Press & Awards
April 27, 2023
County Board Observes Black History Month:
Honors Kecia Palmer-Cousins
The Westchester County Press
White Plains, NY — On Monday evening, the Westchester County Board of Legislators celebrated Black History and Heritage Month with a virtual ceremony lauding two trailblazers for minority women-owned businesses and racial equity, as well as honoring the legacy of the late Board of Elections Commissioner Reginald A. LaFayette. Chairwoman Catherine Borgia (D – Briarcliff Manor, Cortlandt, Croton, Ossining, Peekskill) kicked off the ceremony, making reference to this year’s theme for Black History Month of Black Health and Wellness, and acknowledging the contributions of both women towards this effort.
She said, “Tonight we are honoring two remarkable women, Kecia Palmer-Cousins and Maria Dautruche, who in addition to their many contributions towards racial economic and social equity, have made great strides in the pursuit of this year’s theme – Kecia in her work as a wellness entrepreneur, and Maria, as co-founder of New Voices for Reproductive Justice.”
Leg. Colin Smith (D- Cortlandt, Peekskill, Yorktown) presented a proclamation to Kecia Palmer- Cousins, wellness entrepreneur, manufacturing engineer and business management consultant in Peekskill. She co-owns Aero-Ba-Soul, Inc., a Minority Women Business Enterprises (MWBE) certified business management and workforce development training company with her husband, Kevin Cousins. She also provides technical assistance and business coaching to MWBE’s, motivating them and helping them grow their businesses. In addition, she leads employee-assistance program training, workshops for non-profits and educational institutions, and is highly involved in community and civic activities. Smith said, “I have personally known Kecia for nearly a decade now. During that time, I have worked alongside her many times and, time and again, have witnessed her tireless commitment to the local business community, particularly minority and women-owned businesses, many economic and social justice initiatives and, of course, our youth. Her desire to succeed is matched only by her love for her family. She is a shining example of success to her community and she is entirely deserving of this award.”
Palmer-Cousins said, “I graciously accept this award from Westchester County Legislator Smith and all the amazing, dedicated Westchester County Legislators. I thank them for their service and for recognizing me for the outstanding community service and advocacy that I provide patiently and lovingly to so many black and brown youth and minority and women-owned businesses throughout Westchester County. Every youth and business owner, especially African-Americans, want and deserve equal opportunity and access so they can survive and thrive personally and professionally. I accept this honor on behalf of and out of respect for all of them, as they work hard for equality and economic empowerment during this global COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Board declared February 11, 2022 “Kecia Palmer-Cousins Day” in the County of Westchester.
Watch the video presentation here: https://vimeo.com/673403249
April 20, 2023
An Evening In Good Taste:
March 25, 2023
Women Who Dare to Be Different
March 17, 2023
2023 State of the NY Women in Business
New York Women's Chamber of Commerce
The discussion centered around the challenges in securing city & state contracts, and other distinct struggles women entrepreneurs face in sustaining and growing their business, while exploring possible solutions to these hard-pressed issues.
The well attended event was a big success! On behalf of the NY Women's Chamber of Commerce, we want to thank our elected officials, NYC City Council Members Shaun Abreu and Julie Menin, NY State Assemblymember Amanda Septimo and NY State Senator Cordell Cleare for participating and supporting our event! We are grateful for your work and commitment to our small businesses and appreciate you taking the time to lend your experience and your ears to our women entrepreneurs.
During this special occasion, we recognized and celebrated some of NY hard-working women business owners. Congratulations to our honorees Rebecca A. Rodriguez, Founder of Eos Strategies, Kecia Palmer-Cousins, MBA, Founder & CEO
of @Aero-Ba-Soul, Inc., Susana Osorio Co-Founder of Mamasushi Broadway and other popular restaurants in NYC, Carly & Nicole DiLena, Founders & Owners of DiLena's Dolcini, Isseu Diouf Campbell, Founder & Owner of Afrikanspot Photo & Video Agency, Badiyah Amir, Founder & Owner of Best Graphics Press, Inc and Kim Harris, Co-Founder of Harlem Hops.
Thank you to our sponsor Ponce Bank for its continued support of our mission to economically advance women & minority entrepreneurs. And thank you to all of our women entrepreneurs for attending. We celebrate you!
Happy Women’s History Month!
November 14, 2022
A Sweet Tooth Delight: Blondery Dessert Bakery Opens in Peekskill
Abby Luby, The Examiner News
Auzerais Bellamy, founder and CEO of Blondery, a new bakery that opened last week in Peekskill known for its blondies and savory cookies. Blondery will be a hub for her e-commerce and retail business.
A chocolatey sweet aroma wafted out onto Main Street in Peekskill from Blondery, a newly-opened dessert bakery.
Auzerais Bellamy, founder and CEO of Blondery, has had a growing and dedicated following who crave her scrumptious blondies, savory cookies and 11-layer cake jars via her e-commerce business started in 2018.
Bellamy has taken the plunge and shifted her e-commerce business to a brick-and-mortar retail store as a hub to run her e-commerce business and to sell her goods directly to customers.
Her team of two pastry chefs can be seen baking cookies and blondies in the well-lit and remodeled 2,500-square-foot space with a stainless-steel oven, cookie racks and work table.
“We wanted the oven to face the street because once you see it baking it’s beautiful,” said Bellamy, who launched the store last week. “It’s something people don’t typically see.”
Bellamy was born in northern California’s Bay Area, graduated from Johnson & Wales University’s culinary arts program and worked as a chef de partie at Bouchon Bakery in Yountville, Calif. She moved to New York City to become a demi sous chef for Bouchon in Rockefeller Center.
While taking on various jobs, Bellamy made blondies for friends and family. Word of mouth made
her delectable dessert bar widely popular, and in 2016 she started Blondery, an online business she operated out of the well-known bakery Ovenly in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Blondery blossomed and attracted clients such as JP Morgan, Hulu and Hearst, and more recently, was an item in the Netflix swag bag for Emmy nominees.
But when Hurricane Ida hit last year, Ovenly was flooded and Bellamy was forced to move quickly and re-establish her business for the holiday season.
“We had eight days to move and I cast a wide net to find a new space,” she recalled. “First we found a temporary kitchen at the Division Street Grill (in Peekskill) but we were still looking.”
Bellamy said she was lucky to find the Main Street storefront, which had previously been a bakery. She was helped by Peekskill’s Kecia Palmer-Cousins, CEO of Aero-Ba-Soul Inc., who helped negotiate a lease with the landlord.
“I wasn’t sure we would stay in Peekskill but I wanted to because I liked the area,” Bellamy said. “I like that there were people who looked like me here.”
Bellamy, who lives in Yonkers, was able to purchase high-end bakery equipment by raising $20,000 from supporters.
Fresh-baked cookies and blondies at Blondery use all-natural ingredients. Blondies come in pecan and salted caramel, strawberry rosé, s’mores, cinnamon sugar, red velvet (made with beet juice) and a gluten-free Brooklyn blackout. For Thanksgiving there will be apple pie, peach cobbler, chocolate bottom pecan pie and pumpkin pie blondies.
Blondery cookies will be sold under Bellamy’s sister operation Peekskill Cookie Company using DoorDash and UberEats. She carries chocolate chip, snickerdoodle and s’more flavored cookies. Cookies and cake jars are sold at the bakery along with oat milk-based hot chocolate, along with vanilla and strawberry oat milk. The bakery also sells dog treats.
Trying out new tastes and combinations is mandatory for Bellamy. Special blondies include a coquitos blondie created by her Puerto Rican pastry chef, a tamarind blondie and one with guava and cheese, which was created by her other pastry chef, who is from the Dominican Republic.
“Since I’m African American I’ve come up with a peach cobbler blondie for this month,” Bellamy said.
Her staff also includes a personal assistant and she is looking to hire a dishwasher, a cashier and a barista to make the milk drinks.
Prospects on Blondery as a community space is another idea of Bellamy’s.
“I’ve seen that the young people, the teenagers in Peekskill, don’t have a lot of activities that don’t involve drinking,” she said. “We can utilize this creative, fun space for kids’ cooking classes after hours, dance classes or artists’ presentations. I will listen to the community and see how I can be of service.”
Her blondies and cookies sold at the store are less expensive than online: four blondies in a box sell for $35 online but are $15 at the store. The 24-piece box that runs $75 to $125 online costs $65 at the store.
“I’m hoping to either create a new memory you might have or expound on a memory you already have by eating my cookies and blondies,” Bellamy said. “That’s the nurturing part of being a baker. We bake to see people smile. That’s what we do.”
Blondery is located at 922 Main St. in Peekskill. It’s open Tuesday to Sunday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, call 914-488-6168 or visit www.blondery.com.
November 3, 2022
The New York Women's Chamber of Commerce
February 25, 2021
Bookmark This Minority-Owned Westchester Business Directory
In an effort to provide our readers with at least a partial survey of the many businesses owned by people of color in Westchester County, we consulted our own pages — as well as the county’s own minority-owned business directory.
The following Westchester businesses have been certified as Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) within New York State. In order to be included in the directory, certified MBEs need to have a working and active phone number, as well as a recently updated website.
Communication, Marketing, and Arts | Concession, Catering, and Entertainment | Construction-Related Services | Financial, Insurance, And Real Estate | Health and Fitness Services | Information Technology Services | Janitorial and Maintenance Services | Legal Services and Security | Management, Human Resources, And Education | Products and Supplies | Professional Services | Social Services | Transportation and Automobile Services
February 1, 2021
Feeding Westchester Welcomes Five New Board Members
Nonprofit continues to meet increased need in the community
M Lauricella, Community Contributor, NY Patch
Feeding Westchester, Westchester County’s largest nonprofit hunger-relief organization, is pleased to announce the addition of Davis John Abraham (of Yonkers), Tracey Levy (of Larchmont), Kecia Palmer-Cousins (of Peekskill), Jonathan Tretler (of Scarsdale), and Jennifer Wells (of Bronxville) to their Board of Directors.
Davis John Abraham has worked in the philanthropic and international development sector for 19 years. He currently serves as a Director at the Cognizant U.S. Foundation, overseeing strategic philanthropic investments in priority markets in the US and internationally. Previously Vice President of Corporate Responsibility Operations at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Director of Global Programs at the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, Abraham holds a Master of Science degree from the NYU Center for Global Affairs with a concentration in International Development and Humanitarian Assistance. He completed his undergraduate work at Pace University and received a BA in Computer Science and Political Science. Abraham serves on the board of directors of his local church as well and as the Youth Pastor.
Recognized by Super Lawyers in the New York Metro Area annually since 2016, Tracey Levy is the founder of Levy Employment Law, LLC. Offering clients the benefit of her 25 years of legal and employee relations experience, Levy guides managers and in-house counsel through the full employee life-cycle, providing practical advice on workplace-related issues. Prior to launching her firm, Levy was an Employee Relations Specialist with UBS AG as well as an employment attorney with Proskauer Rose LLP. She holds an advanced law degree from Yale Law School’s LLM program, a JD from Albany Law School and a BA from Union College. Levy is a member of the Westchester Business Council and chairs the Legislative Committee of the Westchester Human Resource Management Association.
Kecia Palmer-Cousins is a wellness entrepreneur, manufacturing engineer, and project management consultant. As co-owner of Aero-Ba-Soul, Inc., a business management and training company, she provides technical assistance and one-on-one coaching to Minority Women Business Enterprises (MWBE) to grow their businesses. Kecia is also co-owner of G&K Sweet Foods, LLC, a MWBE Certified baked goods company that was a contracted vendor at the 2014 Super Bowl. She is Vice President of the City of Peekskill’s Youth Bureau, Civic Engagement Chair and 2nd Vice President of the Peekskill NAACP, a member of the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors, and a former Chapter Editor/Foundation Chair of the Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Mid-Hudson Valley Chapter. Kecia was honored by the Women’s Enterprise Development Center for Women (Lillian Vernon Award), City of Peekskill (Black History Month Awards), 914INC. Magazine (2014 Women in Business) and the African American Chamber of Commerce of Westchester and Rockland Counties (10 Influential Blacks). She received a BS in Manufacturing Engineering from Boston University, a Masters Certificate in Project Management from George Washington University and an MBA in Marketing from Long Island University.
An investment banker for nearly 25 years, Jonathan Tretler is a Managing Director and Head of the North America Consumer & Retail Group at HSBC. He has also led the food & beverage practice at RBC Capital Markets and Deutsche Bank. Tretler has advised clients on transactions with an aggregate value of over $200 billion and works closely with many of the leading industry players and private equity firms in the sector. He serves on the Ambassador’s Council for the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. Tretler also served on the Board of Directors of The Acceleration Project, a Westchester-based nonprofit helping women entrepreneurs in the region. He holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from The Wharton School.
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Jennifer Wells is currently the Vice President of Human Resources for the North Division of PepsiCo Beverages North America, which is responsible for making, moving and selling a variety of beverage products. Wells has been with PepsiCo approaching 14 years and has held HR leadership roles across the Foods and Beverages businesses in North America. Prior to PepsiCo, Wells held leadership roles in Human Resources at Citrix Systems and Kraft Foods/Mondalez. She graduated from Tulane University with a BS in Economics and Biology.
“Hunger is pervasive right here in our own backyard,” said Karen C. Erren, president & CEO of Feeding Westchester. “We are excited to welcome Davis, Jonathan, Tracey, Kecia, and Jennifer, who share our commitment to end hunger in Westchester County. Their collective knowledge and expertise will be invaluable as we continue to meet the increased demand in our community due to COVID-19.”
According to a study by Feeding America, food insecurity in Westchester County has risen by more than 50 percent due to the pandemic. Feeding Westchester’s network of nearly 300 partner agencies and programs throughout the county are serving on average 300,000 hungry residents each month — more than twice as many as pre-COVID-19. The nonprofit has distributed 22 million pounds of food, or 18.4 million meals, in the last year compared to 8.5 million pounds in 2019.
Erren continued, “Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for hunger. Our neighbors continue to face unprecedented economic challenges. We invite you to join us and get involved. Consider making a donation, hosting a food drive or participating in a virtual volunteer opportunity.”
Every $1 donated to Feeding Westchester provides three meals for local children, seniors, and families struggling with hunger. To find help, or to help, visit feedingwestchester.org or call (914) 923-1100. For the latest news and updates, follow @FeedingWestchester on Facebook and Instagram and @FeedWestchester on Twitter.
About Feeding Westchester
Feeding Westchester is the county’s leading nonprofit hunger-relief organization at the heart of a network of nearly 300 partners and programs. With a mission to end hunger in Westchester County, the organization sources and distributes good, nutritious food and other resources to every community in Westchester – from Mount Vernon to Mohegan Lake. In the last year, Feeding Westchester delivered 22 million pounds of food or 18.4 million meals to our neighbors through soup kitchens, food pantries, schools, shelters, residential programs, and mobile distributions. Feeding Westchester is located at 200 Clearbrook Road, Elmsford, NY 10523. For more information, visit feedingwestchester.org.