NEW YORK, NY, September 13, 2021 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Marquis Who's Who, the world's premier publisher of biographical profiles, is proud to present Laura Pires-Hester, PhD, with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. An accomplished listee, Dr. Pires-Hester celebrates many years' experience in her professional networks, and has been noted for her achievements, leadership qualities, and the credentials and successes she has accrued in her fields. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in their fields are all considered during the selection process.
Born in Wareham MA to the late Adeline Pereira Pires and Joᾶo Marcellino Pires and educated in Wareham's public schools, Dr. Pires-Hester has many decades of experience in community development, education, human services, youth development, research and fund raising. She has dedicated her career to creating and enhancing opportunities for individuals and communities, especially those hampered by inequity, and considers herself blessed to have worked with talented and committed women and men of all ages, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds. In 1963, she began her professional career in Central Harlem as program/research analyst and then director of employment at Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited (one of the nation's first "community action" programs), where she developed youth leadership training programs as well as the area's first Neighborhood Youth Corps and Job Corps. She then played a key role in creating the new College for Human Services (CHS), serving first as director of field education, then the College's first vice president, and as consultant until 1982. This pioneering Human Services Education model has been adapted nationally and the College is now the much-expanded Metropolitan College of New York (MCNY).
From 1982 to 1988, Dr. Pires-Hester was director of training for the New York City Welfare Management System, where she oversaw the curriculum development and training of the Human Resources Administration's 20,000 social service workers for the new statewide automated system. She was then invited to create and manage the New York State Community Schools Project as senior program advisor to the Edwin Gould Foundation for Children, and in 1998 she joined DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Funds to manage the national Extended Services Schools portfolio. From 2002 to 2006, she served as the vice president of the New York Theological Seminary, where she led the launching of its first Annual "Urban Angel" Awards Gala. This event has raised nearly $3million since 2004.
Dr. Pires-Hester has been an active volunteer since the 1970's, ranging from the Cape Verdean-American Scholarship Committee to the Riverside Church Laity Empowerment Committee to the Smithsonian Institution Advisory Committee for the 1995 Festival of American Folklife. She has consulted with several public and private organizations, and served on the boards of directors for Teach for America, Edwin Gould Services for Children (NY), Anderson University (Anderson IN), Church of God (COG/Anderson IN) Ministries Council, Smith College Alumnae Association, National Friends of Ernestina-Morrissey, and MA Schooner Ernestina Commission. She currently serves on the Church Builders Plus (IN) and New York Theological Seminary boards. As co-chairperson of the National Friends of Ernestina-Morrissey, she co-led the 8-year international campaign to return and repatriate the historic 1894-launched Gloucester Schooner, received in 1982 as a gift to the "people of the U. S." from the newly independent Republic of Cabo Verde in recognition of this centuries-old transatlantic connection.
Two books published in 2015 highlight the professional and volunteer work of Dr. Pires-Hester: Creating a College that Works: Audrey Cohen and Metropolitan College of NY (by Grace Roosevelt) and Phoenix of the Seas: Ernestina-Morrissey: State Ship of MA (by Chester Brigham). Her formal credentials include Bachelor of Arts in English from Smith College in 1961, Master of Social Work from Columbia University School of Social Work in 1963, Master of Arts and Master of Philosophy in Anthropology (1980) and Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology in 1994 from Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. In 2018 she received the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from MCNY. She received fellowships and research grants from Columbia University, U. S. Department of Labor, Ford Foundation, Institute for Community Research (CT), and U. S. National Park Service. She is blessed to have partnered with her late beloved husband Rev. Dr. Melvyn F. Hester and others in founding the new Bronx Westchester Community Church in Mount Vernon NY in 1994, and she currently chairs its board of trustees and building committee. In 2021 she was elected to the Board of Elders of COG Eastern New York General Assembly.
Dr. Pires-Hester's doctoral dissertation was entitled A Study of Cape Verdean-American Ethnic Development: The Emergence of Bilateral Diaspora Ethnicity and its Impact in a Southeastern New England Locality. In the 1990's, she also did ethnographic surveys on the St. Paul's Church National Historic Site (Mount Vernon, NY) and the Truro (MA) Cranberry Bog Site for the New England office of the National Park Service.
Dr. Pires-Hester is a published author in education, cultural studies, and social work, and is listed in several national and international directories. Since 1970 she has received many accolades for her diverse contributions, ranging from for example the New York State Department of Social Services No Time to Lose Award, to the Town of Wareham MA Bicentennial Award, to the Achievement Award from Cape Verdean Vets of New Bedford MA. Above all, she is eternally grateful for the love and support of her late husband and her family, for wonderful women and men collaborators and encouragers along her life's journey, her passion for justice and for working with people, and for her Christian faith.
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