BY HEATHER J. CHIN, DENISE ROMANO & HELEN KLEIN
It was a glamorous and glittering scene, as The Home Reporter and Brooklyn Spectator honored influential Brooklyn businesswomen whose major achievements and participation in many community activities throughout the years have helped the borough grow.
The papers’ first annual Top Brooklyn Businesswomen Networking Awards Dinner was held on Thursday, June 21 at the New York Marriott at Brooklyn Bridge in Downtown Brooklyn.
“Brooklyn is a place of extraordinary women, and we have them right here in this room tonight,” noted Victoria Schneps-Yunis, the co-publisher of the newspapers, of the 36 women chosen to receive the award this year. “This is what you call women power!”
Among them was Zoe Koutsoupakis, a senior vice president with Marathon Bank, who remarked, “It is amazing [to have come so far]. I immigrated here at 14 years old, and look where I am now. There are so many powerful women. It is a great honor to be recognized for what I’ve accomplished and will in the future. I believe you have to be involved in the community, give back 24/7.”
“Men may call the shots, but it’s the women who are the workhorses,” added another honoree, Arlene Keating, a paralegal at Connors & Sullivan Attorneys at Law and a former president at the Bay Ridge Community Council. “When I started working, the glass ceiling was pretty hard glass. Since then, it’s pretty much cracked through.”
“When you love what you do and are recognized for it, it’s a privilege and an honor. We are blessed to have each other and be working together in Brooklyn,” said honoree Mary Ann Cino, executive director of NIA Community Service Network.
Justice Sylvia Hinds-Radix said she was impressed by all of her fellow honorees. “What they have accomplished makes you feel introspective,” she said. “To be honored and awarded with these women is extraordinary.”
Best Man of the Year, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes credited his mother as his inspiration. “My mother was in real estate back at a time when women were not welcome in the workplace,” he said. “If she were alive, she would be one of the women being honored here tonight.
“To be here with all of these women who never felt the effects of male chauvinism in the workplace is very special,” Hynes went on. “They have ascended so far …it’s just impressive.”
The staff at the Marriott was exceptional, said Schneps-Yunis, who remarked, “I want to thank Sam Ibrahim, the general manager at the Brooklyn Marriot and his team for their extraordinary hospitality in welcoming us and their professionalism in managing a flawless event.”
The evening also featured networking with Brooklyn’s top professionals, an expo with leading businesses in the area, and a charity raffle benefiting two not-for-profit organizations: Camp Brooklyn and the Tunnel to Towers Foundation’s campaign to build a smart home for SPC Bryan Dilberian, who lost both legs and one arm while on patrol with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.
“We are most grateful to the generosity of the people paying tribute to our top women,” said Schneps-Yunis. “They enabled us to raise $3,500 for two worthwhile causes.” Schneps-Yunis also thanked the papers’ “partners, Delta Airlines and American Golf for providing such outstanding gifts to encourage the generous giving seen at the event.”
The companies that sponsored expo tables were also pleased. “I thought it was really good,” remarked JoAnn DiNapoli, from The Daily News. “I thought the event was really well run.”
Donna Esther Gelfand, a student at P.S. 197, held the crowd spellbound as she sang “America the Beautiful” for over 500 people in attendance.
TD Bank was the lead sponsor of the event. Other sponsors were National Grid, Health Plus Amerigroup, Con Edison, Lutheran HealthCare, EmblemHealth, T Mobile, St. Joseph’s College, Citi Commercial Bank, Flushing Bank, City University of New York, Preferred Health Partners, Bay Ridge Subaru, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Delta and Ehren Joseph Studio. Pilo Arts Day Spa & Salon donated gift certificates for the honorees and all those attending.
To see photos from the event, click here for the full gallery.