The most influential businesswomen and community leaders in Queens were honored Tuesday night at Star Network’s “Queens Power Women in Business” gala at Terrace on the Park. With close to 700 people in attendance, this year marked the 14th year of recognizing some of the most prominent women in business.
QNS and The Queens Courier co-sponsored the event, and Publisher Victoria Schneps was there to meet and chat with the honorees and recognize their achievements in business and contributions to the community.
“This night is about you,” she said, as she spoke about how important the work of each of the honorees was as well as Star Network’s past history of recognizing businesswomen in Queens. Similar events are also being held in Brooklyn, Staten Island and newly on Long Island.
Special guests of the event included Queens Borough President Melinda Katz who issued a proclamation that June 7 would now be “Power Women in Business Day” in the borough of Queens. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, recipient of the Outstanding Service Award this year, was also in attendance.
“I know how challenging it can be to rise to the top of your profession. So on behalf of Governor Cuomo, I want to tell you how much we value and appreciate your perspective,” she said, also noting that only 20 percent of elected officials, 20 percent of boards of directors and 4 percent of CEOs in this country are women and that there is room to grow. “We need to support everyone … to let them know that yes, you made it (sometimes in a man’s world), you’ve talked it out, you’ve made the sacrifices, you’ve had to balance that family and work challenge that so many of us had to go through but you succeeded.”
This year, the recipients of the Philanthropists of the Year award went to the families behind Plaxall, an organization that was founded in Long Island City and has been giving back to the neighborhood for over 70 years by providing space for other local charities such as LIC Community Boathouse, co-founding and sponsoring the LIC Flea & Food, and more. The women of the Kirby, Pfohl and Quigley families accepted the award, marking three generations of women giving back to LIC with Plaxall.
Four extraordinary businesswomen were inducted into the Queens Power Women in Business Hall of Fame: Elaine DeRosa, president of DeBoccia Electrical Construction Corporation; Margaret McGowan, vice president/relationship manager of TD Bank; Vera Moore, CEO of Vera Moore Cosmetics; and Michelle Stoddart, director of public relations and communications of Resorts World Casino. These women have been honored in the past as Power Women in Business in Queens, but their continued accomplishments in business and contributions to the community made them eligible for the Hall of Fame.
“It’s surprising and humbling to be inducted into the Hall of Fame,” said Stoddart, who has worked in Queens for more than 10 years. In addition to her work with Resorts World Casino, Stoddart has served as the head of the Queens Tourism Council. When asked about what advice Stoddart would give to women getting started in business, she responded, “Be confident in yourself, even if you aren’t sure of yourself. Always say, ‘I can do this.'”
This year’s individual honorees included women who represented a number of different fields; there were businesswomen in construction, commercial real estate, banking and in the field of medicine, including Susan Sanelli-Russo, M.D., who has served as the director of the Department of Neurology at Queens Hospital Center for the past 19 years.
Others included women who are active in charity to give back after going through their own personal struggles. Chetachi Nwoga-Ecton, president of the When In Need Foundation, knows firsthand what it feels like to be in need, so she started the foundation in order to give back. When In Need provides grants for students and young professionals to continue their education and career while also supporting schools, orphanages, homeless shelters, the disabled and elderly in need. In addition, the charity has a global outreach program called the Mission of Mercy (M.O.M.), which assists individuals in need with food, supplies, medical care, education and other basic amenities.
The additional honorees included Kristin Amato of TD Bank; Clorinda Antonucci, director of business development of Corporate Loss Prevention Associates and president of JFK Rotary Club International; Sandra Arboleda of SCO-Family of Services; Colleen Ariola, RN, DNP-HCSM, of Parker Jewish Institute; Dr. Lee Bowes, CEO of America Works on NY, Inc.; Tania Broschart of Astoria Bank; Lauren Calandriello of JRT Realty Group Inc.; Criss Castle, CEO of Car News Network Advertising Agency; Betty Castro of Cushman & Wakefield; Rosa Chung, owner of Exit Realty Next; Mary Curran, EDD, MSN, RN-BC, of Long Island Jewish Forest Hills; Coleen DiGirio of VHR Construction; Saeeda L. Dunston of Elmcor Youth and Adult Activities Inc.; Dr. Sheree Givre, FACEP of Elmhurst Hospital Center; Claudine Gruen of Garthchester Realty; Charoula Ioannou of Investors Bank; Bernadette M. Kelly of Brotherhood of Teamsters; Katherine H. Kim, MSW, of YWCA of Queens; Minsun Kim, president of Korean American Association of Greater New York; Olga Kinzer of People’s United Bank; Cecilia Law, president and CEO of CiCi Beauty Spa Inc.; Isabelle Leighton of Asian Americans for Equality; Nancy J. Matrinez, CEO and founder of New York Career Training School, LLC; Adina Monokrousos of New York Community Space; Judy Ng of Flushing Bank; Paulette Poliseno of Astoria Sports Complex; Rea Plummer of National Grid; Shahnaz Ramzan of Hirani Group; Terri Ross of Queens Centers for Progress; Elizabeth A. Salisbury of Sunharbor Manor; Lysa Scully of The Port Authority of NY & NJ; Karen Taylor of Aetna Insurance; Sherry Tucker of PSCH Inc.; and Nicole L. Weingartner of Davidoff Hutchner & Citron, LLP.
All of the honorees and Hall of Fame inductees received their awards by walking up (or for some of the honorees, dancing up) a ceremonial red carpet. They also enjoyed a cocktail hour, dinner and a fashion show by Aysha Collections, which is run by Aysha Saeed.
Throughout the event, raffle tickets were available to be purchased by the guests. All proceeds for the raffles went to PSCH Inc., and Elmcor Youth and Adult Activities Inc, which are led by honorees Sherry Tucker and Saeeda L. Dunston, respectively.
The event’s co-sponsors included Plaxall, Flushing Bank, Investors Bank, The City University of New York, TD Bank, Astoria Bank, The NYCB Family of Banks, People’s United Bank, Parker Jewish Institute for Rehabilitation, Elmhurst Hospital Center, Queens Hospital Center, Resorts World Casino, Car News Network, New York Career Training School, Godiva, Vera Moore Cosmetics, Georgi Vodka, Balls Vodka, Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, National Grid, Bodybrite and Daily News.