Over the past decade in New York’s expansive field of education, few have been more notable and impactful than Rev. Alfred Cockfield. With a presence that begins in Brooklyn but now spans the entirety of the downstate region, Cockfield is viewed by many of the state’s most influential as a trusted advisor and tireless advocate for the underserved.
A second-generation educational leader, Cockfield also served alongside his parents, Dr. Alfred S. and Linette Cockfield, at Batallion Christian Academy, which he would later take over himself. Cockfield later founded the Lamad Academy Charter School in Brooklyn. More recently, he has co-founded BLACC: the Black, Latinx, Asian Charter Collaborative, which advocates for fair and equitable education for New York’s minority communities.
What began two years ago as a small movement, BLACC has evolved into an expansive and diverse organization representing thirteen-member charter schools. Cockfield helped set the course on which BLACC is today, to transform education by emboldening the environments in which students learn. With a member portfolio that is equally diverse as their student populations, BLACC now represents schools for the arts, humanities, athletics, boys and girls schools, and various other concentration-based educational institutions.
“My parents wanted to give an education to students that were as superior as a private education, while also making it very affordable,” said Cockfield. “They started the school over 35 years ago and it is still going strong, educating about 150 students a year.”
Also a faith leader in the boroughs to our west, Cockfield holds the title of Chief Operating Officer of God’s Battalion of Prayer Ministries. Located in Brooklyn, Cockfield leads the development of the church, through recruitment and retention, partnership alliance, as well as staff, educational, and economic development.
Cockfield holds a degree from New York’s prestigious Nyack College — a Christian college and seminary — where he secured his Bachelor of Science and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. Cockfield has been able to implement many of the concepts and expertise he developed throughout his academic career to aid in the various development roles in which he has served in the church.
“We have churches around the world, where we own the property and the land. It is very important to understand the international market as a global ministry. This is why I decided to go get my MBA in business marketing, to understand the different continents. A goal of ours is not only to go into these communities to preach but to also help uplift the communities where we are located,” said Cockfield.
“We help with education, finances, and workforce training to make those church communities self-reliant,” Cockfield continues.
The church is now in Nigeria, South Africa, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines, Guyana, as well as the United States, with domestic locations in Delaware, Illinois and New York.
A native of Arverne, N.Y., Cockfield now calls the eastern portion of the Rockaway peninsula home. Cockfield says that many of his peers view him as a Brooklyn-Queens pastor.
Cockfield has earned positions of leadership, as a trusted advisor on topics of education and religion to various elected officials. He also proudly serves on the 67th Precinct’s Clergy Council, which he fondly calls the “God Squad,” of which he is a founding member.
“The God Squad comes out of the precinct where the headquarters of our church is located in the 67th Precinct,” he said. “I think it’s an awesome responsibility that I don’t take for granted. I really cherish it.
“I try to do my best to advise and influence for the betterment of our people,” he continues.
While Cockfield has already accomplished a remarkable body of work, he remains wholeheartedly committed to transforming the lives of children and youth through education, most specifically through furthering academic opportunities for the disadvantaged. He works extensively in the community of East Flatbush, in the interest of creating engaging and interactive educational programs for the youth to excel using innovative classroom techniques.
“At the Lamad Academy, we have what we call ‘Lamad Life,’ which is a social and emotional program,” he said. “The students check in and check out twice a day to share what they are dealing with at home, and based upon how they answer, a guidance counselor on our team or our special education team can go in and check on the scholar, talk with them, and alert the teachers to what that child has going on that day.
“You can have a great home, with good money, and a student could still have things that they are dealing with, everyone has some bit of trauma that could lead to an ineffective day in school. It’s a holistic approach to making sure our children don’t have an ineffective day,” Cockfield continues.
Al Cockfield is currently serving as the Chair of BLACC, helping to advise the organization and further its mission of collective advocacy for the education of New York’s diverse communities. Alongside CEO Miriam Raccah, Cockfield and the organization has seen a growing list of member schools, which the Reverend says will only continue to expand in the future.
“We now have less than 10% of the charter schools in the New York City sector,” he said. “I want to not only grow in membership but grow in the number of schools that are chartered, founded, and led by people of color.
“The industry is dominated by 90% white vs. black, Latinx, and Asian founders. We want to make sure that the schools actually represent the student body,” Cockfield continues.
The organization’s mission to ensure that families of color have access to high-quality, rigorous public education — with educators and administrators that reflect the diversity of the populations they educate — has never been more important, Cockfield says, in a world where 91% of students in public charter schools are Black or Latinx. Only 8% of the charters, though, are run by individuals of the same ethnic or racial background.
“Studies have shown that for students that have teachers that look like them, the likelihood of them going on to do well in education is higher than those who do not have any teachers of color by the third grade,” Cockfield says.
Although Cockfield’s educational endeavors are rooted in the boroughs, he has become involved in affairs that impact the east end. In 2021, Cockfield was appointed by the Governor of the State of New York to a Board Member position with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). In this capacity, he helps lead the organization that keeps the lights on, and the power running, from the east end across this 118-mile island and the Rockaways. He is the only trustee on the Board representing the Rockaways.
He also is the CEO and Founder of a Political Action Committee (PAC) called Striving for a Better New York, which supports moderate Democrat and Republican candidates for office, with the intention of electing responsible leadership statewide.
“When you put people in power, they are responsible for that power,” Rev. Cockfield says.
“We want to make sure that our elected officials are making decisions that are really for the upliftment of the whole state. It is not just economic, it’s public safety, education options, pro-business and market, and affordable housing. That our elected officials are pushing things that improve the whole state and city of New York,” Rev. Cockfield continues.
And, throughout these duties — and beyond them, in his personal life — Cockfield has developed an affinity for the East End. He enjoys short visits to Long Island’s south fork for many of the same reasons that we all do during the warmer months.
“I’m a Rockaway boy, so I love the beach. I love everything about the East End: the restaurants, the people, Montauk, the water, the beach, fishing, and hanging out with great friends and family. I just spent a week in Martha’s Vineyard with my family, my children, and my grandson, I love being near the water.
“Whether it’s East Quogue, East Hampton, Southampton, Sag Harbor, I love it all,” Cockfield concludes.
Todd Shapiro is an award-winning publicist and associate publisher of Dan’s Papers.