Brooklyn’s young professionals stepped into the spotlight on Thursday, June 22 as Schneps Communications and Star Network honored over 40 of the borough’s best and brightest at the 2017 “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 – all under the age of 40 – filled the Grand Prospect Hall (263 Prospect Avenue) with their smiles, compassion and professionalism.
“Star Network is pleased to acknowledge the many extraordinary achievements of the men and women we are honoring,” 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 six very special “Rising Stars,” (three high school students, two middle school students and one elementary school student) 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.
This year’s “Rising Stars” included five-year old second-grader Ariana Jalia, 11-year-old master chef Steven Esses, I.S. 187 student Preston Ferraiuolo, Stefano Ientile, a rising senior at Xaverian High School, Kristina Scarfo, a rising senior at Fontbonne Hall Academy and Rookie of the Year – Sheryl Chen, a recent graduate of Staten Island Technical High School who will attend the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania this fall.
Also honored as a “Rising Star” was Bay Ridge resident and I.S. 187 student Preston Ferraiuolo who, now just 13, founded his own volunteer group, the Bay Ridge Lemonade Coalition – an organization made up of middle school students working together to benefit the community – while also continuously lending his hands to volunteer efforts and initiatives across the ‘hood.
“I am so honored to be able to meet so many successful businesspeople that are doing a lot for other people,” said Ferraiuolo. “These honorees do so much good for the community, so this is an exciting opportunity to network and get even more involved.”
Three high school students were also lauded as “Rising Stars,” including Stefano Ientile, a junior at Xaverian High School who has participated in numerous statewide championships with his school’s speech and debate team, while also taking home first place in the Congressional Art Competition, and Kristina Scarfo, a rising senior at Fontbonne Hall Academy whose resume already includes outstanding scholastic achievement, participation in a research project at St. Joseph’s University and the title of an accomplished athlete.
Sheryl Chen, a senior at Staten Island Technical High School, was also honored as a “Rising Star,” as well as the event’s “Rookie of the Year.” Chen is the founder and CEO of a female empowerment nonprofit, Girls Advocating Leadership & Strength (GALS). As a young female activist, she has already won awards for her volunteerism and has spoken at the United Nations, Columbia University, Princeton University and schools throughout inner cities to discuss the power of youth, the importance of kindness and topics like intersectional feminism, female self-esteem and advancing girls of color.
This year’s Stars Under 40 event also honored Brian Chin, vice president and branch manager of Northfield Bank in Bay Ridge, as the annual event’s first-ever Hall of Famer. Chin, who joined Northfield Bank in 2011, is responsible for developing new business in the Bay Ridge area and for managing the day-to-day operations of the branch – all of which he does while remaining active in Bay Ridge, where he also happily resides.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be the first-ever Rising Star Hall of Famer,” Chin said. “It’s something that shows that hard work and perseverance really pays off.”
Just as exciting, he said, is the annual event itself.
“The Home Reporter is a great organization and so is Star Network,” Chin raved. “This is a really great opportunity to get out there and network with other wonderful people in this community.”
Stars Under 40 Honorees included Dara Adams, Dance Instructor, Brooklyn United Music & Arts Program; Dana Bentz, President & CEO, Dell’s Maraschino Cherries; Paul Caruso, Operations Manager, Auto Dent Collision; Richard Corredor, Owner/CEO, AB Surveillance Systems; La Quasia Crandell, Head of Flag Department; Brooklyn United Music & Arts Program; Joseph D’adonna, President, CityLine Abstract; Soraya Denis, Founder/Co-Founder, Dlo Pou Viv/Women Who Inspire Women; Jelanie DeShong, Director of Community Engagement, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul; Angelica Diaz, Owner, Event Works; Erkan Emre, Founder/CEO, Kotti Berliner Döner Kebab; Nicole Esposito, Co-Owner, Bohemian Rose Hair Studio; Victoria Fernandez Wint, Program Operations Manager, Brooklyn Prospect Charter, School-Clinton Hill Middle; Jasmine Figueroa, Project Manager, Rodriguez, Gambino & LaPorta; Gregory Gatewood, Horn Instructor, Brooklyn United Music & Arts Program; Ari Harkov, Licensed Real Estate Broker, The Harkov Lewis Team, Halstead; Debbie Hootam, Assistant Vice President, Branch Manager, Investors Bank; Michael Joseph, Police Officer, 70th Pct.; Adam Kalish, Esq., The Law Firm of Adam Kalish P.C.; Kiki Lekkas, Co-Owner, Blue Door Restaurant; Igor Lazebnik, Business Development Officer, Flushing Bank; Joseph Leston, Senior Director of Marketing, CareConnect Insurance Company; Jane Lvovskiy, CPA, Managing Director, Supporting Strategies, Brooklyn & Staten Island; Marla Loughran, D.C., Chiropractor, Brooklyn Chiropractic Partners; Farah Louis, Deputy Chief of Staff, New York City Council; Andrew Luftig, Esq., Partner, Chaves & Perlowitz LLP; Richard Luthmann, Esq., Luthmann Law Firm, PLLC; Ayat Masoud, Esq., Assistant District Attorney, Kings County DA’s Office; Stacey Meekins, Horn Instructor, Brooklyn United Music & Arts Program; Ayumi Otaki, Senior Managing Director, Corcoran Group; Errol Pierre, Vice President of Medicaid and Commercial Markets, Healthfirst; David Ratner, Licensed Real Estate Agent, The Ratner Team, Warren Lewis Sotheby’s International Realty, Co-Founder of The Brooklyn Made Podcast/Blog; Craig Rosenman, Director of Acquisitions, The Daten Group; Samantha Ross, Event Coordinator/Community Liaison, New York City Councilmember Mark Treyger; Andrea Serie, Freelance Marketing Consultant; Rodney Smith Jr., Head of Percussion, Brooklyn United Music & Arts Program; Danny Soldano, Lic. Real Estate Associate Broker, Dorsa Group Realty; Tarin Sukkarieh, Co-Owner, Bohemian Rose Hair Studio; Melissa Tropnas, Events Coordinator, Extra Extra Creative; Teresa Vasquez, Community Manager, Balfour Beatty Communities/Licensed R.E. Broker; Shakiera Walker, Digital & Communications Manager, Delivering Good; Douglas Youla, Operations Manger, Luna Park; Simon Zabrovskiy, Vice President, Relationship Manager & Area Manager, Chase Bank.
“There’s this wonderful sort of value that I see in putting together ambitious, kind-hearted people who strive to make the community a better place,” said Emre, “and to be a part of that network is just an honor.”
That honor was also particularly touching for Serie, a sixth-generation Brooklynite, and her family.
“This is so exciting,” she said. “My family has been in Brooklyn for six generations – way before it became this trendy, travel destination. Through the good and the bad, we always stayed, and we made lives for ourselves, so this means a lot to my entire family for me to be recognized for my work within the borough.”
Furthermore, the Brooklyn United Music & Arts Program – which honorees Adams, Crandell, Gatewood, Meekins and Smith Jr. are a part of – was awarded for Excellence in Music & Performing Arts.
The night also featured exciting raffles – proceeds from which went to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to “enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.”
The event’s sponsors included Investors Bank, New York Community Bank, HealthFirst, Flushing Bank, National Grid, Chase, JetBlue, CEBU, Bohemian Rose Hair Studio, Malsons Jewelers, MedCast Plus, Broadway Stages, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, The Daily News, Brownstoner, The Home Reporter and The Brooklyn Spectator.
Exhibitors at the event included Touchstone Jewelry, AIM Image Consultant, the Brooklyn Cyclones, City Line Abstract, Flushing Bank, HealthFirst, Investors Bank, Legal Shield, Luna Park, Pampered Chef, Sweet Kid, Farmers Insurance, and Qi Financial Strategies.