Jacqueline Davis-Manigaulte ’72, a senior extension associate, director of community relations, and the family and youth development program leader for Cornell University Cooperative Extension-NYC, is the latest recipient of the Cornell New York State Hometown Alumni Award.
The celebratory community event, held May 8 at the First Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, brought together colleagues, family and friends of the Bronx native to recognize the longtime Brooklyn resident’s decades of work with youth and family programs. The afternoon was capped by a performance by MoJazz Dance, of which Davis-Manigaulte is a member.
The Cornell University New York State Hometown Alumni Award recognizes Cornell graduates who return to their home counties or regions to start or enhance a business or nonprofit, and who regularly volunteer and are making an impact in those communities. Davis-Manigaulte was the first award recipient from the New York City area.
Davis-Manigaulte grew up in Queens, intent on working in education and youth programming, and attended Julia Richman High School in Manhattan. At Cornell, where she studied child development at the College of Human Ecology, she designed a special degree program for herself, combining classes in human development and sociology with courses in the newly formed Africana Studies Center. She also designed her own honors research study that involved a Head Start center in her neighborhood in Queensbridge.
Davis-Manigaulte went on to earn a master’s degree in home economics from New York University’s School of Education and a doctorate in adult education from Columbia University’s Teachers College.
“It’s clear that her education and her interests were a perfect fit for Cornell Cooperative Extension and are at the heart of her work [there],” said Joel Malina, vice president for university relations, “where she connects Cornell’s expert research, programing and practices with youth, families and local communities.”
For more than 45 years with CUCE-NYC, Davis-Manigaulte has developed and enhanced countless programs that impact city residents – youth in particular. She introduced the 4-H club program model in New York City – including its STEM subject matter projects and community service – which now reaches more than 10,000 children annually. She also has successfully developed and secured funding for other youth-driven nutrition and fitness programs that have been sustained and replicated.
“Jackie is precisely the kind of person we seek to honor with our Hometown Alumni Award, and Cornell is extremely proud to recognize her,” Malina said in presenting the award, noting her “world-class advocacy,” her leadership role with CUCE-NYC, her collaborative work throughout the state and her mentoring, all “while establishing new standards of excellence and accessibility.”
Many of Davis-Manigaulte’s family members – including her father, Clinton Davis, her son Khalil Manigaulte ’96, sisters and grandchildren – along with dozens of friends and colleagues were there to witness and share in the celebration.
“This is just the most incredible, beautiful meeting of Jackie’s worlds,” said Jennifer Tiffany, executive director of CUCE-NYC. “Look around this room – we each are affiliated with Jackie in one way or another … classmates, friends, family … colleagues, partners. All these people, Jackie, you have touched.”
She praised Davis-Manigaulte’s ability to build and sustain programs, making them all work together in a beautiful, “crazy quilt” style of things “that we treasure, stitched together to make a new pattern and to provide warmth and unity, into one coherent whole.”
Davis-Manigaulte had long ago aspired “to become the best educator in NYC – not because she wanted to be the best, but because she wanted the best for children,” Tiffany said.
“Jackie made me better,” said Matt Phifer, the deputy program officer of education and employment services at Henry Street Settlement. He has worked with Davis-Manigaulte through the organization’s College Achievement through Urban Science Exploration (CAUSE) program, which helps high school juniors explore emerging science areas as potential career tracks. “She really brought us to another level and helped us as an agency.”
As an elementary and middle school student in Brooklyn, Josina Reaves ’95 was a member of the first 4-H club Davis-Manigaulte established in New York City. “I learned more than I could ever quantify,” she said. “Head, heart, hands and health – the four H’s. And Jackie kept all of ours in top form.”
‘It never gets old’
“Everything that I have been able to do is because of all the people, everybody, in this room – it’s filled with the people who have made it possible,” Davis-Manigaulte said after accepting the award. “I’m looking at my life.”
She thanked her colleagues and partners throughout the city.
“It never gets old,” she said, because “it was love, and it was family. We’re all in it to really bring out the best of the young people in this city and their families and communities. I’m looking forward to being able to do that work for many more years to come.
“You all know that you are truly loved,” she said, “you are extremely important to me, and I’m truly thankful that you all are in my life.”
Davis-Manigaulte concluded the celebration by joining about a dozen members of her dance group, MoJazz Dance, for a performance titled “WomanHood,” choreographed to “Oh Woman, Oh Mama” by Joy Williams.
As part of the award, Cornell is donating $1,000 in Davis-Manigaulte’s name, in four donations of $250 each, to organizations of her choice: Cornell Cooperative Extension’s 4-H programs of the New York City region; the Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement; IMPACCT Brooklyn; and Community Parents Head Start.