Two zealously devoted Bay Ridge activists, Arlene Rutuelo and Zoe Koutsoupakis, will be lauded for their commitment to service as civic award winners by the Bay Ridge Community Council at its upcoming dinner dance, slated for June 4 at Sirico’s.
Rutuelo, a lifelong Ridgeite and mother of three, has poured her heart and soul into her Norwegian heritage, serving as New York City coordinator of Dina Foundation Inc., a worldwide Norwegian organization whose mission is to prevent human sex trafficking.
In addition, Rutuelo serves as vice chair of the executive board of the Norwegian Christian Home & Health Center as well as a board member of the Scandinavian East Coast Museum. Rutuelo also serves as co-chair of The Miss Norway Contest and the Norwegian Day Parade, a Bay Ridge staple that will celebrate its 64th year this month.
And that’s not all. Rutuelo also serves as president of the Guild for Exceptional Children, a board member of The Merchants of Third Avenue and a member of the 68th Precinct Community Council.
Perhaps best known for her integral role in keeping the now-shuttered Nordic Deli, a family business, afloat, Rutuelo began a new chapter in February, joining the staff of State Senator Marty Golden as executive assistant, so that she may continue to serve a community that she holds dear.
“I’m tremendously honored; it was a big shock,” said Rutuelo, humbled. “That organization has been around for such a long time that when I look back at the people who have been honored, I’m not sure if I’m half enough of a person to walk in those shoes of the honorees of the past 60 so years or so.
“I just hope I can continue to make the community proud,” she went on.
Koutsoupakis, born in Hartum, Sudan to Greek parents and raised on the Greek island of Karpathos, immigrated to the United States at the age of 14. Since then, the loving mother of one has achieved great success both in and out of the corporate world.
Currently, senior vice president and group director at the Signature Bank, Koutsoupakis has thrown her hat into a number of local organizations from the Federation of Hellenic Societies of New York to the Bay Ridge Development Corporation and the Boy Scouts of America, on which she serves as chairperson.
In addition, Koutsoupakis is associated with the Fifth Avenue Board of Trade, the Bay Ridge Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District, the Colonial Club and the Ronald McDonald House. She also serves as a sponsor of District 20’s Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Fair and treasurer of the Greek America Property Owners of Brooklyn.
When it comes to being recognized for her work, this isn’t Koutsoupakis’ first rodeo. She has been named “Woman of the Year” by the Fifth Avenue Board of Trade and one of The Home Reporter and Brooklyn Spectator’s Top Women in Business, to name just two awards.
Still, Koutsoupakis also remains humble.
“I don’t deserve this,” she said at a March Bay Ridge Community Council meeting. “It’s a great honor and I’m touched. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Past civic award recipients include Jane Kelly (1993), now-State Senator Marty Golden (1995), Mary Ann Walsh (1997), Howard Dunn (2003), Ted General (2005), Greg Ahl (2006) and the late Maureen Stramka (2010), among others.