‘Top Women’ honored during award and networking event

This year The Queens Courier's Top Women in Business Networking Awards Dinner honored 50 women for their hard work and dedication.
THE COURIER/Photos by Allen Ngai

Terrace on the Park shined bright Thursday night as 50 talented women, who have each seen success in their careers, were honored at The Queens Courier’s 2015 Top Women In Business Networking Award Dinner.

The celebration, which saw close to 800 people attend, opened up with an expo and cocktail hour. During this time, honorees and guests were able to mingle, network and exchange business information with leaders from all different fields.

During this year’s event, six women, who were previously Top Women in Business honorees, were inducted into the Hall of Fame for their hard work and achievements.

“We are so grateful to be able to see that they are continuing to climb the ladder of success and be a role model for everyone in this room,” said Victoria Schneps, publisher of The Queens Courier.

Hall of Fame inductees included Connie Delaige, affirmative action coordinator, JFK & LGA Airports; Dr. Marcia V. Keizs, president, York College; Pat Thompson, customer service/public relations manager, Bombardier; Mayra DiRico, senior vice president and director of retail banking, Astoria Bank; Georgiana Reese-Benatti, director of community relations, New York Community Bank; and Patricia Naylor Thomas, president, Thomas Coaching Company Inc.

“Most of my roots are in Queens and to me to be inducted into the Hall of Fame is just thrilling, and I actually am very honored to be amongst all these very diverse women that have in each way made a difference in the borough and in New York,” said Hall of Fame inductee Mayra DiRico.

Fellow Hall of Famer Pat Thompson also said she was honored and surprised to have been selected to receive the distinguished award.

“I’m very honored. I have a lot of respect for Vicki and what she has done to give women this exposure,” Thompson said. “It’s just a very fulfilling experience to be among people of such diverse occupations, and the networking is so valuable.”

The night began with Natalia Segura singing the National Anthem and a moment of silence for Jack Friedman, the Queens Chamber of Commerce executive director who passed away in April at age 55.

All the honorees of the night received their awards from emcee Alison Morris, FOX 5 business reporter, and Miss New York 2014 Jillian Tapper.

This year, The Courier also bestowed a Special Award to Main Street Radiology — which has two locations in Bayside, one in Flushing and a newly opened office in Jackson Heights — as a top women’s imaging center of Queens.

Honoree Andrea Tsoukalas, attorney at Forchelli, Curto, Deegan, Schwartz, Mineo & Terrana LLP, was honored for her 15 years in the field and for her concentration in zoning, land use, environmental and municipal law matters.

“I feel really privileged and humble to be among these women,” Tsoukalas said. “In my work, it’s really a man’s world so it’s wonderful to see the revolution. We’re breaking through the field.”

During the networking portion of the night, the expo also featured various vendors and businesses, which sold products and shared information on their services.

One of the vendors was Investors Bank, which along with spreading the word of their services was also present to support Honoree Maria Odysseos, market manager of the Astoria branch of Investors Bank.

“We’re very proud of her. She’s an extraordinary woman and it’s a well-deserved honor for her,” said Charoula Ioannou, branch manager for the Bayside Investors Bank location. “She’s our top woman in business.”

The event also raised $3,300 for the nonprofit organization Dress for Success.

This year’s honorees were Wafa Abboud, Human First, Inc.; Stephanie Barry, Rapid Realty; Dr. Mahdis A. Behzadi, Office of Dr. Behzadi; Rochelle S. Berliner, Law Of¬fice of Rochelle S. Berliner; Debra J. Brennessel, MD, Queens Hospital Center; Stella Castriota, Giorgio’s Salon & Spa; Laura Copersino, Douglas Elliman Real Estate; Valerie D’Amico, Valiance International Corp.; Ilana Davidov, Davidov Law Group, P.C.; Patricia Dunphy, Rockrose Development Corp.; Maria A. D’urso, RN, MSN, New York Hospital Queens; Janet Elias, Alley Pond School; Sharon Etwaroo, Edible Arrangements Fresh Meadows; Flo Federman, Nussbaum Yates Berg Klein & Wolpow, LLP; Luz Ford, New York Life Insurance Company; Tamara Gavrielof, Signature Bank; Victoria Grappone, Maspeth Federal Savings Bank; Heather Harrison, Farrell Fritz; Patricia Hull, RN, MSN, Parker Jewish Institute For Health Care & Rehabilitation; Vasundhara Kalasapudi, India Home; Malikka Karteron, B’Above Worldwide Institute; Penelope Kokkinides, Centerlight Healthcare; Margaret Leacock, People’s United Bank; Janice Li, Crystal Window & Door Systems; Rebecca Lipscomb, Hirani Group; Rev. Aqueelah Ligonde, First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica; Angelena Lucheux, Tailormade for You Skincare; Nora Martins, Davidoff, Hutcher and Citron LLP; Karen Mitchell, True Hair Company; Ef¬fie Neo¬fitidis, Flushing Bank; Maria A. Odysseos, Investors Bank; Andrea Ormeno, Queens Economic Development Corporation; Eileen Parenti, Renaissance Home Health Care; Alexandria Perotti, Holt Construction Corp.; Robyn Rosenblum, MD, New York Hospital Queens; Miriam Ruiz, The Federal Savings Bank; Dr. Kerry Rut, The Woman’s Health Pavilion; Chanelle Small, DDS, Midtown Endodontics; Dr. Renee Spiegel, Elmhurst Hospital Center; Star Young, Women to Women by Julia; Patricia Stein, Liberty National Title Agency; Avni Thakore, MD, MS, FACC, AdvantageCare Physicians; Andrea Tsoukalas, Esq., Forchelli, Curto, Deegan, Schwartz, Mineo & Terrana, LLP; Margaret Ventimiglia, Insignia Renovations, Inc.; Dr. Lihong Wei, Queens Medical Associates; Connie Delaige, JFK & LGA Airports; Dr. Marcia V. Keizs, York College; Pat Thompson, Bombardier; Mayra DiRico, Astoria Bank; Georgiana Reese-Benatti, New York Community Bank; and Patricia Naylor Thomas, Thomas Coaching Company Inc.

Sponsors for the event were Investors Bank, Astoria Bank, Douglas Elliman Real Estate, Dale Carnegie Training, Flushing Bank, AdvantageCare Physicians, New York Hospital Queens, India Home, AgeWell New York, The City University of New York, People’s United Bank, Daily News, Queens Medical Associates, Crystal Window & Door Systems, LTD., Rockrose Development Corp., Main Street Radiology, Elmhurst Hospital Center, National Grid, conEdison, Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care & Rehabilitation, and New York Community Bank.