Christelle N. Onwu, the CEO and Founder of Express Connexion, the new firm with brand – new services

Christelle N. Onwu is the CEO and Founder of Express Connexion, a new firm that was created in 2023 and that provides several services. Ms. Onwu has been known as a Human Rights advocate not only in the African community in New York but also in other communities. Although Express Connexion is not practically focus on Human rights, Ms. Onwu said she is still a Human Rights advocate at heart.

Let’s meet Ms. Onwu and her organization.

African Journal (A J):  Please introduce yourself to our readers who do not know you.

Christelle N. Onwu (C N O): My name is Christelle N. Onwu, CEO and Founder of Express Connexion. I have been recognized by City & State’s NYC 40 Under 40 Rising Star class of 2021, The Assembly of the State of New York, and the New York City Council. Christelle is a 2021 Council on Urban Professional fellow, Coro New York Leadership 2017 ICLP fellow, and senior-level professional with over ten years of work experience in the government, non-profit, and international sectors. She is driven to foster relations between various communities through fundraising, coalition building, mobilization, and political participation using a non-discriminatory lens. I am a community advocate, public servant, entrepreneur, and community leader who served as the City of New York’s first inaugural African Diaspora Advisor. In this role, I advocated and mobilized the African community throughout the five boroughs and successfully gave an unprecedented voice to one of the fastest growing immigrant groups in New York City, while also championing the causes of other communities.

I currently serve as an Adjunct Lecturer/Professor & Advisor at Columbia University School of Social Work and a 2024 fellow at Bridges NY Fellowship. Previously, Christelle served as an Adjunct Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where I taught courses on Justice in the Africana World, Environmental and Institutional Racism in the Africana Department. I also served as an advisory member on the Language Assistance Advisory Committee of the New York City Civic Engagement Commission for four years providing advice on ways to engage francophone voters.

I earned my bachelor’s degree in Justice and Humanities Studies with minors in English, History, and Philosophy at CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a Masters’ of Science in Social Work (Policy Specialization and International Social Welfare for Services to Refugee and Immigrants Field of Practice) at Columbia School of School Work, where her article titled “Understanding Female Genital Cutting in the United Kingdom within Immigrant Communities” was published in the Social Work Review. I am a proud New Yorker and hail from Cameroon. I am also fluent in French, pidgin, and Eton. Find me on LinkedIn. Our email is expressconnexion@outlook.com

A J: Most people know you as a Human Rights advocate in the African community in New York. Express Connexion LLC is something new. What is that organization about and when it was created?  

C N O: Regarding my personal branding, I believe I am forever a Human Rights advocate at heart— that will never change. On the contrary, it is what enabled me to create this firm so I can continue to be that advocate, but on a different level now. As a trained community organizer, I have come to understand that different stages of our lives require us to advocate differently.

Express Connexion is a premier NYS African diaspora consulting firm in NYC that specializes in the areas of marketing strategies, event planning, program management, community relations, and strategic advisement. We provide access to building and maintaining connections with NYC’s African diasporic communities— one of the fastest growing immigrant communities in the United States. We have extensive experience and use individualized knowledge to cater to each client because you deserve the best consultant! It was created last year.

A J:  Your organization provides different services such as strategic advisement, community relations, program / project management, event planning, interpretation and translation. This is huge. Isn’t?  

C N O: Thank you for that question! For someone who led the effort to galvanize and mobilize one of New York City’s fastest growing immigrant community in NYC, this isn’t huge for me. I served as the inaugural African Diaspora Lead Advisor at the NYC Commission on Human Rights (a city-wide role and the only role in the mayoral administration) which meant I oversaw the five boroughs and had to be the eyes and ears of the African community— that is 54 countries with six regions— including the diaspora. I have the experience and the know-how to effectively manage and deliver the services provided by the firm.

A J:  Who can consult you? Can people who need help in immigration issues for example come to you? 

C N O: The firm focuses on bolstering New Yorkers’ connections with a variety of different entities. My target audience is government agencies, elected officials, not for profit and corporate organizations. Our area of focus is geared towards entities that work in immigration, gender-based violence, social services, and faith-based organizations. We also hope to provide educational and training opportunities for community members to stay abreast of changes in immigration laws etc.

A J:  Such an organization needs experienced staff to meet clients’ needs. How many employees work for your organization and what are their backgrounds?

C N O: We are a small consulting firm with experienced staff members who have over ten years of experience.  Rest assured that we have the capacity and capability to handle all the services that we offer.

A J:  How do you deal with all that to be an efficient public servant and entrepreneur?

C N O:  Serving others is a passion and calling that I have and so it gives me great joy to continue this calling through Express Connexion. This is an idea I have had for over five years now. I was just waiting for the right opportunity to bring it to life— now is the right time. Multitasking is not something new to me and I have a great ability to compartmentalize things and work based on different priorities.

A J:  Where is your organization office located and what is the difference between your organization and other organizations that offer the same services?

C N O:  We use a hybrid model based on the needs of our clients and we service the entire New York State. Our services are different from other organizations because we are the only consulting firm established to service the African diaspora and within the firm, we have individuals with lived experiences, credentials, community organizing skills, and both government and not for profit experience to use to achieve our clients’ goals. We are your go to place and connection to the African community.

A J: Do you have anything else to add?  

C N O: Thank you so much for your time today. I am excited to share the incredible work Express Connexion is doing and will do in the future to change the narrative of the African diaspora community. It is time for us to build and create an infrastructure that will allow entities to better serve the African diaspora community. We are here to be of assistance. Let us help you take your organization, agency, and firm to the next level. Express Connexion— Your connection to New York’s African diaspora community.

Bazona Barnabe Bado

 

 

 

 

 

 

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