A Black woman has made history at the New York Theological Seminary, causing major political figures to celebrate her milestone.

Dr. LaKeesha Walrond was inaugurated as president of NYTS, making her the first Black woman and first woman in general to hold the title. The initiation service was held on Saturday, October 26 and was attended by such New York figures like Mayor Bill de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray, Rev. Al Sharpton and the New York NAACP State President Hazel Dukes.

The NYTS has been around for 119 years and during this time, they have yet to elect a woman and especially a Black woman as president. Dr. Walrond will serve as the institution’s 12th president and she will be bringing more than two decades of faith leadership and ministry. Her previous credentials includes serving as the Executive Pastor and Chief of Staff of First Corinthian Baptist Church in New York for 13 years. Now, she hopes to promote Seminary growth and expand the curriculum of urban ministry with new and creative initiatives at NYTS.

The institution has remained a progressive leader on a lot of issues. They’ve led initiatives that include preparing men and women for leadership roles in faith-based ministries across the U.S. and they’ve assisted incarcerated men with higher education degrees in Professional Studies. NYTS has played a part in the lives of over 400 graduates and a dozen guys have graduated from Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York this past June. Under Dr. Walrond’s leadership, NYTS will continue to aim for diverse and impactful programs that reflect the institution’s mission and maintains its denominational and cultural traditions.

“Being entrusted to continue the legacy of NYTS is truly a humbling experience and as the first female president and the first African-American female president, it’s not lost upon me that this moment in history must be fueled by a collective purpose within the faith community,” said Rev. Dr. LaKeesha Walrond. “I am elated to lead the seminary into a new innovative era that will reflect the mission of the institution and continue to raise the bar for generations to come.”

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