11th Annual Top Women in Business Awards honor leaders and trailblazers

The leading women of the Queens business world came out to celebrate their accomplishments at The Queens Courier’s 11th Annual Top Women in Business Awards & Networking event at Terrace on the Park. Many of the borough’s best and brightest businesswomen received recognition for their diverse achievements.

The Thursday, May 9 celebration opened up with an expo and cocktail hour. During this time guests were able to mingle, networking and exchanging business information with leaders from all different fields.

Sharing her journey to success, from starting out at Penn State University to becoming an Emmy nominated meteorologist, Vanessa Murdock, CBS 2 weekend meteorologist and reporter, was honored as “Woman of the Year.”

“Girl power!” shouted Murdock to her fellow honorees. “It is an honor to be here. I am feeling very privileged tonight.”

Honored with the “Lifetime Achievement Award” at last year’s event, Claire Shulman, the first female borough president, was bestowed the “Woman of the Century Award.”

“When you work hard and try to do a good job, it’s always nice when somebody recognizes that effort,” said Shulman. “I think the time for women has arrived and all the jobs are really opened for women if they choose to apply.”

Showing her support for the businesswomen of Queens, Borough President Helen Marshall offered congratulatory words to the honorees and her honored predecessor, who broke the ground for all women.

This year, The Courier bestowed other special honors, including “Lifetime Achievement” to Ann Jawin, founder, Center for the Women of New York; “Health Hero Award” to Dr. Ann Marie Sullivan, Senior VP, Queens Health Network; “Humanitarian Award” to Lois Christie, CEO, Christie & Co. Salon * Spa; the “Claire Shulman Community Service Award” to Alexandra Rosa, chief of staff, BP Helen Marshall; and the “Con Edison Big Heart” awards went to Betty Braton, chair, CB 10 and Frances Scarantino, president/founder, Reach for the S.T.A.R.S.

Honoree Mary Torres, assistant vice president for M&T Bank and member of the Long Island City Business Women’s Group, received recognition for both her professional and community commitments.

“I was really surprised and happy to know that the efforts that we have with M&T are going to be honored,” said Torres. “I love being a woman in Queens.”

Honoree Marilyn Artis, founder & CEO of For the People Productions and founder & executive producer for the Golden Image Awards, received recognition for her work in celebrating the value of experience and natural beauty among all women. For the past 22 years, Artis has worked on the awards, which celebrates women over 60.

“I am truly grateful and honored,” said Artis. “We [women] are going to turn the economy around and one thing about women is we get the job done all the time. My grandma used to always say ‘whatever you do, do it right,’ and we do it right and that’s why we’re here.”


This year’s honorees included: Susan Agin, Executive & Artistic Director, Queensborough Performing Arts Center; Marilyn Artis, Founder & CEO, For the People Productions,Founder & Executive Producer, Golden Image Awards; Dr. Mahshid Arfania Assadi, Internal Medicine/Cardiology, St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, Columbia University; Lori Bono, Audit Manager, Grassi & Co; Liliana Carrillo, Marketing Strategist, Business Promotions; Renu Dalessandro, First VP of Marketing, Sterling National Bank; Kathleen Darmstadt, Director of Finance, Parker Jewish for Health Care & Rehabilitation; Sherita Delgado, Broker and Co-Owner of Rapid Realty Astoria and Rapid Realty Midwood; Dr. Sharon DeVivo, Senior Vice President Academic and Student Affairs, Vaughn College of Technology & Aeronautics; Mary Ellen Duffy, Partner, Duffy & Duffy Law Firm; Virginia Elliott, Managing Director for Delta’s newest hub in LaGuardia; Kertty Bolio, Owner, The Fitness Consultant; Mackenzi Farquer, Owner, Site NYC; Julissa Ferreras, City Councilmember, District 21; Dr. Marilyn Galler, Associate Director of Dialysis Facilities, New York Hospital Queens; Linda Gisonda, President, Tec-Crete Transit Mix Corp; Martha Hirst, Executive Vice President, COO and Treasurer, St. John’s University; Nazneen “Lucy” Hossain, Second Vice President, New York Community Bank/QCSB; Andrea Korahais, Vice President, Controller, First Central Savings Bank; Jeannie Lai, Owner, Precious Window & Door Corp; Elena Litescu, Center Dean, DeVry College of New York; Susan Malise, Long Term Care Insurance Agent, Genworth; Jennifer Manley, Vice President, Government & Community Affairs, Queens Library; Mary Ng, VP, Small Business Banker, Bank of America; Ana Oliveira, Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Investors Bank; Tanya Ortega, Owner, Silver Gull Beach Club / Breezy Point Surf Club, Theresa J. Osborne, Director of Culture & Tourism for Borough President Helen Marshall; Osanna Ovsepian, Manager, OKG Family Jewelry; Ida Perich, General Manager, Office of Business Diversity and Civil Rights/ The Port Authority of NY & NJ; Dr. Jean Phelps, Director of Student Activities, York College; Taryn Sacramone, Executive Director, Astoria Performing Arts Center, Inc.; Susan Samuel, Founder, It Takes A Community To Raise A Child; Dr. Sherone Smith-Sanchez, Assistant Commissioner, Program Development, Division of Child Care & Head Start, Administration for Children’s Services; Lori Starita, Store Manager, Vice President, TD Bank; Michelle Stoddart, Director of Public Relations & Community Development, Resorts World Casino New York City; Patricia Tiffany, Senior Vice President, Director of Marketing and Communications, Flushing Bank; Mary Torres, Assistant Vice President, M&T Bank; Jennifer Walden Weprin, Director of Marketing, Kupferberg Center for the Arts/Louis Armstrong House Museum; Palmina Teta-Whelan, CCM, MCIOL Senior Project Manager, American Airlines Real Estate Division.

This year’s sponsors included the City University of New York, Delta Air Lines, Vaughn College, Flushing Bank, Con Edison, Investors Bank, Genworth, Queens County savings Bank/NYCB, Sandwire, New York Hospital Queens, Queens Library, M&T Bank and Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care & Rehabilitation.

The evening’s celebration also raised $4,000, with all proceeds going to the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, and the South Queens Boys and Girls Club.

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