johnson has provided decades of leadership to the school districts and students of Westchester County.  Her career has been marked by an unwavering commitment to equity in educational opportunity and a forward thinking commitment to technology and educational innovation.  Bob Holland is a barrier-breaking business leader. Bob opened doors for generations of African-American business leaders to follow. He's also been steadfast in his commitment to giving back to the community."


Legislators Lyndon Williams (D - Mount Vernon) and Terry Clements (D - New Rochelle, Pelham, Pelham Manor) presented a Board proclamation to the Regent Judith Johnson, whose career of more than four decades includes 27 years in the school districts of Westchester. She was Superintendent of the Peekskill City School District for 10 years -- the first woman and first African-American to hold that position.  She also served as Assistant Superintendent in White Plains and Interim Superintendent in Mount Vernon, among other positions. Johnson also served as Acting and Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education under President Bill Clinton.  Her career has been marked by an unwavering commitment to equity in educational opportunity and a forward thinking commitment to technology and educational innovation.  


Speaking to the Board and a chamber full of guests, Johnson said, "My sandbox honors all who view education as a mission, not a job.  It welcomes all who understand that a belief in the promise of democracy has to be sustained by each generation, and it is the responsibility of schools to ensure our heritage will not be lost but expanded."


Boykin and Vice Chair Alfreda Williams (D - Elmsford, Greenburgh, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown) presented a Board proclamation to Robert "Bob" Holland.


Holland is a barrier-breaking business leader and White Plains resident. In the 1970s, Holland became the first African-American partner at the leading management consulting firm McKinsey and Company. Among his other career highlights, Holland was later recruited as CEO of Ben & Jerry's, becoming one of the first African American CEOs of a publicly traded major corporation. He's also been steadfast in his commitment to giving back to the community -- founding the Make-A-Difference Dropout Prevention Program, serving as Chairman of the Board of Spellman College, and serving as Chairman of the Northeast STEM Starter Academy in Mount Vernon, among many other community efforts.


In a moving speech, Holland noted that his appearance before the Board may be his final public speaking appearance due to illness.  He used the occasion to stress not his success as a business leader but the gratification he got from his work with students.  In particular, he mentioned a program he founded that offered innovative incentives for high school students, including a stock portfolio, whose proceeds they would get if they graduated.


He said, "Reflecting back this evening I'm reminded of an early time in Detroit when, from a business that I had acquired, I designed a dropout prevention program called Make-a-Difference." Noting that 95 % of the kids in the program graduated, Holland added, "It only goes to show that, with a little bit of creativity and making a difference, what we can do."

 

https://www.westchesterlegislators.com/images/Newsroom/2019/20190225_BHM_JudithJohnsonGroup.jpg

(Hon. Judith Johnson, with Board Chair Ben Boykin, Legislators Lyndon Williams and Terry Clements, While Plains School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Ricca; and supporters and friends from the While Plains School Board)


https://www.westchesterlegislators.com/images/Newsroom/2019/20190225_BHM_BobHollandGroup.jpg

(Robert “Bob” Holland, Jr. and wife Barbara Holland with Board Chair Ben Boykin, Vice Chair Alfreda Williams, and friends and family)

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