Photo by Allen Ngai
This year's honorees at the Star Network’s Stars Under 40 Awards & Networking event.

The best and the brightest young stars came together in Flushing for a grand gala and networking event.

On Jan. 26, close to 500 people gathered at Terrace on the Park to meet, greet and dine at the 40 Stars Under Forty event hosted by Star Network. The gala event recognized 43 young professionals who exemplify outstanding leadership skills in both their chosen fields and in their communities.

Joshua Schneps, CEO and co-publisher of Schneps Communications, welcomed the stars and their families and friends as they assembled in the grand dining room for the dinner and awards presentation.

“Over the years, between Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Long Island, we’ve honored thousands of people,” Schneps said. “And I know myself, as a business owner, I’m always looking for mentors. And that’s one of the great advantages of being a part of the Star Network — to meet people that have that same passion and energy that you have.”

Raffles were sold throughout the event, with proceeds benefiting the Carly Rose Foundation and Innovative Resources for Independence.

Carly Rose Nieves, honoree and recipient of the New York Community Bank Inspiration Award, was recognized for her work at the Carly Rose Foundation. A two-time cancer survivor, Nieves founded the nonprofit foundation with her mother to help families with children suffering life-threatening illnesses.

“My mom promised me that something good was going to come out of [my illness],” Nieves said. “And then, together, we came up with the idea to help children who have been in my position: because who better to help these families than a family that has gone through it not just once, but twice.”

Some of the honorees spoke with QNS about the personal and professional significance of being honored as an outstanding young professional and rising star.

“I’m truly humbled and honored to have been nominated,” said Shanel Thomas, community outreach liaison for the LaGuardia Airport Redevelopment Program. “It’s always a joy to be honored for something that you love doing.”

“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” said Manmeet Malik, breast surgeon at New York-Presbyterian of Queens. “Being someone young in Queens who has been working hard and taking care of our community, a lot of times when you’re starting your career, you’re a workhorse and you work and work. So it’s nice to be acknowledged for all the hard work you put in.”

“It feels great [to be honored],” said Lindsay Mesh, associate attorney at Forchelli, Curto, Deegan, Schwartz, Mineo & Terrana LLP. “I’m not even 30 yet, so to get my foot in the door and start getting my name and the firm’s name out there helps business.”

Additional honorees included Michelle Abramov, Associate Broker Investment Sales & Advisory for Highcap Group; Dr. Christine Antoldi, President & CEO of Forest Hills Chiropractic & Wellness; Dr. Nicole Appello, Associate Executive of Programs at Human First Inc.; Carl Benn, Director/Coach/Mentor of Far Rockaway Youth Sports Initiative; Rhonda Binda, Executive Director of Jamaica Center Business Improvement District; Jairo Borja, Director, Business Development at Berkeley College; Lindsay Brienza, Coordinator of Development & Fundraising at Innovative Resources for Independence; Robert Briskin, Co-Owner, Maiella, and Owner, Alicia’s Jewelers; Noe Canales, Founder, Soccer Kids NYC; Evan Daniel, Executive Vice President of Modern Spaces; Justin L. Deebrah, Compliance Manager at Skanska USA; Priscilla Dolce, Event Concierge at Russo’s on the Bay; Chinyere Dunkley, Founder & CEO of RoyalChi Fashion Brand; Kerume Dunkley, Senior Billing Analyst at Casmir Care Services; Rui Fernandes, Financial Representative at Investors Financial Group/Investors Bank; Andrea Friedman, Esq., Partner at Friedman & Friedman; Karen Gamba, Founder and CEO of Ellipsis, LLC; Chrissy Grigoropoulos, Founding Partner of Grigoropoulos Law Group; Peter Gozzi, DJ/Producer/Remixer; Ahmed Hegazy, President & CEO of EIHAB Human Services;  Dr. Zachary Hickman, Director of Neurosurgery at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst; Lester Hong, Logistics and After Service Manager at Crystal Window & Door Systems, Ltd.; Dr. Rukiya A. Jeffers, CEO of RJ Educators and Lavish Beauty; Christopher Krepcio, VP/Senior Project Manager of Merritt Engineering Consultants; Shobhna Lamba, President & CEO of Le Selfie Photobooth; Dr. Hugh Lavery, Regional Director of Urology at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst/Queens; Ya-Ting Liu, Executive Director of Friends of BQX; Angelena Lucheux, CEO of Tailormade For You Skincare; Manmeet Malik, DO, Breast Surgeon, New York-Presbyterian/Queens; LaQuana McNeil, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker at Douglas Elliman Real Estate; Lindsay Mesh, Associate at Forchelli, Curto, Deegan, Schwartz, Mineo & Terrana LLP; Kaitlin D. Moody, Government Affairs Specialist at Davidoff  Hutcher & Citron LLP; Trisha Ocona, CEO of RealestateOCONA, LLC; Jovanni Ortiz, Real Estate Agent at Daniel Gale Sotheby’s/International Realty; Jenifer Rajkumar, Attorney at Sanford Heisler LLP and President, Asian-American Coalition of Queens; Dr. Vincent Rizzo, Associate Director of Medicine of NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens; Shaneil Samuels, Engineering Aide at Port Authority of NY & NJ; Jose Santiago, Branch Manager at Suffolk County National Bank – Suffolk-LIC Branch; Brett Swanson, Manager of Committee Development at Queens Chamber of Commerce; Tricia M. Taitt, Principal at Art & Money Matters, LLC; Amanda Talty, Vice President, Development, Tourette Association of America; and Shanel Thomas, Community Outreach Liaison/LGA Redevelopment Program.

The event was sponsored by Investors Bank, New York Community Bank, National Grid, Modern Spaces, NYC Health and Hospitals Queens, and NYC Health and Hospitals Elmhurst, New York-Presbyterian Queens, Crystal Windows, Queens Chamber of Commerce, the Grigoropoulos Law Group, Soccer Kids NYC, Art & Money Matters, Broadway Stages, and Empire Promotions.

Media sponsors included The Queens Courier, Best of the Boro and the Daily News.

Visit the Star Network website for upcoming event and networking opportunities.

Photos by Allen Ngai

Photos by Joe Swift


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