Young professionals shine bright at annual Rising Stars event

Cameras flashed and red carpets were rolled out at The Grand Prospect Hall as more than 30 of the borough’s leading young professionals were honored at Schneps Communications and Star Networking’s annual Rising Stars event on Wednesday, June 17.

“It really is a pleasure every year to meet new people,” said Home Reporter and Brooklyn Spectator Co-Publisher Joshua Schneps. “I think all of us, especially the group of people that are here tonight, are about getting to know new people and supporting the neighborhood.”

From restaurant owners to non-profit founders, the night celebrated a wide variety of young business men and women, all ascending quickly to success on their respective career paths.

“This is important to a network of young leaders throughout our city,” said Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna, who was a Latino Rising Star herself at the networking company’s Queens event last year. “We all run in our own circles but it’s important that those circles are concentric, that they overlap and that we support one another.”

The night allowed all 34 honorees to mingle and get to know one another at a VIP cocktail hour held before the awards ceremony. Once introductions were made and praise was exchanged, honorees and event-goers were given the chance to browse through some of the borough’s offerings in banking, jewelry and other services. The evening culminated with dinner, the presentation of awards and some seriously fun dancing.

“It’s so nice to have such great people here that are all in something different and to be honored with them,” said honoree and Owner/Executive Chef of The Pearl Room Anthony Rinaldi. “It’s such a great age [to be at] and everything great that they’re going to do in the next 10 years. I can’t wait to watch and see where they go because it’s such a great group of people.”

“It’s truly amazing to be honored with so many wonderful people across both the borough and the city,” added Antonina Agrusa, honoree and director of Explore Brooklyn and Tourism Initiatives at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce has opened up so many doors for me and it’s really exciting to see our borough flourish and from the Rising Stars event, I’m happy to make new friends and business contacts.”

Ana Oliveira, senior vice president and regional manager at Investors Bank, one of the night’s sponsors, said that every year, the event is a great time.

“We’re so happy to support the Rising Stars,” said Oliveira. “I think this is the third year that we’ve been participating and it’s great exposure. [Star Networking] does a great job always getting great people here that we could network with, make new contacts with, and help grow our business. Many of them have become friends so it’s just an overall great event every time.”

Tracie Bonilla, a representative with BNB Hanna Bank, added that it was “wonderful to be honoring people that are up-and-coming in business.

I’m very happy and proud to have the opportunity to come to the Rising Stars event,” Bonilla said. “It’s a privilege and I’m just so happy to be a part of it.”

The night also gave event-goers the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets, the proceeds from which would go to two Brooklyn charities: Bay Ridge Cares and Pietro’s Fight.

“I’m very lucky and honored and blessed to be a part of such an amazing community,” said Dayna Scarso, honoree and co-founder of Pietro’s Fight, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness and funds to find a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a disease her son Pietro was diagnosed with at age three. “We’ve raised close to $1 million within three years and we put that money in the hands of scientists, researchers and doctors who are looking to find a cure. The Schneps [family] has been amazing as far as support and putting our information out there. I’m very honored and thankful.”

The night was sponsored by Investors Bank, Flushing Bank, National Grid, Con Edison, The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Broadway Stages, and the Daily News.

BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photos by Corazon Aguirre and Arthur de Gaeta

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