Moving NYC Forward

February: Celebrating Black History Month

Congratulations to the ABNY Young Professionals February Spotlight of the Month – Jermaine Sean Smith, Executive Director – Southern Queens Park Association who’s highlighted for his work in advocating for, supporting, and celebrating the heritage, culture, or advancement of New York City’s Black communities.


Jermaine Sean Smith

Executive Director
Southern Queens Park Association, Inc.
How did you get to where you are today?

I started at the ground level in non-profits, working hands-on before climbing the ladder to become an executive director. Going from frontline roles to leadership gave me a 360-degree view of non-profit work. Seeing it all— challenges, successes, and everything in between—gives me a unique perspective. It’s like I’ve walked in every pair of shoes within the organization, shaping how I make decisions and lead today.

What are you most proud of?

I take immense pride in being the Executive Director of a nearly 50-year-old organization rooted in activism, serving Southeast Queens and standing as the only black-led park, human service, and green space combination in New York City. It’s an honor to continue the legacy of community empowerment that started decades ago. Leading an organization with such a rich history and a unique blend of services is not just a job; it’s a commitment to the community’s well-being. Every day, I’m grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the organization’s growth and its ongoing impact on the vibrant communities of Southeast Queens and beyond.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in your field?

My advice to anyone aspiring to work in my field would be this: Embrace the metaphor of planting seeds and understand the patience required for growth. In the realm of non-profit and human services, you’re not just planting one seed—you’re sowing a diverse garden of impact. Each interaction, initiative, or project is a seed, and while the results may not be immediate, the collective impact over time is profound. Be patient, nurture your efforts, and appreciate the incremental progress. It’s a field where the seeds you plant today may blossom into positive change tomorrow. So, cultivate resilience, stay committed, and recognize that in the world of non-profit work, the seeds you sow contribute to a lasting and meaningful harvest.

When did you realize that you are a New Yorker?

Oh, you know you’re a real New Yorker when you’re there, eagerly waiting for your borough to be called out, just ready to scream “QB”! Brooklyn, Manhattan, The Bronx, Shaolin – we’re all just waiting for our moment to represent. It hits you hard, that feeling of being a New Yorker, realizing how crucial it is to shout out for your borough. It’s not just about where you’re from; it’s a whole vibe, a cultural thing. Whether you’re from the Bronx, Brooklyn, or anywhere in between, that pride in your borough is what makes us New Yorkers, standing together and repping our corners of this crazy, amazing city.

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