Throughout the last 50 years, Black History Month celebrations have taken shape, internationally, in unique ways. Nationally recognized for the first time in the mid-1970s, February serves as a reminder of the richness, diversity, and power held throughout Black history. Here, in Hudson County, we too join the nation in celebrating Black history and culture and are proud to feature women of color who inspire us all year. These women have been trailblazers in their fields, and are inspiring day in and day out. Here are our chats with them, below:

Tonya Keyes

Broker/Owner of Keyes + Wiggins Red Door Realty

Tonya Keyes

HG: Please share a bit about yourself. How did you get started in your career path?

TK: I am a mother of an industrious teenage son, community resource provider, and the first black woman real estate broker-owner in Hudson County. I began my career as an ambitious young professional in-home health care and followed my passion into real-estate.

Can you tell us how your career path has changed over the past year?

TK: In the past year, I pivoted my real estate services to a more online platform, established Keyes & Wiggins International Referral Group, developed mentoring services for agents, and enhanced Keyes & Wiggins Property Management Services. As Keyes & Wiggins is currently recruiting new agents, in the near future we will be launching our real-estate academy for pre-licensing classes and continuing education.

What makes you proud to be a Black woman?

TK: In essence, I am proud to be who I am, it just so happens that my skin is considered Black…. I am a beautiful, intelligent, kind, and resourceful woman and that makes me proud. I am versatile in the way I wear my hair, my style in fashion, the way I carry myself and conduct my business.

What advice would you give other Women of Color in your field?

TK: Success looks different for everyone, it’s very subjective, there is no shortcut you must work hard and don’t let obstacles stop you. My strongest advice is please don’t allow other people to impose their fears or limitations on you of your tolerances and/or abilities.

What has been your proudest moment and biggest challenge in your career?

TK: The proudest moments in my career are opening Keyes & Wiggins Realty Group and being honored by Hudson County as the first black women-owned real estate brokerage. The biggest challenge in my career is opening Keyes & Wiggins Realty Group because the process itself wasn’t welcoming. You won’t believe the bureaucracy and red tape that I had to unravel with seemingly no one who understood or knew the process to aid me in starting the business.

Who do you look up to as a role model?

TK: My role model is my mother, she is the strongest, most selfless, and caring woman I know. My mother has always been a hard-working and determined woman that instilled in me I could be anything and get everything I wanted out of life if I work for it.

What is your favorite Black-owned business to support locally?

TK: Flowers & Favors, the florist around the corner from my office; Property Maintenance Guys, general contractor owned by Geoff Allen, I subcontract Keyes + Wiggins Property Management services, AngelaCARES, Inc. of which I volunteer.

Read More: Niambi Cacchioli, Academic-Turned-Beauty Activist + Founder of Pholk Beauty


Skyy Hadley

Owner of As U Wish Nail Salon

Skyy Hadley

HG: Please share a bit about yourself. How did you get started in your career path?

SH: My name is Skyy Hadley, I’m originally from Kansas City, MO. I have been in business for 17years in Hoboken. At age 45, a great blessing was given to me. I have a daughter named Logan Skyy Hadley. She is 5 years of age and is my miracle child—even at a late age, miracles do happen.

Can you tell us how your career path has changed over the past year?

SH: My career path over this past year has been tough. With the pandemic/COVID, I have lost my entire staff. I’m building from the beginning again with positive energy with a clear open mind. “As U Wish Nail Spa must survive!” This is what I tell myself every morning with positive thinking. My clients have been extraordinary with great support. Without them, I would have not made it to 2021.

What makes you proud to be a Black woman?

SH: Being proud to be a Black woman is a blessing!  No matter how many obstacles are in front of me, I have Maya Angelo the great poet to keep me moving with strength and love, Michelle Obama, the first African American First Lady to grace us with belief.  Rosa Park, a lady with no fear stood for all people of color during the civil rights movement. I’m proud to be a Black/ African American lady because we shine like pearls.

What advice would you give other Women of Color in your field?

SH: My advice is to always believe in yourself, empower yourself with positive thinking, keep great minded people around you, and delete the negative out of your life.

What has been your proudest moment and biggest challenge in your career 

SH: My proudest moment was to hear my mom tell me how proud she was of me making it to the New York Times Paper. “Don’t stop! It’s just the beginning, daughter,” she said. The biggest challenge in my career was opening up my business in a neighborhood with less than 5{409126f2c1f09c9e510a010c163a4bce2c3ccfc4019bdf864d6cb2d5d8752f38} African Americans. Initially, I was faced with racism and negative energy. However, I must say the positive people in this town outweigh the bad. The support from this town has allowed my business to grow for 17 years. I love and support my town and clients.

Who do you look up to as a role model?

SH: I look up to the one and only Michelle Obama, the former First Lady.

What is your favorite Black-owned business to support locally?

SH: I support the local daycare Step By Step in the Monroe Center. 


Angela V. McKnight 

Assemblywoman

Angela V. McKnight 

HG: Please share a bit about yourself. How did you get started in your career path?

AM: I am Angela V. McKnight and I was elected as the first African American Assemblywoman for the 31st District of the New Jersey State Legislature in 2015 and am now serving my third term. I am a Democratic lawmaker representing towns in Hudson County of New Jersey that encompasses Bayonne and Jersey City. As a member of the General Assembly, I am the Chairwoman of the Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee and serve on the Women and Children Committee, and the Aging and Senior Services Committee.

I am also the founder and Chief Executive Officer of AngelaCARES, an advocacy and support organization for senior citizens, based in Jersey City. Through the organization, I advocate for senior care, social justice, and cultural fairness in Black communities.

As a mentor and educator, I serve as an adjunct faculty member at New Jersey City University {NJCU}, and as an instructor at the Rising Tide Capital Community Business Academy. I earned a B.S. in Business Management from the University of Phoenix and have 25 years of experience in the customer service and technology arena.

Additionally, I serve as a Board Member on several boards to include the Jersey City Community Charter School, the United Way of Hudson County, and the NJCU Health Sciences Undergraduate Advisory Board. I am proud to have received several honors for my advocacy and accomplishments including the US Senator Robert Menendez 2019 Community Outreach Award, and the 2019 Community Impact Award from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

I am married to my high school sweetheart, have two loving children, and one amazing grandson!

How did you get started in your career path?

AM: Since I was young, my caring heart led me into the career of serving others. As a teenager, I started working in retail in the children’s department, which blossomed in the customer service arena to leaving the corporate world to become an entrepreneur, and founded a nonprofit to becoming an elected official.

Can you tell us how your career path has changed over the past year?

AM: I would not say that my career path has changed, instead, I would say that it has enhanced my ability to help and serve more people on a bigger scale.

What makes you proud to be a Black woman?

AM: I’m a proud Black woman because I stand on the shoulders of many Black women who endured pain on so many various levels, and they still prevailed. These strong black women include my late mother and Granny, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Fannie Lou Hamer, Madam C.J. Walker and so many more.

What advice would you give other Women of Color in your field?

AM: My advice: BE YOU, literally thank yourself as often as possible, live an authentic life and never let anyone dim your light. 

What has been your proudest moment and biggest challenge in your career?

AM: This is a tough question as you are making me choose between so many. My proudest moment was when I took the oath to become the first African American woman to serve as the Assemblywoman of the 31st district. I do not look at things as challenges, I look at them as a way to work harder. Once conquered, it results in a positive effect! 

Who do you look up to as a role model?

AM: There are many people who I look up to as they are part of my village. To name some: forever First Lady Michelle Obama, Oprah Whitney, Michellene Davis, Stacey Abrams, and Kamala Harris.

What is your favorite Black-owned business to support locally?

AM: AMO Consulting. My daughter and I are two of her clients.

See More: Supporting Children + Building Confidence: All About The Kutz 4 Kidz Project


Quinoa McCollum

Founder/CEO of Childish Glow

childish glow

HG: Please share a bit about yourself. How did you get started in your career path? 

QM: Well, first and foremost I’m a mom of a beautiful sprouting black queen named Ziri who’s 15 years old, and my fur baby (puppy) Zeua. I grew up in Jersey City, NJ and I lived there most of my life with the exception of a few years spent out of state and now in Bayonne, NJ. I’m a well-traveled singer, songwriter, and a studying esthetician who prides herself on spreading self-love via the inner aesthetic outward. I’m a God-fearing woman and I come from a God serving family. I’ve always been a child of the arts. My parents honed-in on my creativity and my gift as a singer from the tender age of about 5 or 6 years old.

My love for skincare and esthetics started very early on. I’d use my friends as muses to do their makeup and enhance their beauty to the best of my ability. I understood that your canvas needed to be cared for prior to any makeup application so I’d come up with my own regimen even if it meant creating my own herbal products to get the results I set out to achieve. My skin has always been flawless (submitting that in the most humble way) but with age, came changes. Stress began to shift my canvas aesthetically {acne} so it kicked me into high gear as an artisan/herbalist henceforth the birth of Childish Glow

Can you tell us how your career path has changed over the past year? 

QM: This past year has been one of grit and grace. I’ve become a master student of my field and my career/business reflects just that. I invested time into learning more about my passion, the people who trust my expertise and opinion as well as being a contender and influencer in the world of beauty. I worked a full-time job last year but the pandemic showed up and changed a lot of lives including my own. It was always about duality for me so prior to the storm {Covid-19} I ran my business and worked in corporate America as well. I feared for my livelihood after losing half of my streams of income but by the grace of God my business grew even bigger during this unforeseen disaster and I am so humbled and grateful for that.  

What makes you proud to be a Black woman? 

QM: One word, magic. From the beginning of time, Black women were pegged to “take care” of most things without being properly credited for the magic that resided within. My ancestors fought long and hard, henceforth lending me their shoulders to stand on to realize the royalty that is ME. We are graceful, regal, powerful forces of nature and the movers and shakers of the universe. The question is, why wouldn’t I be proud to be a Black woman? I am what I am, a proud and confident Black woman.

What advice would you give other Women of Color in your field? 

QM: Exert your power and strength. Do it even if you’re scared. Be fierce and understand that you are unstoppable. When we move as black women the earth shakes at every step we take. Run towards your purpose, silence the noise around you, and don’t ever look back. If you can’t sleep at night thinking about it and you daydream about being it, why not you sister? Why not?. You can do all things through Christ.

What has been your proudest moment and biggest challenge in your career? 

QM: My most proud moment was when I pushed the button to make Childish Glow go live by way of the support of my people and now gearing to open my first flagship store! My biggest challenge is wearing multiple hats to make it run. It’s rare that I outsource so my title consists of many things {without limitation too} but through prayer, help is on the way!

Who do you look up to as a role model? 

QM: My mother. Her resilience, strength, sacrificial heart, love for me and my siblings, and perseverance are the wind that holds me up. I couldn’t have derived from a better human being. My dad is the greatest protector and shield over my life. I’m fortunate enough to have very strong figures in my life. Everyone needs that.  

What is your favorite Black-owned business to support locally?

QM: The Herbal Tea House in Jersey City by Mrs.Diane. Her business sits directly in the heart of the city on the junction. She’s been a pillar of light for everyone by spreading her love for health and beauty by way of her herbal expertise. I frequent her establishment, respect and admire her for her longevity, knowledge, and helpful spirit. She’s truly a master of her art and I will always support her!  


Tracy Severe

PR Manager of Alvin Ailey  

Tracy Severe

HG: Please share a bit about yourself. How did you get started in your career path? 

TS: I am a proud native of Rockland County NY, who has resided in Hoboken, NJ for the past six years. I am currently a Public Relations Manager at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater by day and a cardio dance instructor by night.

I like to say my career path was a winding road with some traffic stops and U-turns. I graduated college thinking I was going to pursue one career to only realize where my true passion lies, public relations. Since I had no experience in public relations, I immediately sought out internships to learn more about the field. One of the internships I had garnered was with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 2012, fast track five years later, I landed a full-time position with the organization, and have been with the company for about three and a half years. It is a dream to be able to merge two passion points – public relations and dance.

Outside of my full-time job, I am a dance cardio instructor. Dance has been a major part of my life since the age of six. My passion for dance and fitness led me to pursue becoming a group fitness instructor. I am committed to sharing my love of movement with others. Currently, you can find me hosting virtual 305 Fitness classes and I am a guest instructor with The Drip Fitness.  

Can you tell us how your career path has changed over the past year? 

TS: I am grateful to be in a career and be a part of an organization where I am able to grow exponentially in my position. My role now does not look the same as it did two years ago. Change is a constant in my current role and I work with a rapidly growing organization. As the landscape continues to evolve, I hope to also personally evolve, and keep my finger on the pulse so that I can effectively communicate with media.

What makes you proud to be a Black woman? 

TS: I am proud to be a Black woman because our culture is beautiful. Despite all of the tribulations my ancestors have faced, there is still so much to celebrate. I have learned through experiences and self-love as a dark-skinned Black woman, I am enough as I am. I have appreciated the power behind the dark hue of my skin. My Black is Beautiful. I will never let anyone take that away from me. I hope to support other Black women to continue to love themselves and show pride because we are Queens! 

What advice would you give other Women of Color in your field? 

TS: Network, network, network. Put yourself out there to learn and gain more experiences to strengthen your “personal brand.” Networking within the communications field will open yourself up to more opportunities you may have not known existed. 

What has been your proudest moment and biggest challenge in your career? 

TS: My proudest moment has been seeing the work I have done alongside my team to amplify the immeasurable impact that my organization has made to educate and inspire the Black community ensuring the legacy of our founder lives on. The biggest challenge in my career has certainly been navigating and adapting to these ever-changing times.

Who do you look up to as a role model? 

TS: I look up to my mom as a role model. She is someone who has worked so hard to assimilate to the American culture and provide for her children regardless of any obstacles she came across. When you are a child of immigrant parents you learn to hustle more than others. You watch how much harder it is for them to live the American dream. I thank her for my never give up and hustle hard mentality.

What is your favorite Black-owned business to support locally? 

TS: I enjoy wearing protective hairstyles, such as box braids, and have been a loyal customer of Fajara Professional Braids in Jersey City for a few years, they never disappoint. I am also a big fan of Harry’s Daughter in Jersey City. Being that both of my parents are Haitian, Caribbean food holds a special place in my heart.


Tawana Moody

Police Director, Jersey City 

Tawana Moody

HG: Please share a bit about yourself. How did you get started in your career path? 

I started as a Clerk for the police department 16 years ago.  I was quickly recognized for my hard work as I was promoted to management not too long after, and I have worked very hard every step of the way.

TM: Can you tell us how your career path has changed over the past year? 

Since 2005, I have held various administrative roles, the variety of which has given me unique insight and perspective into the intricate inner workings of the police department. My job requirements have ranged from contract negotiations to budgets, to emergency crisis response, to diversity recruitment, to enforcing community relations, to facilitating community meetings and public outreach. 

I was honored to be appointed Police Director in 2018, and to now be the first civilian entrusted by Mayor Fulop and Public Safety Director James Shea to oversee the police department, this is an exciting new journey with a shared goal of further decreasing crime while increasing police/community relations, transparency, and accountability.

TM: What makes you proud to be a Black woman? 

I am proud overall to be a Black woman. I’m also proud to be an Ordained Minister, a city employee, a mother, a grandmother and so much more. I hope to inspire young women and men to strive to become someone who makes a difference, regardless of skin color. I believe it’s hard work that makes the difference, and I’m incredibly grateful to Mayor Fulop and Director Shea for giving me this opportunity.  I was not appointed to this new role because I’m a Black female, but because I worked hard and earned it.

TM: What advice would you give other Women of Color in your field? 

Continue to work hard and persevere, there are opportunities for us. Every day I wake up and ask myself, “What can I learn today? What can I achieve?”  I think this opportunity shows that whether I’m a Black female from Greenville or someone else, the world is full of opportunity.

TM: What has been your proudest moment and biggest challenge in your career? 

I’m lucky enough to have many highlights throughout my career with the police department, and I’d have to say this latest role tops my list.  We’ve been through a lot over the past year, since the December 10th shootings, then facing a global pandemic and nationwide protests to “defund the police”.  I think we as a city and as a police department have preserved and have shown that we are stronger than ever, and we will continue to build bridges between our police officers and our community.  That’s one of my biggest goals in this new role.

TM: Who do you look up to as a role model? 

My mother. She was a single mother who dedicated her life to raising us, 7 kids. Although she did it all by herself, she leaned on the continued support of her community and her neighbors. My mother made sure to push us to be better every day.

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Written by: Jordan and Joelle Hernandez

Jordan and Joelle, contributors and volunteer coordinators to HobokenGirl are true Jersey Girls. Originally hailing from down the shore in Hazlet, NJ, the girls made their “rite of passage” move to Hoboken a few short years after graduating with degrees in Communications from Loyola University. Outside of their 9-5 as senior publishers in NYC, the twins can be found baking cookies, reading the latest books, or walking their yorkie-poo Chica. Like many 20-somethings, Jordan and Joelle are balling on a budget and know how to score the best deals around town