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Al-Hassan Kanu was born on November 12, 1980 in Sierra Leone. Al’s father, the late Hassan Gbessay Kanu, was a prominent public servant in Sierra Leone, serving as the country’s Vice President. His mother, Hannah Ginefine Kanu, was a homemaker and a dedicated community activist. His parents were his first mentors, instilling the importance of education, public service, community activism, and political action at an early age.
Al immigrated to the United States in the late 1990s with his parents and 10 siblings to escape a civil war that ultimately took the lives of thousands of families. Al attended Jamaica High School in the evenings to obtain his High School Equivalency Certificate. Al, through his continued hard work and tenacity, was able to put himself through college. He graduated from CUNY York College with a degree in Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and is currently attending the graduate program at CUNY School of Professional Studies pursuing his Master of Public Administration.
At York College, Al was able to express his activism, becoming an advocate for students and being elected by his peers as the President of the United Student Association. Al advocated for fairer tuition rates, improving student relations, and leading the “Abolish the N-Word” campaign.
His activism led him to enter public service; first as an intern for, then, City Council Deputy Majority Leader, now State Senator, Leroy Comrie, who represented the 27th Council District. As an intern, he dedicated himself to serving the needs of the district’s constituents. Seeing his dedication, Al was appointed as Director of Community Affairs.
As Director of Community Affairs, he worked tirelessly to address the concerns of the constituents. Al worked to improve the 27th Council District, collaborating with New York City government agencies on water services, transportation, infrastructure, criminal justice, public safety, affordable housing, education, and health services.
Upon the completion of Council Member Leroy Comrie’s term, Al was appointed as District Director for Council Member I. Daneek Miller, who succeeded Council Member Leroy Comrie as the Council Member of the 27th District. Al remained determined to have a positive impact on his Southeast Queens community and actively continued his work to ensure constituents’ needs were properly addressed.
Al has been an active advocate for both his community as well as for those of his native Sierra Leone. During the Ebola epidemic, Al provided food and other necessities for quarantined families in his native home. He facilitated the only governmental meeting between New York City Elected Officials and concerned Africans regarding the effort to fight the Ebola epidemic before reaching our shores. His experience proved to be vital as our city was confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognizing the immediate needs of the community, Al organized a virtual town hall for small business owners in South East Queens to apply for and receive vital government assistance. He organized an interfaith vigil for a day of prayer for the community. In direct response to the pandemic, Al worked with community organizations along with the office of NYS Senator, Leroy Comrie, to deliver food to seniors and residents in need. Al co-founded the South East Queens U.P. FRONT Organization, giving young professionals an opportunity to directly help the community.
Al always hopes to positively impact the lives of those around him and inspire the next generation of leaders. He works to empower youth by regularly organizing community resource events and mentoring them as he speaks about his life experiences in high schools and colleges campuses.
Al-Hassan Kanu is a father, a son, and a friend to our community. His life experience as an immigrant and his work as a public servant uniquely qualifies him to lead the 27th Council District, which encompasses Cambria Heights, Hollis, St. Albans, Queens Village, Springfield Gardens, and Jamaica.