By Tobbylola Oniga
Meet Joycelyn Taylor, a Brooklyn native who grew up in the NYCHA pink houses in East New York. A hard-working woman who decided to not be a product of her environment, Taylor decided instead to become someone who would help change the environment she grew up in. Today, she is the co-founder of the MWBE (Minority/Women-owned Business Enterprises) Alliance Group and a 2021 Mayor candidate, dedicated to making sure that city government produces a result that will change lives for the better.
Bronze Magazine: Let’s talk about you growing up in NYCHA’s pink houses in Brooklyn, NY. How did this lead to your career goals today?
Joycelyn Taylor: The thing about growing up NYCHA, I was born there in the 60s. During this time, it was a different place. A lot of families went into NYCHA because they were trying to create a better life. Some of them went on to own homes and different things. However, if I’m being honest about the experience, there never was a lot of conversation related to goals and aspirations. It was more about trying to get yourself established and creating a stable life. Because our parents came from different times, the biggest goal was to obtain a high school diploma. I can remember growing up and my mom telling me that if I never did anything else, I was going to go to school and get a diploma.
Bronze Magazine: Recently, there has been a lot of talk about NYCHA residents not receiving the proper supplies and treatment, which has led to COVID-19 affecting black Americans at an exceptionally high rate. How does this make you feel since you once were a NYCHA resident?
Joycelyn Taylor: It’s very disappointing, especially when I hear people talk about this situation as if they’re surprised. We know that we haven’t invested in NYCHA or invested in the people that live in those developments. Did we think that a pandemic would come, and this would be the moment that they strive? When I grew up in the NYCHA development, it was a different time. Back then the city used to be proactive about making sure NYCHA was okay. They took care of the apartments and the tenants, making sure they had a decent place to stay. It saddens me because I still have a lot of friends and family who are NYCHA residents.
Bronze Magazine: Talk to us about MWBE (Minority/Women-owned Business Enterprises) Alliance Group. What inspired you to co-create this group and how is it making a difference for minority and women-owned firms?
Joycelyn Taylor: When I started my business, it wasn’t as a general contractor; we were a home improvement firm. When you have a business, you want it to grow and thrive. One of the things we talked about was what more we could do to grow? I thought we could start doing city and state contracts. It was only about 5 or 6 years ago that I found out about the city’s MWBE program. When I thought about the impact it could have, I decided to form the alliance so other people could become more aware of the opportunity.
Bronze Magazine: Your company’s mission is to provide support, information, and partnerships for MWBEs located in the New York City area, concentrating on opportunities with the agencies of New York City, New York State and the Federal Government. During this troubling time, how are you still providing support to businesses?
Joycelyn Taylor: We recently had a virtual meeting with NYC Small Business Services (SBS) and we’ve been providing information about the various loans and grants that are available. We’ve been having conversations with the Deputy Mayor’s office regarding programs that are rolling out so that we can give our input. Additionally, we’ve been bringing awareness to some of the challenges that people are facing during this time. One thing I always say to people is, you don’t create change in silence. If no one knows what your challenges are, then they cannot be addressed.
Bronze Magazine: Talk to me about the #IAMNYCHA campaign. What led to its beginning? What are some outcomes you hope to get from this campaign?
Joycelyn Taylor: Although I’m not a current NYCHA resident, I started this campaign because I am NYCHA. I wanted to bring awareness to understand that whether you’re living in a NYCHA residency or not, the things happening to NYCHA residents impact us all. Stable housing creates stable communities. In a city of 8.6 million people, you have almost a million people living in NYCHA apartments. That’s a huge portion of our residences in the city. If they’re not okay, we’re not okay. Our NYCHA residents are our postal workers, MTA workers, police officers and civil servants. They’re people surviving in our communities every day. I wanted this campaign to bring awareness so that we can all get involved. We must band together and support them.
One thing I always say to people is, you don’t create change in silence. If no one knows what your challenges are, then they cannot be addressed.
Bronze Magazine: How are you utilizing this campaign to educate NYCHA residents on their power to sway the next Mayoral race?
Joycelyn Taylor: I want them to understand that they do have power. A lot of people who live in NYCHA feel hopeless, like they don’t matter. For far too long, NYCHA residents have been overlooked because others feel that they don’t vote, get involved or contribute to campaigns. But residents are starting to realize that their voices do matter. If nothing else comes from this, I want people to understand that they are in control of their lives and their destiny. Part of that is making sure that the people who you are relinquishing your power to have your best interests at heart.
Bronze Magazine: Even though Americans are dealing with COVID-19, how important is it for people to still vote in the next presidential election?
Joycelyn Taylor: I think it’s very important. It’s more important now than it was before. You must really pay attention to what’s going on and to what these elected officials are doing and saying. Down the line in the aftermath of this, a lot of people are going to try to utilize this pandemic as a means and an excuse for being ineffective. Now more than ever it’s important that we elect the right candidates who are going to put people first, from the federal government down to the local levels.
Bronze Magazine: What are some tips you can provide for remaining calm and hopeful during this time?
Joycelyn Taylor: I was on a podcast the other day, and a young lady told me she’s home with three kids and she’s trying to home school one while watching the other two. Do you know what I told her? We are all learning as we go along, so don’t beat yourself up. Do the best you can with the information and energy you have now. Be still and calm your thoughts. Try not to rush into your day, since you’re going to be home all day anyway. Whether or not you can do something about it, don’t stress yourself either way.
Bronze Magazine: What are some upcoming projects or campaigns we can look forward to seeing you a part of in the future?
Joycelyn Taylor: The biggest campaign I have going on right now is that I’m running for mayor of New York City in 2021. We are doing several things to assist small and minority businesses. We are also trying to obtain masks for NYCHA residents and other residents of the city as well. Recently, through my non-profit, we donated some meals to first responders at Interfaith Hospital. We just trying to uplift and support people in the community.
Make sure you stay up to date with Joycelyn Taylor campaign by going to Taylorfor2021.com. Â We wish her all the best with her campaign.