Lekia Hill landed in Syracuse in 2013. She moved here sight unseen from Yonkers when she took a job as a lead organizer for Citizen Action New York. She found herself in a new community, with no friends, no social life and no money when her job was eliminated less than two years later.
Today she has a job she loves, started an app she is passionate about, has a diverse social network and has dug deep roots in Central New York.
Here’s her story.
In Yonkers, Lekia was working for a state advocacy agency for education, focusing on universal Pre-K and education aide for public schools in underserved communities. She was the mother of a three-year-old and had just organized the largest education rally in the area since 1993.
“I was living the life, doing something I cared deeply about when I was offered a job in Syracuse. I moved within a week and I hadn’t ever been there before,” she said.
Within two years of her landing in Syracuse, the agency Lekia joined was eliminated. “I suddenly became one of the people I had been trying to help,” said Lekia. “I lost my income, my car, so many things so quickly.”
Lekia started doing consulting work, accepting various jobs, living frugally and developing her own business. “From the time I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to be a businesswoman,” she said. Her grandmother, who worked as a supervisor at an insurance company, was a major influence on her business ambition. Movies fed her life dreams as well. “I loved the movie ‘Baby Boom,’ she said. “I was inspired by Diane Keaton, how she juggled everything in her life,”
Lekia took advantage of Central New York’s many free resources, including Syracuse University’s WISE Women’s Business Center and CenterState CEO’s Tech Garden for entrepreneurs. “This place is so rich in resources for people in need. I went to free workshops and showed up for every event the Tech Garden had,” she said.
Lekia’s ambition paid off. Today she is the Community Outreach & Diversity Coordinator for Hueber Breuer Construction, the owner of 3Es Consulting Group and the creator of an app called Powerful Voices.
“I call it the people’s app,” she said. “It’s a civic app that connects people with information about your federal, state and local leaders. You voted them into office, now it’s your turn to reach out to them and communicate changes you want,” she said. She was recently awarded a grant from the Central New York Community Foundation’s Black Excellence and Equity Fund to build out additional features in the app and help improve civic involvement, particularly in the black community.
The app is currently available in both Google Play and app stores.
As the owner of 3Es Consulting Group, an empowerment agency that promotes positive, productive living, Lekia operates www.3eslifestyleonline.com, the only locally owned black media site.
Now, she’s embedded in the Central New York Community. “I love the richness of community service in the people here,” she said. “I feel a lot of empathy from people here, too. It’s a community that takes care of each other. I’ve built a lot of diverse, cultured relationships,” she said.
Lekia is still a member of the Tech Garden, sits on the steering committees of the Democratic Women of Onondaga County and the Syracuse My Dream Summit. She is on the boards of ACR Health and YWCA Syracuse & Onondaga County.
She is currently buying her first home in Syracuse.
“I love Central New York. I like the pace of it for my personal life. It’s an easy place to raise a family,” she said. “Some people say there’s not enough to do, but I don’t find that at all. I’m always busy. There are always events and so many places to go.”
It’s a place where she can live her best life – both personally and professionally — and worth staying for in the long run.
“Why would I leave? I’ll stay as long as I can flourish,” she said.
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