Professor Onleilove Chika Alston, MDiv, MSW was born and raised in East New York, Brooklyn and has over 13-years of community organizing and advocacy experience and over 17-years of experience in the non-profit sector. She has developed and lead community organizing campaigns and philanthropic efforts in New York City, Washington, DC, Baltimore, and West Africa. Currently she serves as The NYC Office of Civic Engagement TRIE Neighborhood Coordinator (TNC) for the neighborhoods of Morningside Heights and Hamilton Heights where she is convening a diverse coalition of organizations focused on developing a community led and informed participatory budgeting process. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Human Development with a minor in African American studies from Penn State University, she completed a year of service with AmeriCorps Public Allies New York. In 2011, she received her Master of Divinity and Master of Social Work degrees from Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University School of Social Work, respectively. She is currently a Doctor of Ministry Candidate at The Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology of Virginia Union University (STVU) where she is focusing on Global Leadership and Institutional Reform and researching African and African American Jewish concepts of Justice and Tikkun Olam and how this knowledge can strengthen African American community organizing efforts.
Professor Alston considers herself an intersectional Pan African Social Worker who often organizes with African American, Pan African, and West African organizations. In 2019 she was appointed as the Faith-Based coordinator for the Global African Business Association (GABA) a global network of African and diaspora business and political professionals in Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Angola, and the United States. Currently, Onleilove is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Arts and Sciences in Criminal Justice for Hope International University, an Adjunct Professor of Community Organizing for The Voices School of Liberation & Transformation (formerly Klins College), an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University School of Social Work and New York Theological Seminary’s Master of Divinity Programs at Sing Sing and Bedford Hills correctional facilities where she teaches African Contributions to The Abrahamic Faith Traditions. She has also guest lectured on community organizing at CUNY City College and Dartmouth College.
She is one of the first African American women to visit Jews in West Africa where she studied, learned from these communities at their invitation for 8-years. This resulted in her book: Prophetic Whirlwind: Uncovering the Black Biblical Destiny focused on African and African American Jewish communities, justice, and communal healing. In 2018 she launched #OperationJoseph a philanthropic campaign inviting African Americans to send support to African Jewish communities which to date has sent support to over 40 African Jewish synagogues, NGOs, and orphanages in fifteen nations.
In 2015, she was appointed as the youngest member of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Inaugural Clergy Advisory Council and in 2020 she was appointed to Mayor Eric Adams Faith Transition Committee. In 2016, Onleilove testified before the United Nations Working Group for People of African Descent on Mass Incarceration’s Impact on Black Women & Girls. Onleilove served as the second executive director of PICO-Faith in New York, where she led a multiracial and multifaith organizing federation of 70+ congregations representing 80,000 New Yorkers. In 2018, she founded Her Wisdom LLC, a consulting firm, where she advises non-profits, NGOs, political campaigns and companies on women’s leadership, faith-based organizing and what she has coined intersectional diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Her writing has been featured in Sojourners Magazine, HuffPost Religion, The Black Commentator and NPR’s OnBeing blog, as well as in other print and online publications. Onleilove has been a featured speaker and workshop facilitator at CCDA, The Sojourners Summit and The Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference among other conferences and organizations. Onleilove has a great love for African traditional fashion and owns Chika’s Closet which employs Nigerian women as tailors and brings “Afro Glamour home” while promoting Pan African women’s economic empowerment.
Onleilove’s community organizing, and social work career is rooted in her family’s personal experience with poverty, foster care and homelessness in New York City. She believes as her community organizing mentor Willie Baptist of the Poor People’s Campaign taught her: “those closest to the issues should be at the forefront of solving them.”
In her spare time, she loves to travel and enjoy the arts. Onleilove has 5 siblings and a large extended family and lives in Harlem, New York.
The Implicit Bias of Colorism and Its Impact on The Criminalization of Black Women and Girls
The History of Poverty & Community Organizing in East New York, Brooklyn
African and African American Jewish Communities & Concepts of Tikkun Olam & Justice
Reconciliation and Healing Between African and African Diaspora Communities (African American, Afro Caribbean, Afro Arab & African Latinix Communities)
The Womb to Prison Pipeline
Faith-Based Community Organizing
Intersectional Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
2008-Beatitudes Society Fellowship
2010-Bunton Waller Scholarship Award
2010-UFCW Minority Coalition Young Adult Award
2010-William Asbury Student Leadership Award
2011-Bennett Fellowship from Auburn Seminary
2011-Debbie Bial Scholarship Award
2012 Lost Angels Society Award
2013-World Vision Move Inspirational Leader Award
2016-W.A.T.E. Women’s Humanitarian Award
2016 NASW 2011 Miriam Dinerman Scholarship Award
2016 International Humatradomes Award
2017-Public Allies NY Local Alumni Award
2019 Great Awakening Book of the Year Award 2021
2020 Georgia-African Connection Week Keeping The Faith Award
2020 National African American Women Clergy Awareness Month Sojourner Truth Award
2020 Federation of International Gender and Human Rights Prize of Peace Nomination in Creative Nonviolence
2021 George-African Connection Week Because You Care Award
2012-CUNY Women’s Leaderships Conference Award
Current Grants & Projects
Selected Published Articles