Victoria’s Secrets: To Albany and back

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie with Victoria Schneps and Rhonda Binda, director of the Jamaica Business Improvement District.
Photos by the Queens Courier Staff

It was an instant inspiration that I acted on – holding a cocktail party in Albany the night before the governor’s State of the State address, and I was surprised by its huge success.

I was so proud to honor Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie with an award in memory of our late hometown hero – giving him the Mario Cuomo Community Service Award. None other than the Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul helped me present it and shared the night with us.

Thanks in part to my partners, we had a jam-packed, standing-room-only party. I’m so grateful to Todd Shapiro, New York Community Bank, the Queens Chamber of Commerce and the Jamaica BID. Also sponsoring were the vodka label Georgi from Martin Silver, who donated cases of my favorite drink to add to the specialness of the night. Broadway Stages, Millennial Strategies’ Jeff Guillot and Brooklyn Democratic Chair Frank Seddio also sponsored the party.

Albany architecture is an interesting mix of historic housing dating back centuries to strikingly stunning marble skyscrapers. Our party was at the family-owned The Grill 138 and we stopped at another family-owned restaurant, Lombardi’s, the next day. I loved their old tile floors and the buzzer system at each booth to call for a waiter. They even have great Italian food!

The interior of the Capitol is stunning and majestic. It was my first visit to the hallowed halls of the assembly chamber and I was very impressed! There is a two-story-high carved staircase that was picture-worthy, and I felt the power of the building and its ability to inspire.

I went through the chamber on my way to Speaker Heastie’s breakfast party before the State of the State speech. I was delighted to visit our Brooklyn and Queens members’ desks, and was particularly struck by Assemblywoman Nily Rozic’s desk. On it are the American, Israeli and Argentinian flags. It tells the story of her heritage. I loved the symbolism! Many other legislators had multiple flags, a potent, powerful message of our diversity! It’s alive and well in our political leaders, obviously proud of their diverse backgrounds. After all, that’s what makes America great!

I’m already planning next year’s party to carry on the precious networking and appreciation I feel for those who professionally and passionately protect our democracy. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best in the world.