Brooklyn Women of Distinction

Photo gallery

Sweet night: “Ice Cream Lady” Anastasia D’Amato flashes a smile.
They’re proud: Volunteer Marina Trofimova and Raisa Chernina of the Be Proud Foundation.
Family love: Supreme Court judge Hon. Katherine Levine was joined by family.
Reading up: A guest reads the Women of Distinction magazine published in the Courier Life newspapers.
Woman of many hats: Pyschotherapist and artist Denise P. Levine was all smiles.
Sharing the night: Attorney Pauline Yeung-Ha enjoyed dinner with family and friends.
Bravo: News 12 reporter Katie Lusso was joined by her brother.
Feminists: Designer and activist Diana Kane’s cheering section rocked her “feminist” T-shirts for the night.
Shining bright: The honorees were each awarded a plaque with their name on it.
Helping hands: Community News Group legal advertising manager Eugena Pechenaya, account executive Miriam Nieto, and vice president of advertising Ralph D’Onofrio were on hand to help.
Big welcome: Jennifer Goodstein, president and publisher of Community News Group, welcomes the honorees and thanks them for their hard work.
Gut-busting laughs: Keynote speaker Katie Goodman — an award-winning musical comic, actress, author, and social activist — treats guests to a hilarious song about aging.
Keeping it cool: “Cool pastor” Rev. Amy Kienzle accepts her award.
Elite educator: Elite Academy Principal Yelena Sokolin thanks her family and friends.
No slowing her down: Spry senior activist Frances Schwartz steps up to receive her award.
Dancing queen: Roller disco queen and Coney Island activist Lola Star poses with her award.
Past and present: Park Slope activist Candace Woodward and presenter — and 2016 Woman of Distinction — Maria Teresa Nitti.
Food for thought: Nutritious Plate business owner Violetta Livshiz accepts her award.
Bright star: Former Community News Group sales executive — and CNG’s Woman of Distinction founder — Stephanie Stellaccio is applauded.
Work family: Ralph D’Onofrio, Jennifer Goodstein, and Courier Life publisher Cliff Luster congratulate Stephanie.
Thumbs up: Senior center director Grisel Amador is thrilled to accept her award.
Speaking her language: Regina Andriolo, a 2016 Woman of Distinction, presents language educator Alberta Gulotta with her award.
Awards on top of awards: East Flatbush community advocate Aileen McKinnon was presented with several proclamations in addition to her Woman of Distinction award.
Champion for justice: Bed-Stuy Farm founder and “food justice” crusader Rev. DeVanie Jackson is all smiles accepting her award.
Exceptional volunteer: Heather Cuccia, who donates her time to volunteer for numerous organizations, thanks her family and friends.
Lovely ladies: Executive director and affordable housing advocate Tonya Ores celebrates with a guest.
Educators come together: Educator, activist, and minister Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Butler accepts her award from friend and 2016 Woman of Distinction Carmen Gloria Rosario-Olmedo.
Unforgettable lady: Realty broker, Unforgettable Events business owner, and volunteer Brigitte Zabbatino accepts her award.

June, 2017


Aileen McKinnon

Aileen McKinnon has retired from her 36-year career as a rehabilitation therapist, and now spends her days working to rehabilitate her East Flatbush community and the lives of young people who live there. For the past eight years, she has served as a community advocate, partnering with local legislative personnel and the community board, which seek to promote development and encourage improvements in the neighborhood, as well as in greater Brooklyn. Those who know her say McKinnon is both open to advice, and unafraid to speak her mind about what’s going on in East Flatbush. Comment

Alberta Gulotta

The daughter of Italian immigrants, Alberta Gulotta grew up bilingual in Brooklyn, with a deep appreciation for the language and culture of her parents’ homeland. Comment

Brigitte Zabbatino

Brigitte Zabbatino is a successful businesswoman who wants to see others succeed as well — a goal she works to achieve through active and passionate volunteerism. Comment

Anastasia D’Amato

In Marine Park, it’s probably safe to say that many folks really like ice cream, and that many folks really like the “Ice Cream Lady.” Comment

Candace Woodward

Ask Candace Woodward what motivated her to become such a community service dynamo in her Park Slope neighborhood, and she’ll answer in two words: A layoff. Comment

Denise P. Levine

Psychotherapist Denise Levine might call herself just a regular Brooklyn gal, but to her patients and students, she is so much more. Comments (1)

Diana Kane

Feminism. For Diana Kane, it’s more than a movement, it’s a way of life. Comment

Frances Schwartz

Her mother was still dancing at discos when she was 90 years old, and Frances Schwartz plans to do the same. Comment

Hon. Katherine A. Levine

Kings County Supreme Court Justice Katherine A. Levine lives in a full house. It includes her husband, family therapist Dr. Monty Weinstein; her two daughters — college student Sophia, and Moira, who will enter La Guardia High School for the Performing Arts in the fall; and a veritable menagerie of four-legged friends: two rescue dogs, three rescue cats, and two turtles. Comment

Heather Cuccia

Heather Cuccia has spent 15 years working in the health care industry, but it was philanthropy that was her calling since her teen years. Comment

Grisel Amador

Her name is Grisel, her daughter’s name is Grisel, and her two granddaughters’ middle names are Grisel. A third granddaughter, as yet unborn, is also expected to share the name. Comments (1)

Kim Moore

She is a Korean woman who has found success in male-dominated fields. Comment

Katie Lusso

Katie Lusso’s profession is reporting about Brooklynites who make a difference in their communities — this time, she’s the one recognized for doing so. Comment

Maria D’Alessandro

Maria D’Alessandro wants to be remembered as a caring person who did her best for all she met along life’s journey. Considering how dedicated she is to her family and her community, we’re sure that is exactly how she will be remembered. Comment

Lola Star

Lola Star says she first “dreamt her fabulous T-shirt line into existence,” in 1991. It was a dream, she explains, “born out of the magical thumping techno bass of abandoned electronic music parties in Detroit,” the city where Star started selling her line of glittering tees. Comment

Pauline Yeung-Ha

Going above and beyond is something Pauline Yeung-Ha has been doing just about all her life. Comment

Rev. Amy Kienzle

The Rev. Amy Kienzle is not your ordinary pastor; in fact, she proudly calls herself: “the coolest pastor I know.” Comment

Nella Khenkin

Nella Khenkin has been a social worker at Maimonides Cancer Center for the past 20 years, but even now, she doesn’t do it for the money. She does it, she says, for the hugs. Comment

Marina Trofimova

Soon after she arrived in the United States almost 20 years ago, Marina Trofimova realized what she most wanted to be: a volunteer. Some 14 years after that, she realized that to be the best volunteer she could be, she would have to “Be Proud.” Comment

Stephanie Stellaccio

Stephanie Stellaccio worked as a sales executive for Courier Life Newspapers, now part of Community News Group, for 34 years and has recently retired. Comment

Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Butler

The Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Butler is a minister, an author, an activist and an educator who remembers what a friend — from Philadelphia, actually — once told her: “There are only two kinds of people in the world; those who live in Brooklyn, and those who want to live in Brooklyn.” Comment

Rev. DeVanie Jackson

Rev. DeVanie Jackson has dedicated her life to the pursuit of justice — specifically, food justice. Comment

Yelena Sokolin

Growing up in the Eastern European city of Gomel in Belarus, Yelena Sokolin never dreamed that she would be helping hundreds of teens live their best lives in far-off Brooklyn, New York. Comment

Violetta Livshiz

Founding a nonprofit organization isn’t unusual; founding one at the relatively young age of 25 may be less common. Comment

Tonya Ores

Tonya Ores is a true blue Brooklynite, born the 15th of 16 children in the former St. Mary’s Hospital in Crown Heights. Comment
Dyker Heights

Ladies night! We celebrate Brooklyn’s strong, selfless women

Like the borough they’re from, the Brooklyn Women of Distinction Class of 2017 are a tapestry. Comment

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