Honored by Young Democrats of Queens as Community Leader of the Year
By Mohamed Alim Hassim
QUEENS, NY — With over four decades in public and community services – both in his home country of Guyana and his adopted country, the United States of America – Dr. Mohamed Hack has received countless honors and accolades, including two honorary doctorates.
His most recent recognition came from the Queens County Young Democrats (QCYD) at their 2017 summer bash held in Astoria on September 19th. At that event Hack was one of five honorees, including Congresswoman Grace Meng. Hack was recognized as Community Leader of the Year.
In accepting his award, he thanked the Queens County Young Democrats for recognizing his contribution to the community and lauded them for the work they do at the grassroots level, educating and empowering youngsters for a role in the future. “When I started my life in community affairs, I started from the grassroots,” he recalled.
In an interview with The West Indian subsequently, Dr. Hack, who turns 62 this month, looked back at his many years in community service and how it at all started. He stated that the cornerstone for his success in life is “my blessed wife and the upbringing by my late grandparents, Adam and Latifan.” He said he worked tirelessly and defied all odds to achieve the American dream. “The struggle was not easy but I realize to achieve your goals you have to work hard and stay focused, and that would be my advice to young people,” he added.
Born in a village called La Jalousie on the West Coast of Demerara in Guyana, Hack grew up in another village nearby called Blankenburg. He attended the Saraswat High School and later the Indian Education Trust Secondary School (now Richard Ishmael Secondary School). He went on to study Surveying at the Guyana Technical Institute in Georgetown and upon graduation, he landed his first job as a land surveyor with a private company. Shortly thereafter he met his wife Bibi Majeed Hack, to whom he has been married now for 43 “wonderful years”. They tied the knot in 1974.
In his thank you speech at the QCYD event, he had stated, “I want to thank the lady of my life who stood by me in good times and bad times and never walked away from me.”
Two years after his marriage – in 1976 – Hack joined the Guyana Rice Board (GRB) as a clerk. He remained with the GRB for a number of years during which he attained several positions within the state-owned company. In 1982 he resigned from the GRB as a budget and financial planning officer for Region Three.
He tried his hands at his own business for about 18 months. During this time Hack also became involved in community work. He became an active member of the La Jalousie-Blankenburg Sunnatul Jamaat and later served as President of that organization.
Then it was time for Hack to leave the shores of Guyana for a better life in the United States. The year was 1984 and Mr. and Mrs. Hack, then young parents of three, migrated to the US, uncertain about what their future holds, but hopeful that they were going to secure a better life for their children. Leaving their kids behind was difficult, but the years went by and in 1989, they returned to Guyana for their children. A few years later, due to an act of fate, the Hack’s family was blessed with two more children. Hack is proud to say today that all five of his kids are grown and doing well for themselves.
His children are Khadijah Habib, a mother of two boys – Malik and Zachary; Abdul Hack, father of two – Safiyyah and Zain; Safraz Hack, soon to be a father; Shaneeza Hack and Faneeza Hack.
On migrating to the United States, Hack began his new life in an apartment in Brooklyn and worked in a plastic factory. A few months later he moved to The Bronx where he juggled three jobs – two security jobs in the nights and a production manager job in a factory in the day until six months later he changed to Wolfson Casing Corporation in the daytime as a Production Manager. After a few months, Hall Security, one of the security firms he worked with, made him a dispatcher and a few weeks later, he was promoted to operations manager. As the operations manager, Hack was instrumental in growing the company from 22 employees to few thousand by 1989, providing services to federal, city, state and private entities. After 6 years with Hall Security, Hack was appointed as vice president of the company in 1990 and continued until 1997.
It was not too long after that Hack’s entrepreneurial instincts kicked in once again and he left Hall Security to launch his own company called M. Hack Security. However, after about one year, he gave up the challenge of business ownership and went back to the corporate world, working as operations manager at FJC Security Services, providing security services to all NYC homeless shelters. He later worked with Lance Investigation Service as director of operations.
While working long hours and taking care of his family, Hack found the time to pursue higher education at the US Institute of Design and Technology where he majored in Engineering.
As a community minded person, Hack was always looking for ways by which he can contribute to the community. A devout Muslim, he become involved in the Bronx Sunnatul Jamaat, where he served as President for a period of time. Notable during his tenure as President of the Jamaat, was the closing off of an entire block by the NYPD for the first time in NYC for an Eid Prayer. Hack also pointed out that the Bronx Sunnatul Jamaat was instrumental in the initiating and lobbying for school holidays for the two Eids.
In 1998 Hack served as a member of the race relation council, established by then Borough President of the Bronx, Fernando Ferrer, and then NYPD Borough Chief James Gallagher. This council was established in the wake of the Los Angeles Riots of the early 1990s which was sparked by the acquittal of four white Los Angeles Police Department officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King. The council of which Hack was a member, was tasked with the responsibility of building harmony and good relations between the police and the community.
In 1997, he moved to Queens with his family and worked for TSM Security Services where he also served as director of operations and continued with his own security training school – High Tech Security Guard Training Academy, which he closed after almost 20 years. In 2010 he became the community liaison for NYC Council Member Ruben Wills. While attached to that office, Hack continued his community volunteerism and, together with a few other community leaders, he formed the Interfaith Council for Community Development. He was also an executive of Nur-ul-Islam, which served the Muslim community in Queens, and he was Public Relations Officer for Masjid ar-Rahman for almost two years. Hack also serves on the Queens Hospital Community Advisory Board.
His biggest break came in February 2014 when he was appointed community coordinator for Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. Still serving in that capacity, Hack advices the BP on South Asian and Caribbean Affairs, and coordinates the planning of many events sponsored by her office.
He noted in his address to the QCYD summer bash, “I would be 62 soon and I could say I would be retiring but when you have a great leader like Melinda Katz you will never want to leave her to go anywhere and because she is such a great boss I will stick by her and do everything I can to ensure the good relationship between her office and the community is maintained.”
Over the years, Dr. Hack has received many awards and recognitions, among them an Honorary Doctorate from CICA International University & Seminary in 2013, an Honorary Doctorate from Global Oved Dei (Worker of God) Seminary University in 2014, and numerous citations, certificates and proclamations from elected officials and community organizations.
Notable personalities Hack has met include: President of Guyana David Granger; former President of Guyana Bharrat Jagdeo; former and current ministers of the Guyana government; Ambassadors and Councils General from Haiti, Namibia, Guyana, Trinidad, Ghana, Romania, Bangladesh, India and Mauritius; Deputy Secretary General of United Nation Amina J. Mohammed; NY Governor Andrew Cuomo; NYC Mayors David Dinkins, Bill DeBlasio, Michael Bloomberg; NYPD Commissioners Ray Kelly, William Bratton, James O’Neill; Borough Presidents Fernando Ferrer (the Bronx); Eric Leroy Adams (Brooklyn); Helen Marshall (Queens), Claire Shulman (Queens), Melinda Katz (Queens); and many Senators, Assembly Members, City Council Members including Senator Leroy Comrie, Daneek Miller, Barry Grodenchik, Mark and David Weprin, US Senator Chuck Schumer, Yvette Clarke, Tulsie Gabbard, Hakeem Jeffries, Gregory Meeks, Tom Suazzie and Carolyn Maloney; many ranks of the NYPD including deputy commissioners, chiefs, inspectors, deputies, commanding officers; also public advocate Letitia James; Comptroller Scott M. Stringer; and Queen Noor of Jordan.
Places he visited include: Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Suriname, Saudia Arabia, Holland, Jerusalem, Jordan and Canada.
Dr. Hack says he will continue to work for the community as long as he has the ability to do so. He credits his grandparents for his motivation towards community work. “My grandparents taught me to go the extra mile and to help humanity and I have always tried my best to live up to that mantra.”