‘Stars Under 40’ shone bright at networking event

Photo by Allen Ngai

The March 21 Stars Under 40 Awards and Networking Event celebrated the accomplishments of some of the best and brightest individuals under the age of 40.

Schneps Media celebrated the honorees at LaGuardia Plaza Hotel for their achievements across several industries including law, medicine, athletics and government.

“Feel the power of what you’ve accomplished. Feel the power of being a star,” said Schneps Media President Victoria Schneps. “Each one of you is being honored because you’re in business or the nonprofit world.”

Schneps highlighted organizations who received money from event donations via raffle ticket sales, as has been the tradition for the past 18 years. One of the honorees was Hands Across Long Island, a “grassroots, multi-service organization” founded in 1988, which is managed and operated by psychiatric survivors. The organization this year feted Victoria Serpa, board president.

The other honoree was Human First, a Long Island-based nonprofit organization founded in 2001. Human First also nominated Elizabeth Stehle, the director of administration and communication, for her exceptional work within the organization.

Stehle joined Human First in 2015 after realizing her desire to do more “mission-driven” work. She worked in the government sector and moved to the private sector before an old colleague approached her about an opportunity at Human First.

“I started working there in June 2015 and it’s been a joy ever since,” Stehle said.

The organization serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities with offices in Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Long Island. Stehle shared that the honor came as a surprise to her.

“I’m thrilled. I’m still in shock about it. For me, what I do, I’m part of a team. I don’t feel like I’m going above and beyond anything. So to be recognized for what I do on an everyday basis is really a great honor.”

Other Stars Under 40 honorees included Carlos Gonzalez of the Veterinary Care Group, who along with Dr. Mario Costa, won the “Dynamic Duo” honor. The four-year-old organization is a group of veterinary hospitals with locations in Astoria, Glen Oaks, Bayside, Little Neck, Forest Hills and Middle Village.

Gonzalez started as a kennel assistant at 17 and trained to be a veterinary assistant before eventually becoming the manager of the company’s Bayside location. He shared that “helping the pets” is the most rewarding part of his job.

“It’s making sure that the pet is well taken care of and that we’re doing right by the pet at all times,” said Gonzalez.

He added that the honor felt “amazing” but recognized the importance of working as a team to achieve goals.

“I know I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my team. To us, teamwork is very important, so I’m not only appreciative of my team, but I also had great mentors that gave me the necessary tools to be here,” Gonzalez said.

The 2019 Stars Under 40 were as follows:


Andrew Meditz
Elite Pool & Fitness Management, Inc.


Michael Zuchelli
Elite Pool & Fitness Management, Inc.



Dr. Mario Costa
Veterinary Care Group


Carlos Gonzalez
Veterinary Care Group



Wesley S. Melchiorre
Scotto & Melchiorre Group LLC


Gregory Scotto, CPA
Scotto & Melchiorre Group, LLC


Lisa Aamodt
Congregation Tiferith Israel


Christopher Alexander
EIHAB Human Services


Cordelia A. Banny
Wall Street Journal


Camryn Bruno

NYC Youth Poet Laureate

Adam Butler
Jiffy Junk Inc.


Dr. Marigold Castillo
MD1CARE – Gold Pediatrics


Ida Como, Esq.
Silvagni & Como


Chris Croken
Bethpage Federal Credit Union


Kelly Fisher
Justice Air


Erika Hill
Office of the Nassau County Comptroller


Scott Kestenbaum
Kestenbaum & Mark LLP


Kieron Ludde
Mazars USA LLP



Joseph Martins
Revolution Financial Management


Jacquelyn Mascetti
Herman Katz Cangemi & Clyne


Jay Min
Haworth Barber & Gerstman


Rafael Moreno
Tropical Revival Restaurant


Marlo Paventi Dilts
Long Island Board of REALTORS®


Danny Pisani
Contour Mortgage


Craig Ratigan
TD Bank


Paul Reisner
Scope Realty


Donovan Richards


Michael Ro
Ultimate Champions Tae Kwon Do


Alison Scotto-Kupillas
Chateau Briand


Christina Seid
Chinatown Ice Cream Factory


Luciane Serifovic
Luxian International


Victoria Serpa   
Hands Across LI


Jay Sheryll
Sheryll Law, P.C.


Elizabeth Stehle
Human First, Inc.


Jeanine Taylor
Charter School Business Management


Michael Tepper
Exit Kingdom Realty


Dr. Samuel Trosman
NYC HHC Elmhurst


Diana Valencia
NNR Globalistics USA


The sponsors of the 2019 Stars Under 40 Awards & Networking Event included the following:

Flushing Bank

Bethpage Federal Credit Union

Contour Mortgage

EIHAB Human Services


TD Bank

Broadway Stages

Photos by Allen Ngai and Matthew Kropp