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Center for Women luncheon to celebrate borough’s best

Photo by Christina Santucci
By Phil Corso

The borough’s own Center for the Women of New York announced its slate of honorees for this year’s annual luncheon April 27 at Douglaston Manor.

The celebration, now in its 26th year, will feature awards for Woman of Distinction and Women in Leadership and also recognize their male counterparts with Good Guy awards for their commitment to the welfare of women and achievement of equal rights, the center said.

The gala is scheduled for noon at the Douglaston Manor Golf Course, at 63-20 Commonwealth Blvd. and open to members, friends and leaders in the community. The event will also serve as a fund-raiser as the center prepares for its move to Fort Totten in Bayside, where efforts to secure money for renovations have been ongoing.

CWNY Chairwoman Ann Jawin said this year’s honorees were chosen from different levels of government, business and community advocacy to continue the luncheon’s tradition of honoring the borough’s movers and shakers.

The CWNY message, Jawin said, centers around women’s rights with an emphasis on women’s economic opportunities.

State Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood) will be the recipient of the Woman of Distinction Award. It is the only honor of the afternoon reserved for only one person.

As for the Women in Leadership awards, CWNY members will recognize seven women from diverse backgrounds for their advocacy and support. Honorees include Susan Cohen, of the Brandywine Sr. Living at The Savoy in Little Neck; registered nurse Jeannie Doherty Benckwit; New York Daily News journalist Heidi Evans; Zenaida Mendez, of the National Organization for Women; Felicia Papert Lercari, of the Music and Brain Program; Anita Saunders, of the District 26 School Board; and Whitestone’s St. Luke’s Italian-American Club President Damiana Testa.

Evans, whose reporting focuses on health and social issues, has collected a Pulitzer Prize and two George Polk awards in journalism.

Saunders, a superintendent in her Queens school district, has led the standards for schools widely viewed as among the best in the city, the CWNY said.

Four men will receive Good Guy awards, which are doled out every year to the men who support CWNY efforts and share in the goal of achieving equal rights for women. Honorees include Larry Grubler, of Transitional Services for NY in Flushing; Beni Gutierrez, of Astoria Federal Savings Bank; U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Melville); and Thomas Suozzi, former Nassau County executive.

A CWNY spokeswoman said the center was glad to recognize Israel, who was recently drawn into northeast Queens courtesy of congressional redistricting, for becoming a friend and advocate so quickly.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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