Meet Our Future Leaders
As part of the Future Leaders program and in keeping with the mission of NYACE, I learned how to use the arts to create economic opportunities for the underserved and assist them in many ways. Under the training of Ms. Adewumi, I learned how to teach artists of wearable and culinary art how to start their own business. I also have utilized the skills learned to start my own side hustle.
My name is Emmanuel Mensah. I joined New York African Chorus Ensemble’s Future Leaders program in February 2016. It’s been nothing but spectacular. It has been one of my greatest accomplishments. This program has taken me to places that I never thought it will be.
Prior to joining the Mentoring Program, I attended Bayside High School (’12) in Queens and Queens College (’17). My major in Queens College was Media Studies and I used to participate in a show at the College called Roger’s Top 20. There I provided information on sports like Basketball, Football, Baseball and various kinds of sports and announced popular music on the radio. I tried to get employment outside the college, but no one would employ me. I came to with my mother to enroll in the Future Leaders mentoring program one day and the rest is history.
Working with Ms. Adewumi, I found my strength as a Researcher. I explore the Internet to look for needed information that would move our company forward. Researching information is one of my most enjoyable activity in life, because it exposes me to a lot of things.
As I received training from Ms. Adewumi, I began to gain exposure to performance groups of diverse cultures while learning how to organize the NYC Multicultural Festival, The Gathering Concert Series, Travel and Tours to Nigeria and other various cultural projects. Learning about many cultures from around the world through the arts inspired me to appreciate people from all walks of life and taught me the importance of using the performing arts as a powerful tool to promote understanding and bring people from all diverse backgrounds together. I was able to help set up programs that impacted underserved audiences and allowed them to watch, engage or learn about the various cultures showcased at the various concerts, workshops and festivals organized by New York African Chorus Ensemble. This further encouraged me to continue working in the arts and explore our cultural connection to Africa as an African American woman.
Because the Future Leaders program actually is training us to take leadership positions in NYACE through the hands-on training at NYACE and other Personal Development trainings that Ms. Adewumi enrolls us into at other service organizations, I have gradually grown from volunteering to Chief of Staff at NYACE. In 2018, I traveled for the first time to Nigeria through the Travel and Tours Program; another mission facilitated by NYACE called We Are The Endless Roar. As a Future leader, I was able to have an educational experience during the planning and eventual travel to Nigeria. I now have a better understanding of the connection between African Americans and Africa and the source of many of our traditions here in the US. I have a greater knowledge of myself now and I know that I am destined for greatness. Sometimes the whole experience seems unreal. My family sees me and are amazed.
As Future Leaders, we are taught the importance of Music to our spirit and education. We learn and perform various African songs at concerts, festivals and other gatherings at which we are invited. I never, thought that I could sing, but with Ms. Joyce, I am singing and performing at fantastic venues at the United Nations, government functions, mayor celebrations of the life of Mr. Nelson Mandela and other important places.
The main foundation of our training at Future Leaders is based on the Yoruba Philosophy of Iwa Pele (Good Character). We learn how to refine our character so that we can know right from wrong and be effective leaders.
The Future Leaders program gave me a chance to be a cast member of the We Are The Endless Roar film that captures the trip to Nigeria. I participate along with my mentors Ms. Adewumi, Chief Dr. Sola Atanda and Traveler/Historian, Tami Tyree. The film has opened up another platform that provides the once introvert, a chance to share my voice and encourage others, especially young people to discover the wisdom and power of Africa with a knowledgeable and safe guide like I did.
I like to give back; I like to see people smile when they have learned how to start a business through our programs. I gasped at the fact that an African American woman, (my mentor, Ms. Joyce) brings the whole world together for the festival every year. I like that my contribution and sharing African music with others has taking me to the United Nations as a performer or to represent the African Diaspora. I am on my way and no longer lost or shy but building and uplifting our communities through the arts.”
This work has put me on a path of self-discovery, and I look forward to building longevity and leaving a legacy that requires stepping out the box and into my extraordinary destiny.
New York African Chorus Ensemble is proud to present our "Future Leaders" mentoring program. The mentees are smart, creative, hard working, eager to learn and serve their community. They are the leaders of tomorrow.
Modeled after ancient African holistic training of the total person, the young people enrolled in our program enjoy a hands-on training of the work done in the various departments of the organization. They also attend Personal Development classes at our partner organizations. Grounded in sound moral foundation, the mentees are taught to be leaders and future directors of the organization.
To learn how to participate in our Future Leaders mentoring program call us at 347-938-9553.
Ms. Joyce has encouraged me and uplifted me to believe in myself again and to never give up no matter the obstacles I may face in life. With words of encouragement and wisdom from Ms. Joyce and my sister Maleeka, I was able to become a member of the Future Leader’s program. In keeping with the mission of New York African Chorus Ensemble, I have been trained to sing in choir by Ms. Joyce. I have learned about the history of traditional African music, the language and meanings of the songs, the cultural style of the dances, and I have performed in front of diverse audiences. NYACE has performed at places like the United Nations and has performed in front of elected officials like the Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Assemblyman Al Taylor.
The impact of being a member of the Future Leaders Mentoring Program has allowed me to get out of my comfort zone, boosted my confidence and motivated me to start my weight loss journey.
I have learned about Nigerian cultural traditions, by watching a documentary Executive Produced by Ms. Joyce who is also featured in the movie. “We Are The Endless Roar” is a film that follows Tami Tyree and Maleeka Harris on their journey in Nigeria. Watching this film and watching my sister, Maleeka’s experience has inspired me to take a second trip to the continent of Africa. NYACE organizes a tour to help educate people about the rich history, cultural, spirituality and business opportunities in Nigeria.
Although I have faced challenges, I know that this organization has helped me a great deal and I have guidance from both my mentor Ms. Joyce and my sister Maleeka. I have learned so much and continue to build my skills here at New York African Chorus Ensemble. I have been a part of the NYC Multicultural Festival planning committee, The Gathering concert series and the “We Are The Endless Roar” film screenings where I have gained knowledge of how to organize events for NYC residents.
This is not just a 9 to 5 job for me or any other member who is a part of the New York African Chorus Ensemble team. Ms. Joyce is teaching us to be leaders in our communities and teaching us that we can do more than what we think we can. She has also helped me spiritually which is the greatest addition to working in this organization. I know that one day I will be a leader in my community and help empower the next generation of children. I understand now that staying close to the right elders will help me succeed in life.
My name is Maya and I was born and raised in East Harlem. When I was in grade school, I dreamt of traveling the world or being a humanitarian like the great Maya Angelou who I was named after. In High School I signed up to be a part of the New York Cares program where I had the chance to volunteer around New York City with my classmates. In grade school I loved learning about African American history and culture. Being a proud African American myself, I yearned to learn more about where my ancestors originated from. After graduating High School, I had the opportunity to study in Ghana for one month with the blessing of my parents and the support of my family. Because of this trip to Ghana I was able to learn about the history of the African diaspora, Ghanaian culture and connect back to my roots which is the foundation of knowing one’s self.
After working several dead-end jobs throughout the years, I found myself unemployed in 2018, which caused me to be depressed and lose faith in myself. While struggling to find a steady job, I was encouraged by my second oldest sister Maleeka, who is currently Chief of Staff at New York African Chorus Ensemble (NYACE), to volunteer at her job. Ms. Joyce Adewumi, the president and founder of New York African Chorus Ensemble and the NYC Multicultural Festival, took me under her wings and became my mentor under the Future Leaders program of NYACE.
My name is Maleeka Harris. I joined New York African Chorus Ensemble’s FUTURE LEADERS mentoring program about four years ago. Prior to me joining NYACE’s Future Leaders program, I had just finished school and obtained a B.A. in Sociology. I was faced with the reality that a degree was not sufficient for the type of work I wanted to be engaged in after graduation. I am an introverted, shy person and this would not help matters in the competitive job market. With my passion and history as a dancer and lover of the arts, I began to wonder what my next step would be. With the lack of income and job experience, I decided to take a seasonal job as an Event Butler. Eventually, I concluded that in order to get a quality job, I needed experience and without work experience I could not get the job that I wanted. I was caught in a vicious cycle which resulted in me continuously applying to unfulfilling jobs. At one point, I even thought that I would have to leave the arts alone in order to fit into the job market and make a decent living. I knew that something had to change where I could find a place to excel, engage in the arts and uplift others. I decided to spend time volunteering and ended up meeting Joyce Adewumi the Founder and President of New York African Ensemble Inc (NYACE). I then learned about the Future Leaders program opportunity.
I started performing with the Ensemble in 2017 and it’s been spectacular, I was reluctant to participate for over a year. When Ms. Joyce knew that I was ready, she asked me, and I started attending rehearsals. The members of the ensemble were very accommodating. We’ve performed at Churches, Concerts, NYC Multicultural Festival, United Nations and many other places.
This experience has taught me a lot of things. The first is confidence, second is staying committed and humble. Lastly, my love of music has been strengthened because of the opportunity I have to perform with the group and I’m grateful for that. Performing allows me to explore African culture and traditions. It allows me the opportunity to pay homage to our forefathers while giving mine and future generations a voice and encouraging them to learn about their African roots. I am encouraged to learn the different languages that I am exposed to at New York African Chorus Ensemble. Because we organize the NYC Multicultural festival, I am exposed to many different languages. This has given me the opportunity to pick up a few words here and there. I am of Ghanaian descent and I got to learn more about the Nigerian and other cultures of the world, and this has made me become aware that we all brothers and sisters. Lastly, I am inspired to travel to Nigeria as well as other countries of the world including Ghana (my parents’ homeland).
I am blessed to work with fantastic people at the New York African Chorus Ensemble. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me and I feel confident that it’ll be alright, thanks to being around positive people.
Future Leaders Mentoring Program