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

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Photo gallery

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

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

Courier Life Publications and Community News Group honored 25 of Kings County’s most worthy women during a June 1 awards gala at Sirico’s Caterers in Dyker Heights, the accolades celebrating ladies — who include activists, designers, executives, volunteers, and a roller disco queen — that were profiled in our 2017 Brooklyn’s Women of Distinction magazine.

The awardees — nominated by their peers and selected by independent judges — included top borough judge Kings County Supreme Court Justice Katherine A. Levine, Marine Park’s famed “Ice Cream Lady,” Anastasia D’Amato, and Katie Lusso, the News12 Brooklyn reporter whose “Bravo! Brooklyn!” segments spotlight do-gooders across the borough.

Certain women were honored because they are synonymous with community service in their neighborhoods, including Aileen McKinnon of East Flatbush, Candace Woodward of Park Slope, and Lola Star of Coney Island. And others — like Grisel Amador, Violetta Livshiz, Frances Schwartz, and Pauline Yeung-Ha — were recognized for their careers of selfless giving to Brooklyn’s senior citizens.

Some Women of Distinction are ladies of the cloth, including the Rev. DeVanie Jackson, who brings healthy food and dietary practices to needy neighborhoods, the Rev. Amy Kienzle, who opens the doors of her missionary church to all in Greenpoint, and the Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Butler, whose Bedford-Stuyvesant ministry mixes activism and community outreach.

“There are only two kinds of people in the world; those who live in Brooklyn, and those who want to live in Brooklyn,” Butler said, reciting a favorite quote.

And while this year’s awardees may have taken different paths to “Distinction,” they are united in their fondness for their home borough.

“I am proud to call Brooklyn home,” said honoree Tonya Ores, the executive director of Neighborhood Housing Services of Brooklyn. “Its leadership is strong, its communities are strong, and its vision is limitless.”

The event gave important recognition to the service each woman performs in her community, which they all do with little fanfare.

“The night celebrated 25 outstanding women in Brooklyn who go above and beyond their day-to-day responsibilities to make their neighborhoods and communities a better place. They are often the unsung heroes who see a problem, organize their friends and family and tackle the issue,” said Community News Group President and Publisher Jennifer Goodstein. “Their stories are truly inspiring.”

Reach James Harney at (718) 260-2529 or e-mail him at jharney@cnglocal.com.
Updated 1:34 am, July 10, 2018
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