2015 Black History Month

“Carrying on the Torch”
By Colette D. Genovese

From Mrs. Rosa Parks’ bravery on the bus, Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to President Barack Obama, our 44th US President, and many others that represent a progression of people of color in our world who have continued to move forward in an effort to make this world a better place with peace, justice and equality for all. We celebrate locally those who have strived to make a difference in our community and we thank them for their continued efforts.

Lovely A. Warren, Mayor of the City of Rochester
Honorable Maija C. Dixon, Rochester City Court Judge
Officer Isaac Armstrong, Rochester Police Department
Craig D. Carson, Esquire, Rochester Attorney

 Mayor Lovely A. Warren
Lovely Warren was sworn in as Rochester’s 67th mayor on January 2, 2014. She is the first female mayor in the history of the City, the second African-American mayor, and the youngest mayor in modern times.

Mayor Warren’s goals are to improve educational outcomes for city students, increase economic development, improve public safety and community/police relations, and address the stark economic disparities that plague many parts of the City.

Noting that improving educational outcomes is at the crux of many of the City’s most pressing challenges, Warren has made education a focal point of her tenure as Mayor. She frequently visits the City’s schools to interact with students and encourage them to stay in school and reach for the stars.

One of Mayor Warren’s first actions upon taking office was the formation of an Early Learning Council to support the success of Universal Pre-K in Rochester. Based on the recommendations of the Early Learning Council, Mayor Warren launched the 3 to 3 Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to give every 3-year-old in the city of Rochester the opportunity to develop the academic and social skills necessary to succeed in school and in life by the time that 3-year-old completes 3rd grade.

Mayor Warren has also placed a strong emphasis on improving community/police relationships. She reorganized the Rochester Police Department (RPD) into a 5-section model that emphasizes smaller police beats, and building personal relationships between the officers and the communities they serve. The new community policing model will be fully implemented in early 2015.

Prior to becoming Mayor, Warren was elected to the Northeast District seat on City Council in 2007. In 2010, she was elected by her colleagues to serve as City Council President -- making her the youngest City Council President in Rochester’s history.

Warren is past president of the Rochester Black Bar Association. Her work in government and in the community has been recognized by the City of Rochester “Black Heritage Pioneer Award,” the Rochester Business Journal’s “Forty Under Forty,” Daily Record’s “Up and Coming Attorneys,” and Democrat & Chronicle’s “Emerging African-American Leaders.”

Warren was born and raised in the City of Rochester, and is a graduate of Wilson Magnet High School. She earned a Bachelor Degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and a Juris Doctorate from Albany Law School of Union University. She, and her husband Timothy Granison, are parents to a daughter, Taylor.

 Honorable Maija C. Dixon
Honorable Maija C. Dixon is currently a Rochester City Court Judge. She is the second African American female elected to the bench in Monroe County. Judge Dixon presides over both misdemeanor criminal and civil cases with jurisdiction up to $15,000.

Judge Dixon previously worked for eleven years as a litigator in private practice for well-respected firms and as General Counsel for a local company.

Judge Dixon was born in Rochester and reared in Western New York. She is a graduate of Rochester City Schools, obtained a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Rochester and a Juris Doctor from the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law.

Aside from being a judge, she is a frequent guest speaker at schools and community events throughout Rochester. Judge Dixon is a member of Grace Unity Fellowship Church, which her parents Rev. Roosevelt Dixon and Rev. Geraldine L. Dixon co-pastor. She is also the proud mother of two children. Judge Dixon and her family reside in the City of Rochester.

 Officer Isaac Armstrong
"From the Church to the Streets"

The Rochester Police Department typically will recruit officers in schools and at career fairs, but for two years, they've been searching for candidates in an unlikely place.

The Rochester Police Department is taking its recruiting efforts to the pew. It's called "From the Church to the Streets."

"Integrity. Honesty. Good character. Individuals with a solid foundation, so what other place would you go besides a church," said Officer Christine Wilson, RPD Recruiting Officer.

In 2011, RPD officers began reaching out to churches every Sunday for new recruits. On one Sunday afternoon two years ago, RPD officers stopped at Church of Love in Rochester. And that's when one man's life would change forever.

"I kind of fit with what they were looking for, so I applied and lo and behold here I am," said Officer Isaac Armstrong.

Meet Officer Isaac Armstrong. He is the first officer to graduate from the program. After he was recruited, he was accepted into the Police Academy.

Officer Armstrong's minister knew he had met his calling.

"I was excited because they were actually searching out and seeking specific kinds of individuals that they knew were in the community," said Janelle Parris, Minister of Church of Love.

"We were able to be allowed to go into the churches just to build that relationship with the community and the RPD," said Wilson.

From the Church to the Streets shows the Rochester Police Department's continuing focus to build relationships within the community. And born and raised right in Rochester, Officer Armstrong felt that and the rest is history.

"I feel like I watched him grow up and then to watch him get into something as meaningful as our police department, I am so proud of him. He's a wonderful individual," said Parris.

"Honestly, before they came to my church, you know being a police officer, it was a thought, but it didn't become real until somebody approached me," said Armstrong.

Copyright 2013 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved.

 Craig D. Carson, Esquire
Mr. Carson was raised in the diverse and rich cultural climate of the 19th Ward section of Rochester, NY, Inglewood Drive to be exact. He learned a great deal about people, law and life from his experiences from the Rochester City School District as well as the Brighton Central School District.

For his undergraduate studies, Mr. Carson attended Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. He graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a minor in Psychology. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Carson attended Ohio Northern University and obtained his Juris Doctorate in 2009.

Before taking up his solo practice, Mr. Carson worked for great Rochester corporations such as Frontier Communications Corporation and Thomson Reuters.

Ultimately, it was his work with Volunteer Legal Services Project (VLSP) that motivated him to begin work as a solo practitioner. On October 31, 2013 Mr. Carson was featured in the business section of the Democrat & Chronicle for completing 350 pro bono hours in 2012. At the end of 2013 he completed approximately 175 pro bono hours.

It is his belief that it "takes a village." He also adheres to the old adage "to whom much is given, much is expected." Mr. Carson strongly considers himself a public servant and he is thoroughly dedicated to making our community a better place. This is why he considers himself "The People's Advocate."

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