Photo by Corazon Aguirre
The 2018 recipients of the 'Stars Under 40' awards from Schneps Communications on Feb. 13 at the Knockdown Center in Maspeth.

Some of the most successful young professionals in New York City brought their family and friends for a night of celebration at the annual “Stars Under 40” Awards & Networking Event in Maspeth.

Hundreds of guests filled the Knockdown Center on Fat Tuesday to see Schneps Communications Events recognize 48 of the city’s most outstanding businesspersons, bankers, developers, attorneys and entrepreneurs under the age of 40. The honorees shared business cards, enjoyed cocktails and food catered by Bourbon Street and were presented with a star-topped trophy for the work they do in their businesses and communities.

“We’re very blessed and we’re very delighted to have each one of you recognized for what you do,” Victoria Schneps, co-publisher of Schneps Communications, told the honorees. “Each one of you has made a difference in the communities you live and work in, and you serve.”

Josh Schneps, chief executive officer for Schneps Communications, added that one of the main reasons he enjoys this event every year is the networking opportunity it provides.

“I think the older that we get, the one thing that we can value is relationships,” Schneps said. “Part of it is recognizing you for what you do individually or as part of your organization, but the other part is just to get to know some other people that potentially can help you further things that you’re looking to do, or maybe answer questions or be someone you can trust in a different industry.”

The ceremony was highlighted by three exceptional awards: The “Star of Stars” was given to Gianna Gelosi, an anchor for News 12 in the Bronx and Brooklyn; the “Developer of the Year” was awarded to Bentley Zhao, president of New Empire Corp.; and the “Diversity Award” went to Jennifer Fernandez, administrative director for New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE).

The 2018 “Stars Under 40” honorees were as follows:

Stefano Barresi


New York Life


Adalberto Garcia


New York Life


Jeff Behounek

Senior Loan Officer

Meadowbrook Financial Mortgage Bankers Corp.


Monika Bialokur

Director of Digital Marketing & PR

Lyons Mortgage Services, Inc.


Raymond Castronovo


Forchelli Deegan Terrana LLP


Kaunteya Chitnis

VP / Senior Director of Acquisitions & Development
MCR Development


William White

Acquisitions & Development

MCR Development


Ramona Ciobanu


Soccer Kids NYC/Founder, Smart Kids NYC


Jamie Claudio

Vice President, Marketing & Sales

Discover Long Island


Marlie Cohen, LMSW

Director of Agency Programming

Mid Island Y JCC


Stephen Di Dio

Vice President & Chief Marketing & Communication Officer

Queensborough Community College  CUNY


Danna DeBlasio

Vice President

Connelly McLaughlin & Woloz


Luisa Eusse-Roche M.S. Ed.

Director of Service Coordination
Human First, Inc


Meredith Friedman


VanHorn & Friedman, P.C.


Joe Gim

Assistant DA Nassau County

Nassau County District Attorney’s office

Azmat (Ozzy) Hussain

Manager, Entrepreneurial Service Group

Mazars USA LLP


Peter Matwijiw

Senior Tax Accountant

Mazars USA LLP


Brandon Jeffries

Teen Center Coordinator

Queens Library for Teens


Yarik Kim, CPA, CFA

Audit and Accounting Manager

Schwartz & Company, LLP


Joshua A. Lafazan


Nassau County, District 18


Rafe Landano

Founder & President

United Sanative & Environmental Alliance (USEA)


Dominique LaRosa, CHSP

Director of Corporate Sales

The Fox Hollow


Linda Lee, MSW

Executive Director

The Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York, Inc.


Joseph Y. Yun

Operations Manager

The Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York, Inc.


Rafe Lieber

Executive Vice President – Business Development & Public Affairs

Appellate Land Services Ltd


Adam Lombardi

First Central Savings  Bank


Jake Medlinger


Zimmerman/Edelson, Inc.


Michael Montuori

First Vice President

The Alpert Group of Wells Fargo Advisors


Corey J. Muirhead

Director of Contracts & Business Development

Logan Bus Co. Inc. & Affiliates


Dr. Noël Natoli

LI Plastic Surgical Group



Kellie Newman

Administrative Assistant

Century 21 Amiable II


Michael Newman

Vice President, Director of Operations

Standard Refrigerators Inc.

Nelson Nigel


Kidmoto Technologies


Jaclyn Peranteau

Professional Engineer

Prime Engineering


Anthony Perrotta

Licensed Associate R.E. Broker

Signature Premier Properties


Stephania Quiroz

Sr. Manager, Digital Marketing

Charity Water


Ali Rashid


Kingsland Properties



Amanda Seppi

Branch Manager East Northport

Investor’s Bank


Jason Sidana

Founder & CEO



Karen Signoracci Suero


KSS, Ltd.


Shanta Speller


Bunch of Balloons


Bryan Trindade

Senior Designer

Digital Natives Group

Maurizio Vendittelli

General Manager

Il  Bacco

Juan Vides




Brendez Wineglass

Project Manager /Creative Strategist / Event Producer / Social Broker

Power Social Events



Kellie Newman, an administrative assistant with Century 21 Amiable Realty II, which was a Copper Sponsor, revealed her humility when she said that she didn’t want the award at first because she doesn’t like to be the center of attention, but her family and friends encouraged her.

“It’s nice to be recognized for things that you do every day that sometimes you think don’t get noticed,” Newman said.

Yarik Kim, an audit and accounting manager for Schwartz & Company, LLC, agreed that he never thought about recognition while “going through the grind of doing what you do best.”

“It’s very rewarding, that’s for sure, especially to be recognized at such a young age,” Kim said. “I think for a lot of nominees it adds a lot of value in the sense that at such a young age they’ve been recognized for their achievements up to this point.”

Jaclyn Peranteau started her own business, Prime Engineering, eight years ago and said that entrepreneurs like herself don’t often get this type of praise.

“When you work for yourself, you rarely stop and thank yourself for the work you do, so events like this are very nice,” Peranteau said.

For Azmat Hussein of Mazars USA LLP, the event was about more than recognition. The self-professed “desk freak” said that networking is an important part of reaching his goal of becoming a partner in the practice.

“I was always more technical than social when it came to meeting people,” Hussein said. “But if I don’t do networking, I don’t get my name out there and I can’t get business.”

The event also included a raffle with prizes like a trip to Cancun, Mexico, an $1,800 Dale Carnegie Scholarship and more. All of the approximately $2,000 in proceeds from the raffle will be donated to Soccer Kids NYC and the Queens Library for Teens.

Sponsors of the event included Copper Sponsor Century 21 Amiable II; Photo Booth Sponsor Dale Carnegie; Balloon Sponsor Bunch of Balloons; Journal Sponsor Investors Bank; National Grid; Mazars USA LLP; New Empire Corp.; First Central Savings Bank; Forchelli Deegan Terrana LLP; Lyons Mortgage Services; Schwartz & Company LLP; Il Bacco; Scotto Brothers; Broadway Stages; and Sandwire.

Media Sponsors were The Queens Courier, QNS, LI Press, Bethpage Best of the Boro, Daily News and Medcast Plus.


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