Community Board 11 honors 29-year member

(L-r) Tom Lucania, aide to the Borough President and former district manager; Councilman Jimmy Vacca; Community Board 11 chairman Dominic Castore; Rev. Leslie McHenry; Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera; and Community Board 11 district manager John Fratta during McHenry’s retirement celebration. - Photo by Adam Bermudez

Reverend Leslie McHenry has been serving the northeast Bronx for decades and will continue her good work, though she has retired from one of her many civic roles. 

The 29-year veteran of Community Board 11 sat for her last meeting on June 26.

“It has been a pleasure to work with you and you’ll be sorely missed,” said board chairman Dom Castore, who has served alongside the reverend for decades. 

The former Youth Committee chair and 1st vice chair of the board, McHenry has represented the Williamsbridge community and Parkside Houses on the board since February of 1979. 

A number of local politicians came out to wish the civic leader well, offering their memories of the woman. 

“One of my favorite friends in the neighborhood,” said Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera, who presented her with a state citation.  “You are a dynamic, modern day pioneer.”

“Should I clone myself?” she jokingly responded.

Former district manager Tom Lucania, who has gone on to work for former councilwoman Madeline Provenzano and currently as the borough president’s liaison to the boards, spoke of his years of affection for McHenry, who threw him a baby shower before his baby girl was born. 

“Leslie, you are truly a remarkable woman,” Lucania said. 

McHenry spoke of her love of the office she has tended for almost three decades, and the support she reaped from the board in times of need.   

“When I needed friends and family, the community board was there,” she said, not looking to discuss the past, only adding,  “They stepped in at a time of my life when I needed it most.”

These days, McHenry still wears too many hats to mention them all, serving on the boards of Neighborhood Housing Services of New York and NeighborWorks, volunteering for the Barack Obama campaign and running her non-denominational ministry Grace Abound Christian Ministries.

Councilman Jimmy Vacca, highlighting the reverend’s former work at the Division of Housing and Community Renewal and the Human Rights Commission, spoke of the reverend’s end of board tenure as just a beginning, an opportunity to work on more community projects.

“Someone like Leslie does not retire,” said the councilman, who also offered McHenry a citation of merit. 

She echoed this sentiment, speaking about a desire to mentor new community leaders and make room for fresh new perspectives. 

“Its time for me to fly,” she wistfully said. 

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