The Lynnette Velasco Community Impact Award

At the Harlem Arts Festival 2014 Fundraising Gala, the HAF Family will honor the memory of Lynnette C. Velasco by creating the annual Lynnette Velasco Community Impact Award.

A dear friend to the HAF Family, Lynnette wore many hats and made her transition on August 20, 2012. As a community leader, she served as Executive Director of Neighborhood Support Systems, Inc., as President of Black Americans in Publishing, as Chief of Staff to Assembly Member Geraldine L. Daniels, and as Chief of Staff to Council Member Inez E. Dickens, a role in which Dickens shared: “Ms. Velasco was a tireless advocate on behalf of our constituents in the village of Harlem and her loss will be felt in every corner of our great City and the State of New York.”

Lynnette’s relationship with Harlem Arts Festival began when she sat on the HAF 2012 Steering Committee. An avid literature and arts lover, she helped to raise funding for a successful Harlem Arts Festival 2013, leaving an indelible impact on our hearts through her advice, counsel and guidance.

Lynnette’s commitment and dedication to the growth of the festival, pales in comparison to her influence on her family, friends, colleagues and community. As an accomplished author, essayist, poet and educator, Lynnette was passionate about young people and their personal development through literary programs. Lynnette offered consultation and taught children’s book writing to young writers at the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. She wrote of her time at Medgar Evers as one of her most rewarding experiences in an essay, “Why African-American Children’s Literature?”:

“The fire that fuels my dedication to writing and evolving the genre of African- American children’s literature is reinforced through the aggressive dedication of those who came before me…I found teaching the craft of creating children’s books to young people under the auspices of the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, in Brooklyn, New York, to be one of my most rewarding experiences.When you go before young minds, always listen for they have much to learn from you, and you have much to learn from them. It is a mutual exchange.”

Lynnette authored Zinzi: A Child’s Journey to Self-Fulfillment, Giving and Caringand contributed to the Essence best-seller, Turn the Page and You Don’t Stop! Sharing Successful Chapters in Our Lives with Youth, a family values centered book edited by Patrick M. Oliver.

Individuals receiving the Lynnette Velasco Community Impact Award will be recognized for their inspiration and commitment to a community of any kind: artistic, physical, or otherwise. Like Lynnette, these individuals are recognized for creating landscapes that make organizations like the Harlem Arts Festival a reality, ultimately helping to nourish and improve the larger community.

Please join us in honoring such a remarkable and unforgettable public servant. Harlem Arts Festival will present the inaugural Lynnette Velasco Community Impact Award at the 2nd Annual Harlem Arts Festival Fundraising Gala on March 13, 2014.

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