L to R: Ridvan Foxhall, Leg. Colin Smith, Hon. Joan Grangenois-Thomas, Leg. Nancy Barr

White Plains, NY — The Westchester County Board of Legislators on Monday celebrated Black History and Heritage Month, marking the occasion with a COVID-safe, video ceremony honoring two community leaders.

Leg. Colin Smith (D- Cortlandt, Peekskill, Yorktown) presented a proclamation to Ridvan Foxhall, founder and executive director of Peekskill's New Era Creative Space which develops creative educational programs that are inclusive and accessible to all, promotes excellence, and empowers youth and their families to work towards their highest potential. Foxhall also is active as a member and youth advisor in the Peekskill branch of the NAACP and sits on the Westchester Youth Alliance Advisory Board.

Smith said, "Ridvan Foxhall has been a fixture in the city of Peekskill for many years.  She has been a force for change, for justice, for equality. She's been a voice for those who often times cannot speak for themselves. As executive director of the non-profit New Era Creative Space, she helps to cultivate young minds and open them up to the idea of equity and tolerance and justice.... Thank you for all you do for your community."

Foxhall said, "The work that I do with New Era Creative Space is really to build community through creative programming and to provide a space where youth can come together to use their voices to be a positive change in the world... We try to empower young people to be visionary thinkers, to be creative thinkers and to be critical thinkers....  It is with great honor that I accept this recognition and I thank the Board of Legislators and Colin Smith for this honor.

The Board has declared February 24, 2021 Ridvan Foxhall Day in the County of Westchester.

Watch the virtual presentation to Ridvan Foxhall here: https://vimeo.com/515516492

Legislator Nancy Barr (D - Harrison, Rye Brook, Port Chester) presented a proclamation honoring Joan Grangenois-Thomas, the first woman of color and only the second woman in almost 20 years to serve on the Port Chester Board of Trustees. Grangenois-Thomas has serve as PTA president of the Thomas A. Edison School and co-chair of the Port Chester Cares Community Coalition. She is a member and past president of the Port Chester NAACP, former Executive Directors of the Sustainable Port Chester Alliance, and founder of the Read, Talk, Act book club which brings together people of different backgrounds to understand racism and discrimination.

Barr said, "I it is my privilege to introduce who has made a huge contribution to our community in honor of our Black History and Heritage Celebration.... I am so proud to be both a friend and colleague of Joan's.  We have worked together for over 10 years in community service related to the Port Chester community and in more recent years we've worked together as representative of that community in government."

Grangenois-Thomas said, "I am incredibly honored and floored to receive this recognition. I don't think that anybody goes into this type of work to gain recognition.  We do this because once you see a need, you cannot unsee it....There has been a thread that I have found that runs through everything that I do and it is about bringing the voices of folks to the table who might not have felt that they belonged at that table."

The Board has declared February 26, 2021 Joan Grangenois-Thomas Day in the County of Westchester.

Watch the virtual presentation to Joan Grangenois-Thomas here: https://vimeo.com/515516287

Read a program for Monday night’s event at: https://www.westchesterlegislators.com/images/Newsroom/2021/2021_BHM_Program.pdf

(PITCURED ABOVE L to R: Hon. Joan Grangenois-Thomas, Leg. Nancy Barr, Ridvan Foxhall, Leg. Colin Smith)