York College president to be guest speaker in JCAL’s in-person conversation series

York College President Dr. Berenecea Johnson Eanes will join the new leader of Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning for its speaker series later this month. (Photo courtesy of York College)

Last February, Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning launched JCAL Talks, a speaker series spotlighting Queens-based thought leaders in arts and future, education and politics, and civic and community life. On Nov. 16, JCAL Talks returns in-person for the first time, with Dr. Berenecea Johnson Eanes, president of York College, in conversation with JCAL Executive Director Leonard Jacobs.

JCAL Talks was one of several new initiatives launched by JCAL during Black History Month. The series engages a diverse spectrum of thought leaders who live in, represent and originate from Queens. During its inaugural season, JCAL Talks featured Rhonda Binda, who this week stepped down as deputy Queens borough president, and Association for a Better New York CEO Melva Miller, who is also a former deputy at Borough Hall.

As president of York College, Eanes has made her presence felt at the college and in the southeast Queens community. She devised a strategy to grow the college as “One York,” which aims for everyone to feel valued for their contribution to the academic enterprise.

Eanes has accomplished several goals including the completion of York’s Strategic Plan and establishing three main pillars of support: “Undergraduates Who Thrive and Graduate,” the “Inclusive Signature Programs” and a “Vibrant Community and Campus Spirit.” She also led fundraising efforts that include December 2020’s Giving Tuesday, in which York College raised over $96,000.

“I am delighted by the invitation to be the inaugural speaker for JCAL Talks in person,” said Eanes, who became the seventh president at York College when her permanent tenure began in the summer of 2020. “I congratulate Executive Director Leonard Jacobs, who, like me, is still new to the Jamaica, Queens, community. I am excited for the town and gown relationship we are continuing with this event and look forward to future collaborations. York and JCAL have had a longstanding friendship that has benefited our two entities and our community. I am also doubly excited that this will be an in-person event after more than a year and a half living in virtual reality due to the pandemic.”

The in-person format will allow community members to be present for insightful and relevant dialogue. Leonard Jacobs was named executive director of JCAL last month.

“York College is a touchstone for southeast Queens. Not only is it the CUNY school closest to us geographically, but it is a beacon for our values,” Jacobs said. “In a comparatively short tenure that has coincided with the pandemic, Dr. Eanes has confronted unprecedented challenges with remarkable grace, and, in doing so, she has created a template for leadership that is both outstanding and inspiring.”

Founded in 1972, JCAL is a multidisciplinary arts center devoted to offering quality visual, performing and literary arts, and to provide accessible education programs to encourage participation in the arts.

“Our two institutions, York College and JCAL, have long histories together, and one of the many things we have in common is a commitment to arts and culture, and to diversity and inclusiveness in our southeast Queens community,” JCAL Artistic Director Courtney Ffrench said. “Dr. Eanes is a visionary and we’re so excited to welcome her as part of our JCAL Talks series.”

The program begins at 6:30 p.m. in the black-box theater at Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, located at 161-04 Jamaica Ave.

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