Conrad Ifill posthumously honored with Community Award

Berold Hinds (center) receives award on behalf of the late Conrad Ifill, flanked by Dr. Carol Wilson-Smith (left) and Althea Roach.
Photo by Nelson A. King

Prominent late Caribbean businessman in Brooklyn Trinidadian Conrad Ifill, of Conrad’s Famous Caribbean Bakery fame, was among two who were honored posthumously on Saturday, with the Community Award, by the Brooklyn-based Trinidad and Tobago Alliance of North America, Inc.

Rosemary Coutou-Figaro, a registered nurse at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn, was also honored posthumously.

In addition, the Alliance presented its Healthcare Heroes Award to NYC Health+ Hospitals /Kings County and Sheldon McLeod, its chief executive officer.

Ifill, who was born and raised in San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago, passion for baking began at an early age when, as a middle child, he felt there was never enough bread for him.

“Little did he know this would serve him well in his adult years,” according to his biography.

After receiving his formative education and travelling abroad, Ifill relocated to New York, where he attended the New York Institute of Technology and graduated with a degree in business administration.

After working at Wall Street for a while, Ifill switched professions to live his childhood dream — baking — a skill he acquired as a child.

His first bakery was on Van Siclen Avenue in Brooklyn. Then he moved to 299 Utica Ave., where his business flourished.

In 2015, he opened another store at 5101 Church Ave., Brooklyn.

The late Conrad Ifill, of Conrad’s Famous Caribbean Bakery.

“Conrad’s Famous Bakery is one of the most well-known Caribbean bakeries in the Borough of Brooklyn, and features a variety of Caribbean breads, cakes and pastries,” the biography states.

“Customers always look forward to his Trinidadian ‘nine rum’ fruitcake, especially during the holiday season, and his ‘hot cross’ buns around Easter,” it added.

“Conrad Ifill, an icon in the Brooklyn area, received numerous citations and awards for his tremendous contribution to the neighborhood,” the biography continued. “Conrad who achieved his biggest personal goal, an MBA from Southern New Hampshire University, just before his untimely passing on April 13, 2020.”

Coutou-Figaro was born in Rancho Quemado, Palo Seco, Trinidad and Tobago.

At 18, the then mother of son, Jeremy, decided to pursue a profession in pharmaceuticals and taking care of the elderly.

For 15 years, she worked in various pharmacies in Trinidad and Tobago as a dispensing assistant and obtained certificates in geriatric nursing.

However, to further advance her career and adequately take care of her family, she seized the opportunity to migrate to the United States.

In 2018, after working for 13 years in the field of geriatrics, Coutou-Figaro “realized her dream of becoming a registered nurse and was employed at Kingsbrook Jewish Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, until April 9, 2020, when she succumbed to the deadly coronavirus, just 15 days after testing positive,” according to her biography.

Coutou-Figaro was described by her sister, Oniquica Coutou, as “a kindhearted, loving, giving soul, the pillar of the family, a shoulder to lean on, to cry with, to dream with – the most amazing person one could have ever met.”

In addition to family members in Trinidad and Tobago, Rosemary has left to mourn her loss: second son, 13-year-old Winston Bruce, who received the award; Winston’s father Lester Bruce; and husband Vincent Figaro, among “a host of loving friends, coworkers, and grateful patients.”

“The Trinidad and Tobago Alliance (North America), Inc., in presenting this posthumous award, proudly recognizes Rosemary Coutou-Figaro, a front-line worker during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, for her superior performance and selfless devotion to her patients,” said the Alliance in a statement.

McLeod, the chief executive officer for NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County, was appointed to this position in January 2018, having previously served as the chief operating officer at Kings County Hospital since October 2014.

NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County is a 624-bed acute care hospital located in the heart of Central Brooklyn, the most populous borough of New York City.

Established in 1831, Kings County has “a long and proud history of serving the healthcare needs of a culturally rich and ethnically-diverse community,” said the Alliance in a statement. “Today, Kings County serves as a vital core of medical care in the community and is one of the premier trauma centers in the country.”

Among Kings County’s highly specialized programs and nationally recognized designations are: Level I Trauma Center; NYS Designated and award-winning Stroke Center; Level III Perinatal Center; NYS Designated AIDS Center; Diabetes Education Center of Excellence; SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner) Center of Excellence; Behavioral Health Center (adult, children, CPEP -Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program); Sickle Cell Program; Patient Centered Medical Home (PCHM); LGBTQ designation; and a NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Health System Elders) designation.

With more than 5,000 employees, Kings County is one of the borough’s largest employers.

“Under Mr. McLeod’s leadership, Kings County continues to lead in the Central Brooklyn healthcare landscape having excelled at its 2018 hospital quality accreditation survey by The Joint Commission, securing significant investments in leading edge technology to improve patient outcomes, such as its recent acquisition of the state of the art Da Vinci Surgical Robot, and implementing new and innovative programs, in collaboration with numerous community based organizations, to address the social determinants of health,” the Alliance said.

“So, this evening, the Alliance see it only fitting to honor Kings County Hospital staff, along with their leadership,” it said.

Presenting the Distinguish Health Care Heroes Award was the former chief executive officer, Dr. Jean G. Leon, who is the only woman to ever hold that position. Dr. Jean G. Leon is also the Alliance’s program chair and parliamentarian.

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