Bonnie Michelle Cannon, the executive director of the Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreational Center, was recently appointed by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone to the county’s African American Advisory Board alongside several other community leaders. Ms. Cannon discussed her appointment with The Sag Harbor Express.
How significant is it for you to receive this appointment?
It’s very significant because out here on the eastern part of Long Island, there’s a lot of things we miss out on. There’s a lot of things that we do that a lot of people are not aware of as well, so it’s a really win-win for both of us, and also it goes right in line with the mission we have at the center for the people that we service. The plight of people of color. I’m really excited about being on this board. I’m looking forward to the work that we do within Suffolk County and making the East End more aware of what is going on in Suffolk County and bringing our issues to the forefront. It’s a very good pairing that we have. With me being appointed to the board, I think it will be good for awareness.
What are your thoughts about your peers on the board?
You have folks that are educators, folks who are heading up health issues, folks who are on school boards. There are some heavy hitters and to be amongst them is definitely an honor. It’s going to be an eye opener. It’s a really good thing.
What do you hope to accomplish as a member of the advisory board?
I’m hoping that we bring more education and awareness to the East End. In our first meeting we talked about STEM [science, technology, engineering, mathematics] and getting people educated for careers in STEM. We talked about the Suffolk police test happening in 2019, and that there is not that much diversity when we look at our police officers in Suffolk County. We want to alert individuals about the police test and make sure we have qualified candidates taking the test, making sure we have a more diverse set of individuals taking the test. All of that — trying to make a difference in the community. There’s a whole lot of issues that need to be addressed and we’ll take it one step at a time. All of the goals are aligned with mine. I’m into education, housing, economic stability, entrepreneurship. Anything that’s going to uplift the community and people of color, which basically uplifts the entire community. We have a lot of work to do.
What do you feel is the continued need to have this advisory board in these times?
I’m a very spiritual person. We talk about the body of Christ and talk about churches. People talk about physical churches, but you are your individual church. Each piece of the body has a certain function. The way I see it is the county not only as an African American Advisory Board, but they have a Hispanic American Advisory Board, an Asian American Advisory Board, a Women’s Advisory Board. All of this makes up the body so that the body functions well. We all do our part. You put everyone in the mix and you have a well-functioning machine. When you say ‘in these times,’ we are part of the big picture and we are looking at issues, but at the end of the day it will make a better community for all because everyone is looking at their particular topics and issues and they are all being addressed.
How can the community assist you in achieving the board’s goals?
As we have different initiatives, we certainly need participation. We need people to be open to hear what our issues are. We need folks to participate. You don’t have to be a person of color to participate in person-of-color initiatives. It’s for everyone. We need participation and open ears, to be there, to hear us, and get involved. Just don’t stay on the sidelines, but get involved a much as possible, and if you have resources, make those resources known.