A week of ‘firsts’

| vschneps@queenscourier.com |


The honorees – seen here with Joshua Schneps, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes (who was honored as Best Man of the Year), Victoria Schneps-Yunis and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz -- were Denise Arbesu, Senior Vice President / Relationship Manager, Citi Commercial Bank; Mary Anne Cino, CEO, NIA Community Services Network; Sister Dolores F. Crepeau, Principal, Fontbonne Hall Academy; Janet Criscuoli, Vice President/Store Manager, TD Bank; Helena De Paola, Owner, Indoor Outdoor Gardener; Renee Dorsa, President, Brooklyn Real Estate Board; Dr. Tobechi Ebede, Dermatologist, Preferred Health Partners; Teresa Fabi, Executive Assistant District Attorney, Kings County District Attorney’s Office; Dr. Alice B. Farkouh, Principal, A.Fantis Parochial School; Arlene Figaro, Principal, Visitation Academy; Dr. Karen Gould, President , Brooklyn College; Devorah Halberstam, Director of Foundation & Government, Jewish Children’s Museum ; Alice Halkias, Owner, Grand Prospect Hall; Sister Elizabeth A. Hill, President, St. Joseph’s College; Justice Sylvia Hinds-Radix, Administrative Judge for Civil Matters, Second Judicial District; Haney Ho, Vice President, Brooklyn Chinese American Association; Marlene Hochman, Founder , The Toy Museum of NY; Judith Kapner, Vice President/Business Banking, Flushing Bank; Arlene Keating , Paralegal, Connors & Sullivan Attorneys At Law, PLLC; Zoe Koutsoupakis, Senior Vice President, Marathon Bank; Yolanda Lezama-Clark, Former President, West Indian-American Day Carnival Assoc.; Marci McCall, Community Relations Marketing & Communications, EmblemHealth; Renee McClure, Manager, Community & Customer Management, National Grid; Phyllis Pressa, Business Banking Market Manager, JPMorgan Chase; Melissa Rabinovich, Executive Editor, NY1 News; Maria Roca, Founder & Chair, Friends of Sunset Park; Ada Rodriguez, Chief Marketing Officer, HealthPlus Amerigroup; Sandra Russo, Director of the Nursing Program, Touro College; Ilene Sacco, President, 68th Precinct Community Council; Joanne Seminara, Attorney, Grimaldi & Yeung LLP; Ella Weiss, President, Brooklyn Arts Council; Candiece Wilson, Senior Cost Engineer, Turner Construction Company; and Toni Yuille-Williams, Director of Public Affairs, Con Edison. Not present for the photo were Dr. Laila Farhat, board member, Arabic American Association; Wendy Goldstein, President & CEO, Lutheran Healthcare; Marina Kovalyov, President, Russian American Foundation; and Regina Peruggi, President, Kingsborough Community College.

It was a glorious week, beginning with our first Top Brooklyn Women in Business Networking Awards Dinner. It is always difficult producing “a first” and I often compare it to delivering my first baby — the hardest of all.

We held it at the New York Marriott at Brooklyn Bridge in downtown Brooklyn because they courted me for months and I knew the centrally located, well respected hotel was a perfect venue for our first event recognizing extraordinary women in Brooklyn.

Although we have done the event for 10 years in Queens I know how critical the support of my staff is, and with the hard working, well organized, highly intelligent Maria Romero leading our team, together with the Marriott team, they pulled it together to make me look great on stage.

I love being able to recognize people who have made a difference in others’ lives because I see them as an inspiration for all of us.

This past Thursday the evening sparkled with women who lead and excite the people around them to be the best they can be, because each one works at being her best!

Not surprisingly, the staff at the Marriott exceeded my expectations. But after I read the words of founder J. Willard Marriott I “got it” about how it happens. Let me share what he wrote: “I was brought up to believe that success is never final. That if you are doing well today, you’d better figure out a way to do it better tomorrow.”

Without realizing it, this is what I believe, and I think it is true of every woman I have recognized.

Whether it is Dr. Karen Gould, the president of my alma mater, Brooklyn College, who has led the school to its greatest level; or Wendy Goldstein, CEO of Lutheran Health Care, who has seen it grow to be a billion dollar quality health care provider; or Sister Elizabeth Hill, president of St. Joseph’s College, another leading institution of higher learning; or Melissa Rabinovich, a managing editor at NY 1 who juggles her family, her work and her loving husband Oleg, who is president of St. Paul School of Nursing on Staten Island. They all excel.

What a treat it was to present them with a “Vicki” statuette to remind them that they are on top of their game and are our stars!

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of attending my friends H. and Ruby Singh’s celebration of their son Rajendra’s coming of age. I was struck with how similar it is to the ceremony for a bar/bat mitzvah in the Jewish faith. The words may be spoken in a different language, but the concept of moving forward to adulthood and the responsibility it brings is the same. It filled my heart as I watched the ceremony and saw the look of pride and pleasure in the eyes of his mother, father and grandparents. He too seemed bursting with happiness. A treasured moment and I was so pleased to be able to share it with them!