A passion for community service
Cyril Josh Barker | 4/12/2011, 5:23 p.m.
Nicole Graham-McCathern makes sure that women and minority enterprises get their share of the pie when it comes to public work projects in city parks. She serves as a labor law investigator in the management services division for NYC Parks and Recreation. But aside from the work she does ensuring diversity in labor, she is also active in the community through her various organizations.
"To be active in the community as a young person, I've seen, through my mentors, that once you begin at a younger age you've done all of the work. It really gives me the opportunity to show my talents. Young adults have new thoughts and new ideas, and that's what I'm bringing to the table."
A native of the Bronx, Graham-McCathern, 36, graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice with a degree in public administration. She began her career in public administration in the legal system.
"I started working in the criminal court system," she said. "I was in the investigative unit. My background was always in public administration and I was looking to see what agency would fit me."
Her work in public administration is just the tip of the iceberg and doesn't end when she leaves her day job. Graham-McCathern is a member of two organizations, including the New York chapter of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs Inc. (NANBPWC), where she has served as first vice president, third vice president, past president of the young adult club and northeast district youth leader.
Graham-McCathern is also a member of the New York Urban League Young Professionals (NYULYP), where she serves on the Civic and Economics Committee. Since 2007, she has served as co-chair of the NYULYP's National Day of Service, which holds a workshop for youth on financial literacy.
"I'd like to see the community grow," she said. "When I see the programs develop every year, we can improve and we have improved on every program we have done when it comes to economic empowerment. This is where I wanted to focus on. I want to see our community grow in that area."
Her work in the community has not gone unnoticed, as evidenced by the many awards she has received, including the New York Urban League Above and Beyond Award, the NANBPWC Youth Award and, recently, an award from the Bronx Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. during a recent Women's History Month program.
Graham-Cathern said, "It's a great accomplishment that another person has seen my work. I'm always excited, but I always want the youth to understand that you can achieve the same thing. I look at it as an 'each one teach one' society. I'm one of the teachers now. At one time, I was the 'each one.' I had to be taught to be a teacher. I do the work because it's my passion."