St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves on Saturday appointed long-standing, Vincentian-born education executive Vaughan Toney as an ambassador-at-large.
“As a result of a government decision, Mr. Vaughan Toney is appointed as ambassador-at-large for St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” said Gonsalves in making the announcement during a town hall meeting at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Centers, where Toney serves as president and chief executive officer.
“A diplomatic passport will be provided to His Excellency Mr. Vaughan Toney at the earliest opportunity,” added the Vincentian leader to sustained, standing ovation.
Toney said the appointment is “by far, the crowning achievement of my public service in the Vincentian community at home and abroad over the past 40 years.
“For me, public service has been both a calling and the blessing of a lifetime,” he said. “It has been and will continue to be a labor of love, because there can be no greater good than the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of others.”
Toney expressed he was grateful to Prime Minister Gonsalves and the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for bestowing on him the high honor.
“I am profoundly moved, deeply honored and sincerely humbled by the trust and confidence that the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has invested in me through this appointment,” he said, stating that the distinction has caused him to “reflect more deeply upon the arc of my own life and my purpose for being.
“I have been fortunate and privileged to hold many positions of public trust over the course of my career, and I look forward to being of continued service in advancing the best interests and wellbeing of my fellow Vincentians in whatever capacity I am summoned to serve.”
Noting that he will be forever indebted to the many others who have taught, cared for and otherwise helped him along the journey from childhood as a boy in Calliaqua, a town in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, to president and chief executive officer of a leading not-for-profit enterprise in New York City, Toney pledged to uphold only the highest standards of integrity and patriotism in executing the duties of his new office.
“I am forever mindful of the fact that much is expected of those to whom God has been so generous in his blessings,” he said, “for, in the end, the measure of a man is not how much he is able to accumulate in life but how much of that blessing he is willing to invest and share in the service of others.”
Since 2001, Toney has presided over the largest expansion of Early Childhood Education services in the history of the 45-year-old Friends of Crown Heights Educational Centers.
With a current network of 20 full-service centers in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island, Friends of Crown Heights has evolved under Toney’s leadership to become the largest provider of subsidized child care and early education in the City of New York.
He had previously served as a member and former chairman of the organization’s Board of Directors, in a relationship spanning some 30 years, as an advocate for safe, quality and affordable early childhood education.
Together with his decades-long commitment to high-quality child care and early education, Toney has also enjoyed a robust career in public service, including an extensive background in legislative policy at both the state and municipal levels.
On graduating from the State University of New York (SUNY) Albany in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, he was recruited to the staff of the New York State Assembly Education Committee, where he served as legislative assistant to the chairman for six years.
In 1983, Toney accepted an appointment with the New York State Senate, where he served as senior staff analyst for nine years.
In 1992, following the adoption of a new City Charter and an expanded, more representative City Council in New York, he left Albany to serve as chief-of -staff to Council Member Jamaican Una Clarke, the first Caribbean-American woman elected to the municipal legislature.
Four years later, Toney accepted the position of chief-of-staff to Belizean the Rev. Dr. Lloyd Henry, representing the 45th Council District in Central Brooklyn.
In 2001, Toney accepted the invitation to serve as president and chief executive officer of the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Centers, Inc.
As a community leader and activist, Toney has served as a member of the Kings County Hospital Advisory Board. He is a founding member of the Caribbean American Political Organization and a former member of the Carlos Lezama Archives and Caribbean Cultural Center.
In addition, Toney is a founding member of the SVG Disaster Relief Committee.
In recognition of his dedication to public service and his exemplary commitment to child-care advocacy, early childhood education and community empowerment, Toney has received numerous awards and commendations.