Session: Welcome to the Industry
Cheryl Wills is an Emmy Award-winning veteran anchor for Spectrum News NY1. She joined the cable network during its launch in 1992. She is the host of the public affairs talk show “In Focus with Cheryl Wills” and the primetime anchor of the “NY1 Live At Ten,” airing weeknights.
Cheryl is the author of three books about her great-great-great grandfather Sandy Wills, who fought in the Civil War: “Die Free: A Heroic Family Tale,” an illustrated children’s book “The Emancipation of Grandpa Sandy Wills,” and a YA book “Emancipated: My Family’s Fight for Freedom.”
Cheryl has interviewed some of the most powerful people in the world including the first woman president in Africa, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Her groundbreaking report earned her a prestigious medal from United Nations Correspondents Association. She also scored an exclusive interview with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Cheryl’s personal favorite was going one-on-one with the late great writer and activist Maya Angelou.
In 2018, Cheryl became the first African-American reporter in NY1’s history to win an Emmy Award. Also in 2018, Cheryl was honored with the prestigious Commander’s Medal from the U.S. Department of the Army. The Public Service Commendation Medal is the fourth-highest public service decoration the United States Department of the Army can bestow upon a civilian.
She has also received awards from The New York Press Club, Newswomen’s Club of NY Front Page Award, and The Associated Press. The celebrated author of Lightswitch Learning’s book series has traveled the world to report on society’s most pressing issues, and worked with more than 15,000 students in over 120 schools nationally. In 2017, The Association of Social Studies Teachers/UFT awarded Cheryl Wills the Rosa Parks Award for Social Justice for “illuminating the struggle for black equality from the Civil War to present.” In 2017, Cheryl also received the Dr. Martin Luther King Award from three prominent Jewish organizations at The Israeli Consulate for bridging the gap between African Americans and Jews.
Cheryl is also the recipient of the YMCA National Black Achievers in Industry Award and the Carl T. Rowan Leadership in Media Award, and in 2010, McDonald’s honored her as a broadcasting legend. In 2015, McDonald’s again honored her with the first Harold Dow Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of extraordinary and unparalleled contributions to broadcast media.
Cheryl also has been featured in a number of major television shows and movies, including “Ghostbusters: Answer The Call” (2016), “Law & Order” (NBC), “Limitless” (CBS), “The Strain” (FX), “Freedomland” with Samuel Jackson, “The Brave One” with Jodie Foster, and numerous other stage and film productions. She was the first journalist invited to speak before the General Assembly of The United Nations, in March of 2011, about the impact of slavery on her family during the UN’s International Remembrance of Victims of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Cheryl takes great pride in being the founder and commander of the New York State Chapter of the Sons & Daughters of the United States Colored Troops, a national organization based in Washington D.C. She enjoys teaching students about the contributions of the 200,000 black soldiers who fought valiantly during the Civil War.
Cheryl is a graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, with a major in Broadcast Journalism. She received an Honorary Doctorate from New York College of Health Professions in May of 2005.