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By Carlena Knight

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With the Covid-19 pandemic continuing to impact the world, many countries have been finding creative ways to rebuild their economies, health sectors and everyday life.

The Rochester community in New York is just one of the many areas in the US that is focusing on picking up the pieces.

It is because of this resilience, that the RBJ Business Journal which is a part of BridgeTower Media, one of the USA’s leading business-to-business media companies, has identified 100 persons within that community who have already begun to play integral roles in that redevelopment.

The RBJ Power 100 list was released last week and an Antiguan and Barbudan, Jerome Underwood, who hails from the Villa community, was on that list.

Underwood is the President & CEO of Action for a Better Community (ABC), a Community Action Agency which was established in 1964 and promotes and provides opportunities for low-income individuals and families to become self-sufficient.

In ABC’s 2018-2019 program year, its programs and services helped over 3,000 people to build strong new beginnings toward self-sufficiency, through improved education, employment, better health and stronger families.

He is also a graduate and present faculty member of the 100-year-old United Way’s African American Leadership Development Program (AALDP). This program’s purpose is to unite the goodwill and resources of the Greater Rochester community, so that everyone can thrive.

Underwood is also co-chair of the Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI) and member of the Greater Rochester Black Agenda Group (BAG). Before joining ABC in February of 2018, Underwood spent nine years in various management positions within the Rochester City School District.

Holding an MBA in Finance from RIT, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from St John Fisher College, Underwood served as Vice President and Commercial Product Manager for Community Reinvestment with HSBC Bank for nine years.

As a Commercial Lending Officer, he managed a $100 million loan portfolio comprising a diverse array of profit and non-profit businesses. His work helped improve the bank’s Federal rating from marginal to acceptable.

He told Observer that he was quite excited over the achievement.

“It was a good feeling seeing my name in that list. I do appreciate the acknowledgement but there is still so much more that needs to be done. I just hope I can continue to be a good example for persons in Rochester and back home in Antigua,” Underwood said.

Despite it all, he pointed out that his biggest achievement has been raising a family alongside his wife of 30-plus years, Lorna Underwood, “and being a source of strength and stability for our extended families, and being a positive resource to my communities in Rochester and in Antigua and Barbuda”.

Underwood who is also known for his love of football and basketball, credits his grandmother Jane E Toussaint for the role she played in his life, by instilling morals which he says have helped him to become such an activist for his homes in New York as well as Antigua and Barbuda.

He is now encouraging others to “give back” and “be role models for the youth in their communities”.