Outside, the rain was already coming down but inside El Caribe Country Club in Mill Basin the stars were shining brightly during Schneps Communications’ annual tribute to the Power Women of Brooklyn, women who have made their mark in business and the community.
Just in time for Women’s History Month, the awards and networking event, held March 1 at the 5945 Strickland Avenue venue, highlighted 40 amazing women from the borough, including Orly Amor, Business Coach for Public Speakers, Orly Amor Enterprises; Dorothea Avery, Co-Founder & Principal, Node; Joan Bakiriddin, Business Systems Training Manager, Elsevier Inc.; Khadine Barakat, CEO, Vedette Beauty & Skin Care; Dr. Rekha Bhandari, Chief Medical Officer, the Allure Group; Grace M. Borrino, Esq., Partner, Abrams & Fensterman; Irina Botvinnik, Premier Banker, Flushing Bank; Kim Capone, Owner/CEO, Lu Bella Boutiques; Laura DePalma, Producer and Supervising Editor, DeSales Media; Dr. Monalisa Ferrari, CEO, Ferrari and Associates International, LLC; Jessica Gargano, Owner/CEO, Sugar Coated Bakery; Rayma Garraway, CEO, Never Happier Inc.; Karisma Jay, Executive Artistic Director/ Founder, AbunDance Academy of the Arts, Inc.; Loretta Y. Jones, Second Vice Chair to the Board of Director, Municipal Credit Union; Theresa Grillo-Landy, General Manager, St. Joseph Chapel & Columbarium; Sharon Devonish Leid, CEO, NetStrucPR; Alfonsina Vendra Messina, CEO, Lady Lair By AVM; Grace Mo, Co-Founder, Dorcas Ministries; LaZetta Duncan-Moore, CEO, Brooklyn Plaza Medical Center Inc.; Maria Nitti, Owner/CEO, Isabella’s Creations, Operation Birthday Party.Org; Tonya Ores, Executive Director, Neighborhood Housing Services of Brooklyn CDC, Inc.; Ann Marie Perrotto, President, Christopher’s Reason; Alexandra Pina, Project Manager, Programming, DeSales Media; Melissa Powell, Chief Operating Officer, the Allure Group; Jocelynne Rainey, Chief Administration Officer and SVP, Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation; Margaret M. Stanton, Esq., President, Bay Ridge Lawyers Association, Law Office of Margaret M. Stanton; Xiomara Wallace, Assistant Director, Community Affairs & Intergovernmental Relations, NYC Health + Hospitals | Kings County; Katie Wu, Licensed Real Estate Associate Broker, Keller Williams Realty Empire; and Linda Zou, VP, Business Relationship Manager III, JP Morgan Chase Bank.
In addition, several women received special awards. They were Woman of the Year Lisa Evers, TV News Reporter and Talk Show Host, Fox 5 News; Empire State Bank Exceptional Woman Award for Community Service Linda Carlton, Guild for Exceptional Children; Health Hero Karen Burke, MD, Ph.D, Clinical Professor of Dermatology, Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine; Outstanding Service to the Community Cecilia Clarke, President and CEO
Brooklyn Community Foundation; Innovator of the Year Sue Phillips, President and CEO, Scenterprises; Entertainer of the Year Cristina Fontanelli, Award-Winning Singer and PBS-TV Host; Dynamic Duo Angella Cavallo and Tara Toye, OLGCA / Horizons Dance Center; and Rockstar of the Year Deborah B. Curtis, VP, Global Partnerships and Experiential Marketing, American Express Company.
Also, three women were inducted into the Hall of Fame. They were Ana Oliveira, SVP, Market Executive, Investors Bank; Karen DiTolla, Principal, Mark Twain Intermediate School; and Michelle Rosa-Patruno, Mortgage Banker, United Mortgage Corp.
The event was started after Schneps Communications founder Victoria Schneps attended an awards event at which the dais was filled with all male honorees. She decided then and there that she would change the equation, and began holding awards ceremonies that recognized women’s achievements.
This year’s group of honorees, Schneps said, was “spectacular. They will shine tonight,” she told the crowd, “as they walk the red carpet.”
City Councilmember Jumaane Williams agreed. Stopping by to congratulate the honorees, Williams noted, with a twinkle, “The best thing a man can do is step aside and let the women do the job.”
Like previous ones, this year’s celebration of the borough’s Power Women was “amazing,” said Oliviera, who praised it for “showcasing how far the women of Brooklyn have gone,” which is especially important, she said, “In today’s world, giving inspiration to future young professionals.”
Bakiriddin concurred. “The event is phenomenal,” she said. “The mere title — Power Women. Women have to be strong. It doesn’t matter where you place a woman, she is the reinforcing cement, the foundation.”
Ores focused also on the empowering aspect of the event. “At this time, especially,” she stressed, “during the #MeToo movement, people are starting to pay attention. We are a force to be reckoned with and it’s good to be recognized as an essential part of the community.”
Organizations that participated in the business expo that preceded the awards ceremony were also pleased.
“It’s a great opportunity for the diocese,” said Craig Tubiolo, director of programming and production for the DeSales Media Group, the communications arm of the Diocese of Brooklyn & Queens. “We love being out here with the people, creating relationships and supporting the diocese, the borough and Vicki.”
“We’re very excited to support the event,” agreed Roni Shoyfer, retail district manager at Investors Bank. “It gives us a platform to get to know people, and for people to get to know us, which is the purpose of a networking event.”
During the event, a raffle raised $2,000 for the Brooklyn Community Foundation, a not-for-profit group in the borough that, according to its website, “seeks to mobilize people, capital, and expertise for a fair and just Brooklyn.”
The sponsors of the event were Empire State Bank, the Allure Group, Investors Bank, Flushing Bank, DeSales Media Group, MCU Municipal Credit Union, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Chase, Medcast Plus, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and American Express.
The exhibitors at the business expo were the Allure Group, Brooklyn Community Foundation, Brooklyn Navy Yard, DeSales Media, Empire State Bank, Flushing Bank, INternational Business Coach Orly Amor, Investors Bank, Isabella’s Creations, Lady Lair by AVM, Never Happier Inc., Scenterprises, St. Joseph’s Chapel and Columbarium and Touchstone Jewelry.