In celebration of Women’s History Month, Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. presented five women with Senate citations recognizing them for their dedicated work to their communities during a ceremony at the Deshi Senior Center in Ozone Park on Friday, March 10.
“Women’s History Month is a time for us to look back at some of the amazing women who have helped shape not only our nation, but the world,” Addabbo said. “This Women’s History Month, I want to honor five women who have had a positive impact on their communities through their work and volunteer service. I thank EMU Health for their partnership on this event and selecting two of the five women to honor. I also want to extend my thanks to the Deshi Senior Center for opening their facility for this great event.”
The five women honored include Victoria Teutonico, director of Revenue Cycle Management at EMU Health; Sherry Algredo, chairperson of Community Board 9; Arlenis Morel, co-executive director of Make the Road New York; Sookrani Dhanpat, South Asian Community Liaison for the Mayor’s Community Affairs Office; and Janet Forte, vice president and secretary of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association (WRBA).
EMU representative Giovanni Zammito accepted the first award on behalf of Teutonico, who has been the director of Revenue Cycle Management at EMU Health for four years, where she oversees billing, credentialing, authorization, appeals and more. EMU Health is a multispeciality Outpatient Facility located in Glendale. The facility offers comprehensive high-quality medical care — from women’s health services, including gynecological visits, to interventional radiology services.
Teutonico joined EMU Health after devoting years in medical practice administration, which included running multiple offices for a busy specialty practice. She uses her position to avail affordable healthcare to all people regardless of their station in life. Beyond her position in Revenue Cycle, Teutonico serves as a vital resource to several different departments at EMU Health to ensure that medical services are provided in a timely, quality, and professional manner.
Algredo, who came to the U.S. nearly 30 years ago and has been a resident of Richmond Hill ever since, was awarded for her continued work in the community through supporting her neighbors, local businesses and organizations. She was appointed to Community Education Council 27 in 2013 and served four years in that role. In 2017, she applied and was appointed to a position on CB 9. Within one year, she was appointed as education chair, and was voted first vice chair in her second year. In 2022, Algredo became the first woman from Trinidad and Tobago to lead a community board.
“I didn’t think it was possible, but I was going to try to win,” Algredo said. “It wasn’t about ethnicity. It was about learning, growing and stepping into leadership. I’m so thankful for the opportunity, and it’s people like Senator Addabbo that inspired me…While this may just be a paper, the recognition and being here means the world to me.”
Dhanpat (also known as Patricia Raghunandan), is a mother of two children and works in the Mayor’s Community Affairs Office as the South Asian Community Liaison. Dhanpat was born in Guyana and moved to the U.S. in 1987.She has been doing charitable work for the majority of her life in the city and her native homeland. She served as secretary of the Cityline Ozone Park Civilian Patrol (COPCP), and was the lead of the Ozone Park Food Pantry, serving thousands in the community. She is also a member of the Queens Community Lions Club.
“To be recognized is great but the work that I do is from my heart. Seeing so many people on the line every single week, inspired me to do what I did and work as hard as I can,” Dhanpat said.
Gloria Mahbubani, special projects manager of Make the Road New York, accepted the citation on behalf of Morel, who is one of three co-executive directors of the nonprofit organization.
“We are a member-led organization with over 25,000 members and Arlenis is proof of the work that we do,” Mahbubani said. “We provide survival services, including legal, health support for the community and advocating on behalf of them, and Arlenis is one of our fearless leaders.”
Morel immigrated to the U.S. from Venezuela in 1992. In 2003, she joined MRNY’s staff as a part-time receptionist. She became more and more involved in MRNY, taking advantage of the organization’s leadership development training, and eventually worked her way up to lead the organization’s Operations Department.
In 2015, Morel stepped into the role of chief-of-staff, overseeing the Operations, HR and IT Departments and is now one of the three co-executive directors of MRNY. Morel is leading the implementation of MRNY’s strategic plan and is responsible for maintaining overall day-to-day operations of MRNY. She has trained at Coro’s Immigrant Civic Leadership Program and Columbia University’s Senior Leaders Program for Non-Profit Professionals. She also represented District 24 in Queens on the Community Education Council for two years.
Forte, who is also the former president of the 38th Assembly District Part B Regular Democratic Club, has helped establish the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) Warriors, a group of members that would go out into the community to gather information on what is happening to help address quality-of-life issues.
Forte has also helped to set up free block giveaways as well as delivering food to the needy and assisted the Woodhaven Business Improvement District (BID) with some of their operations such as park and community cleanup events. She is a NYS certified school psychologist and currently works in Suffolk County in a preschool for students with special needs.
“I work with the WRBA and we’re trying now to get the building fixed. Our town halls are once a month and we bring in elected officials,” Forte said. “I work with a great group of people there and I love what I do. Once our building is fixed, I’m going to get people with special needs kids together and see how I can help them.”