The love Elana Martins feels for her birthplace is evident by the way she talks about it.
“Prospect Park speaks Brooklyn culture; it has that neighborhood feel. The park and surrounding beauty of Grand Army Plaza and the Botanic Garden are just enough and they’re not overwhelming,” she says fondly.
And the love she feels for fellow Brooklynites is evident by all she does for them.
Her work as interim manager of the Brownsville Neighborhood Health Action Center consists of brokering partnerships with community partners, building and sustaining strategic partnerships, and working on community engagement. As president of the Art of Self-Esteem, she coordinates and oversees business operations, program development, and fund-raising.
What has made her most proud, however, is not her current success and her lists of certificates and degrees — but what she is working towards.
“Being a part of the team and process to advance health and wellness in the Brownsville community and help move the needle to eliminate the inequities that currently exist within the community,” the Woman of Distinction says.
Although she says red tape is the most frustrating aspect of her work, there is also a bright side.
“Serving the people and empowering the community to advance health and wellness is my favorite part of work,” she says.
Martins describes herself as “a passionate forward thinker who is always advocating, encouraging, and empowering others to find and use their voice for good.”
And use her voice she does.
“I currently sit on Community Board 16’s youth development committee, the women’s committee, and the economic development committee,” she says. “I am also on the board of Caleb’s Feet Foundation, an organization to increase awareness about HPV and cervical cancer.”
She has advice for anyone entertaining the thought of seeking a career in the same field.
“I would advise anyone doing work at the community level, no matter what industry, to develop effective local partnerships and build collaborative relationships that are reflective of the community,” says Martins.
Friend Yoreel Fraser Trumpet sings her praises.
“She is a Woman of Distinction because not only is she is committed to community development and empowerment 110 percent, she is also dignified, fierce and unashamedly her authentic self,” he says.
As admired as she may be, her main purpose is to help those around her.
“My passion is giving back to the community,” says Martins, adding, “As Marian Wright Edelman said, ‘Service is the rent we pay to be living.’ ”
NEIGHBORHOOD: Grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Currently lives in Brownsville.
OCCUPATION: Interim manager of the Brownsville Neighborhood Health Action Center and founder and president of Art of Self-Esteem, Inc.
COMPANY: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Art of Self-Esteem, Inc.
CLAIM TO FAME: Inspiring people to be the best they can be at whatever they do.
FAVORITE BROOKLYN PLACE: Prospect Park.
WOMAN I ADMIRE: The two women I admire the most are my mother and grandmother, who have both passed on. My mother for her patience, strength and courage, but most of all for teaching me how to advocate for those who did not have the voice to advocate for themselves, and my grandmother for her wisdom and guidance — she helped me to hold my torch and kept it lit when I thought I could not.
MOTTO: Never give up!