Community Foundation Announces New Black Equity & Excellence Fund Advisory Council Members

The Black Equity & Excellence Advisory Council is charged with reviewing grant proposals and making funding recommendations as well as identifying gaps and opportunities to create a more equitable and economically inclusive Central New York for the Black community.

The Central New York Community Foundation is welcoming two new Black Equity & Excellence Advisory Council members: Shawni Davis and Chris Montgomery. The advisory council is charged with reviewing grant proposals and making funding recommendations as well as identifying gaps and opportunities to create a more equitable and economically inclusive Central New York for the Black community. Members represent a cross-section of industries and backgrounds reflecting varying viewpoints.

The Community Foundation launched the Black Equity & Excellence Fund in June of 2020 to support projects that encourage self-sufficiency and improve the physical and economic conditions that affect Black community members’ quality of life. It also seeks to encourage dialogue that will strengthen collaborative engagement on race-related matters and support social and educational growth in the community.

Current members of the Black Equity & Excellence Fund Advisory Council include Me’Shae Broooks-Rolling, CEPF®, M.P.A., Jalyn Clifford, Cal Corriders, Bishop Ronald Dewberry, Lekia K. Hill, Dr. Tanisha M. Jackson, LaToya Jones, Naquia Lacey MSN, RN-BC and Minister Mark Muhammad. We now welcome our two newest members: Shawni Davis and Chris Montgomery

New council member bios:

Shawni Davis, Founder and CEO of Luminary Electrical. The Southside native is the first Black woman to become a master electrician in New York State. Shawni started as an apprentice in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 15 years ago. She has worked her way into leadership positions within the ranks of the largest union contractors on major projects all over the Northeast. In April 2022, Shawni was a recipient of a “2022 Champions of Diversity Award” from the YWCA of Syracuse & Onondaga County Inc. Also, in April 2022 her business was awarded the Onondaga County Small Business of the year award from the Small Business Development Centers. In October of 2022, Shawni introduced President Joe Biden at Onondaga Community College during a Micron Technology event. In March of 2023, President Biden then talked about Shawni’s journey at the SBA’s Women’s Business Summit in Washington DC at the White House.

Christopher Montgomery, Director of Syracuse Build. Christopher provides key support to Syracuse Build as it aims to build a robust and inclusive construction workforce pipeline of Syracuse residents. This work is being done in preparation for aligned upcoming employment opportunities associated with unprecedented levels of local construction and development projects. He previously worked as staff assistant and program coordinator at the SUNY Syracuse Educational Opportunity Center (Syracuse EOC). Montgomery holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business, Management and Economics. He also serves on several boards of directors, including Blueprint 15, and Peace, Inc., and he serves as chairperson of the Syracuse Housing Authority Board of Commissioners.

Black Equity & Excellence Fund

The Community Foundation’s Black Equity & Excellence fund was launched in June 2020 in response to the tragedies and ensuing national conversation on race that has brought to light a common truth – that anti-Black racism is still woven into the fabric of the country. The Fund supports community-based projects for the Black community of Central New York that promote and encourage self-sufficiency and improve the physical and economic conditions that affect quality of life. It also encourages dialogue that will strengthen collaborative engagement on race-related matters and support social and educational growth in the community.

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