Bernice Elizabeth Green, president of Legacy Ventures, Inc., publishes Timeless, the new legacy-focused at-home study guide for young people, which connects legacy to current events, and the six-year-old
Our Time AT HOME: Brooklyn and Beyond, New York City’s first home-and-lifestyle publication of particular interest to African American readers. She also is a co-founder of DBG Media, publisher of the award-winning
Our Time Press. She is a media veteran with expertise in corporate public relations executive, community affairs, documentary filmmaking and journalism.
Bolstered by a unique history of family – and ancestral -- community work, Bernice started in the early 70’s with the formation of a newspaper for the Eleanor Roosevelt Houses and the development of a musical production starring ERH tenants, other North Brooklyn community residents and the priests and nuns of St. John's the Baptist Parish. The production premiered at a local community center, moved to the parish and was next presented at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with the same community cast.
Bernice, a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, is active in community-building projects through her work with various local organizations including developing and implementing Central Brooklyn’s
Project Green, an environmental community education initiative for the Magnolia Tree Earth Center and Neighborhood Housing Services of Bedford Stuyvesant, for which she serves as a member of both organizations’ advisory boards.
Project Green established the collective green force of north Brooklyn’s
Magnolia Tree Earth Center of Bedford Stuyvesant, Herbert Von King Park and Cultural Arts Center and the Hattie Carthan Community Garden as the largest green space in Bedford Stuyvesant. Three years earlier, Bernice developed
Bedford Stuyvesant's First Family Book Giveaway and Fair for Von King Park and Magnolia Tree.
At Our Time Press, the paper she co-founded and co-developed as a marketing tool for the community, Bernice develops key profiles and features that herald known and unknown heroes and sheroes in the community; oversees the arts and cultural pages; and is the chief architect for editorial-focused marketing strategies, including the
Inside Bed-Stuy, the At Home column and the
Special Insert section. The paper, now in its 16th year, enjoys an annual readership of more than 500,000. Also of note, this month’s edition of
Timeless, featuring Family Matters and
First Ladies stories, were partly inspired by the work of the DA's office concerning issues faced by women and families, and how they cope.
For more than 20 years, Bernice has lent her extensive corporate strategic PR skills and insights -- honed at CBS News, CBS Entertainment, Black Enterprise Magazine and the UniWorld Group -- to community-based organizations and individuals. In this regard, she attracted international interest in her church Bridge Street AWME during her tenure as Public Relations Director in the 1980’s, and she continues that work today as a volunteer PR adviser to the church.
Bernice has received numerous awards from the community for her community work, including a recent Borough President’s Citation for developing
Project Green; City Councilmembers' citations; NYC Parks & Recreation Department's Light of the Community Service Award from the Ebony Society; The Bedford Stuyvesant Anti-Violence Committee Woman’s Award and the Von King Park Cultural Arts Center’s first Phenomenal Woman Award; plus numerous film festival awards for her documentary producer/director work -- including the Borough President’s March Women’s History Month Award in 1992, for her salute to a community icon entitled “…
and Call Her Blessed: A Portrait of Janie,” which broadcast continuously for one year on BCAT. At
Our Time Press, Bernice received recognition, citations and awards for 40-plus page coverage of the Tawana Brawley story and for her environmental features. For both, she utilized Bedford-Stuyvesant residents as field reporters.
She is most proud of her work bringing awareness of local Brooklyn stories to CBS Newsradio 88, later as the chief publicist for the Schomburg’s African Burial Ground re-interment ceremonies of 2003 and subsequent African Burial Ground major events. In addition to opening up international and local interest in the history of the African presence in New York history, it is reported that coverage of this multi-day, six-city event garnered the most positive global press for New York City ever.
Bernice grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where she attended public schools. She and her husband and business partner, publisher-writer-filmmaker David Mark Greaves, have three children, six grandchildren and three godchildren.
Arlene Bakke Rutuelo is integrally involved in her family's business
- The Nordic Deli, which is truly a piece of Norway that in Bay Ridge.
Arlene also serves on various volunteer boards. Much of Arlene's philanthropic work is related to her Norwegian roots. She serves on the Executive Board of the Norwegian Christian Home, the Scandinavian East Coast Museum, and The Miss Norway Contest. She is also actively involved with The Guild for Exceptional Children serving as its 1st Vice President, the 68th Precinct Community Council, The Merchants of Third Avenue and The Women’s Chapter of the Men’s Club, Trustee of the First Evangelical Free Church.
Arlene is probably well known as President of the Norwegian Day Parade, an annual event with over 7,000 people in attendance which celebrated its 60th anniversary.
Cynthia Gonzalez has been a consistent, reliable and positive force at Carroll Gardens Association, Inc., where she has volunteered her time selflessly for over a dozen years. In 2002, she was named Board Secretary, and then took over the helm of leadership as Board Chair in 2006. During her tenure as Board Chair, Cynthia has overseen the fiscal recovery of the organization. This, in turn has led to the establishment of numerous programs for the community, which include a Workforce Development Program with free computer training classes; the Entrepreneur Assistance Program, which provides resources for small businesses; the Homeownership Education and Counseling Program, which provides resources to homebuyers and helps prevent foreclosures; and the Benefits Assistance Program, which links residents to various government agencies and organizations that provide benefits assistance to low-income residents. Cynthia has also conducted numerous Entitlement workshops and has helped plan free health fairs which have benefitted those who are underserved in the community and the immigrant population. Cynthia has served as Fundraising Dinner Chair for many events and has generously donated her personal resources to them. Her greatest assets are her strong leadership, her generosity, her sincerity, her kind and approachable demeanor, and her willingness to assist above and beyond her regular responsibilities as a member of the Board of the Carroll Gardens Association, Inc.
Without having missed a single meeting while serving on the Carroll Gardens Board, Cynthia also serves on other boards while maintaining a full time job and raising two children as a single mother. Cynthia has served for decades as a member of Community Board 7 in Sunset Park, fighting for improvements to her neighborhood. She is a member of the New York State Advisory Council on Underage Alcohol Consumption. From 1988 to 1990, she served as the first Hispanic Democratic State Committeewoman and District leader representing the 51st Assembly District. She is a licensed Master and Clinical Social Worker and has received numerous honors for her service, including being named an Honoree at the 5th Annual NYC Latino Task Force Scholarship Dinner in 2009 and an Honoree of District Attorney Charles J. Hynes’ Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration in 2008.
In 1994, Donna Mae founded The Resource Training Center (TRTC), a school that provides the education required to become a Credentialed Alcohol & Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) in New York State and the largest of its kind. From a single location in Brooklyn, TRTC has expanded to 5 locations in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Beacon, and Buffalo, New York. Additionally, TRTC administers the New York State Drinking Driver Program, in which DWI offenders must participate in order to retain their driver's license. TRTC has also partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to present the Victim Impact Panel, a court mandated seminar for DWI offenders, in which victims of DWI crashes share their experiences and loss. She takes her position at TRTC to heart and goes above and beyond to help her students and clients.
Donna Mae remains the driving force behind TRTC and all of its programs. As part of TRTC's development program, she also provides consultation and writing services on a contractual basis to various organizations in the substance field.
Donna Mae has authored two books; "You’re Crazier than I am", a cartoon book which looks at the humorous side of substance abuse and alcohol treatment from the client and counselor perspective, and "Twelve Tins", which is a story of her life from the age of 5 to founding and operating the largest CASAC school in the State of New York.
Donna Mae is a member of Community Board 7, chairing the Mental Health Committee and the Community Service Committee. She also is a member of The New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, serving on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Committee; The New York Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers, Inc., serving on the Cultural Diversity Committee; and was the past President of the Association of Addictions Professionals of New York.
Brandon Holley is the Editor in Chief of Lucky, the award-winning magazine about shopping and style.
Before joining Lucky in 2010, for three years Ms. Holley was the Editor in Chief and business leader of Yahoo! Shine, one of the largest online destinations for women. Under Ms. Holley’s leadership, Yahoo! Shine attracted 25 million visitors per month.
Her appointment at Lucky marks a return to Condé Nast for Ms. Holley, who was Editor in Chief of Jane from 2005 until 2007, when it ceased publication. In 2001, she launched ELLEgirl, where she remained editor until 2005. Ms. Holley served as senior editor at GQ from 1998 to 2000. She was also part of the launch team of Time Out New York where she served as the dining and shopping editor from 1995 to 1998. She started her magazine career as a writer for Paper magazine and worked as a fact checker for Rolling Stone. In 2002, Ms. Holley was named one of Advertising Age's Women to Watch.
In 2000, Ms. Holley moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn and swears she'll never leave. Carroll Gardens was the first neighborhood she called home; five years later she moved to Red Hook, where she now lives with her husband and their son. Holley instantly felt a connection to the artistic community and wanted to get involved in building the area and all that it had to offer. She began teaching a writing and photography class to children, and shortly thereafter joined the Red Hook Initiative as a member of the board of directors. Working with the team to create and execute The Taste of Red Hook was her first project within the organization. One of Holley's greatest passions is empowering young people to be able to pursue their dreams, and this organization does just that. By providing long-term programming to young men and women, the Red Hook Initiative allows members of the community to feel a sense of belonging while learning new skills which helps them to develop as leaders with the self-confidence for a bright future.
During Hurricane Sandy, Holley and her family worked tirelessly to help members of the community, who, like themselves, suffered loss. They continue to help rebuild Red Hook making it even better than it was before the storm hit.
Jill Eisenhard, founder and executive director of the Red Hook Initiative (RHI) empowers Brooklyn youth to achieve. RHI employs over 80 local residents and offers tutoring, mentoring, vocational training, and health education. Jill has over 15 years of experience working with youth and 17 years in women's health. Before RHI, Jill oversaw teen pregnancy prevention programs and was instrumental in launching the Center for Women's Health, the first of its kind in Brooklyn.
Jill and the Red Hook Initiative also demonstrated tremendous leadership during Hurricane Sandy. Recognizing that thousands of residents were without heat or electricity, she opened RHI's doors at least 12 hours a day, serving meals and hosting a medical clinic. Jill rallied thousands of volunteers to bring hot meals to residents and help small businesses get back on their feet.
Jill's works has lifted youth to brighter futures and sustained Red Hook through a disaster. She is an extraordinary Brooklyn woman.
Carolyn Walton was employed by the NYC Human Resources Administration from July 1969 until she retired an office manager in August, 2002.
In 1997, she became President of the Glenwood Tenant Association and since her retirement, has worked full time as liaison between the residents of the development and management to resolve apartment and development issues and enhance the quality of life of the residents residing in Glenwood Houses. She initiated several programs to improve the community and help its youth, including the "Baby Think It Over" program, which deters teenage pregnancy. She has also been successful in obtaining gainful employment for residents of the development.
In September 2004, Carolyn was nominated and elected Vice Chairperson of the Council of Presidents, which falls under the umbrella of the NYC Housing Authority. Carolyn was diligent in her efforts to secure major funding for the installation of surveillance cameras throughout the Glenwood Housing Development, at a cost of over one million dollars and, in January 2008, installation of the cameras began. In April 2007, Carolyn attended a 14-week Civilian Police Academy Class at the NYPD Police Academy and graduated from the Police Academy. Carolyn was appointed to Community Board 18 and continues to serve on the board.
In an effort to improve the health of the residents of Glenwood Houses, Carolyn used Tenant Participant Activity funding provided by the Federal Government to initiate a fitness program for all residents. A personal trainer was hired and exercise classes are held three times a week.
Rev. Susie Elliott is an educator, preacher, counselor, mentor, mother and grandmother. You could say she wears many hats, including the many striking creations from her original millinery line.
Rev. Susie Elliott is Co-Pastor along with her daughter, Rev. Damele Elliott Collier, of the Mt. Paran Baptist Church in Brooklyn. Through Rev. Elliott’s leadership, Mt. Paran has established programs that minister to the spiritual and social needs of her parishioners and members of the surrounding community. She is guided by Phil. 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Some of Mt. Parran’s programs include a food pantry, soup kitchen, and clothing for the community, foreign missions, and, on the spiritual side, Thursday noonday prayer meeting for the community.
Rev. Elliott holds a B.A. in Home Economics and Science from Shaw University and a Masters Degree in Guidance and Counseling from Brooklyn College. “Rev. Susie,” as she is also affectionately called, has also studied at the New York Theological Seminary. Rev. Elliott holds certificates in Pastoral Counseling from the Blanton Peale Institute. She has certification from the State of New York in Guidance and Counseling. She is a retired Counselor after having spent more than 25 years in the New York Public School System. As a Counselor she dared to make a difference in the lives of the students with whom she came in contact going the extra mile for them.
Rev. Elliott served as a mentor for the Kings Country District Attorney’s office by sharing her creative gift and teaching a sewing class that was quite successful with Youth and Congregations in Partnership and Girls Re-entry Assistance Support Project.
Rev. Elliott has given workshops on topics such as "Pastoral Counseling," “Managing Stress Before It Manages You,” “Spiritual Maturity,” “Self Esteem and Personal Growth,” and “Effective Communication For Couples.” Some of her organizational affiliations include founder of the Mother/Daughters of Zion, now celebrating its 18th year. She is the founder and former Director of Project Hope, a mission dedicated to helping women released from prison re-enter society. She served for many years as Chairperson of the Hunger Committee of the Brooklyn Council of Churches. She now serves as its President.
Rev. Elliott is an avid gardener. She often shares her herbs and produce with neighbors and arranges for the pick-up and distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables from New York State farmers to the community.
Susie Elliott is the wife of the late Rev. John Elliott and is the mother of five children, eight grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
Sophia is an extremely talented young artist and single mother. She is an example of how one uses art as a tool for social change to educate, inspire, raise awareness and transform public spaces. Sophia trained as a young muralist at Groundswell, where she transformed the Wyckoff Houses Community Center into a vibrant reading room for youth. She went on to create uplifting public art throughout Brooklyn, in communities including Sunset Park, Bushwick, Gowanus and Borough Park, raising issues of health, women’s empowerment and the richness of shared culture.
Sophia dedicates her life to the creation of art and hopes that her art will open the eyes of humanity. In her studio work as well as her public projects, she emphasizes the importance of overcoming life’s obstacles in order to achieve one’s goal. Her work revolves around this theme as well. Sophia’s paintings focus on portraits of individuals that are in a state of becoming. She aims to raise awareness on the struggles endured by the society which has raised her. In addition to her responsibilities at work, completing her masters in Arts Administration at NYU and raising her adorable son, Sophia actively volunteers in a number of arenas. She volunteer teaches at Maple Street School, has been incredibly active in Hurricane Sandy relief work, volunteer mentors through her church, and is an active volunteer on a number of progressive issues, including stop and frisk, restorative justice and rights of the disenfranchised.
Sophia has donated countless artworks to auctions to raise thousands of dollars for urban youth development programs, get-out-the vote campaigns and other social justice causes. Sophia brings joy, professionalism and caring to everything she does.
Arlene Figaro has served as Principal of Visitation Academy for 10 years. She has spearheaded many projects that support the community: Christmas toy drives for the children at Fort Hamilton Army Base, help for a disabled soldier, or support for families in need of food and clothing. Arlene can be found at the forefront of the effort. Arlene initiated a cookie sale to help build a
"smart home" for a disabled soldier. Students who lived in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy were given money, food, clothing and tuition stopped for the remainder of the year. In addition, families affected by the storm were housed at a residence on the grounds of the monastery.
Arlene is a member of the Board of Fontbonne Academy High School and was the Grand Marshall of the 2012 Raggamuffin Parade.
Tracy Dickerson is a guiding light in the Farragut Houses area of Brooklyn. For 19 years, she has volunteered her time, and offered her love and commitment to young girls through "The Public School 307 Diamonds" cheer squad. The Diamonds have claimed 1st place in cheer competitions all over the city for the last 10 years, and they went on to become National Champions at a cheer competition in Orlando, Florida.
Outside of competing, Tracy provides these young ladies with an alternative to the pressures they face growing up in an urban community. She motivates the youth to maintain a grade point average above 80, and introduces them to a lifestyle that includes health, fitness, hygiene and teamwork. They remain engaged in community and volunteer activities. Several young ladies who have gone through the program went on to attend and graduate from college. They credit Mrs. Dickerson as one of their greatest inspirations.
Tracy is a member of the Church of the Open Door and on the board of the Christian Education and Social Action Committee. Tracy is married with five children.
When Bella immigrated to the United States, she went to work as a teacher of Jewish culture at the Metropolitan Russian-American Parents Association, while simultaneously studying at Touro College. Bella became the only Russian-speaking member of the oldest Jewish club, "Yiddish Artists and Friends." Bella is one of the most active board members of the United Association of East European Jewry, as well as a leader of the Friendly Association of Vinnitsa. She has led talks about Jewish culture and traditions at American National radio "Doroth" for disabled people. In addition, she is a board member of Holocaust Survivors from the former U.S.S.R.
Bella is a second-generation Holocaust survivor and established a memorial stone in the Holocaust Memorial Park for the city of Vinnitsa, Ukraine. She is the New York City Regional Project Coordinator for the nationwide Civic and Voter Educational Initiative for Russian-Americans, a project of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society that is designed to unite the Russian- speaking population in New York and assist them in integrating into the social, cultural and political aspects of their new home. Working in this capacity, she has helped to register many new voters.
Bella has authored books of poetry and produced albums, the latest one titled, "Songs of Women." She is married with two children and has a granddaughter, all of whom are proud to be part of her life and rejoice in her many accomplishments.
Florence Hutner has worked for the City of New York for over 20 years. Currently, she is a Deputy Commissioner in the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence (OCDV). OCDV works with government and nonprofit partners to develop programs and policies aimed at reducing domestic violence. Its premier initiative has been the establishment and operation of three Family Justice Centers in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, where domestic violence victims can access various social services, immigration and family law services, and economic empowerment programs.
Before holding her current position, Florence was General Counsel to the City’s Departments of Correction and Probation for 7 years. Previously, she served as Special Counsel in the Corporation Counsel’s Office, where she worked on constitutional, criminal justice, commercial and other issues on behalf of City agencies.
When Hurricane Sandy hit last October, Florence served as a manager of the evacuation shelter at the John Jay High School campus in Park Slope. John Jay housed over 200 evacuees during the storm and its immediate aftermath, and Florence worked to improve the evacuees’ situation. She coordinated hundreds of City workers and volunteers at the shelter, helping to bring in community donations and musicians and children’s activities for the shelter residents. She worked with John Jay staff, officials at the Department of Education, and phenomenal community groups like Park Slope Parents to assist storm victims. After the John Jay shelter closed, she managed NYC Restoration Centers to help victims of Hurricane Sandy in Red Hook and other communities.
Florence is a long time resident of Park Slope, where she lives with her husband and daughter and is involved in local community organizations.
As a lifelong resident of Bay Ridge Linda Allegretti’s has been involved in community service for the past 25 years. She was a member of the PTA of P.S. 185 for 5 years, followed by 8 years of involvement with Poly Prep’s tennis, theatre and arts programs. Additionally, Linda served as the co-director of the NYC Chapter of a support group for victims of sexual abuse. She also volunteered for two years at the Bedford Hills maximum security prison for women working with inmates in creating a theater program. Linda has served on the Board of Directors of Harbor View Towers Co-Op where she lives. Moreover, Linda has worked as a volunteer and Board member of CERT, an organization dedicated to informing and training residents on disaster preparedness and assisting public agencies, and is a member of the Southwest Parks Task Force which is involved in promoting a better community.
In 2001, Linda spearheaded the rebuilding of parkland along Shore Road that for 70 years had been abandoned. She personally oversaw the reconstruction on a daily basis offering suggestions for the development, drainage and design of the area. Upon completion, Linda and another local volunteer formed the Shore Road Garden Council, a not-for-profit organization of approximately 100 residents dedicated to the beautification and maintenance of the parkland known as The Shore Road Conservancy along Shore Road from 88th to 94th Street.
In the summer of 2009, Linda organized a meeting of community residents who were interested in expanding the beautification project to include the entire Shore Road area from Owl’s Head Park to Cannonball Park, as well as the 69th Street Pier and bicycle path along the shoreline. Linda has assumed the role of Secretary in the Conservancy.
Linda was married to Alfred Allegretti, who passed away in 2001. Linda has a son, Michael, three step-children and six step-grandchildren. Linda is truly an Extraordinary Woman!
Joan M. Indart-Etienne is the Principal of Restart Academy, which is a network of 23 sites within District 79 of the NYC Department of Education. ReStart provides educational services for 13-25 year old students in temporary/involuntary settings, including substance abuse treatment, mental/behavioral health treatment, transitional housing, hospitals, social services agencies, and other transitional settings including day treatment and residential facilities in the five boroughs and upstate New York.
During her nine years as a Principal, it has been Joan’s expectation that her students are provided with the best educational resources, opportunities, and college readiness training, despite the fact that they are attending school in alternative settings. Throughout her career, Joan has been a strong student advocate and has ensured that her students receive the same respect and opportunities as her own children. Students within ReStart Academy experience the arts through curriculum, are provided with cultural trips, and utilize state-of-the-art technological resources at all 23 sites. Joan has made it a priority to offer ReStart’s teachers extensive professional development opportunities in order to ensure rigorous, quality instruction and accountability for the students’ overall academic progress.
As Principal of ReStart, Joan has coordinated partnerships throughout the five boroughs, where ReStart incorporates teachers within programs such as CARES – St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital, ACS, Daytop Village, Dynamite Youth, and Thomas Askin (Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services), among others. Each of these collaborations enables ReStart students to stay on track academically while receiving treatment and wrap-around services. Under Joan's leadership, ReStart collaborated with the Brooklyn Criminal Court to create a GED program for court-involved youth. In 2011, Joan partnered with the Kings County District Attorney’s Office Back on Track program in Brownsville to open a middle school program for overage, under-credited students, all of whom were ultimately promoted to the next grade level in June 2012.
As a believer of having a well-balanced life, Joan enjoys spending time with her family, creating memories, traveling, photography, and cooking. Joan and her husband Yves Etienne are the proud parents of Joseph, age 12, and Christopher, age 8. She looks forward to continuing her success as an educational leader, wife, and mother.
Sharon Ife Charles is a New York State Certified Mediator specializing in Community, Family and Parent Teen Mediation. She also facilitates large meetings and workshops, and provides technical assistance in program development for youth and community organizations. Ms. Charles has over twenty-five years of experience working with the community, advocating for safer communities, and working with at-risk youth populations. She was the Deputy Director of the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center (CHCMC) from 1998-2012, and has worked closely with the 71st and 77th Precinct Youth and Community Affairs Officers, where she is called upon to work with families and their children. Ms. Charles facilitates and trains community residents, students, professionals and faith-based organizations in Conflict Resolution and Mediation Workshops. She has trained over two hundred young people in peer mediation and conflict resolution. She also served as the Director of the 77th Precinct Clergy and Community Task Force, a group that works to enhance community and police relationships. She furthered those goals as a member of the community’s Crisis Response Team, a group comprised of New York Police Officers and Community members, who work together to diffuse potentially volatile situations in the neighborhood. Ms. Charles also directed a twelve week “Rites of Passage” program in Crown Heights. Currently, Ms. Charles serves on New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s Gun Violence Task force and recently became the Citywide Coordinator of Anti-Violence Initiatives for the Center for Court Innovation. Ms. Charles is an alumni of New York Coro Leadership Institute.
Joan has been a resident of the East Flatbush in Brooklyn for over 30 years. She is a proud wife and parent of two wonderful children. A System and Process Trainer by trade, she ensures that she makes time to advocate for her community. Joan began partnering with New York Cares, Junior Achievement and Fresh Air Fund through her company’s volunteer organization approximately 10 years ago to make a difference in the lives of underserved New Yorkers. She also joined a company-based global communications committee when it became evident that there were communication gaps in her organization. She became the Secretary for her Block Association in 2008 and currently holds this position. She is a dedicated partner of Community Board (CB) 17 and its Youth Committee, the 67th Precinct Community Council and its Christmas Party Team, Not In My Hood Anti-Violence Initiative, Community Volunteer Corp. Youth Committee, The Board at East Flatbush Village and East Flatbush COP (Civilian Observation Patrol). Joan has partnered with concerned citizens to “Occupy the Corners” in Brooklyn, and to outreach in high stress areas to combat violence in her District. In 2011, Joan became a member of Cycle 1 Participatory Budgeting (PBNYC) Initiative and serves a Co-Chair of its District Committee. She also serves on the Steering Committee for Cycle 2 (2012-2013) and firmly believes that partnerships with elected officials and government agencies can empower community members to spend their tax dollars on what matters to them.
“I do what I do for the betterment of my community because, as the saying goes, "I am living the change I want to see in the world” - Joan Alexander-Bakiriddin
Karen Tadross has been the producer for Ridge Chorale/Jeff Samaha Productions; the non-profit Bay Ridge based theater company founded by musician-conductor Jeff Samaha, for over a decade. Her duties include finding material for the company to perform, securing the rights to the productions, supervising auditions, managing the stage productions, and raising money to mount the productions.
Tadross is also the co-chair of the Arts and Culture Committee of the Bay Ridge Community Council. The committee was formed last year to promote the arts in Bay Ridge. Karen was formerly the director of Bishop Kearney High School’s theater program.
Most recently, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Tadross and some friends founded the "Bay Ridge Cares" kitchen at St. Mary's Church. Over the next 28 days Karen - along with an army of volunteers she helped organize, they were able to successfully prepare and deliver over 25,000 meals all across the city to where they were needed most.
Karen Tadross is an extraordinary woman who goes above and beyond the call of duty every day. She is a hero in her community and greatly deserves this honor.
Hafida Torres Balalioui arrived in the United States in 1999 from Casablanca, Morocco and settled in Queens. Hafida worked as a licensed health and life insurance broker and advisor for health insurance companies while attending college. In 2012, she received her BS in Hospitality Management - Sales and Marketing from New York City Technical College and her MS in Special Education and Early Childhood Intervention from Touro College.
Hafida is an avid storyteller on Moroccan culture. Working closely with “We Are All Brooklyn Fellowship Organization”, they collaborate to merge all the stories from the different cultures in order to educate and assist the communities learn about each culture to create a safer Brooklyn for all to live.
Hafida is on the Board of the American Moroccan Competencies Network Organization (AMCN) and, an Advisor Board Member at the Council of all People’s Organization (COPO).
Sister Janet Kinney has been a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood, New York for the past twenty six years. Sister Janet has spent most of her ministerial life working in the social services and health care fields and possesses graduate degrees in Public Administration from New York University and Theology from the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception.
As the Executive Director of Providence House, Sister Janet Kinney has dedicated the past 18 years to helping homeless, abused, and formerly incarcerated women and their children living in the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens and Westchester County. Providence House was founded by the Sisters of Saint Joseph in 1979 when there was no place for a woman to go after returning from prison. Since that time more than 13,000 women and children have benefited from its many programs to include its transitional shelters, permanent housing facilities, and support services provided at 10 locations in the Metro area. Providence House’s newest building in Bedford Stuyvesant provides 46 apartments with supportive services to low income singles and families; an additional apartment building with 22 units is presently under construction in the Prospect Lefferts Garden neighborhood. Sister Janet has worked to expand the resources available for women in need and she continues to ensure that our borough’s most vulnerable have a place of refuge.
Sister Janet has held management positions at various institutions including Bellevue Hospital Center, the Catholic Medical Center, University Hospital at Stony Brook, and the Interfaith Nutrition Network of Long Island. Sister Janet is a member of numerous boards affiliated with housing and homelessness, is the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Maria Regina Residence, a skilled nursing home facility owned and operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph, and is a member of the Board of Trustees of Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead. Sister Janet just completed a 5 year term on the Congregation’s Leadership team; this coming May, she will be receiving the Sister Christine Mulready Peacemaker of the Year Award from the Metro New York Chapter of Pax Christi in recognition of her ministry with those most in need.
Lourdes Rivera-Putz is Amanda Haught's mother. She is one of the founders and the Executive Director of United We Stand of New York (UWS), a federal and state funded Community Parent Resource Center for Families with Children and Youth with Disabilities. In addition, she is a founding member of the National Grassroots Consortium on Disabilities which is comprised of 15 community-based organizations that represent under-served and under-represented communities throughout the country. Lourdes' passion for her work and leadership have resulted in UWS providing advocacy services and training to thousands of families, and in doing so she has created opportunities for improving the quality of life for individuals with a disability. Lourdes is always certain to ensure that children and youth with disabilities are getting a free and appropriate education, as is their right under the Individual with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, as well as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Her passion is such that as she began to provide Amanda with the guidance and the skills that she would need as a student with a disability, she soon discovered that Amanda was quickly becoming a well- recognized youth advocate within the world of education in NYC. Amanda is the second youngest of 6 children and she is one of three siblings adopted by Lourdes and Frank Putz. Being adopted into a loving and supporting family has made all the difference in Amanda’s life. For many youth that Amanda and Lourdes work with, the harsh reality is that they do not have the chance to experience the love and support that will encourage and help them grow to become successful adults.
Amanda's involvement at United We Stand (UWS) came naturally as she watched her mother work closely with families and the school system to find ways to improve their children's educational outcomes. Amanda realized soon after starting college that following in her mother's footsteps would be the best way that she could give back to society while fulfilling her desire to help others like herself. As a result of her experiences she has learned that everything is possible with the right supports in place. As an advocate Amanda always stresses the value that each individual offers when given the opportunity to take ownership of what is important to them.
Today Amanda Haught and her husband are foster parents to a beautiful 5 year old girl that they hope to adopt one day soon. Amanda's experiences growing up serve as a model when she is helping others. Knowing the power of support and family, she and her husband ensure the children that come into their care know that there are still people that will give them unconditional love and support by always believing in them. As a foster parent to a pre-adoptive child Amanda feels that she has the opportunity to "pay it forward," offering her love, support and understanding.
The commitment and driving passion of this mother and daughter team is to ensure that individuals with disabilities, especially the youth, have a voice and in doing so, their shared vision for creating a community that offers equal opportunities to all children and youth will come to fruition.
Yvette Carol Barrow has been Founder and President of Citizens For A Better Community since 1999. She founded the organization with the help of other homeowners in 1998. Today, this organization includes over 247 homeowners in the community as registered members.
Yvette’s activism began when she stood up and took steps to improve the quality of life in her neighborhood. She was the spokesperson for the residents reaching out to the appropriate governmental agencies and local bodies to obtain help in improving the roadways and general surroundings. In order to implement certain goals, she had to step on toes and bruise large egos. However, as a strong believer in a higher power she knew she would succeed in all the goals set before her.
Under the leadership and stewardship of Yvette, many projects have been accomplished such as the repaving of Farragut Road and the installation “No Trucks” signs. This was a major victory for homeowners, victims of inconsiderate truck drivers who used Farragut Road illegally, which caused physical destruction to many homes, the roadway and sewer system. Additionally with the help of her talented executive board she initiated the annual scholarship program for the youth who are attending college for the first time and the summer camp program for children where monies are raised to send children to summer camp. Some of her other community projects include block clean-up, block beautification, Thanksgiving baskets for residents, and Christmas toys that are given to more than 200 children in the community.
The high point of the year for Yvette is Family Day where businesses and residents come together to host a fun-filled day of free food, drinks, live entertainment, games and a talent show for the children from the community and the surrounding neighborhood where they compete and are awarded prizes.
For over ten years Claudia was the Parent Coordinator at Public School 73 in Ocean Hill. Claudia witnessed many children in the community in dire need of social services and positive afterschool venues to attend. In 2010 Claudia founded Project Mentor Development Council (PMDC), a family oriented community center created to enhance the academic achievements of families in the community through arts, education and mentoring programs. She resigned from her position at the board of education in 2012 to pursue her life dream full time. Her goal was to create three part harmony between the home, school and community; creating a place where children and their families would be motivated and inspired to pursue their dreams.
Claudia has met with many challenges in her life and through it all she believes that her purpose in life is to help others especially children. For having given of herself to the children of Ocean Hill, Claudia is definitely an extraordinary woman!
Catharine Hough and her company, Massartre Ltd., have distinguished themselves as one of the premiere interior renovation contractors of residential properties. She has completed the renovations of townhouses for stars in the recording industry and an apartment for one of the leading architecture critics, as well as renovating apartments for residents of The Beresford and The Dakota. Her high quality work is creative, and for over 25 years Cathy has contributed in so many ways to the community and several not-for-profits. She has mentored small businesses and many formerly incarcerated members of the community through her efforts with the Doe Fund where she served on committees and the board and has hired many disadvantaged individuals who have become valuable contributors to society and employees of Massartre.
Catharine is the co-founder of Massartre Ltd., a Brooklyn based general contracting firm in business since 1981. Massartre specializes in high-end residential and commercial projects, including design of one-of-a-kind detail pieces. With a masters’ degree from Harvard in developmental psychology, her business perspective combines insights of natural human behavior within business constructs. Her success as co-founder of a woman-owned construction company has brought her to the pinnacle of her field. Catharine is also a member of the Brooklyn Community Pride Center Board, currently chairing its real estate committee and co-chairing 2013’s Fifth Anniversary Founders Ball.
On March 1st 1994, a Lebanese gunman murdered 16 year old Ari Haberstam in a terrorist act on the Brooklyn Bridge. This cold and senseless act, along with the grief and loss only a mother could know, propelled Devorah Halberstam to her role as a community leader, activist and crusader against terrorism. Devorah has spent every day since that fateful moment in a relentless pursuit of justice. She is a determined fighter for victim’s rights and is dedicated to advocating peace and tolerance. Devorah currently serves as the Director of Foundation and Government Services for the Jewish Children’s Museum. Devorah is the founder of the Ari Halberstam Memorial Fund, is a board member of Project C.A.R.E. and also conducts terrorism training sessions within local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. She was instrumental in enacting the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001, the gun regulation law “Ari’s Law”, and was appointed by former Governor George E. Pataki to serve on the first New York State Commission on Terrorism.
After graduating from Hofstra University Jacqueline decided to take a year off and explore before starting her master’s degree. During that time she worked at an early intervention center working with autistic children and teaching them life skills. Working at the center gave her a firsthand look at the poverty some families live in. Jacqueline also had the opportunity to work with a group of pre-k students that had several issues such as fetal alcoholic syndrome, autism and Down Syndrome. Jacqueline would visit them 2-3 times a week and teach them through dance therapy. Dance is something she has always held close to her and she found these youngsters really enjoying themselves. After her year off from school, she applied to the New York City Teaching Fellows program.
During the past 8 years, Jacqueline had the pleasure of being a first grade ICT teacher. ICT is a program that integrates general education and special education students in the same class. She has learned more from her students then they can even imagine.
After losing several members of her family over the years to cancer, the feeling of being helpless and not being able to cure her loved ones really hit hard. She couldn’t bring her family back and couldn’t cure the disease so she made the decision to start a scholarship program at a local dance school. Each year a young dancer that shows incredible courage and selflessness is awarded a 6 month scholarship and is able to take as many dance classes he or she likes. Jacqueline and her students also perform and “walk for the year” at the American Cancer Society’s annual walk. Lastly, she started an annual fundraiser at her public school entitled “A Night of the Stars!” Each year students big and small come together with the community and put on a talent show showcasing their talents and raising money for the American Cancer Society.
When Hurricane Sandy hit, Jacqueline, her husband and Chihuahua were living like nomads traveling with a garbage bag full of clothing and sleeping on the floors and couches of friends and family. The storm also left many seniors in high rise buildings in Brooklyn confined to their apartments without the proper amenities to survive. She volunteered at the Warbasse buildings on West 5th Street. She spent her days giving out food and making individual hot meals. Everything that Jacqueline has done is from the kindness of her heart. She is not only an inspiration for the many young women of Brooklyn; Jacqueline is truly an Extraordinary Woman!
Deborah Pointer is truly a Brooklyn unsung hero, helping hundreds of Brooklyn high school students over the years by giving her time and talent at no cost to these students, as well as engaging in community service as a block president and serving on numerous Brooklyn based committees. Whether she is doing a workshop for a group of students or working with one student at a time, Deborah has truly made a difference.
Deborah is the co-founder and co-executive producer of Russell Simmons Def Poetry. She curated her first art exhibition for eight emerging woman artists, “Art on the Deuce” and is the founder of the Urban Theatre Arts Festival at the Chashma Theatre.
Deborah has authored several magazine articles on college admissions, and financial aid, and wrote an e-book on college admissions. She volunteers her time working with Brooklyn high school students who are applying for undergraduate college admissions and financial aid for free, many of whom were the first in their families to attend college. Deborah executive produced the independent feature film, “Take No Prisoners,” which won the “Best Urban Feature Award” at the New York Independent Film Festival. She published a children’s picture book, “I Am Hip-Hop” to raise awareness about child abuse under the organization, Healium Inc., co-founded by Deborah.
In the past few years, Deborah has dedicated herself to understanding the impact of global warming and has worked on the development of a 100 MW wind farm in update New York. Currently, she is looking to develop green demonstration initiatives in the Flatbush community with small businesses.
Batsheva began volunteering for Ohel’s Beis Ezra Program as a teen. Her extraordinary talent working with children and young adults with various developmental disabilities are apparent. As a Physician’s Assistant, she spends many nights and weekends watching over sick children, whether staying with them in the hospital, offering her services at home to relieve the parents, or watching the other children while the parents are out. All of this is done with a warm smile, with no cost to the family. She frequently provides needed respite to parents of children with disabilities for the weekend. Batsheva implemented the SibShop workshops, which provide needed support, attention and recreational activities to the siblings of children with disabilities. She also helped form a support group for the moms and dads giving them the opportunity to share challenges and ideas. She helped run the End of Summer Program, which is a sleep-away camp for children with severe disabilities in the weeks between camps and school. Although the camp got flooded during Hurricane Irene, she helped keep everyone safe and happy.
A few months ago, Batsheva decided to go back to her calling as PA full time and moved to a new basement apartment just a few blocks from the Coney Island boardwalk. When Hurricane Sandy came she was ordered to evacuate. Upon returning, she found the water up to the ceiling. All of her possessions were floating, ruined and waterlogged. She was left literally with the clothing on her back. But you would never have known it. She spent the next few weeks volunteering at a local organization helping collect and distribute clothing and necessities to hurricane victims, not disclosing her own situation. She went around babysitting for friends who needed childcare as they tried to piece their lives together. She ran errands, did laundry and tried to help all those in the same situation as her. Although Batsheva was denied any compensation from FEMA, she continued to look out for all of those around her, and never complained about her own plight. Currently, she still doesn’t have a place to call home, and stays with friends and relatives. She continues to inspire all those who know her by her selfless dedication to everyone she meets, despite her own personal hardships.
Batsheva is truly an example for all young people today!
When June began volunteering at The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) in 2008, NAMI East Flatbush consisted of just two support groups. NAMI is a national organization dedicated to improving the lives of those with mental illness, seeking to improve services via education and advocacy. June carries out this mission with great zeal, enthusiasm, compassion and ability. Many of the basic NAMI programs at Kings County Hospital are there due to June’s diligence and determination. She has brought to the Kings County community NAMI’s Peer-To-Peer, Family-To-Family, NAMI Conexion (a support group for Spanish speaking adults living with mental illness), “In Our Own Voice”, and continues to run support groups for family members. There is not one aspect of the mental health program affiliated with NAMI that June has not touched or brought forth to fruition on her own. June has helped to provide families with a safe nurturing environment, with the tools to cope with their ill family members and the knowledge and confidence to advocate for their loved ones as well. She had the courage of her convictions to foster self confidence in the consumers to help NAMI East Flatbush to become a stronger, self-sustaining affiliate.
June refused to take no for an answer. Her vision and energies are helping NAMI East Flatbush to become ready for the new process for NAMI National. She is literally and almost single-handedly bringing NAMI East Flatbush into the future. Through her work with NAMI, June has been able to help consumers to tap into their own self-worth and strength and take steps towards recovery that they may not have done otherwise.
Delissa Reynolds is a New York based actress who began her career in regional theatre in a variety of productions including Harper Lee’s
To Kill A Mockingbird, Neil Simon’s Chapter Two and Romulus Linny’s adaptation of
A Lesson Before Dying. She also has had numerous television roles including NBC’s
Law and Order, produced by Dick Wolf, The Beat, produced by Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson, and NBC’s
Deadline with Oliver Platt.
After the September 11 terrorist attacks, Delissa felt it was important to become more involved in the growing neighborhood of Prospect Heights. Inspired by other local women business owners and the need to give back to the community, she decided to build a business that is not only a financial success, but also to create a local meeting place. In 2003, Delissa established Tigalili, Inc., and in 2004 opened Bar Sepia, a popular and critically praised destination for Brooklyn residents and visitors alike. Bar Sepia has been featured in Food & Wine 2007 Cocktail Guide and has received notices in New York Magazine, Time Out New York, The NY Daily News and The NY Post. Delissa was featured in Oprah Magazine in August 2011.
Delissa has volunteered her time and resources for such causes as the American Cancer Society’s Pink and Black Tie Gala, Justice Works Community, a Brooklyn based organization that advocates for women ex-prisoners, as well as various other local and national charity organizations. She organized clothing and fund drives for Hurricane Katrina, Haiti earthquake victims, and the Gulf Coast Oil Spill, and families of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting among many others. Delissa is also actively involved in Brooklyn’s Community Board 8 Economic Development Committee.
Delissa has a background in public relations, event planning, hospitality and accounting. Various positions held include marketing for Ark Restaurant Corporation, public relations for the Vanderbilt Agency, and assistant to the editor at German Vogue Magazine.
In 2006, Delissa received the prestigious Eileen Fisher Business Grant for Women Entrepreneurs in recognition for making Bar Sepia a “cornerstone of the community through partnerships with local civic, cultural and neighborhood groups.” She resides in Brooklyn with her husband and two dogs where she continues to be an active member of the Prospect Heights’ community.
When one thinks of an extraordinary Brooklynite who has dedicated her life to advocating for under-represented groups, leveling the playing field in City procurement, and making New York City a better place for businesses, Anne Rascon is that Brooklynite.
Appointed in 2008 as Deputy Commissioner at SBS, she leads the City’s Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise Program, which now counts over 3,500 certified firms who have won more than $3 billion dollars in City contracts to date. Anne’s public service continues beyond work as an active mentor to aspiring professionals at Baruch College and Coro New York. She is also co-chair of the Mayor’s Committee on Construction Opportunity, which aims to improve access to employment for minorities, women, veterans, and high school graduates.
Anne’s incredible work has allowed her to make a truly meaningful impact in Brooklyn and beyond. She is passionate, caring and above all, an extraordinary Brooklyn woman.
Irena Yurieva became the general manager of Aqua Health Rehabilitation Center in April 2004, which is when her interest in the life of her community grew stronger than ever. Her daily interaction with people greatly influenced Irena’s decision to actively participate in the project which aims at developing the neighborhood and at improving the community’s quality of life.
Irena currently serves as the treasurer of the Board of the Be Proud Foundation and has done many good deeds since the day she joined. She plays an important role in this non-profit organization and eagerly supports all its programs and events held for the benefit of the community. She has raised funds for FDNY and the Staten Island University Hospital Burn Center and has donated hundreds of gifts to the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation. Additionally, she has cheered lonely seniors by decorating Aqua Health with their artwork and has held Passover Food distribution at the facility with the Be Proud Foundation.
Irena was the first to unveil the doors of Aqua Health Rehabilitation Center to all who suffered from Hurricane Sandy by offering a hot meal and a shower – even her own home as a place to stay. She is dedicated and always willing to help people, and gives comfort by making sure they know and feel they are not alone.