Brooklyn Women of Distinction

Photo gallery

BEEP BEEP: Borough President Adams addresses the crowd.
A NOTE ON KEY: Comedian, Keynote Speaker and Park Slope resident Ophira Eisenberg of National Public Radio’s “Ask Me Another” (which is recorded in Brooklyn), left the audience in stitches. And now, on to the honorees.
Jean P. Alexander: West Indian American Day Carnival Association volunteer, with CNG Vice President of Advertising Ralph D’Onofrio.
Shelly Della Rocco: “Mayor” who leads outings for the handicapped, with Sales Associate and Women of Distinction coordinator Stephanie Stellaccio.
Ericka Medina: Reproductive health educator mentors at-risk kids, with Tarley.
Diana Rafailova: Senior center founder makes elders matter, with Women of Distiction Coordinator Jennifer Stern.
Dr. Laura D’Onofrio: Veterinarian keeps Brooklyn’s furry and four-legged friends healthy, with Stellaccio.
Irene LoRe: Aunt Suzie’s restaurateur pioneered the economic revival of Park Slope, with Luster.
Laura McKenna: Sheepshead Bay volunteer was a community lifeline after Hurricane Sandy, with CNG Classifieds Sales Manager Amanda Tarley.
Theresa Scavo: Gravesend civic leader improves Brooklyn’s quality of life, with Stern.
Gina Argano: “Ms. Zumba Lady,” who helps children in need, with D’Onofrio.
Sanna Ezri: Millennium Theater director casts spotlight on Brooklyn, with Stellaccio.
Dr. Karen L. Gould: Brooklyn College president sets the stage for the borough’s movie-making comeback, with Publisher Clifford Luster.
Joan Millman: Retired assemblywoman authored 58 bills that became law, with Tarley.
Malika Shagaraeva: Mental-health expert helps Superstorm Sandy victims, with Stern.
Maureen O’Malley-Byrnes: Irish step dance instructor, with D’Onofrio.
Jacqueline Florio: Senior center program director takes members’ recreation seriously, with Stellaccio.
Denise McLean: Prospect Park Zoo director fosters our bond with nature, with Luster.
Diana Nelson: Minister helps to nourish the body and spirit, with Tarley.
Sharon Content: Helps children of the incarcerated, with D’Onofrio.
Debra Friedman: Healthcare chief executive officer makes sure New Yorkers are healthy and in good hands, with Stellaccio.
Marianne Nicolosi: Elder care expert’s advocacy is golden, with Tarley.
Limor Ziarno and Sylvia Uziel: Co-owners of four Edible Arrangement boost the local economy, with Stellaccio, left, and Stern, right.

June, 2015


Comic and NPR host Ophira Eisenberg is a riot act at our Women of Distinction awards night

Ophira Eisenberg — one of New York Magazine’s “Top-10 Comics that Funny People Find Funny,” author of Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy, and new Park Slope resident — dishes about her favorite borough. Comment
Women of Distinction ►Video

Jean P. Alexander: Carnival marvel parades joy in Brooklyn

Crown Heights bursts into pomp and pageantry like a ripe Julie mango at the end of summer, as the age-old tradition of carnival struts into Brooklyn with a steel band contest, a Fat Sunday extravaganza, a kiddie cavalcade, and the West Indian American Day Carnival Parade — a Labor Day crown jewel encrusted with pulsating bands, fantastic floats, succulent aromas, and gloriously garbed revelers shimmying along Eastern Parkway. Comment
Women of Distinction ►Video

Linda Allegretti: Vollie makes Shore Road Park bloom

Bay Ridge resident Linda Allegretti was power-walking along Shore Road in the spring of 2002, when she strode by a volunteer working in a community garden near 69th Street. Comment
Women of Distinction ►Video

Gina Argano: Ms. Zumba Lady makes folk look good and feel gorgeous

Gina Argano left blue-chip philanthropies in her dust with her spectacular plan to give 600 children in need the Christmas gift of their dreams. Comment
Women of Distinction ►Video

Sharon Content: Advocate ‘Promises’ hope to children of prisoners

A sixth grader once expelled from kindergarten for trying to stab his classmates in the hope that his aggression would reunite him with his father — a murderer serving life in prison — is an honor roll student these days, and on his school’s basketball team. A 17-year-old girl with a father imprisoned more often than not was tossed out of four schools in four years because of violent behavior, drug abuse, and failing grades, but today she is a high-school graduate enrolled in college. Comment
Women of Distinction ►Video

Shelley Della Rocca: ‘Mayor’ leads outings for handicapped kids

At Christmas time the Port Authority hanger at John F. Kennedy Airport turns into party central, as Operation Santa Claus fetes 4,000 handicapped children who clap and cheer joyously as the world’s most famous elf — the Macy’s Santa — taxis onto the runway waving from the cockpit of a jet, and hops aboard a vintage train that once circled Nellie Bly Amusement Park. Comment
Women of Distinction ►Video

Dr. Laura D’Onofrio: ‘Animals are my life,’ says Bay Ridge veterinarian

Bay Ridge veterinarian Laura D’Onofrio has some cat-friendly tricks up her sleeve to soothe her finicky feline patients. Comment
Women of Distinction ►Video

Sanna Ezri: Director shines spotlight on historic theater

Ray Charles, Engelbert Humperdinck, ballet and drama troupes, and international pop stars all performed on the iconic stage of the Millennium Theatre in Brighton Beach before its financial fall from grace, but the once-abandoned movie house is making a stunning comeback — with a new name, a new look, and a new innovator behind the scenes. Comment
Women of Distinction ►Video

Jacqueline Florio: Program director takes amusement seriously

Lead-footed motorists in Midwood — a top neighborhood for local speeding — help kill more New Yorkers than drunk drivers and vehicle operators talking on cellphones combined, according to Transportation Alternatives, a road safety group that recorded 23,058 traffic injuries in Brooklyn in 2011, the city’s highest that year. Comment
Women of Distinction ►Video

Debra Friedman: Healthcare CEO insures members are healthy and in good hands

Affordable health care is a basic human essential, claims the head of the fastest growing insurance company in New York history. Comments (4)
Women of Distinction ►Video

Dr. Karen L. Gould: College president is in a class of her own

In the early 1900s the American Vitagraph Company — known as the “Big V on Avenue M” — churned out movies and groomed early motion picture stars from a film studio a stone’s toss away from Brooklyn College, pioneering trends with lavish sets and a special tank for marine scenes. Comment
Women of Distinction ►Video

Dari Lichtman: ‘Friend’ makes playground fun

Friends of Greenwood Playground volunteer Dari Litchman personifies the lively logo she designed for her group: two birds trilling on a tree with hearts flowing from the beak of one like a waterfall. Comment
Women of Distinction ►Video

Irene LoRe: Restaurateur licks Park Slope into shape

Park Slope — one of the city’s earliest historic districts and the site of the first and largest battle of the American Revolutionary War — has come a long way from being a former playground for dopers and derelicts. It is top-ranked for its architectural and historical splendors, and its quality of life attracts intellectuals, actors, and stroller moms, who shop at the local food co-op, sip coffee at sidewalk cafes, and attend yoga class with their neighbors. Comments (1)
Women of Distinction ►Video

Dr. Althea Maybank: Doctor alters conversation about public health

A healthy neighborhood is where people eat quality food, play in clean and safe parks, have timely access to proper medical care, and receive a sound education in good schools — all of it in a violence-free environment, claims a top policy maker in the world’s largest health department in an urban setting. Comment
Women of Distinction ►Video

Denise McClean: Zoo director makes visitors wild about nature

Prospect Park Zoo director Denise McClean was on her daily rounds when she stopped to hand a peacock feather to a girl enthralled by the gossamer plumes adorning the grounds after shedding season. Comment
Women of Distinction ►Video

Laura McKenna: Bay activist a lifeline for Sandy victims

Zombie properties and beggared homeowners waiting for their houses to be rebuilt or torn down continue to be rude reminders of Hurricane Sandy’s devilish toll in Sheepshead Bay — one of the communities the ghoulish nor’easter battered in 24 states and seven nations around Halloween 2012. Comments (1)
Women of Distinction ►Video

Ericka Medina: Peer leader alerts youth to safe sexuality

Ericka Medina showed her elders who the boss was when she led a birth control workshop at the Miccio Center in Red Hook as a 14-year-old peer health educator with the Red Hook Initiative, a group committed to overturning inter-generational poverty. Comment
Women of Distinction ►Video

Joan Millman: Former assemblywoman authored 58 laws

The next time you see a city truck driver check his convex mirror for passing pedestrians, thank Joan Millman. Comment
Women of Distinction ►Video

Diana Nelson: Minister nourishes flock with support services

Every Saturday Diana Nelson and her army of devoted volunteers — among them, children, seniors, and former juvenile delinquents — cook around 400 hot meals for the poor and homeless people who come to her East New York soup kitchen seeking food and fellowship. Comment
Women of Distinction ►Video

Marianne Nicolosi: Elder care expert makes seniors matter

Marianne Nicolosi is a chronic originator. Comment
Women of Distinction ►Video

Maureen O’Malley-Byrnes: Dance teacher steps up ancient artform

The O’Malley Irish Dance Academy Irish step dancers were nimble-toed Brooklyn legends long before Lady Gaga retweeted one of their jaunty jigs in September. Comment
Women of Distinction ►Video

Diana Rafailova: Day care founder revives solitary seniors

The distressing wails of an elderly widower with dementia tugged at Diana Rafailova’s heart as she interned at a Brooklyn nursing home, alerting the student dietician to a greater problem. Comment
Women of Distinction ►Video

Theresa Scavo: Civic leader improves life in her district

Gravesend resident Theresa Scavo went to her first community board meeting to learn about a synagogue’s plans to build a school on her block, but found the attendees shouting or barely listening, and the moderators hand-picking the speakers. Comment
Women of Distinction ►Video

Malika Shagaraeva: Mental health expert aids Sandy victims

Community outreach worker Malika Shagaraeva glanced over the room of seniors at the Shorefront Y in Brighton Beach and knew her work was cut out for her. Many were Holocaust survivors and political refugees from the former Soviet Union, others were estranged from their adult children, and virtually all were still recovering from Hurricane Sandy’s crippling aftermath. Comment
Women of Distinction ►Video

Sylvia Uziel and Limor Ziarno: Incredible ‘Edible’ women bear community fruit

More than 200,000 American mom-and-pop stores disappeared in the Great Recession between 2008 and 2010, census figures show, but the small businesses Sylvia Uziel and Limor Ziarno opened around then have become a thriving part of their communities, thanks to their down-home, neighborhood-first attitudes. Comment

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