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Ralphy Dominguez goes from the South Bronx-to-Prison-to-an-Entrepreneur

His name is Ralphy Dominguez, he once ran one of the largest drug rings in New England, making over a million dollars a year. After spending close to five years in prison, he’s reinvented himself as an entrepreneur in  New York City with his leather goods brand Pen & Pistol a product line of all leather accessories.

What started as a leather craft course when Dominguez was behind bars flourished into a promising startup. In both worlds, he says he found something therapeutic and rewarding in working with his hands. After prison, Dominguez, originally from the South Bronx, found his way to Refoundry, a nonprofit organization in Brooklyn that coaches ex-cons to start their own ventures by training them to turn discarded materials into beautifully designed products.

 

“Refoundry lent itself to the first major problem that you face coming home, which is trying to find a decent paying job and Refoundry offered that and then it offered me a way to dream bigger, to start my own business,”

Dominguez’s company continues to use discarded materials, including leather from old sofas and handbags, as well as scrap leather from manufacturers that would otherwise be tossed out. He uses the materials to craft hand-stitched wallets and business card holders, which retail for between $30 and $75 on Pen & Pistol’s website

 

Dominguez credits the artisan skills and entrepreneurship know-how he learned behind bars and at Refoundry with helping him discover a new and rewarding life outside of prison.

“I was a hothead, I was a young gun, I was troublesome,” he said, “and going through the experience of prison, I really had the opportunity to redraft and re-pen my life.”

The entrepreneurial story he’s writing is one of revival through persistence. Pen & Pistol has started to catch hold, as a growing number of consumers are inspired by his story of reinvention and his brand’s beautiful designs. Dominguez started selling at flea markets throughout New York City, such as the Brooklyn Flea, Artists & Fleas and others. He’s since secured shelf space at different outlets, namely Lazaro SoHo, a high-end boutique in Manhattan.

Today, the Pen & Pistol founder comes across as an unassuming young man with a story to tell.

He appears thoughtful and determined, a far cry from the tumultuous youth he describes from his former life. Dominguez uses his past experiences to shape his success and is motivated to pay it forward. He helps others with a criminal record—including Pen & Pistol President Walter Escobar—to take back control of their lives through his leather craft business.

Dominguez says that ex-cons are well positioned to become successful entrepreneurs.

“That hustle was there, that spirit, that thirst for entrepreneurship is there,” Dominguez said. “And I think coming from a place where we had nothing and we can only gain—this is really what motivates people coming home from prison.”

I say on Dominican Independence Day; New York’s Rich Diversity is “Kick Ass”

To many Dominican Americans Independence celebration comes twice a year, July 4th and February 27th

Independence is about liberty and the struggle of the fight to get that liberty, which we all enjoy today. Independence by default is a word with deep meaning, it’s not just about celebrating the victory of becoming independent with parties, fireworks, barbecues or “diablos cojuelos”.  It’s about not forgetting the fight of those that came before us and gave up their life, so that we in turn can enjoy the freedoms we all have today. That’s independence!

New York’s Vibrant Dominican Community currently represents the largest Hispanic group in the city (774,473) according to  Census data analysis by CUNY’s Center for Latin American, Caribbean & Latino Studies. However, that number is being debated to be well over one Million by many, but numbers aside, one thing that is visual and accountable, and that is the very much felt presence of Dominicans in New York. A presence that one can see, feel and hear throughout the city and even in parts of Jersey, PA, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Just take a walk around most local neighborhoods within Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx at the many the barbershops and beauty salons when you get your next hair cut or hairdo and you will most likely experience this culture, or when you take your car to the local mechanic or go pick up milk at the to the corner bodega or the one next to it.

Hungry? hop on in to your favorite Dominican restaurant ( there are plenty) when you crave that “arros blanco con habichuela, pollo y maduros”.

Need a cab and don’t have uber? No problem call your local taxi base and there’s a 80% probability that the driver will most likely be on his cell phone or listening to “Anthony Santos”.

Dominicans currently represent the ethnic group with the largest percentage of small business ownership in New York, according to published articles in NY Times, New York daily News and the NY post. Another interesting fact is on the educational front, although there are really no concrete studies that determine the number of College students or graduates of Dominican decent, we did find a 2004 study by Ramona Hernandez, Ph.D. director of Dominican Studies Institute at CUNY and Anthony Stevens-Acevedo, which reports that Dominican students enrolled in colleges and universities has been rising steadily. The study, indicates that in 2000 Dominican students made up 26.4% of the Hispanic student body enrolled in colleges and universities in New York City.

US politics are also an area of interest to many Dominicans. Just this year alone history was made when Adriano Espaillat became the first Dominican American elected into the US congress and Thomas Perez became the first Latino ever to be elected as the leader of the national democratic party, Thomas a Dominican American who served as President Obama’s labor secretary is now the chairman of the DNC, Democratic National Committee. This was just confirmed a few days ago.

The Dominican community has contributed greatly to the fabric that makes New York the greatest city in the world and will continue to do so together with other cultures. So today we celebrate our Dominican heritage in unity with all, because it’s not about being less than or better than. It’s about respecting others and their cultures, while embracing our own, it’s this rich cultural diversity that makes New York a “ Kick Ass” city and the capital of the world.

As a Dominican American, I take pride in being American and in my Dominican roots. I was born in Santo Domingo, raised in Brooklyn and became an American Citizen by choice many years ago. I acknowledge the blessing of living in a country where I can cherish and respect both cultures, but even more important, I am grateful that at the end of the day, we are all one nation under God, as truly we are all brothers and sisters beneath the sun. I also acknowledge that as humans and as a Nation we are not perfect and that’s ok, because that gives us even more reason to strive to thrive. As an entrepreneur with an affinity towards forward thinking people and forward moving causes, I want to say, on this day celebrating Dominican Independence; God Bless America!

Meaning of “Dominican”
The word “Dominican” has a meaning beyond the one of being born in the Dominican Republic… it actually means “God’s sons.” According to our history, this name is given to us after a group of religious educators, who arrived on the island of “La Hispañola” when we were still a Spanish colony.

Colors of the Dominican flag
Our Dominican flag represents our Independence.. the first Dominican flag was designed and created by María Trinidad Sánchez, Sánchez’s aunt, where she included blue, representing God’s blessings over our nation, red representing our liberators’ blood and the white cross symbolizing our Independence as an inheritance from those who fought for our freedom.

 

Fight for freedom! A short history of the Dominican Republic
After Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492, a point when many cultures clashed during the Spanish colonization of “La Hispañola” island, as he called it, the Dominican Republic then became a battle zone where French, Spanish and Haitian troops fought for our land.

Soon after,  Spain suddenly became uninterested and left the Dominican Republic – after gold was found in México and other areas in America, but the land was soon invaded by French troops and affected by the Haitian Revolution; events which revolutionized the course of our history.  After the reconciliation between slaves and French men, the Spanish troops were defeated by forces led by General Toussaint Louverture, and it was in 1795 when France took over the island, with the abolition of slavery proclaimed by Louverture in Santo Domingo.

When the French forces returned to France after several years, the Haitians then invaded the towns of Santiago and Moca causing not only many deaths, but quite a dislike from residents from the Eastern part of the island, since they were forced to give up their language, culture and beliefs, adapt and become French speaking country.

Of course, the situation wouldn’t last forever… in 1838 a man named Juan Pablo Duarte who was born in Santo Domingo and founded a secret society named “La Trinitaria” and along with his good friends Matías Ramón Mella and Francisco del Rosario Sánchez, secretly planned on putting an end to Haitian repression. How?

In 1843 they joined a Haitian movement to defeat Boyer (the French leader), after which they were exiled and imprisoned in Puerto Príncipe by the new Haitian President, Charles Riviere-Hérard, since he feared their revolutionary ideas of independence. However after an attack produced by Haitians, Charles definitely needed the help of “La Trinitaria” and they were then released.

Meanwhile, Buenaventura Báez, who was a wood exporter and also Deputy at the Haitian’s National Assembly, was negotiating with France a way of establishing French forces in order to protect the Haitian Government from rebels – and since Duarte, Mella and Sánchez knew about this event, on the 27th of February 1844 they immediately declared their Independence from Haiti! You may ask how?…

The canon shot by Matías Ramón Mella on the night of the 27th of February 1844 at the “Puerta del Conde” (now famous for this event) was the official declaration of the Dominican war of Independence, which was supported by Pedro Santana (who became the Dominican Republic’s first President) along with hundreds of his workers and residents from Santo Domingo. To cries of “Dios, Patria y Libertad” (God, Homeland and Freedom), the Dominican flag was raised for the first time at the “Puerta del Conde” and the Haitian forces were confronted – causing the, to retreat and meaning that the Dominicans were finally free!!

Although Haiti tried to invade on several other occasions, the Dominican Republic maintained its Independence for 17 more years, thanks to Pedro Santana’s bright idea of handing the power back to Spain – but that’s a different story! We will be publishing more details about it soon!

 

Code2040 “The Future of Tech”, Lin-Manuel Miranda & the Chance to see Hamilton

A NOTE FROM LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA

Hi everyone!

Did you miss me?! Well I’m back on Prizeo and this time I’m here with my parents. We’re giving you a chance to win a trip for two to opening night of Hamilton in San Francisco on March 23rd. Since I’m in London, I can’t make it. But you’ll be going with my mom and dad—Luz and Luis! They’re the best and they’re going to make sure you have an incredible time.

It is more important than ever that for-profit and civil society are stepping up to build inclusive, safe spaces where minorities can work and thrive. By donating as little as $10 to be entered to win, your donations will also help support Code2040 and the Latino Community Foundation, two amazing organizations that are helping build the leaders of the future. Please check out their sites to learn more about the incredible work they’re doing.

Sweepstakes Page

And if you donate more, you’ll be getting extra entries (every $10 is 100 entries), helping the work being done by Code2040 and LCF even more, and you’ll get rewards! Check ’em out—new t-shirts, signed items, and our brand spankin’ new tank top.

Whoever wins, we’ll fly you and a guest to San Francisco for opening night and we’ll put you up in a hotel. Plus you’ll be going to the show as my parents’ guests! I can’t wait to see who wins and hear how it goes!

I am thrilled that we’re supporting the work of Code2040 and LCF—and that you get the chance to experience the San Francisco Hamilton opening night! Thank you again for continuing to team up with me and supporting the work of so many incredible causes.

Siempre,
Lin-Manuel

Fat Joe Rocks the house at Floyd Mayweather ’s Star Studded 40th Birthday

In celebration of his 40th birthday, world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather threw himself a bash as big as his career Saturday night in Los Angeles, in a ballroom downtown, Mayweather welcomed celebrity guests: Bobby Brown, Justin Bieber,  Mariah Carey, the Kardashians,  into a star-studded room decorated to the max. Bronx Rapper fat Joe bought down the house perfomring some of his hits “Make it Rain” “Lean Back” and “All the Way Up”

 

The boxing superstar was seen dancing away and appeared to be enjoying the design on his incredible cake which featured boxing gloves, a championship belt and suitcase full of cash completing the iced decorations.
“The cake took about 72 hours to make. It had to be transported in two pieces because it was too tall to fit in my SUV, It had over 12 feet of swarovski crystals on it… and it was loaded with over a hundred personal photos ranging from childhood to now showcasing the 40 years of Floyd.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda Live at the Oscars This Weekend

Image: nerdist.com

Image: nerdist.com

Oscar® nominees Lin-Manuel Miranda, Sting, Justin Timberlake and 2014 Oscar winner John Legend will perform at the 89th Oscars® ceremony, show producers Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd announced today. Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the Oscars will air live on Sunday, February 26, on the ABC Television Network.

We’re thrilled to welcome these world-class artists to the Oscars. These performances will not only celebrate the five extraordinary nominated original songs, but also the integral part music plays in movies,” De Luca and Todd said.

Auli’i Cravalho will join Miranda to perform his Oscar-nominated song, “How Far I’ll Go,” written for “Moana.” An actor, playwright and composer, Miranda is best known for creating and starring in the Broadway musicals “Hamilton” and “In the Heights.” For his work, he has been recognized with a Primetime Emmy Award®, three Tony Awards®, two Grammy Awards® and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama (“Hamilton”). This marks Miranda’s debut on the Oscars stage. Sixteen-year-old Cravalho made her film debut voicing the title character in “Moana.”

Seventeen-time Grammy winner Sting will perform “The Empty Chair” from “Jim: The James Foley Story,” the Oscar-nominated song he co-wrote with three-time Oscar nominee J. Ralph. In addition to this current nomination, Sting has been nominated in this category on three previous occasions; “You Will Be My Ain True Love” from “Cold Mountain” (2003), “Until” from “Kate & Leopold” (2001) and “My Funny Friend And Me” from “The Emperor’s New Groove” (2000), which he shared with David Hartley. A 2014 Kennedy Center Honoree, Sting has sold over 100 million records.

Timberlake will perform his Oscar-nominated song “Can’t Stop The Feeling” from the movie “Trolls.” He shares music and lyric credits with Max Martin and Karl Johan Schuster. Timberlake is a multi-platinum recording artist and actor whose numerous awards include nine Grammy Awards and four Primetime Emmy Awards. His acting credits include the Oscar-winning film “The Social Network” (2010) and Oscar-nominated “Inside Llewyn Davis” (2013).

Legend will perform both “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” and “City of Stars,” from “La La Land,” music by Justin Hurwitz; lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. A singer-songwriter, musician, and actor, Legend won an Oscar for the original song “Glory” from “Selma” (2014), an honor he shared with artist Common. Legend’s many accolades also include 10 Grammy Awards and 28 nominations.

The 89th Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be broadcast live on the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The Oscars, produced by De Luca and Todd and hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, also will be televised in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide. Additionally, “The Oscars: All Access” live stream from the red carpet and backstage will begin at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on Oscar.com.

Chef Aaron Sanchez to Join “MasterChef” TV Show

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Celebrated chef and restaurateur Aarón Sánchez will join Chefs Gordon Ramsay and Christina Tosi as the third judge throughout Season Eight of the hit culinary competition series MASTERCHEF, premiering Summer 2017.

A James Beard Award-winning chef, Sánchez is chef/owner of Mexican restaurant Johnny Sánchez, with locations in New Orleans and Baltimore. He co-starred on “Chopped” and “Chopped Junior,” and is the author of two cookbooks – “Simple Food, Big Flavor: Unforgettable Mexican-Inspired Recipes from My Kitchen to Yours” and “La Comida del Barrio.” An active philanthropist, Sánchez launched his own charity, the Aarón Sánchez Scholarship Fund, empowering aspiring chefs from the Latin community to attend culinary school. An avid tattoo lover, he also is a partner in the world-famous ink shop “Daredevil Tattoo” in New York City.

Sánchez was a guest judge on Season Seven of MASTERCHEF and also will be featured in upcoming episodes of MASTERCHEF JUNIOR Season Five, airing Thursdays (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.

MASTERCHEF is produced by Endemol Shine North America and One Potato Two Potato and is based on a format created by Franc Roddam and Endemol Shine. Elisabeth Murdoch, Eden Gaha, Michael Brooks, Robin Ashbrook, Gordon Ramsay, Adeline Ramage Rooney, Patricia Llewellyn and Ben Adler serve as executive producers. “Like” MASTERCHEF on Facebook at facebook.com/MasterChef. Follow the series on Twitter @MASTERCHEFonFOX and join the discussion at #masterchef. Follow the judges on Twitter: Gordon Ramsay – @gordonramsay; Christina Tosi – @christinatosi; AarónSánchez – @Chef_Aaron.

Dominican Newspaper Mistakenly uses Alec Baldwin SNL Photo in Donald Trump Story

El Nacional, a major newspaper in the Dominican Republic, issued an apology Saturday after readers realized a photo of Donald Trump, used for a story on U.S. – Israeli relations, was actually Alec Baldwin portraying Trump on SNL. According to the paper, the mistake went “unnoticed” due to a “mix-up of photos.”

 

The paper officially stated, “The picture was sent that day by the Associated Press with the name of the actor and the program, but was placed as if it were the one of Trump. El Nacional apologizes to the readers and to all those who felt sincerely affected by the publication. Alec Baldwin imitates Trump on one of the most important shows in the U.S.” A full retraction and explanation will be printed in Sunday’s paper. Meanwhile, Twitter had a field day responding to the paper’s mix-up.

Falling in Love with failure

On this Valentine’s Day, let’s forget about the roses, just for a minute. Let’s take a step back from the champagne and put down the chocolates. Amid all this talk about love and relationships, I have a proposition to make: I think it’s about time we settle down and seriously start to court FAILURE.

failure-is-not-falling-down-but-refusing-to-get-up-36

I know what you’re thinking. On the surface, failure might not be the most eye-catching gem in the jewelry shop. Whether it appears in the form of missing deadlines, flubbing proposal requirements, or running a business model into the ground, failing at something—especially if it’s something that truly matters to you—is the toughest break to take. Failure is not fun to be around, it doesn’t have a lot of flexibility, and it’s incredibly unforgiving. It’s a cruel mistress in its own right, a necessary evil.

Yet failure is something that I deeply respect and hold dear. It’s an experience that I embrace, and more importantly, it’s something that I celebrate at athenahealth. Yes, I celebrate failure—and no, I’m not crazy. At athenahealth, our community of teachers and learners is founded upon the necessary give and take of knowledge, and the belief that learning can only happen in an environment where failure can, and even regularly should happen. It doesn’t take a lot of ambition to coast along the upper echelons, or to year after year hit every vanilla goal you set for yourself. Climbing your way from failing to achieving, on the other hand, requires impressive tenacity, critical thought, and a hell of a learning curve.

Failure, then, is a necessary framework for success. Think of it this way: With every choice that ends up being wrong, you simply find one more way to narrow down what’s right. If you completely wreck a huge project at work, then congratulations! As long as you learned something along the way and take that knowledge with you when you next step up to the plate, then count that failure as a success. Or, more impressively, embrace your missed swing, brush yourself off, and pivot your experience into a whole new direction. Learning from failure is egregiously time-consuming and self-reflective, but incredibly valuable in the journey to success.

 

Henry Ford once said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Cull what isn’t working; strengthen what is. This is true of everything, from creating a business from scratch, to taking a leadership role on your team, to achieving your New Year’s goals. Whether or not we like to accept it, failing is as inevitable as breathing, so when something goes amiss, it’s important that you’ve been paying attention along the way. Knowing what doesn’t work is as valuable as knowing what does: Once you can learn from your mistakes and step back up to the plate with the same enthusiasm that you had before, you are guaranteed to succeed, thrive, and lead.

We spend most of our time recognizing and applauding success, without acknowledging the failures and struggles that stand beside it, hand in hand. So on this day of love and admiration, I want to wish failure a happy—and long overdue—Valentine’s Day. It too often gets the short end of the stick, always in the periphery, an unspoken annoyance. Today, let’s fall in love with failure and all of the thorny and meaningful moments that it creates on the road to success. After all, success born from failure is the sweetest success there is.

How would you define your relationship with failure?

Originally published By: Jonathan Bush CEO and Co-founder at athenahealth

 

→Side notes

“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” — Denis Waitley

 

People who are successful in life always learn from their mistakes and so-called failures. Michael Korda, editor in chief at Simon Schuster, says, “Never walk away from failure. On the contrary, study it carefully and imaginatively for its hidden assets.” And Bill Gates believes that, “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

 

Actor Mickey Rooney believed that, “You always pass failure on your way to success.” Salespeople often talk about “sales ratios,” or the number of rejections they’ll probably get before they make a sale. For example, it may typically take 30 calls to land one new client appointment. Keeping this in mind, good salespeople don’t look at rejections as “failure” but just one step closer to the win.

Junot Diaz’s “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” in One Book, One New York Initiative

New York City is proud to be the creative capital of the world,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The One Book, One New York initiative provides the perfect opportunity to bring City residents from all five boroughs together through reading. This initiative will inspire New Yorkers to unify in their appreciation of the written word and to share in the support of the city’s important publishing industry.”

“One Book, One New York will help readers connect with one another while rediscovering their local libraries and their independent neighborhood bookstores,” said Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin. “One Book, One New York will reignite conversations about reading throughout the City, from our libraries to our subway platforms, from our local bookstores to the coffee shop.”

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As part of the program, five celebrities appear in videos advocating for a particular book.  Bebe Neuwirth, William H. Macy, Giancarlo Esposito, Larry Wilmore and Danielle Brooks are rolling out the campaign. New Yorkers will then vote on the book they think everyone should read. Announcement of the final choice is set for March.

All of the nominated books have a connection with the New York City area, and copies of them are available in each New York Public Library branch. The nominated books are:

  • Americanahby Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Between the World and Meby Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
  • The Selloutby Paul Beatty
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

 

 

Vote for your favorite here: 

Massive Protest by Latinos, non-Latinos & Small Businesses In Support of “A Day without Immigrants”

Today as part of “A Day without Immigrants” protest, thousands of local businesses are closed today, and many employees are staying home and skipping work as well.

“It’s going to hurt a lot of businesses and especially the economy,” said one Ramon De La Cruz a small business owner in Brooklyn.  “But it’s for a good cause.”

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De La Cruz is willingly giving up a day’s profits to participate in “Un Dia Sin Immigrantes,” or “A Day Without Immigrants.”

The movement, Ramon said, is meant to show the entire country how large and involved the Hispanic population is.

There is even a hashtag, which is #protestthursday

Bodegas, restaurants, Laundromats, doctors, lawyers —  every single business is hurting with this economy, but we still have to stand for something” He said. “my wish, that by doing this they see that we are important to, New York and the whole country.

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The movement doesn’t only call for businesses to close down on the Feb.16, it also calls for all immigrants to stay home, to not spend money online or in stores, to close their businesses and to not attend school or classes.

Rallies are planned has been planned throughout the country, a unified voice is growing on “Un Dia Sin Immigrantes.”

Organizers have called for a peaceful protest.  They’re asking attendees to wear white shirts to show a peaceful movement and to wear or bring U.S. flags.

These are the Sates (Cities) that in which there will be active protesting in business closed and or rallies: New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia, Texas, New Mexico, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Illinois, Arizona, California and Colorado,

To many of the participants,  the most important thing is to show their community and families that they aren’t alone.

“We just want to let them know that we are with them,” De La Cruz said.

Prominent DC Chef Closing his Restaurants in Protest of “A Day Without Immigrants Strike.”

Chef José Andrés has announced that Zaytinya, Oyamel, and all three locations of Jaleo will be closed on Thursday because of the “A Day Without Immigrants Strike.” Andrés,  pulled out of his planned restaurant at Donald Trump’s D.C. hotel because of the president’s comments about restaurants in the DC area.

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The strike is in response to the nationwide ICE raids ordered by Trump who signed an executive order granting himself the right to more aggressively deport immigrants. There’s also the matter of the wall Trump plans to build on the Mexican border.

Restaurants that decide to stay open will look and feel a little different on Thursday because not only will there likely be a shortage of workers, but the supply chain will also be impacted. Bub & Pops co-owner Arlene Wagner, for example, says one of her purveyors warned her that there would be a disruption in bread delivery.

This is a list of other restaurants in the DC area, that will be completely closed Thursday:

Himitsu, Thip Khao, Toli Moli, Hank’s Oyster Bar (all locations), Hank’s Pasta Bar, Hank’s Cocktail Bar, Bad Saint, Blue 44, Sweetgreen, DC Empanadas, Toki Underground, Surfside, Bub & Pop’s, Pupatella, Rappahannock Oyster Bar, Busboys & Poets (all locations)., Brookland’s Finest, Peacock Café and Pizzeria Paradiso.

Hispanic Leader Geisha Williams Named New CEO and President of PG&E Corporation

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Image: bizjournal.com

As part of a leadership succession plan, the Board of Directors of PG&E Corporation today elected Geisha Williams, 55, as Chief Executive Officer and President of PG&E Corporation. Williams is currently President, Electric of Pacific Gas and Electric Company, PG&E Corporation’s utility subsidiary.

Tony Earley, Jr., 67, currently Chairman, CEO and President of PG&E Corporation, was elected to serve as Executive Chair of the PG&E Corporation Board of Directors. In addition, Nickolas (“Nick”) Stavropoulos, 58, currently President, Gas of Pacific Gas and Electric Company, was elected to serve as President and Chief Operating Officer of Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

The new roles are effective March 1, 2017. The currently separate roles of president for the gas and electric businesses are being consolidated into the single utility president role that will be held by Stavropoulos.

Tony Earley has been a strong hand at the helm over the past five years and his deep industry experience has been invaluable to us as he guided PG&E to the goal of becoming a top industry performer. Under his leadership, PG&E implemented an integrated, risk-based planning process that provided a road map for making PG&E a safer, stronger energy company through a robust capital investment program, widespread process improvements and by instilling a strong safety culture. Tony also invested in PG&E’s human capital, attracting strong leaders to join and stay with PG&E and mentoring Geisha Williams and Nick Stavropoulos. Geisha and Nick are both exceptionally talented executives and we are pleased that they will carry on the work that Tony advanced so successfully,” said Barry Lawson Williams, independent lead director of the PG&E Corporation Board.

Earley said, “I am very pleased with the decisions of the Boards of Directors to move forward with this planned succession. Geisha has demonstrated the performance and strategic vision to lead this organization into the future. She has a long track record of success with PG&E and in the industry. Under her leadership, PG&E has driven record-setting improvements in electric reliability year-over-year by transforming our electric grid with smart technology and by implementing an industry leading emergency response capability. As a result of these investments, Geisha’s team restored power with record speed when an earthquake hit Napa in 2014. Geisha also understands the enormous changes that will be affecting our industry in the years ahead and has a vision for navigating these changes successfully. Nick, who will serve as President and COO of the utility, has successfully led a multi-billion-dollar investment in the safety of our gas system and strengthened PG&E’s safety culture, the success of which has earned the utility international recognition. Geisha and Nick both have the vision, operational focus, and commitment to collaboration that will serve our customers, communities, employees and shareholders well. Above all, they have a shared and unequivocal commitment to the safety of the public and our employees and contractors.

Ms. Williams said, “I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the extraordinary 23,000 employees of PG&E and to support their efforts to safely serve 16 million Californians. We are in a period of tremendous and accelerating change in our industry, driven by technology, competitive forces and public policy objectives around clean energy. We are well positioned for these changes and well positioned for growth with substantial infrastructure investments focused on continuing to enhance the safety and reliability of our system while enabling California’s clean energy economy.

Stavropoulos said, “We set out five years ago to become the safest and most reliable energy company in America and we have made incredible progress toward that goal. When it comes to safety, the job is never done. I am absolutely committed to continuing this journey and to supporting the efforts of PG&E’s team members while achieving new levels of operational excellence and efficiency across the organization in order to provide safe, reliable, affordable and clean energy to our customers.

Earley joined PG&E Corporation in September 2011 after 17 years with DTE Energy. When he left DTE, he was serving as Executive Chairman. He had previously served as Chairman, CEO and President of DTE. Prior to joining DTE Energy, Earley served in various capacities at Long Island Lighting Company, including President and Chief Operating Officer. Previously, he was a partner at the Hunton & Williams law firm. In Earley’s new capacity as Executive Chair of the Board of PG&E Corporation, he will continue as an employee of the company, providing counsel to senior management and supporting the leadership transition in addition to continuing to serve on the Board.

Ms. Williams joined Pacific Gas and Electric Company in 2007 and was named Executive Vice President, Electric Operations in 2011. She was named President, Electric and a member of Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Board in 2015. In addition to her previous responsibilities for all non-nuclear electric operations, Williams took on additional responsibility for the enterprise-wide Customer Care organization and the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant when she was named President, Electric.

Before joining Pacific Gas and Electric Company, she held officer-level positions leading electric distribution, as well as a variety of positions of increasing responsibility in customer service, marketing, external affairs and electric operations at Florida Power and Light Company, the third-largest electric utility in the United States, serving more than 4.8 million customer accounts or more than 10 million people across nearly half of the state of Florida.

Williams holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Miami and a master’s degree in business administration from Nova Southeastern University. A trustee of the California Academy of Sciences, Williams also serves as the board chair for the Center for Energy and Workforce Development, and as a director at the Edison Electric Institute, the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations and the Association of Edison Illuminating Companies. In addition, she is active in Executive Women in Energy and the University of Miami President’s Council.

Stavropoulos joined Pacific Gas and Electric Company in 2011 as Executive Vice President, Gas Operations. He was named President, Gas and a member of Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Board in 2015, at which time, in addition to his previous responsibility for gas operations, he took on responsibility for enterprise-wide Information Technology, physical and cyber-security, safety, health and environmental, supply chain, and the transportation and real estate organizations. Before joining Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Stavropoulos was Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of U.S. Gas Distribution for National Grid, an electricity and natural gas delivery company serving nearly 7 million customers in the northeast United States. Earlier, Stavropoulos was President of KeySpan Energy Delivery and held a number of other leadership roles with KeySpan’s predecessor companies, Colonial Gas and Boston Gas.

Stavropoulos holds a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Bentley College and an MBA from Babson College. He serves on the board of Bentley University and has served on numerous public and not-for-profit boards.

About PG&E Corporation

PG&E Corporation (NYSE: PCG) is a Fortune 200 energy-based holding company headquartered in San Francisco. It is the parent company of Pacific Gas and Electric Company, California’s largest investor-owned utility. PG&E serves nearly 16 million Californians across a 70,000-square-mile service area in Northern and Central California.