Biden bestows US Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award on Trinidadian Hazra Ali

Hazra Ali addresses ceremony during Caribbean-American History Month celebrations at Gracie Mansion in late June.
Nelson A. King

United States President Joseph Biden has bestowed the US Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award on Trinidadian Hazra Ali.

Ali – the Community Lead person for New York City Mayor Eric L. Adams and who coordinates Adams’ Caribbean-American Heritage celebration at Gracie Mansion, the Mayor’s official residence in Upper Manhattan – received the award for her “lifelong commitment to building a stronger nation through volunteer service,” the award said. 

“The American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us,” said Biden in a White House statement. “I congratulate you on taking it upon yourself to contribute to the public good, and I’m proud to present you with the President’s Lifetime Achievement award in recognition of your 5,700 hours of service to this great nation. 

“Throughout our country’s history, the American story has been strengthened by those who combine an optimism about what can be with the resilience to turn that vision into reality,” the president added. “I know I’m not alone in recognizing that those who are willing to step up and volunteer in service of community and country are essential to the ongoing work of forming our more perfect union.

“By sharing your time and passion, you are helping discover and deliver solutions to the challenges we face – solutions that we need now more than ever,” Biden continued. “We are living in a moment that calls for hope and light and love. Hope for our futures, light to see our way forward, and love for one another. Through your service, you are providing all three.

“On behalf of the American people, I extend my heartfelt appreciation to you for your volunteer leadership, and I encourage you to continue to answer the call to serve,” he said. “The country is counting on you.” 

Ali – a Brooklyn resident, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago and is also a member of Adams’ Caribbean Advisory Council – received the US Presidential Award 2023 for over 20 years of Community Service. 

She told Caribbean Life on Tuesday that she was “so very honored and blessed to have received this Lifetime Achievement Award from President Joseph Biden.

“I felt that this type of recognition should be given to ‘old people’, who have given many years of community work,” she said. “Even though I am not old, I have truly given a lot of hours and years of service to the Caribbean and wider community.

“I love working to better my community,” Ali added. “So, it was with immense pride and joy as a true Trini [short for Trinidadian] that I accept this award.”

In 2006, Ali was appointed by the Washington-based Institute for Caribbean Studies (ICS) to serve as Director of Special Programming for New York, a voluntary position with a mandate to lead the charge in the celebration of the very first Caribbean-American Heritage Month. 

She represented New York at the White House reception to commemorate the first Caribbean-American Heritage Month Celebration.  

She previously served as chair of the Brooklyn Borough President’s Caribbean-American Heritage Committee. 

A former fashion model, Ali is an avid art collector, and enjoys designing and creating fine jewelry using gold, precious and semi-precious stones. 

In 2003, Ali founded her small business, New Hope and Beyond, Inc., a real estate investment company that deals primarily with foreclosure properties in Brooklyn and Queens. 

She graduated from the University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago as a pharmacist and practiced for several years in the twin-island republic before migrating to New York.  

Prior to starting her business, Ali worked as an account executive in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry – first with Akzo-Nobel, an international pharmaceutical company, and then with the Swiss Biotech giant, Ares-Serono, where she managed sales and marketing in Manhattan. 

Ali said she skillfully united her education as a pharmacist with the marketing training she received in the biotech industry “to produce success.” 

She currently serves on the Land Use/Historic Landmark Committee of Community Board 2 in Brooklyn and as the Mayor’s Representative on the Board of Trustees of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. 

She is very active in local politics, and frequently assists by organizing community events.  

Ali is an alumna of Leadership New York (Coro 2004), a one-year City Leadership program that was created to train “a special group of New Yorkers who will guide and lead the city in the years to come.”  

She said she is “very passionate about issues that affect the Caribbean community” and serves by volunteering her time and expertise on numerous advisory boards for not-for-profit organizations that support the community.