By Sam Bojarski
Aldrin Enis grew up watching his uncle, the late Charity Pascal, run a Brooklyn dry cleaning business. Enis said he always admired his uncle’s tenacity for sticking with the business through its many ups and downs.
Pascal’s example inspired Enis to become entrepreneurial, but not as a typical business owner.
“I didn’t necessarily want to have people on payroll, so that’s how I discovered the stock market,” said Enis, 46. “You can kind of become an entrepreneur and not have the overhead.”
Pursuing a career in business eventually led Enis to One Hundred Black Men, which he joined 18 years ago. After serving as a committee chair, treasurer and first vice president of the national organization’s founding chapter in New York, Enis became its 11th president in November.
“The ability to serve this esteemed organization at this level is an honor that I do not take lightly,” Enis said. “I stand on the shoulders of the founders, prior presidents and elder members who have taken on the responsibility to uplift our community.”
Enis vows to connect Black professionals with educational, networking and cultural enrichment opportunities during his tenure.
Reflecting on the organization’s growing Haitian-American membership, Enis said the trend illustrates the community’s continued assimilation in America.
“When I joined the organization, there weren’t any Haitians,” he said. “Folks are going to college and seeing that being a part of the collective makes sense.”
Beginnings by the sea
Born to Therese and Rigaud Enis, both immigrants, Enis attended St. Mary Star of the Sea, a neighborhood Catholic school that has since closed. During his eight years there, the school, like his home life, was strict.
“It did teach me discipline,” Enis said. “I truly thank my parents for dedicating their time and their resources to making that happen.”
It was during this period that Enis became attuned to his uncle’s dry cleaning business. Like many business owners, Pascal’s businesses went through a series of failures and rebirths. But his uncle always had the drive to “be his own man,” Enis said, which kept him going.
Managing investments “is a similar concept but it’s more of my personality, not having to deal with the additional headaches that come along with being an entrepreneur,” Enis said.
Enis headed to SUNY Albany for college to pursue a degree in economics. After graduation, he joined the finance industry, working in client services at investment banks like Morgan Stanley, State Street Bank and BNY Mellon in a span of 18 years.
While working in finance, Enis pursued an MBA at Seton Hall University, where he joined the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. That’s also how Enis first heard of One Hundred Black Men.
Founded by such luminaries as late former New York City Mayor David Dinkins and baseball legend Jackie Robinson, the nonprofit One Hundred Black Men has empowered Black communities nationwide since 1963.
Enis said he became a member in 2002, doing everything from providing meals to hungry New Yorkers, to mentoring students at the Eagle Academy. The network of six all-male schools founded by One Hundred Black Men has provided more than $1 million in scholarships.
Among those recipients is Willliam Dennis.
“The part that became most valuable was that Aldrin was assigned to me as a mentor,” said Dennis, a 2005 scholarship recipient. “Now, as a current member of the One Hundred, my goal is to instill the same passion in scholars, as Aldrin did for me.”
Enis also made a big difference in the life of his only sibling, Emmanuel Enis, 37. Because of his brother’s guidance, Emmanuel Enis gathers a group of friends to serve food to the homeless at community centers in Far Rockaway. The two siblings also discussed personal finance, including stocks and how to choose investments.
“Normally if you have a person of influence who’s doing good, then you yourself will do good,” said Emmanuel Enis, who has a degree in business management and now works as an operations manager for FedEx. “He was always there to make sure I didn’t fall short or fall into any trouble and to continue my education.”
Opening new networks
In Aldrin Enis’ current role at AIPAC, which he refers to as entering “the people business,” has helped him forge new leadership skills. Building support for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship has allowed him to hone his planning and public speaking skills, and given him an inside view of how to build effective programming for the One Hundred’s 125-member New York chapter.
Enis attended a policy conference in Washington, D.C., where he was first introduced to AIPAC leaders. Pointing to his Christian background, Enis said he was later inspired by a trip to the Holy Land in the fall of 2015, a visit that also afforded him the opportunity to see the Israeli Knesset and speak with Ethiopian Jews.
His involvement with AIPAC will also open doors for cross-collaboration on events and networking opportunities for the One Hundred’s members.
Upcoming One Hundred programs planned include a Dec. 10 induction ceremony for 15 men, three of whom are Haitian. This will add to the organization’s total of 10 current Haitian-American members.
On Feb. 18, the organization will host a virtual panel discussion on economic development issues in Africa. Enis is collaborating with Dr. Zienzi Dillon, a banker with more than 30 years of work experience in Africa, to plan the event.
The broader goal of bridging relations between Africa and its diaspora stems from his long-standing interest in the continent, he said.
Other goals for the chapter include raising awareness for mental health in the Black community and scaling the organization’s programming for youth, including at the Eagle Academy.
Robert Brown, who serves as first vice president of the New York chapter, said Enis is highly skilled at identifying what needs to be improved and empowering his team to execute.
“Aldrin’s leadership style will manifest itself more clearly, leading to a membership which is more dedicated and driven to service in the community,” said Brown.