BY SARA KREVOY
Tyquana Henderson-Rivers moved to Jamaica from Brooklyn when she was 12 years old. From that point on, the community served as the foundation from which her career in civics and social justice activism sprung.
On December 4, a date that coincidentally coincides with her 42nd birthday, Henderson-Rivers was honored by the Queens Chamber of Commerce at its annual Business Person of the Year Awards.
Henderson-Rivers is now president of her own government and political relations firm, Connective Strategies Associates, Inc. on Sutphin Boulevard, not far from the neighborhood where her passion for advocacy through politics was ignited.
The firm specialized in full-service public relations for political campaigns, grassroots community organizing, and all aspects of government relations from communications to lobbying.
“I don’t look for a lot of honors and awards,” she said. “If my community is winning, at the end of the day, that’s enough award for me.”
Henderson-Rivers was attending August Martin High School when the Rodney King verdict was handed down in 1992. Angered by the injustice of the ordeal, she organized her peers in protest, marching to the local 113th Precinct.
“It wasn’t the brightest idea I’ve had in my life,” Henderson-Rivers laughed, recounting that the teens were on the verge of being arrested when the late-councilman Thomas White was called in to diffuse the situation. They made an agreement: if Henderson-Rivers dispersed the protestors, White would sit down and hear her out.
In a pivotal moment that solidified the course of her career path, the councilman delivered a piece of wisdom Henderson-Rivers still carries with her to this day: “The only way to fix the system is to learn it and tear it down from the inside.”
Councilman White went on to offer Henderson-Rivers an internship at his office, which she accepted. She gained a well-rounded experience of the political arena, serving as a council aide, attending community board and precinct council meetings, starting her own youth council, becoming president of the 113th Precinct Youth Council and staying active in student government.