Top businessmen honored as ‘Kings of Queens’ at Star Network event

Photos by Corazon Aguirre and Arther De Gaeta

All hail the kings!

More than 600 people gathered at Terrace on the Park on Thursday night, Sept. 22, to celebrate and honor Queens’ top businessmen during the Star Network’s “Kings of Queens” award and networking event.

“Tonight we are celebrating our Kings of Queens,” said Victoria Schneps-Yunis, owner of Schneps Communications. “We have a most extraordinary group of wonderful leaders in our business, civic, social and nonprofit worlds that we all live in.”

“The most amazing part about tonight is the opportunity to see the diversity of not only individuals but of commerce industry,” said Kings of Queens honoree Israel Rocha, Jr., CEO of NYC Health & Hospitals/Elmhurst. “It’s great to be able to meet talent from all over Queens and to see how people are making Queens a better community day by day.”

The night started off with a VIP hour for all of the honorees, complete with a photo booth sponsored by the City University of New York. After getting to know each other, the crowd moved upstairs to the expo hall where sponsors set up booths to create more opportunities to network and learn from each other. Before they knew it, it was time to start to hand out the awards for the Kings of Queens in the ballroom.

This year, the recipients of the Philanthropists of the Year award were George Subraj, Ken Subraj & Jay Sobhraj of ZARA Realty. ZARA provides safe, clean and affordable housing across Queens and Long Island, and recently donated a computer lab with 44 computers to Richmond Hill High School.

“I feel very lucky that I can have the American dream,” George Subraj said. “I came here with a couple of borrowed dollars and I worked with my two partners overseas and now we provide housing for tens of thousands of people. We’re here to stay, and we plan to just keep improving our product and making it better every day.”

This year’s special guest was National American Miss New York Katherine McQuade. McQuade was there at the end of the red carpet to help award this year’s Kings, including three extraordinary businessmen that were inducted into the Kings of Queens Hall of Fame: Sam Chang, CEO of McSam Hotel Group LLC; Serphin Maltese, former New York State Senator; and Vincent Riso, principal of Briarwood Properties.

“It’s great to be honored,” said honoree Thomas Donovan, vice chairman of Capital Markets for Cushman & Wakefield.  “I’m a Queens native, so it’s nice to be recognized where I’m from.”

“It’s a wonderful feeling to be appreciated and be acknowledged with everyone else that’s here,” agreed honoree Usman Ahmad, PC, CEO/president of Law Office of Usman B. Ahmad. “It’s not very often that an attorney gets pulled out of what we do normally to be appreciated as a businessman or leader here in Queens. It’s a very nice feeling.”

Additional honorees included this year Ricky Brava, Co-Founder of Mortgage Float; Ivan Calderon, Branch Manager at the Jackson Heights of NY Community Bank; Jeffrey Chen, Assistant Dean of Continuing Education and Workforce Development for Queensborough Community College; Joseph Clabby, President of Corporate Loss Prevention Associates; Michael Conigliaro, Advisor Managing Director of The Federazione Italo-Americana Di Brooklyn and Queens, Inc.; Dr. Frank DeFeis, Director of Oncology for Central Veterinary Associates; Paisley Demby, Business Services Director for LaGuardia Community College, CUNY; Joseph Drivas, Mortgage Lender for Investors Bank; Ryan Eller, President of Resorts World Casino New York City; Elijah Felix,  Market Manager, VP for People’s United Bank; Al Gentile, VP/Branch Manager for Astoria Bank; Glenn Greenidge, Executive Director of Sutphin Blvd. BID; Paul Halvatzis, Licensed Real Estate Broker for Amorelli Realty; Herman Hochberg, Owner of Queens Liquor Store; Aaron Jackson, President of  Finest Chauffers LLC; Matthew Katakis, Restaurateur, Butcher Bar, Pita Pan, Slice Astoria, Blend Astoria; Rev. Douglas E. Kurtz, President/CEO of Flushing House; Dr. David Lichtenstein, Medical Director for AgeWell NY;  Benjamin Lucheux, CEO/Owner of Tailor Made for You Inc.; Peter J. Mannarino, Principal of Christ the King Regional High School; Joseph L. Miles, Director of Corporate Security for Parker Jewish Institute; Jermain Miller, President of MILL Real Estate; Michael Moran, Developer for the TWA Flight Center for NY Port Authority; Tyler Morse, CEO and Managing Partner of MCR Development LLC.; George Onuorah, Director of Media Relations for When in Need Foundation; Frank Pantina, Owner of Cross Bay Chemist; Seth Pinksy, Executive Vice President of RXR Realty; Patrick Pinto, Chief Marketing Officer of On Top Visibility; Theodore Renz, Executive Director of Myrtle Avenue BID; James C. Ricca, Esq., Partner of Forchelli, Curto, Deegan, Schwartz, Mineo & Terrana, LLP; Neil Schweifel, Assistant Executive Director of Operations for Life’s WORC; Michael Serao, Director of Community Development for LGBT Network; John Siu, Vice President & Branch Manager for Flushing Bank; Ben Thomases, Executive Director of Queens Community House; and Robert Xerri, CEO of Northstar Mitsubishi.

Raffles were available throughout the night and all of the proceeds from ticket sales (which rounded out to a few thousand dollars) went to Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC) and Pop.Earth (holistic treatments for children and families affected by autism).

The Kings of Queens event was presented by Star Network. The event’s co-sponsors included Elmhurst Hospital Center, Flushing Bank, New York Community Bank, Astoria Bank, Investors Bank, The Law Office of Usman B. Ahmad, PC, AgeWell New York, Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation, National Grid, The Daily News, Cushman & Wakefield, People’s United Bank, Queens Chamber of Commerce, Dale Carnegie Training Center, The Queens Courier and the Best of the Boro.