Richmond Hill resident elected first Indo-Caribbean woman to lead Community Board 9

Richmond Hill
Sherry Algredo, who is the first vice chair of Community Board 9 and chair of the Education Committee, made history on March 8 when she became the first Indo-Caribbean woman elected to become the next chairperson of the board. (Photo by Carlotta Mohamed/QNS)

Sherry Algredo of Community Board 9 made history on International Women’s Day as the Richmond Hill resident became the first Trinidadian Indo-Caribbean woman elected to become the next chairperson of the board. 

“I did not win this election alone. I won because of 18 people who sat there and believed in my leadership. I didn’t do it. We did it that night. It’s gonna be the full board, working together as a team,” said Algredo, who is the first vice chair of CB 9. 

During its first in-person meeting on March 8 at the Helen Marshall Cultural Center, located at 120-55 Queens Blvd., board members voted 19-16 in support of Algredo, who will succeed Kenichi Wilson, the current board chair, on April 1. 

Wilson will assume Algredo’s role of first vice chair, while Sandra Datnarain will serve as second vice chair, and John Carter will serve as as treasurer. 

Community Board 9 covers the neighborhoods of Richmond Hill, Woodhaven, Ozone Park and Kew Gardens. 

When Algredo thought that Wilson, who had served three terms, was ineligible for re-election, she was shocked to find out that she was running against him that night, she said. 

In New York City, community board chairs may serve up to four consecutive two-year terms but individual boards can enact bylaws to lessen their tenure. Algredo was under the impression that CB 9 restricted chairs to three consecutive years but due to an oversight, that bylaw wasn’t permanently enacted. 

Algredo thought she didn’t stand a chance against Wilson but kept faith even though the odds were stacked against her, she said.

“I thought for a moment about giving up. Kenichi is well respected in the neighborhood and he’s been chair for three years, and has been everywhere and has the most experience than anyone else on the board,” Algredo said. “I had thought about not running anymore, but then I looked at all the people that came out here hoping for me to step up and make some history, especially in the Indo-Caribbean community.” 

Algredo’s inspiration to run for chair of CB 9 stems from her father’s career as president of the Red Cross in Trinidad for 25 years and family members in civil service. When she immigrated to the United States in 1994, she settled in Richmond Hill and became part of the community, where she met her late best friend, Gertrude Rausch, who also served as an inspiration in her life. 

“She always had faith in me and thought that if I wanted to reach for the sky, that I could make it there. We were best friends and she became like a mother to me. I didn’t have my parents over here and when I stopped working to take care of my kids, I told her that I had so much knowledge and wanted to do something,” Algredo said. 

In 2013, Algredo decided to join the Education Community Council (CEC). In 2018, she joined CB 9, and one year later, she became chair of the Education Committee. 

“I saw how I can use my position to talk about education and help the schools,” Algredo said. “I have great committee members that showed up and were proactive and we worked very well together. Some of them have been on the board for over 20 years, and even though I was chair, I was learning from them.” 

Four years later, Algredo said she never thought she would be running to become chair of CB 9. She understood the late nights, sacrifices and responsibilities that would come with the leadership position. Once she spoke to her family about it, she decided to take a chance and ran a campaign. 

“There’s not a lot of Trinidadians and Tobagonians living in New York that have been able to step up to civil service work at such a high level,” Algredo said. “It was also a driving factor of an immigrant coming to this country, and picking up a civil service job that isn’t compensated. When you see someone doing this kind of work, it’s with passion and not about a paycheck. I saw the responsibility and said I’m capable of handling it.” 

Algredo says she looks forward to continuing working with the board members on tackling quality-of-life issues in the district, among other things.  

“I respect everyone and so many members have been there longer than me and have so much passion. I want to be a source of support and strength for them. I want to use my platform to help them in a greater capacity,” Algredo said. “We will all be working together to make this community safer and making sure our schools have the resources they need for kids to have a good, quality education.”