Brooklyn’s young professionals stepped into the spotlight on Thursday, June 16 as Schneps Communications and Star Network honored over 40 of the borough’s best and brightest at the 2016 “Stars Under 40” Awards and Networking Event.
Honored for exemplifying leadership skills, not only in their chosen fields, but in their communities as well, over 40 stars – under the age of 40 – filled the Grand Prospect Hall with their smiles, compassion and professionalism.
“Star Network is pleased to acknowledge the many extraordinary achievements of the men and women we are honoring tonight,” said Co-Owner of Schneps Communications and Star Network Victoria Schneps. “These fabulous people have been so successful because they have a passion for what they do. It is my privilege to recognize them.”
The night’s honorees, along with three very special “Rising Stars,” (two high school students and one elementary school student) and one “Rookie of the Year” were given the chance to mingle with one another during a VIP Reception and cocktail hour and later receive awards and citations for their hard work and dedication.
“I’m so honored to be here,” said honoree Maureen Brody, co-owner of Green Spa & Wellness Center. “It’s amazing to see all of the effort that was put into this by so many people – all of the different businesses that come here and just recognize all of the work that you’ve done, it just feels very special.”
“I’m happy and honored to be here because this is a different form of networking,” added honoree Demetri Lymberatos, president of the Brooklyn Apothecary. “In 2016, where everything is [done through] social media, you don’t really get to speak to people or even know who they are. This is a good opportunity to see who that person is and it’s a good event.”
This year’s “Rising Stars” were Julia Bruzzese of St. Bernadette School, Michelle Sahlani of Fontbonne High School and Adney Silva of Xaverian High School – three students already making a mark in their communities as well as excelling in school.
“I was pretty happy about being nominated,” said Silva, who, as a sophomore, is the captain of Xaverian’s Speech and Debate team and also participates in drama, music and campus ministry, and is a member of the wrestling team. “My assistant principal told me how it’s usually a high school senior that gets nominated. He asked if they could nominate a sophomore and they let him. I’m really happy and excited.”
This year, the “Rookie of the Year” recipient was Angel (Wai Ying) Cheng. Cheng is an accounting student at Brooklyn College and has been doing her part to promote Chinese culture since 2011. She currently assists Winnie Greco, the Chinese Ambassador for Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, with organizing events in Brooklyn to promote Chinese culture.
Stars Under 40 Honorees included Samantha Altilio, Executive Director of Pietro’s Fight; Vania Andre, Executive Editor of The Haitian Times; Zoe Badillo, Marketing Coordinator of Fort Hamilton Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; Louis Belisario, Executive Sales Director with Fillmore Real Estate; Lance Bertrand, President of Turn Key Design & Construction, Inc.; Britt Burner, Esq., Associate with Nancy Burner and Associates; Maureen Brody, Co-Owner, Green Spa & Wellness Center; Robert Burnett, Vice President – Financial Services with Admiral Insurance; Natasha Orzeck-Byrnes, Respite Counselor with SKIP of New York; Natasha Campbell, Founder/Executive Director of Summit Academy Charter School; Aliona Cochiorva, MHA, Director, Plan Benefits and Claims for AgeWell New York, LLC; Brian Cunningham, Director of Government & Foundations Relations with Nazareth Housing; Lisa De Siena, Owner, Director and Choreographer at Dynamic Dance Academy; Nadege Fleurimond, Owner of Fleurimond Catering Inc.; Maria Claudia Florez Cantor, Education Services Director, Family Connect for United Cerebral Palsy of New York City; Karen Ford, Assistant to Senior Advisor at Brooklyn Borough Hall; Mathylde Frontus, PhD, Founder & Executive Director of Urban Neighborhood Services; Kisha Edwards-Gandsy, Co-Founder of NY City Explorers; Dr. Eli Halpert, Director of Interventional Services for USA Vein Clinics; Sean Isaiah James, Special Assistant to Senior Advisor at the Office of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams; Cindy Similien-Johnson, Founder and Director of Goal Chic; Omar Kasi, Owner of Bubbles & Suds Laundry; Alexandra Larkin, Chief of Staff for Assemblymember Pamela Harris; Pedro Lebron, Contract Account Manager with the Avondale Care Group, LLC; Jill Lindsey, Owner of Jill Lindsey Department Store; Marianne Lombardozzi, Owner of BurnedInBrooklyn; Klarinda Louis, Director of Coney Island Generation Gap; Demetri Lymberatos, President of the Brooklyn Apothecary; Jamie Lynn Macchia, Miss New York 2015; William Munoz, Business Specialist, Flushing Bank; Keyanna Murrill, Co-Founder of NY City Explorers; Walter Ochoa, President/Owner of Right At Home; Alex Orman, Owner of Encore Restaurant; Hon. Dweynie Paul, Kings County Civil Court Judge; James Pristouris, President of Super League Athletic Academy; Tiffany Tucker-Pryor, Founder and President of Redemption Inc.; Jacqueline Rubi, East Region Sales Manager for Time Warner Cable; Asim Sabir, Mortgage Representative with Investors Bank; Florence Saint-Jean, Founder & Executive Director of the Global Trauma Center; Dr. Marcello Sarrica, PT, DPT,OCS,CSCS at Sarrica Physical Therapy & Wellness; Schlomo Silber, Co-Founder and CEO of Coworkrs; Dr. Jennifer Srour, Au.D., CCC-A, Audiologist and Practice Developer at Liberty Hearing Centers; Omar Verges, Contract Account Manager with the Avondale Care Group, LLC; Douglas Wint, Manager of International Accounting Operations at TransPerfect; and Terry Yarde, Supervisor, Gas Sales & Marketing – Lead Intake at National Grid.
Enjoying the evening from a different perspective, some of the night’s exhibitors weighed in on why this event is important for young entrepreneurs.
“One of the things that I like about this event is the networking because you see a lot of different businesses and industries that are involved,” said Luis Almanzar, senior benefit advisor with AgeWell New York. “This is a really, really great event.”
The night also featured exciting raffle prizes – proceeds from which went to support Urban Neighborhood Services, which was founded by honoree Mathylde Frontus, Ph.D.
The event’s sponsors included Investors Bank, Flushing Bank, National Grid, the NYCB Family of Banks, AgeWell New York and the Avondale Care Group Servco Industries, Stop & Stare Mobile Media, Admiral Insurance Brokerage Corporation and the Daily News.
Photos by Arthur de Gaeta
Photos by Corazon Aguirre