BY JAMES FARRELL
The PR professional owns his own firm, P. A. Public Relations Company, and he started his own franchise of barbershops known as the Haircut Hut that operated for 10 years. Today, he relies on that experience to serve Long Island’s minority-owned business community as president of the Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, which serves Nassau, Suffolk, Queens and Kings Counties. It’s one of several community positions that allow him to aid the African American community.
“I was a small business owner, so I know kind of what they need,” he said. “A lot of times, chamber of commerce presidents never really opened up a business or may not have a business. Being that I come from the background of business, that gave me some more insight into some of the things that they needed help with.”
The chamber of commerce helps minority business with certification and ensures that they are well-represented in the small business community. Andrews says that the chamber is currently looking forward to providing even more resources to African Americans in the business community.
“One of the things that we’re trying to do is, for one, get more businesses certified and also create a business directory in the African American community because so many businesses have closed down,” he said. “So, you have to develop like a community around business, a network, building a social fabric.”
But Andrews’ work doesn’t stop with the chamber. He is also the president of the Black Public Relations Society-New York. In this position, Andrews works to get more minorities involved in the PR industry in order to make the professional world more diverse. The job focuses on linking minorities to internships and connections, so that they can propel their career.
“We’re trying to get some PR professionals in the higher echelons in the PR industry, so they can be a role model,” he said.
Andrews’ work also extends to charity and mentorship. Between 2009 and 2013, he was the president of The 100 Black Men of Long Island, a non-profit in which he served as a mentor for young people by organizing trips, helping them develop their financial literacy and organizing an academic history bowl. He is still a certified mentor and works to encourage young men to apply themselves and be the best that they can.
He is also on the board of the Interfaith Nutrition Network (The INN)—a Long Island-based soup kitchen that serves the hungry and the homeless. He is the only African American member of the board. Andrews discovered the INN as a young man under the mentorship of a personal role model named Silas Jenkins, who was one of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of famed African American pilots during World War II. He remembers Jenkins taking him to the INN and telling him about the need for mentorship programs.
“He used to always talk to me about education and being involved in the community,” Andrews said.
Andrews said that he has other role models who have shaped his life, especially his aunt Frances Virginia Young, an acting church pastor. With her, a young Andrews would help pick up the children in her neighborhood for church on Sundays. Andrews describes her as a woman of integrity who was an involved and respected member of her community.
“It’s kind of embedded in me to give back to the community and help,” Andrews said. “That’s where I got some of my early leadership principles from.”
Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400 x 127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @farrellj329.