From His Early Days as a Harlem and Minisink Youth Ambassador

With a bright smile and upbeat demeanor, William Allen has been a quiet, yet steadfast presence, working among the ranks of Harlem's leadership for decades.   An accomplished academic, William Allen has dedicated his entire life to public service and in doing so, has demonstrated a track record of rolling up his sleeves, getting to work and getting things done.

As a Youth Leading Adults

William Allen began his leadership career as a teenager, first as one of the youngest people appointed to a local community board in New York City and later appointed as the youngest trustee of a community school district in New York State.   This trajectory of service and community building shaped William Allen into a *visionary leader*, who's smart-fighting spirit and block-by-block approach, have benefitted urban communities across the nation in accessing affordable housing, business opportunity, employment, a quality education, and respect by public servants. 

As a Top National Student Leader Who Reached Africa and the Middle East 

William Allen was appointed by the United States Congressional Black Caucus and Phelps Stokes Fund as a Youth Envoy to Egypt.  Later he was made history by being the first non-white SGA Vice President of Fordham University.  At the City University of New York (CUNY), William Allen had every major student leadership role, including Editor-in-Chief of the nation’s oldest student-lead newspaper and serving in the nation’s very first University Student Council at CCNY. His prized role was being dubbed as one of the CUNY Against Apartheid Champions - he was able to secure an honorary doctorate for South Africa Leader Nelson Mandela.  Other leadership roles, to name just a few, included Chair of the New York Urban Coalition Youth Leadership Task Force, Vice Chair of the City of New York Youth Employment & Planning Council, National Vice President of College Democrats of America, Steering Committee Chair of the United States Student Association, Vice Chair of CUNY Student Senate, Chair of the CUNY Council of Student Government Presidents.

From College Student Leader to News Reporter and Building Careers in Entertainment

During William Allen’s tenure as an Editor of the nation’s oldest student-led newspaper, he was recruited as a College Stringer with the New York Times, which lead to a stint with the Times Journal in the Greater Washington DC Area and as a reporter/writer of the New York Daily News, where in his first month, landed a major news story, capturing the attention of New Yorkers.  After leaving the news business, he landed in a major corporate training program at a Fortune 500 corporation and then started his own company aiding the development of new artists like Kid Rock as well as writers and comedians at the Uptown Comedy Club.

From Community Advocate to National Organization Leader and Agency Executive

William Allen is probably one of the most significant Harlem residents of his generation.  Every facet of Harlem’s modern growth had his input as he organized a solid community response.  He worked closely with his pastor and mentor, Reverend Dr. Preston Washington to implement the $200 million Bradhurst Project via Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement (HCCI) and the Consortium for Central Harlem Development (CCHD). Worked as the Senior Community Development Officer of Ecumenical Community Development Organization in West Harlem.  Other community development and executive roles held, included NYC Chapter President of the American Society for Public Administration, President of REAPS Community Land Trust in Westchester County as well as Senior Development Officer of Newark Community Health Centers and President/CEO of Communities in Schools of New Jersey.

Life and Death Defines his Civic Engagement, Crisis Response and Restorative Justice Focus Losing his brother, young family members and friends to gun violence before he turned 21 years old, created a life dedicated to improving his Harlem and other similar communities nationally. 

During this current world-wide pandemic, William Allen has played a national role in responding to crisis and working toward creating a national entity to respond to crisis impacting Americans, especially those living in black and brown communities. His approach to crisis response and civil rights, as it relates to violence, has reached new levels of urgency as rising violence leads to an increased police presence in communities of long-standing need.  In a climate where the entire nation cries out for police reform, Allen has provided his decades of experience to advancing the notion that to re-imagine the relationship between police and community means raising the profile of the precinct community councils - an entry point for community leaders to work collaboratively with the department on how the community is policed.  

Over the years since Eric Gardner's murder commanded national attention on the value of black lives, Allen has worked as the National Crisis and Service Director at the National Action Network (NAN), alongside its founder and president, the Reverend Dr. Al Sharpton.  At NAN, William Allen led the effort to ensure that black communities across the United States have effective crisis response systems, especially the ones needed for civil rights violations. NAN, headquartered in Harlem, nationally distributed more than 2.3 million meals during the current pandemic.


From Student Leadership to Political Leadership, a stalwart activist in electoral politics, William Allen has repeatedly been re-elected to his position as the Harlem Democratic District Leader, where he has grown the ranks of active party members and fostered historic levels of engagement.   Recently, he served as the Manhattan Democratic Chief of the New York City Board of Elections (BOE), he is the last African American to serve in that role in any county in New York State.  Currently in New York City, five African Americans lead four of the county democratic organizations. At the BOE, he was able to improve operations, staff morale and grant access to teenagers that wanted to learn more about government operations.  He credits the NAACP, New York City Mission Society and The City University of New York with his leadership training, calling those institutions his most important leadership tools.

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