The stars were shining at Terrace on the Park on the night of Jan. 29 as more than 40 top young professionals from around the borough were celebrated at The Queens Courier’s 2015 Rising Stars Awards & Networking Event.
During the event, attendees networked with people in various fields, including Karlee Perez, a professional wrestler who used to perform in the WWE and now has a role in a Spanish wrestling show called “Lucha Underground.”
The ceremony was attended by 600 people, a record high for the annual event. Rising Stars is held every year to honor individuals who exemplify outstanding leadership skills not only in their chosen fields, but also in their community.
“This number shows that we continue to grow as a community,” said Josh Schneps, co-publisher of The Queens Courier, to a room of hundreds of people in Terrace on the Park’s dining room. “And I’m very happy to see you all here celebrating the strength of Queens.”
With the help of Perez, Schneps presented awards for outstanding performance to the night’s honorees. Along with Queens Courier publisher and CEO Victoria Schneps, the trio emceed the glamorous event.
“I flew in today just to come here to this exciting event,” Perez said, explaining that she was in the middle of shooting her new show in California. “I didn’t know what to expect. It’s great to be around such a diverse group.”
During the night, the Courier publishers emphasized that, with so many people, the opportunity for networking strengthened the allure of the event. But the night was also about celebrating people’s desire to strengthen Queens neighborhoods.
Also attending the event was Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who presented the Citation of Honor to Rising Star Ryan Marzullo, Director of Corporate Real Estate NY for Delta Airlines.
Honoree Jennifer Smith’s employer, Investors Bank, is looking to expand into Queens by helping nonprofit organizations that are trying to improve communities throughout the borough.
“Queens is it,” Smith said, adding that she feels Queens is exciting and that Investors is looking forward to expanding in the borough this year.
She continued, “We look for local grassroots organizations and we want to work with organizations that directly benefit communities in Queens.”
A raffle event was also held that night to raise money for two charities. Through the contribution of hundreds of participants, The Queens Courier managed to raise $3,500 to be split between Elmcor Youth & Adult Activities and A-T Children’s project.
This year’s event sponsors were The Mattone Group, Marquis Maintenance LLC, Flushing Bank, Parker Jewish Health Care & Rehabilitation, Elmhurst Hospital Center, NYCB Family of Banks, Investors Bank, Con Edison, National Grid, Delta Air Lines, Queens Chamber of Commerce and the Daily News.
The honorees were: Jessica Akde-Elmazi, Sante Antonelli, Stephanie Belanich, Lissa M. Benton, Jacqueline Javier Burns, Nicole Castriota, Scottie Celestin, Martin Charles, Sal Joseph Crifasi, Dr. Joan Curcio, Tommy DiMisa, Sara Anne Fingerman,James Galleshaw, Jessica Garcia, Jason Hilliard, Daniel Hochler, Ken Holiday, Benjamin D. Malkin, M.D., Stefan Malliet, Ryan Marzullo, Kim Matthews, Carl J. Mattone, Dr. Uchechukwu Megwalu, Marc Michalic, Brian Miller, Jessie A. Molina, Massiel Mordan, Sonia Mylonas, Steven Palladino, Karlee Leilani Perez, Jan Quibir, John Ross Rizzo, M.D., Kareem Saviñon, Lyle Sclair, Monisha Singla, Natalie Serse and Jennifer L. Smith