On Tuesday evening, June 30th, nineteen community members graduated the Leadership Training Institute of the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center. The event was attended by over 60 community leaders, friends, and family members. The graduates were recognized with citations, certificates, and representatives from the following elected officials: New York State Senator Eric Adams, State Assemblyman Karim Camara, New York City Council Members Albert Vann, Letitia James, Lewis A. Fidler, Kendall B. Stewart, David I. Weprin, Darlene Mealy, Mathieu Eugene, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, and Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes.

Graduates represented a diverse subsection of the community, varying in age, race, and religion. Janelle Welch, one graduate who spoke at the ceremony, described how the program had benefited members. “[It] honed our skills in networking, coalition building, grant writing, media strategies and event planning to name a few, and even more importantly we learned how to work together despite our racial, religious and social backgrounds to help a community in need.” These leaders helped to re-energize Crown Heights’ annual Family Day Picnic by bringing together entertainers and organizations to serve the community. Throughout the Institute, members also participated in other community projects, including attending Shabbat dinners at the Wasser household, recording their personal histories through the help of StoryCorps, and learning about diversity with the Anti-Defamation League. Another graduate, Ari Kievman, described “the remarkable way” that the program “fostered cohesion in the group, cohesion both in formulating the end-goal and the process of attaining it. [He] saw how [graduates’] very differences can be used to the advantage of having more perspectives and out-of-the-box thinking.”
Attendees at the graduation were amazed at the level of cooperation and understanding that existed amongst the Leadership Training Institute members. Odelia Doco, photographer for collive.com, had never been to the Mediation Center before but was inspired by all that she saw. Her article about the event can be found here.

The graduation was also an opportunity for the opening of a new photography exhibit, “Crown Heights: Between Memory and Belief.” Hanan Ohayon, the photographer and Mediation Center AmeriCorps member, took pictures of Crown Heights, its landscape, places, and people. Feel free to stop by the Mediation Center any time to view these beautiful pieces of artwork.
A special thank you to all those who came out to the event and continue to support the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center. Congratulations to our graduates!