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Our Founders

See the biographies of the three founders of Greater Harlem Coalition:

Syderia Asberry-Chresfield

Syderia is co-founder of the Greater Harlem Coalition and a former Vice President for JP Morgan Chase, Syderia spent more than 25 years promoting financial education within her community, providing technical and business assistance while collaborating with civic leaders, local politicians, and not-for-profits. She has spearheaded several award-winning inclusive diversity initiatives and was honored by Mayor Michael Bloomberg for her creativity in bridging the gap between the banking sector and NYC’s Caribbean community.

Syderia is a recent President of the Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association (MMPCIA). She chaired their renowned annual neighborhood house tour and initiated their first annual holiday gala and silent auction to raise money for the annual college scholarship fund. Now in its 10th year, they have given 25 scholarships totaling $96,000. She was key in securing more than $7.9 million to restore Harlem’s Mount Morris Fire Watchtower, a New York landmark, which has significantly increased the number of visitors, improving the safety of Marcus Garvey Park. Syderia was instrumental in both introducing public art to the Lenox Avenue medians and in getting final approvals to extend the Landmark boundaries in the Mount Morris Historic District.

Carolyn A. Brown, PhD

Carolyn A. Brown, Ph.D. is co-president of the West 147th Street Block Association and co-founder of both the Greater Harlem Coalition (GHC) and the Sugar Hill Concerned Neighbor’s Group (SHCNG). In 2018, SHCNG successfully prevented the licensing of a methadone clinic in a beautifully restored two-family limestone home in the Landmark Historic District of Sugar Hill. 

Using the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), SHCNG also secured a database of all drug treatment facilities from OASAS (NYS Office of Addiction Services and Supports), revealing the impact of decades of racially biased policies that have undermined the quality of life and produced health inequities in Harlem.

Carolyn has lived on West 147th Street for 53 years where she raised three children, two of whom continue to live in Harlem. Coming to NYC for graduate school she was attracted to the area by a ‘new’ Harlem Renaissance in the 1960s-70s when prominent African and African American artists, activists, and professionals were rebuilding the area. She is a professor of African Labor and Social History at Rutgers University and President of the African Studies Association, the world’s largest association of Africanist scholars and professionals.

Shawn Hill

Shawn Hill is a Harlem community activist and co-founder of The Greater Harlem Coalition (GHC). Shawn analyzes the FOIL data that GHC has requested from New York State and City agencies. The resulting maps, graphs, and other visualizations help Harlem residents and small business owners see how decades of bureaucratic and political decision-making has resulted in many of the health and quality-of-life disparities we experience every day.

Our data demonstrate that the residents of Harlem are not born with these disparities; instead, decades of conscious and unconscious, racially-biased political and bureaucratic decisions have created the unequal environment in which we shop, attend school, pray, work, and live.

Shawn is also the vice president of The Harlem Neighborhood Block Association and the garden coordinator for Lydia’s Magic Garden, an East Harlem community garden. He works for Fordham University as an Instructional Technologist for Digital Scholarship and Pedagogy.