Charlene Gayle: A Fierce Advocate for NY

Charlene Gayle
Charlene Gayle

Real estate may be Charlene Gayle’s career, but politics, government and advocacy comprise also her specialty. Through relationship development and fierce advocacy on behalf of her organization — the New York State Association of Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislators Inc. (NYSABPRHAL) — Gayle has earned the respect of many of the state’s most influential government leaders and secured the trust of decision-makers from the boroughs to Albany.

Gayle is purpose-driven and vision-oriented, leading the nonprofit group since 2018. Innovative by nature, complemented by decades of business savvy, her leadership has helped advance the mission and broaden its scope. The group of elected officials views their modus operandi as simple: elevating the communities of color, by advancing education, equity and empowerment.

The Brooklyn native now calls Long Island home; however, her focus is not just on the Downstate region. As the organization’s executive director, Gayle is focused not only on Brooklyn but also Buffalo. Not only Manhattan but also Messena.

Doing so effectively takes relationships in New York’s legislative bodies and executive offices, and through years of networking, Gayle has honed these connections by way of friendships. Yielding influence for good, the nonprofit’s recent Legislative Political Action Conference brought more than 5,000 voices to Albany, enabling community members to speak directly with those they have elected and formulate solutions to benefit their communities as well as others statewide.

“The weekend also serves as a networking incubator for those who are passionate about community service, seeking careers in the government and political arena, as well as nonprofits,” Gayle says.

“Shirley Chisholm was one of the founding members of our organization,” she continues. “I always say we have Founding Fathers but also Founding Mothers. I am passionate about legacy building and that legacy being used for the greater good. Not only the legacies of a family, but the legacy of a community where the family serves and lives. In doing so, I am paying homage to my lineage, attempting to be an example of living an example from my parents.”

Through workforce training, young professionals’ networking opportunities and mentorship programs, Gayle hopes the initiative will help pave the way for people of color to long-term careers.

“We as an organization like to serve as the infrastructure to bridge the wealth gap of minority families,” she says. “COVID-19 has exposed the healthcare deserts, the economic disparities, the digital divide, housing insecurities and inequities, as well as the bipolarity of minorities across the state. It’s an honor to serve in this organization whose mission is to not only identify these gaps but to do something about them, and promote a greater good for our community.”

Gayle is an accomplished business owner in the field of real estate. A second-generation force in the space, she learned through the guidance and knowledge of her father, Leonard Gayle, a renowned and legendary real estate mogul. His lessons laid the foundation for Gayle’s early-career successes.

However, now, with over two decades of experience in real estate and as the founder of two real estate companies of her own, Gayle is a mover and shaker.

“Watching my father, as well as my mother, it shows that no one can pay you your value, but you,” she says. “I like to speak to young entrepreneurs and encourage minority-owned businesses to get certified to participate in procurement opportunities in the MWBE (Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises) field, as well as the DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) sectors. I think that it’s important for minority-owned businesses to engage and seek government contracts, for sustainability; there are a lot of opportunities out there for minority-owned businesses, with resources that some minority-owned businesses are now aware of.”

She continues, “On another end, we have to hold the winners of these lucrative contracts responsible, to make sure they are engaging in their 10% or 20% MWBE participation, with the contracts that they were awarded.”

Her career progression, much like her life in advocacy, has been fueled by innovation, which has helped her companies excel. Her unique marketing strategies have aided the evolution of real estate sales in Brooklyn. Trailblazing in her own way, her business interests, too, are purpose-driven, with a passion for expanding access to quality housing options for those who are less fortunate.

Some years after founding her residential company, The Macon Realty, she started Macon Property Group, which specializes in the development and rehabilitation of affordable housing. The organization, which is a New York City MWBE, has brought progress to the often-difficult process of expanding access to housing.

“We focus on minority homeownership, which is definitely a methodology to build wealth,” she says. “Ownership is key. I speak a lot more on homeownership, whether it’s an affordable co-op, HDSC or a single-family home. Homeownership is the key to economic
freedom.”

While much of her time is spent between networking and political events, as well as pursuing her business endeavors, the Long Island resident does venture to the East End. Gayle, who considers herself a foodie, loves the Hamptons dining scene, spending time on Southampton Main Street.

“Every time I go to 75 Main or Blu Mar it’s an astronomical experience,” Gayle says. “I am a big believer in ‘work hard and enjoy your life hard,’ so I love the culinary experience that Long Island brings. There are so many options, whether it’s steak or oysters on the East End.”

While she has an affinity for the North Shore, Gayle says that “any view of the water is relaxing and tranquil.”

She adds, “Whether it’s the dining experience, the arts, cultural experiences or meeting people and talking with them in the Hamptons, it just seems like the East End has less stress. When you are in the city, there’s pressure; when you’re out east, it’s laissez-faire.”

And, no matter the love Gayle may have for the island, she keeps her heart where she considers her home.

“I live on Long Island but I’m a Brooklyn girl at heart!”

Todd Shapiro is an award-winning publicist and associate publisher of Dan’s Papers.

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