Jun 13, 2021 News
By Rehanna Ramsay
“My father was a very simple person who was really in tune to what was happening around him and my mother was always outspoken and ready to help people in the neighbourhood. So, I grew up around a lot of love and respect for the elderly and that sort of thing. They were both hardworking and serious in what they set out to accomplish, and that’s my legacy.”
When Dimple Willabus was a little girl, her optimistic, competitive, yet friendly and compassionate persona easily catapulted her into leadership roles.
Her willingness to participate in school activities saw her being easily selected to lead her schoolmates to victory at sporting events and other child-friendly competitions. It was those same attributes that led Willabus, then known by her maiden name “Dimple Singh” to host one of the country’s first youth-oriented television programme “Rhythm Nation” on HBTV Channel Nine.
Willabus was just 19-years-old when she began to host the TV show but she saw the need for the representation of more youth on local media platforms. Having been proactively involved in activities which were focused on young people and community development all her life, Willabus felt right at home in that role. She believes that she was being prepped for the leadership she is taking on now, since then.
“Among other things, I had actually participated in Guyana‘s Youth Parliament sometime before where I played the role of the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport,” she recalled during an interview with Kaieteur News.
Today, the Guyana-born youth and community leader is vying for a space on the New York City Council to represent thousands of residents in the Brooklyn District. In fact, Willabus, who is the first female candidate and woman of colour to vie for the District 46 City Council seat, is leading the race in the preliminary level of the competition. Last week, she announced via her social media page that she is number one on the ballot for electors on the District 46 Constituency in Brooklyn, New York.
She told Kaieteur News that she is optimistic about winning as the race draws to a close. The aspirant councilwoman says that while it may seem that she took on a gargantuan task to run for any office in America, she is prepared for the role given her wealth of knowledge and experience working at the grassroots level with her community.
“I have been doing work with my community all my life. Even when I was in Guyana, I would host community initiatives to help young people and pay for it out of my own pocket. I continue to do this sort of thing on a personal level to support Guyanese back home as well. So, I have actually been doing this sort of thing for a long time,” she said.
Given her active role at the community level, Willabus has received several awards for her activism and service. She was even recognised as a Power Woman of New York, in November 2020 and given the Caribbean Life Impact Award in 2019.
But of her many personal and professional accomplishments, the Guyanese community advocate prides herself in the accomplishments of her family.
Willabus is married to retired marine officer and New York Police Department (NYPD) Lieutenant, Winston Willabus, who is also Guyanese. Together, the couple shares three children their eldest, Chantelle, is a Department of Education teacher in New York; the second child, Anaya, is touted as Brooklyn’s youngest author having written her first book at eight years old; and their youngest child, Brandon, is a middle school student who loves basketball, and is an aspirant engineer.
Willabus notes that her supportive and close-knit family circle has been the driving force behind her so far, successful campaign for the New York council position. To this end, she hopes to secure the post to improve the standard of living for residents of her home district in Brooklyn.
“The support of my family, intimate team of well-wishers and community are the most important determinants in this race for Council seat,” she noted in the interview with this publication.
LEGACY OF WORK
The importance of support Willabus knows all too well, being born and raised in Lodge, Georgetown, Guyana, where her parents, Phagu and Gloria Singh, raised her with a community- based mindset. Throughout her childhood, she said that the support of her family and neighbours was evident in her endeavours. At many sports and other extra-curricular school activities, including modelling, she said, “members from our neighbourhood would come out to support me when I’m performing at shows.”
Additionally, Willabus noted that her parents were popular members of the Lodge community, given that they owned a liquor store in what was one of the busiest downtown neighbourhoods in the city.
Reflecting on her childhood, she said that it was in fact her parents who first introduced her to community service. “My father was a very simple person who was really in tune with what was happening around him and my mother was always outspoken and ready to help people in the neighbourhood. So, I grew up around a lot of love and respect for the elderly and that sort of thing. They were both hardworking and serious in what they set out to accomplish, and that’s my legacy,” she said.
As it relates to her education, Willabus said that her parents ensured that she and her siblings had a rounded social life and complete education.
To this end, Willabus is a graduate of the St. Joseph’s High School in Guyana and the holder of a Bachelors and Master’s Degree from CUNY, Brooklyn College.
She recalled that in the 2003, after she immigrated to the USA, she wasted no time to pursue her education. She later earned herself a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Media Studies from the Brooklyn College.
By the time Willabus left the Brooklyn College, she left a legacy of her own; she was part of a group of students who invented a programme called, “Reading across the Curriculum!”
The programme was initiated to assist students who struggle with reading and writing. Also, CUNY, Brooklyn College Women’s Centre has been instrumental in promoting Willabus’ initiatives, which are to empower young women to be more involved in community work and secure roles in leadership positions.
Willabus was invited to speak annually at such platform and continues to be a mentor for young women. It is this background that has enabled her to develop her passion of promoting literacy, as a conduit for intellectual, economic and social mobility, among underserved and under-represented members of her community, particularly youth, women and communities of colour.
In this regard, Willabus has led the Stalwarts Youth, a not-for-profit organisation, in joint ventures with a number of professional organisations, including: Light Switch Learning, Justice Clothing, Sussman Publishing and Investors Bank, in multiple campaigns to promote literacy initiatives among many underserved communities.
After graduating from the Brooklyn College, she later increased her knowledge in media by working in the newsroom at WCBS in New York City as an Assistant Editor.
Willabus went on to open two businesses, one of which was Rhythm Nation Entertainment. Today, she manages Rhythm Nation Entertainment with her older daughter, Chantelle.
Also, she was the Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams Education Appointee, the President of the Community Education Council for District 22 and most recently, before announcing her run for NYC Council, an appointed board member of New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s Education Task force.
She also volunteers her time as an advisory board member with several organisations including the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce – Minority/Women Owned Business (M/WBE) committee and Visions – serving the blind and visual impaired.
POLITICS AND BUSINESS
In her capacity as the Founder and CEO of Rhythm Nation Entertainment, Willabus partners with CEOs, organisations, entrepreneurs and various government entities, to grow their personal and professional brands and to maximise their effectiveness within their selected industry.
After having spent nearly 25 years in the media, marketing and entertainment industry, providing her professional expertise to wide array of organisations and brands, Dimple knows that the key to enhancing brand recognition, developing strategic goals, accomplishing progressive outcomes and generating exponential revenue, is not developed in the boardroom—it’s building personal relationships and creating a reliable network, with like-minded people. In short, she said, “it’s about bringing people together, highlighting the common bond and truly enlightening them on the benefits of achieving each other’s goals through a coalesced effort.”
In this same vein, Willabus says that she was inspired to run for office, since she wants to, among other things, change the way women are viewed and to give her two daughters, Chantelle and Anaya, as well as, other women the motivation to aspire to go beyond the status quo. “There has never been a woman in this seat. It’s time we bring a fresh perspective and new ideas!” Willabus said.
While she is a wife and mother of three children, she manages to juggle family and career well. “I believe anything is doable and possible if you work hard enough,” she added.
Based on her campaign website, www.dimplewillabus.com, she plans on providing a comprehensive approach and solution to many issues affecting residents in her district including housing, youth and senior services, climate change, criminal justice reform, education and more.
On June 22, 2021, there will be the primary election. Providing she wins the NYC Council District 46 seat, Willabus will be the first Guyanese and woman to hold that post.
Among her aspirations, Willabus hopes to use her platform to get more people involved in politics since “it’s their civic right to know and participate in all forms of elections, especially local races like the NYC City Council.”
Jul 24, 2021By Sean Devers Kaieteur News – When Shimron Hetymer twice failed his fitness tests and failed to produce the runs his obvious natural talent suggested he should due to his erratic...
Jul 24, 2021
Jul 24, 2021
Jul 24, 2021
Jul 24, 2021
Jul 23, 2021
Kaieteur News – The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) has replied to my “constant banging,” that is, my consistent... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]