Advice from women who have Made It
FEBRUARY 22, 8:00–10:00AM
For the 2nd year, Staten Island will be part of Mentoring Monday. On February 22, 2021 over 10,000 women in more than 43 cities nationwide will connect and learn from each other. Crafted to provide you with connections across your region, this event will be an engaging, fast-paced experience in a virtual environment, and developed to make the most of your time—quickly building your network and growing your connections with women from diverse backgrounds, careers, and skillsets.
Join us to meet, engage and learn from one another.
1:1 speed coaching format
Three or four short conversations with different mentors
Fast-paced, well-organized atmosphere
Easy to navigate virtual platform that will be as close to “being in the room” as is possible in our world today
REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN! PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS TODAY!
Special Thanks to Our Sponsors
Sara Ganim is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist, and the current Hearst Journalism Fellow at the University of Florida’s Brechner Center, where she hosts the podcast Why Don’t We Know.
Ganim started her career as a newspaper reporter and won a Pulitzer Prize at age 24 while at PennLive/The Patriot-News for breaking and covering the investigation into former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse of young boys.
Ganim then spent seven years at CNN, covering a wide range of issues impacting Americans, including federal agencies, the rise of the anti-fascist movement in the U.S., the NCAA’s mishandling of concussions, and American drinking water issues.
In 2015, she won a Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists for her Investigative report exposing the low reading levels of some college athletes.
In 2020, she made her first independent film, No Defense, which garnered film festival recognition, and she has consulted or reported for several other films, including the Emmy-nominated films, Deadly Haze and Paterno.
Susan Arann has been been a mentor throughout her career. She is a Certified Interior Designer and a Certified Women’s Owned Business for New York City and New York State. She owns her own business, American & International Designs, Inc. Prior to owning the business, she worked in retail, politics and fashion. Every single job has led Susan to her dream career and each person has brought her the desire to give back. She offers internships and entry-level positions in her company. “I’m so proud to have launched hundreds of professionals in my field through employment and mentorship in my company.
I believe that my role is to employ AND teach everyone in my company. Learning does not end just because you leave school and enter the workplace,” she says. “Another important aspect of my career and success is my involvement in supporting community efforts throughout my career including political and community activism as well as my support of nonprofits that serve our community. Currently, I’m using my time and talent to support the St. George Theatre in their renovation of their public spaces to serve the community in a new way. You have a special talent that is unique to YOU. Talk to the mentors and be sure to connect and keep in touch with them. Your success is our community’s success. I’m here because I believe in you. Connect with me on Instagram @designamericanyc.
Jacqueline Armani graduated from the CUNY Honors College (now known as Macaulay Honors) at the College of Staten Island in 2006. She continued her graduate degree at the New England College of Optometry, externed at Bascom Palmer and did her residency at the VA as a primary care and ocular disease optometrist. Jacqueline has extensive clinical experience, training and mentoring residents and students and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry.
Armani joined the industry following years of clinical practice as Executive Clinical Outcomes Specialist at Bausch and Lomb. She is currently the Regional Medical Lead at Alcon Vision where she supports clinical development and research in over 30 products. Jacqueline’s career highlights have included her medical missions including South Africa with OneSight Global and Colombia with VOSH. When not pursuing her love of travel and event planning, she resides on Staten Island and is actively involved with her College of Staten Island Alumni Board. Jacqueline continues to support the students at the College with her involvement in fundraising for student scholarships.
Linda M. Baran
Linda Baran has worked at the Staten Island Chamber of Chamber for the past 35 years. The Chamber is the largest business organization on Staten Island and is comprised of over 600 businesses with approximately 20,000 employees. In May 2004, Baran was elected by the Chamber’s Board of Directors as the first woman President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the organization, which was established in 1895. Prior to that, she served as the interim president for seven months and held the position of vice president of finance and resources. Baran has worked in many areas of the chamber, including Finance & Operations, Membership Development, Community Relations, Special Events as well as Government and Legislative Affairs
Over the past year, Baran has continued to advocate on behalf of small businesses at the Federal, State and City level for much needed relief. Throughout the pandemic, the Chamber has been providing direct services to both member and non-member businesses. They became an information hub, with daily updates about access to loans and grants, guidance relating to workforce, and City and State regulations, and supplied much-needed educational programming. The Chamber also facilitated the delivery of hundreds of thousands of PPE items, with the staff making drop-offs.
The organization instituted the “Feeding the Frontlines” initiative, in partnership with the office of the Staten Island Borough President and the United Federation of Teachers. The program partnered with local restaurants to feed hospital staffs at the peak of the pandemic. The effort garnered more than $60,000 in donations – 100% of which went to local restaurants and fed hospital workers during a difficult time.
In October. the Chamber launched “Shop Staten Island” an online store to help local retail businesses attract new customers. The shop allows small businesses and start-ups to sell their products online, giving them the opportunity to compete with larger corporate retailers.
Most recently, with support from the Peterson Foundation and the Partnership for NYC, the Staten Island Chamber joined the Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens Chambers to launch the Small Business Resource Network (SBRN), a comprehensive approach to strengthening New York City’s economy and accelerating the recovery of small businesses — starting with personalized guidance and access to special resources.
Additionally, Baran worked tirelessly in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to provide resources and information to affected Staten Island businesses and continues to advocate on behalf of Sandy recovery and relief. Under Baran’s direction, the organization is also deeply rooted in the revitalization of the Bay Street corridor in Downtown Staten Island. To help more businesses, the Chamber brings Chamber-On-The- Go services to all corners of the borough.
Baran is a diligent advocate for improved transportation on Staten Island, including a strong proponent of a transit solution on the North Shore, and has met with numerous high-ranking officials from the Federal Transit Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Port Authority, MTA, and the NYS and NYC Departments of Transportation, among other transportation agencies.
Eight years ago, Linda decided to launch the Chamber’s Young Entrepreneur Academy to ensure the success of the next generation of business leaders. Going forward, Baran sees the member organization taking a more active role in the area of workforce development.
Ms. Baran serves on the board of Notre Dame Academy, and as an advisory board member for the Small Business Development Center at the College of Staten Island. She is a Past President of the Staten Island Rotary Club, Past President of the Chamber Alliance of New York State (CANYS) and continues to play an active role in the 5 Borough Chamber Alliance.
In 2003, Baran received a Certificate in Nonprofit Organization Management from the U.S. Chamber Institute of Organization Management at Villanova University, Villanova, Pa.
A native Staten Islander who grew up in Midland Beach, she currently resides in Great Kills with her family.
Molly Barton is the CEO and co-founder of Serial Box. Previously, Molly was the Global Digital Director at Penguin Random House where she led the ebook and audiobook businesses, digital product innovation and content strategy. While in that role, she founded Book Country, the writer collaboration and self-publishing platform, and served on the board of three publishing-related start-ups in New York, London and Melbourne. She earned her B.A. from Wesleyan University.
Holly Bonner is an award-winning mental health professional, professor, writer, and creator of the informative website, Blind Motherhood. Bonner established her site in 2012, after losing her vision and becoming legally blind. Blind Motherhood’s mission is to demonstrate members of the blind and visually impaired community can parent safely, independently and effectively. Ms. Bonner holds a master’s degree in public administration from Metropolitan College of New York (MCNY) and a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University.
In May 2019, she graduated with her third master’s degree in pastoral care and counseling from New York Theological Seminary (NYTS). She is currently a candidate for her Doctorate in Ministry (DMIN). With over 20 years of non-profit experience, Bonner currently serves as the Staten Island Borough Coordinator for VISIONS Services for the Blind & Visually Impaired, a non-profit rehabilitation and social service organization whose purpose is to develop and implement programs to assist the blind and visually impaired. Bonner is also an adjunct faculty member at both Metropolitan College of New York and Wagner College. In April 2019, Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Ms. Bonner as his mayoral appointee for the Commission on Civic Engagement. Holly resides in West Brighton with her husband, Detective Joseph Bonner (Ret.), and their two daughters, Nuala, age 7 and Aoife, age 6.
Elissa Carpenter began her floral design career in 1974 when her family established Flowers by Bernard on Staten Island. We aim to design something beautiful, stylish and unique. We work hard and have fun, meet interesting people and get to be creative with eclectic floral materials. Elissa was educated at SUNY Albany with a degree in Biology and Mathematics. Her first career was as a science and math teacher at an independent school. As an owner and manager of the flower shop her responsibilities include ordering, preparing and designing flowers. As well as, hiring employees, ordering supplies, marketing, sales, consulting with clients for weddings and events. When not working, Elissa enjoys time with her family, travel, cooking and golf.
Jennifer S. Borrero is the V.P. for Student Affairs and Alumni Engagement at the College of Staten Island (CSI). She holds a J.D. from Creighton University, an M.B.A from Baruch College-CUNY, and a B.A. in Political Science from Hampton University. In her 20+ years at CUNY, she has overseen a varied portfolio including student and employee recruitment, careers, counseling, financial aid, enrollment services, as well as diversity and compliance at both the College and System-wide levels.
Victoria Cerullo is COO of Global Technology Services & Solutions for Bloomberg, where she is currently working on COVID-19 task force operations. In addition to leading Bloomberg’s Data for Good Exchange, she served as strategy and engagement director for the company’s Data Analytics & Integration team, oversaw global content for the Bloomberg Intelligence research product, and led environment and sustainability programs for corporate philanthropy.
Prior to moving to the private sector, Victoria served in the Bloomberg administration as legislative representative in the Office of City Legislative Affairs, Staten Island borough director in the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, and chief of staff to NYC Parks Commissioner, Veronica M. White. Additionally, Victoria was part of a team assembled by Mayor Bloomberg to manage Superstorm Sandy recovery.
Victoria received her MPA from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. An Annadale resident, Victoria serves on the Association for a Better New York (ABNY) Young Professionals Steering Committee and as co-chair of the New York State Governor’s Living Breakwaters Citizens Advisory Committee. She has been honored on City & State’s Up and Comers list, by the St. George Theatre, Staten Island Economic Development Corporation, the Downtown Staten Island Council, as well as the Todt Hill Civic Association for her commitment to the Staten Island community.
Jessy Collazo is a recruiting leader with a decade of experience matching hundreds of job seekers for some of the world’s most innovative high-growth technology startups. She has most recently been the Client Lead Recruiter at Twitch, an Amazon company, where she worked with executive leadership to strategically hire over 100 employees in less than a years’ time. Because Jessy is passionate about community and bringing what she has learned to life through authentic conversations, she recently launched her own consulting firm to offer her talent solutions more broadly to progressive companies and job seekers.
Jessy graduated from college with a teaching degree from West Chester University and found her way into the recruiting space on a whim. While leaving behind seventh graders for the startup world was not an easy decision to make, she found her passion and purpose in bridging the gap between companies and the great talent they needed to hire to achieve their goals. Because of her ability to create equitable recruiting processes, build strong relationships with hiring leaders, and most importantly, prepare talent to own their successes and bring their best selves to the interview, she has been able to place hundreds of candidates in well-known brands throughout the world.
When Jessy is not busy matching talent to opportunity, you can find her watching Disney movies with her daughter (she was a character performer at Disney during her college years!) or playing board games with her family.
Kathy first heard of “cura personalis” as a freshman physical therapy student at the University of Scranton. The Latin phrase, embraced by the Jesuits, has come to mean “people for others” and has stuck with her as a call to service, through her skills, perspective, and compassion for her community. Kathy’s professional roots are planted in physical therapy, formerly with St. Vincent’s, Sisters of Charity Home Health Care, and Carmel Richmond Nursing Home, and currently as a private consultant. Over 35 years of practice have guided her leadership style as a Board member at Sisters of Charity Housing Development Corp, Carmel Richmond and Richmond University Medical Center, where she was honored as a United Hospital Fund Distinguished Trustee, a Stanley Stilwell, MD Memorial Award recipient, and a RUMC Gala Honoree, where she was recognized alongside her husband of 32 years.
A mother of three, Kathy is committed to the importance of education, both locally and nationally. As President of the Notre Dame Academy Parent Guild, Kathy captained the rollout of the Ophelia Project, an anti-bullying initiative. As co-founder of Girl Scout Troop #5364, Kathy helped mentor eight girls in receiving their Gold Awards, following over a decade of troop service. Now, as Chairwoman of Friends of THIRTEEN / WNET and Leadership Council Member of American Public Television Stations, Kathy has extended her outreach into public media, including lobbying efforts in Washington. D.C. Kathy’s tenure would not be complete without her service to iconic local institutions.
As a longstanding Board member of the SI Children’s Museum and Saint George Theater, Kathy has pioneered catalysts of culture on Staten Island, promoting the borough as a center of celebration and learning. This love has proven mutual; Kathy has recently been recognized as a Moore Catholic High School Distinguished Alumni, SIBOC Community Impact Award Recipient, and a Staten Island Advance Woman of Achievement.
Through her dedication to healthcare, commitment to education, promotion of culture and profound love of her hometown, Kathy has defined herself as a “person for others.” She’s looking forward to sharing her story and helping guide young women in service and professional growth.
Eileen Corigliano serves as the Assistant Head of School at Staten Island Academy. An educator for over 26 years, she continues to coach and teach, she feels it is important to maintain a connection to students and faculty by continuing to teach in the classroom and on the court. Eileen believes she should never ask someone to do something she is not willing to do herself. Eileen is currently a PhD candidate, pursuing her Doctoral in Education at Northeastern University.
Additionally, she has a Professional Diploma in Educational Administration and Supervision, a Master of Science in Elementary Education with a concentration in Reading, and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Speech Communication from St. John’s University. Eileen was awarded the National Association of Independent Schools Fellow and elected to be on various school evaluation teams for the New York State Association of Independent Schools.
Educating the “whole child” is the foundation of her educational philosophy. She believes that schools should offer a variety of core academic programs in addition to athletics, arts, technology and community-based service opportunities while fostering intellectual, creative, social and physical development, all in a safe and nurturing environment.
Doreen P. Cugno and Luanne Sorrentino are the co-founders of the historic St. George Theatre, a thriving 1,900 seat performing arts center that hosts an array of live performances, concerts, special events, family shows, and educational programming for Staten Island and all of New York City.
These ladies successfully operate the St. George Theatre and are very knowledgeable in career paths in the arts, including arts management, creative programming, talent buying, production management, what happens behind the red curtain, performance, fundraising/development, marketing, cultivating donors, exceptional customer service and so much more. They mentor students throughout the year. Doreen and Luanne oversee the day-to-day operations of the St. George Theatre, and the multi-million dollar capital restoration projects.
They work with a very prominent board led by Brian J. Laline. Doreen and Luanne have BFA’s in Dance/Theatre. (Luanne: University of the Arts in Philly and Doreen: Point Park University in Pittsburgh) Doreen and Luanne are very involved in their community and sit on several boards including Friends of Thirteen, Staten Island Business Outreach Center (SIBOC), New Dorp Lane BID, North Shore Steering BID Committee. They are members of the SI Chamber of Commerce, Staten Island Economical Development Corporation Women’s Counsel, League of Historic American Theaters, and Arts Presenters of America. The ladies have won many prestigious awards for saving the St. George Theatre, including induction into the Thirteen/WNET Community Hall of Fame in 2008, the Mayor’s Arts and Culture Award in 2013, Staten Island Advance Women of Achievement 2014, Honored at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Gardens Annual Gala in 2018, YMCA Community Impact Award in 2019 to name a few. The ladies own a successful dance studio in operation for 60+ years, Mrs. Rosemary’s Dance Studio, teaching many techniques of dance, at all levels, and ages.
Elizabeth David is an owner of Flowers by Bernard, a Staten Island-based florist. Her responsibilities include floral design, business operations and event consultations. Elizabeth owns Flowers by Bernard along with her family and they have been in business since 1974. Prior to joining Flowers by Bernard in 1990, Elizabeth worked as a Sales Representative for Russ Togs where she was responsible for sales, marketing and product development. When Elizabeth is not working, she enjoys cooking, golfing and exercising. Elizabeth received a BA from The State University of New York at Albany.
Carol Decina is Jurisdictional Manager for the Borough of Staten Island for National Grid, one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the world. She assumes Community and Customer Engagement responsibilities and is the central point of contact for key stakeholders on Staten Island, ensuring business needs are met and customer satisfaction is sustained.
Ms. Decina has a long and distinguished career with National Grid, starting in 1981 with Brooklyn Union Gas. She has held numerous and varied positions over the years in areas such as Human Resources, Shared Services, and Public Awareness. Carol also served as Chief of Staff to the Executive Vice President and US COO of Gas Distribution for several years.
In 2016, Carol was bestowed The Staten Island Power Women in Business Award, recognized for her work and commitment to Staten Island. In 2017, The Staten Island Zoological Society honored her for her contributions to the Staten Island community, presenting her with the Dr. Patricia O’Connor Business Leadership Award. In 2018, Carol was recognized by St. Francis College for her outstanding support and dedication, while embodying the spirit of the Franciscan mission. And in 2019, the College of Staten Island (CSI) presented her with the President’s Medal of Honor for her continued collaboration and support of the college.
Ms. Decina serves on the Executive Board of Trustees of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce as well as the Executive Board of Trustees of the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation. She enjoys giving back and remains active on several committees at her Alma Mater, St. Francis College.
Ms. Decina holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Resources from St. Francis College and an MBA from Dowling College. She is a resident of Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.
The museum is Linda’s labor of love, assumed in 2010, when the Museum Board was in the process of disbanding. I took on this challenge for a variety of reasons, but the key motivating factor was the thought of losing a ‘national” museum for my community. Through various times in my life, I’ve taken on projects needing strong advocacy to get an issue recognized and set out to develop a method to reach my goals by building a team with similar interests and determination.
My focus has always been on program development, fundraising and education, thus in that role, my skills were always utilized starting at an early age as a volunteer, summer and after school jobs in a dry cleaner and as a bank teller, advancing to a grade school teacher, director, administrator and consultant in addition to being an adjunct professor teaching management skills gained along my career path. With my undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Early Childhood Education, including a Masters’ Degree in Special Education from the College of Staten Island, I directed Summer Camp recreation programs, while teaching third and fourth grades during the school year.
My recreation background led me into a world of health care, landing a job as Director of Recreation and Volunteers in a 240-bed Nursing facility and advancing as Director to a 1,040-bed facility, eventually having my responsibilities double with two sites and over 2,000 beds, truly challenge in my extensive career. Along the way, I obtained my CTRS/ Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, obtaining a 6th. yr. Certificate from NYU in Recreation Management and Administration. I then realized my need to raise money to sustain the many programs I was connected to, thus pursuing further education, garnering a Certificate in Philanthropy and Fundraising from NYU.
My community involvement was always a part of my life and after work I would head off to the many organizations I felt a need to lend my support and advocacy efforts: the Metropolitan NY Recreation & Parks Society; NYS Therapeutic Recreation Association; Soroptimist International of Manhattan; College of Staten Island Alumni Association; Staten Island Not For Profit Association; Grasmere Civic Association; Grasmere & Cameron Lakes Blue Belt Conservancy etc. Throughout my extensive career, I’ve been recognized for many of my achievements, but my most memorable recognition and a key highlight in my life was receiving the Staten Island Advance Woman of Achievement/ Class of 2017 award! I’ve loved every minute of both my work history and my volunteer commitments and have no regrets as I continue my extensive role in achieving the full success of the National Lighthouse Museum, using all my transferrable skills, something everyone should understand and appreciate in furthering ones’ career goals.
Bonnie’s professional areas of interest include 30 years of teaching and environmental endeavors that include agri-foresty farming, and geological expeditions to sites such as Wales and Montana. Receiving a BA from Emory University and PhD from Georgia State University, she began her teaching in rural Florida and Georgia, assisting in the transition of the Georgia school to an integrated school system. Over the years, she has taught English, Social Studies, reading and writing proficiency and academic survival skills to students from 6th grade through graduate school.
After 10 years of pre-college teaching in public and private schools, she taught and counseled for another 20 years at the Georgia State University Counseling Center, an urban doctoral/research-extensive university of 28,000 students, where she focused on high impact programs designed for student success at all levels, especially students at risk and older non-traditional students. Moving to Staten Island, she joined the faculty of the College of Staten Island where she taught Core 100 American History.
Since 2012, in her role as wife of CSI President William Fritz, Bonnie continues to support educational, environmental, and cultural initiatives. As a volunteer, she has participated in numerous activities on Staten Island including disaster assistance with Superstorm Sandy, president of the Staten Island Greenbelt Conservancy, membership on the Boards of Integrated Charter Schools and CSI Hillel, the Todt Hill Civic Association, Soroptimists of Staten Island, gala co-chair for the Staten Island Museum and member of the CSI gala committee. In 2016, she and President Fritz were honored at the 2016 Meals on Wheels Annual Luncheon with the Louis R. Miller Distinguished Service Award.
Current interests include: environmental health, organic farming, more geological exploration with her husband in Wales and Montana, trips to Ethiopia to visit daughter’s family, and time with friends and family, especially her four grandchildren.
Aileen Chumard Fuchs, President & CEO, joined Snug Harbor in 2017. Under her leadership, Snug Harbor has experienced a dramatic increase in visitorship and revenue. Snug Harbor has just completed a comprehensive master planning process and has, for the last two years, hosted the NYC Winter Lantern Festival—which boasts the highest attendance of any cultural event in the borough’s history.
In her former role as Executive Director of Programs & Exhibits at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Fuchs launched the Yard’s Museum and Visitor Center and oversaw tours, education and cultural programming. She played a leadership role on multiple capital projects where she worked collaboratively with architects, designers and planners on site interpretation and creative place-making. In her work with the American History Workshop, she contributed content and interpretive planning for exhibits across the country including The President’s House in Philadelphia and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Her impactful leadership has been recognized through awards from multiple organizations, including the Iron Hills Civic Association, Lifestyles for the Disabled, Spotlight Theatre Company and City Access New York.
Fuchs holds an MA in public history from New York University. She serves on the Executive Women’s Council of the Staten Island Development Corporation and on the Board of Directors of the Staten Island Not-for-Profit Association.
Lisa Giovinazzo has an exceptional career as a lawyer, anchor, reporter and legal contributor. Lisa pursued a dual degree in law and journalism in graduate school. Ultimately working as anchor and reporter for various networks throughout the country, Lisa has lived in many different cities throughout the Northeast before returning to NYC where she worked with the Economist Magazine before joining Bloomberg TV where she anchored and reported LIVE from the NASDAQ and NYSE, when NY1 News launched their I on Your Neighborhood Segments Lisa joined Time Warner/Spectrum network as an anchor. Lisa is now a partner at Kuharski, Levitz & Giovinazzo where she oversees complex litigation in the areas of matrimonial, civil and commercial law. Appointed to serve as a Guardian Ad Litem, Referee and Mediator by the NY Supreme Court, Lisa acts as representative for disabled and minors that cannot represent themselves and oversees dozens of foreclosure proceedings. Lisa has also worked as an adjunct for St. John’s University, College of Staten Island and Audrey Cohen College.
Lisa continues to serve as a legal analyst for Television networks such as FOX News, WNYW, and CNN. She currently serves as member of the board of Richmond County Savings Bank, and recently chaired the Leukemia and Lymphoma foundation’s Night the Light Charity. Lisa is past president of the Staten Island Trial Lawyers Association and a board member of several local not-for-profits such as the St. George Theatre, Center for Interpersonal Development, American Red Cross SI Chapter, SI Children’s Museum, YMCA Broadway and served as Co-chair of YMCA’s Strong Kids campaign. She was also the vice-chair of the Republican party of Staten Island and served as a New York State Delegate for the State Republican party. Lisa resides on Staten Island and volunteers as the debate coach at a local middle school for the past seven years. Lisa lives with her husband Mike, two sons, Michael and Jerry, and dogs, Chloe and Hershey.
Katia Gordon is a fourth-generation Staten Islander who joined Con Edison in 2004 as a temporary assistant. She’s held numerous positions with increasing responsibilities and is currently the director of Staten Island Regional and Community Affairs where she oversees the department’s community, government, and employee relations, as well as nonprofit partnerships and emergency response efforts. Katia is a committed leader who has a proven track record of providing a positive customer experience. Her strong work ethic, can-do attitude, and positive demeanor have been inspiring to many. She is an avid listener who manages a variety of matters for the betterment of the Staten Island community.
Katia is passionate about mentoring others, especially as it relates to young people reaching their full potential. She serves on the board of directors for I AM EMPOWERING, an organization whose mission is to teach youth about leadership, entrepreneurship and life skills. In addition, she serves on the board of directors for the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation’s Executive Women’s Council. Katia holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Mercy College in New York. She earned her certification as a holistic health counselor at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and is a graduate of Con Edison’s leadership program, Business Academy. Katia enjoys spending time with her teenage son, learning about alternative health and wellness, and inspiring others to be the best version of themselves.
Rejoining the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation in 2013 after 14 years at Time Warner Cable, Gina brings a wealth of experience in marketing, community affairs, public relations and development to her position as Senior Vice President.
She currently oversees operations for the non-profit organization including issues related to Finance, Human Resources and City and State contracts, as well as managing the activities of each of SIEDC’s divisions. Initially serving as Time Warner’s Director of Marketing and Public Affairs for Staten Island, Gina went on to become Director of Partnerships & Promotions for the New York City, New Jersey and Hudson Valley regions, and then moved on to the corporate offices on the National Partnership Marketing team. In the mid-1990s she launched the Staten Island Tourism Council and served as a spokesperson for Borough President Guy V. Molinari.
Gina has been recognized by the cable industry winning several Association of Cable Communicators “Beacon Awards” for outstanding efforts in public affairs including the ESPN Good Sport Award for exceptional use of sports in community affairs. She has also been honored by the SI Historical Society, Council on the Arts & Humanities, the SI Zoo and New Direction Services. She has served on numerous non-profit committees and Boards and chaired the annual Richmond County Fair.
Gina holds a B.S. degree Cum Laude from the SI Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She lives in Matawan, N.J., with her husband Jeff and daughter Emily.
Kamillah M. Hanks is a native Staten Islander and proud mother of four who has been a leader and advocate for smart growth and positive economic development in the North Shore of Staten Island for nearly two decades. Kamillah studied marketing and finance at the College of Staten Island, and has over 20 years of experience in both public and private sectors.
In 2012, Kamillah founded the Historic Tappen Park Community Partnership, where she works with civic leaders, community groups, and local schools to boost cultural and economic development in Stapleton and surrounding neighborhoods. Kamillah is particularly proud of pioneering Staten Island’s first YouthBuild program, which provides a pathway for out-of-school, out-of-work young adults with advanced vocational education, leadership development, job training and valuable life skills. In 2018, YouthBuild Staten Island was one of two organizations to receive 1.1 million for the U.S. Department of Labor.
During the onset of the global pandemic, Ms. Hanks partnered with local small business owners and students from her YouthBuild initiative and created a training program that manufactured over 5000 face shields that were donated to firefighters, first responders and medical professionals on Staten Island and the greater New York City area. In August 2020, Kamillah founded the Minority Women in Business Association of Staten Island to address inequities and disparities in women of color in business.
For her efforts during the pandemic, Kamillah Hanks was awarded with the prestigious honor of being named a 2020 Woman of Achievement by The Staten Island Advance and is also among the slate of honorees for the Young, Gifted and Black Entrepreneurial awards in February of 2021. Kamillah’s other accomplishments include serving on the New York City Council Redistricting Commission, the Interim President of the Van Duzer Civic Association in Stapleton and was the former Executive Director of the Downtown Staten Island Council. Ms. Hanks also worked as a public relations consultant at the Staten Island Museum and the Staten Island Economic Development Corp.
In 2014, Ms. Hanks was appointed by Staten Island Borough President, James Oddo to the NYC Panel for Education Policy, and served as the Staten Island representative until 2016.
She was the National Council of Negro Women Honoree in 2009, as well as an SIEDC 20 Under 40 Leadership Award Winner. She is also an alumna of Coro Neighborhood Leadership Program NYC, and was NYS Senator Diane J. Savino’s 2015 New York State Woman of Distinction honoree.
In 2001, Kamillah Hanks worked with producers and starred in a Staten Island documentary short film, “Ferry Tales,” which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2004. Kamillah resides in Stapleton with her family.
Kathryn Jaenicke is the President of Notre Dame Academy, which was founded by the Congregation of Notre Dame in 1903. It is the only all-girls PreK-12 Catholic School on Staten Island and one of very few in all of the northeast. Prior to her role as President, Kate served as Principal of Notre Dame Academy and is now in her 10th as an administrator at Notre Dame. She began her teaching career at her alma mater 30 years ago as an English/Language Arts teacher where she led the Drama Program and coached the Cross-Country and Track teams. Throughout her career she taught English in grades 6 through 12, sharing her passion for Shakespeare and her love of poetry with the girls and young women that she taught.
Jaenicke graduated in 1991 from the University at Albany with a degree in Secondary English Education. She earned a Master’s Degree in Literacy from St. John’s University in 1995 and a second Master’s Degree in School Building Leadership/Administration from Fordham University in 2010.
Jaenicke is a 5th generation native Staten Islander whose interests include running (she was captain of NDA track team in high school; competed for the Great Danes at Albany, and ran the NYC Marathon when she turned 40), traveling with her husband Jeff, (they’ve been to ten countries together), cheering on the Fighting Irish Football team with her daughter Olivia at the University of Notre Dame and the Villanova Basketball team with her daughter Emily. Both of her daughters proudly attended Notre Dame Academy K-12.
Leslie earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Wagner College and a Juris Doctorate from New York Law School. She is admitted to practice law in New York and New Jersey. From 2003 until 2009 Leslie was Associate Counsel in the Office of the General Counsel of the NYSE Group and its technology affiliate, the Securities Industry Automation Company.
In 2009 she joined Scamardella, Gervasi, Thomson & Kasegrande. Leslie is the Managing Partner of the Firm’s Estate Planning and Administration Department. She practices in all aspects of estate and trust administration and litigated will contest matters. Leslie also provides advice and counsel on a full range of elder law and estate planning issues including, death and incapacity planning, gift and estate tax issues, and asset protection (Medicaid planning). Her work in this area includes drafting of wills, trusts, powers of attorney and medical directives.
She is a member of the Board of Trustees of Eger Lutheran Homes and Services, and the Staten Island Children’s Museum. In addition, she is active in Girl Scouts of American, and the Home School Association of Our Lady of Good Counsel School. Lastly, she is a Director of the Richmond County Bar Association and a member of the New York Bar Association. Leslie lives on Staten Island with her husband Rob and their two children, Caroline and Robert.
Anita Laremont currently serves as Executive Director of the Department of City Planning. Prior to joining City Planning four years ago as General Counsel, she was a partner in the law firm of Harris Beach PLLC, where she had a real estate and land use law and government agency practice. Prior to joining Harris Beach, Anita served for more than sixteen years as General Counsel of Empire State Development Corporation, New York State’s primary economic development entity.
Anne Marie McDononough
The scope of Anne Marie McDonough’s work as a senior director of rehab medicine includes 1,000 Rehab inpatient discharges and 55,000 outpatient visits annually. Financial responsibility for a $15 million expense budget and leading a staff of 160. She handles strategic planning for the SIUH Rehabilitation Medicine’s comprehensive range of programs spanning inpatient, acute care therapy and outpatient programs from neonate through geriatric. McDonough also oversaw the successful recent implementation of an outpatient Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab program which achieved 10,000 visits within 18 months (above budget by 30%).
Ann Marie is involved in national-level policy initiatives through Board Member involvement with American Medical Rehab Providers Association. Chairs AMRPA Denials Committee. Northwell Health System subject matter expert for rehabilitation regulations and operational performance metrics, as well as hospital-wide leadership initiatives, include cultural diversity and inclusion initiatives; language, sign language interpretation services and ADA accessibility standards.
In 2020, Anne Marie was awarded the Staten Island Heart Society Excellence in Healthcare Award and the Soroptomist Ruby Award. Prior to her positions at Northwell Health System, McDonough was administrative coordinator of laboratory services at Alexian Brothers Hospital in Elizabeth N.J.
McDonough holds a Master of Public Health, Health Care Administration from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Science, Nursing from SUNY Downstate Medical Center.
Janice is President and CEO of Staten Island Museum. She holds an MA in Visual Arts Administration from New York University and a BA in Art History from Whitman College in Washington State. Her career has been focused on supporting artists and activating cultural organizations with a historical bent. She was previously Executive Director of the Alice Austen House, a historic house museum devoted to an early American photographer that also presented contemporary photo exhibitions, and she served as Associate Director at the Brooklyn Historical Society.
She has also worked in the education department of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Prior to moving to NYC, Janice was Director of Contemporary Painting and Sculpture at Davidson Galleries, a fine art gallery in Seattle, Washington. Janice is a recipient of the 20 under 40 Leadership Award from the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation (2015), and a Woman in History Honoree, recognized by Councilwoman Debi Rose (2014). She resides on Staten Island with her husband and two young children.
MaryLee formed MLM Public Relations, a certified NYS and NYC Women and Minority-owned business in 1999 working with businesses and nonprofit organizations to tell their story through broadcast, written and internet-based channels. Prior to the formation of MLM Public Relations MaryLee was National Public Relations Director for the American Parkinson Disease Association after serving as Director of the American Red Cross -Staten Island. For five years she was co-author of the column Read All About It for the Staten Island Advance. MaryLee credits her volunteer roles with helping to shape her world both professionally and personally.
She is Past President/member of the Rotary Club of Staten Island; Secretary of the Board of Trustees for the Staten Island Rotary Foundation; Past President/member of the Board of Trustees, Staten Island Children’s Museum. She founded and co-chaired the Local Advisory Board of First Book- Staten Island, which distributed over 20,000 books to children in low-income homes over a 10 year period. She earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English with a concentration in Journalism from Rutgers University; completed a fellowship with the Hispanic Women Leadership Institute, Rutgers University; earned a certificate from the Public Relations Management School of Continuing Education, NYU and earned a Mini MBA in Integrated Marketing Communications from Rutgers School of Business.
Ms. Morris is a 6th generation Staten Islander, whose roots go back to the last slave sold on Staten Island. After more than 30 years in the television industry, 5 Emmys and 3 Peabody awards later, Morris retired from 15 years at HBO. Following the tradition of her family, she turned to community involvement. Morris serves on 5 community boards. Three years ago she wrote a book about her father’s WW II story. The Soldier that Wagged Her Tail has been read by hundreds of Staten Island school children and loved by adults as well.
In Hunter college, my major (after realizing pre-med wasn’t for me) was physical anthropology, not media, not broadcasting, are any of those subjects one associates with a career in production. A few years after graduation I was teaching in San Francisco at an alternative school and started a children’s theater production called The Follies. After doing this for a few years one of the parents was so impressed that they suggested I really try to go into television.
Soon I was back in New York interviewing at Children’s Television workshop now called Sesame Workshop and I got my first job, story researcher for their science show 3-2-1 contact that was the beginning. After 2 years there I went to ABC TV and started as a manager of children’s programming and left after 8 years as Director of children’s programming producing such things as the Award-winning ABC After school special and Weekend specials. I was recruited by Disney and moved to Los Angeles to work in Disney TV. That was the most terrifying and torturous job I’ve ever had! Started as and director of TV, when I left, I was VP of TV animation.
After an earthquake, I came back to New York to CTW as VP of original programming but was soon scooped up by HBO to create a family channel. I spent 13 years at HBO — the best job I ever had, 5 Emmys and 3 Peabody Awards later for my children’s specials. After retirement from HBO, I acted on the promise I’d made to myself to give back to the community. I serve on several community boards; the Staten Island Foundation, Staten Island Museum, CSI foundation and the Historical Tappen Park foundation. Two years ago, I published my first book. The subject matter, the story of my father and his World War II adventure. The book is titled, “The Soldier that Wagged Her Tail.”
Martha Neighbors is Vice President for Development & External Affairs at Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, where she oversees fundraising, marketing, communications and business development. Snug Harbor is where art, history and nature converge, offering vibrant programming and an unexpected oasis to the diverse communities of Staten Island and the benefit of all New Yorkers. Since joining Snug Harbor in 2017, Martha has secured more than $1 million in new support.
Patricia Ornst serves as managing director for Delta’s state and local government affairs efforts in New York, where her work helps Delta develop and achieve its key strategic objectives throghout the state.
Ornst brings more than 15 years of experience in the aviation industry. Prior to joining Delta, she was a director of state and local affairs for the Northeast region at American. She also served as vice president, aviation, for the New York City Economic Development Corporation, where she led aviation strategy for New York City under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration. Earlier in her career, she spent nearly seven years at Airports Council International – North America as director of legislative affairs.
Ornst, who grew up in New York and the Czech Republic, has a degree in political science from Susquehanna University. She was named to the City and State’s “40 under 40” list of rising political stars in New York in 2012. She currently serves as Mayoral appointee on both the Workforce Development Board and the Flushing Meadows Corona Park Alliance, Queens. She also serves on the board of Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden on Staten Island.
Teresa Rampulla is the CEO of She Media NY, LLC, as well as the advertising Sales and Marketing Manager for Ferryads (Manhattan and Staten Island’s Iconic commuter system). Through these two roles, she works with clients, local as well as national, to ensure they are planning a well-rounded campaign. After attending CSI, Teresa started her career at such Advertising powerhouses as BBDO, TBWA and Public Relations firms like Tierney and Co. She incorporates all aspects of marketing, public relations and promotion into her client’s campaigns to ensure the message is clear, concise and powerful.
A former employee of the Advance, Teresa enjoyed being part of a dynamic team passionate about our community. After the Advance, Teresa worked for 14 years with Sylvan Learning Center as Executive Director of marketing, devising marketing campaigns while also training educational leaders in how to promote their services. Teresa transitioned back to the Island working with Communication Associates handling their copywriting and public relations and as the agency transitioned into a marketing and media firm (Ferryads), where she still is today after 20 years.
She contributes her business acumen to her mother, Amy Campbell, one of the original “Chamber Made” girls who worked at the Staten Island Chamber from 1979-1998. “I feel that my experiences with the business community, through the Chamber of Commerce offered me skills that would transcend into every aspect of my life. Watching how the Chamber offers guidance, assistance and answers to its members, taught me the organization, time management, and conflict resolution skills that are important for school, for business and for life. These are skills you don’t find in a textbook, you find them through the guidance and inspiration of others.”
Emily Rassias is the owner of Emily’s of New York, a fashion boutique on Richmond Road. Emily is a Staten Island native, born to Greek- American parents who immigrated to the United States in the late 40’s.
Following in her father’s entrepreneurial footsteps, she opened Emily’s in 1982 at the age of 21. What began as a small boutique is now Staten Island’s top-rated specialty store, offering evening wear, sportswear, accessories and in-house tailoring.
In the last 38 years, Emily’s has undergone three expansions to accommodate its growing clientele and the Island’s demand for women’s designer clothing and a personalized shopping experience.
When Emily isn’t busy growing her business, she’s gardening, going for a run or planning her next big trip with her family.
New York State and New Jersey Licensed Real Estate Broker; Co-owner with her husband Frank, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Safari Realty with offices in Staten Island and Woodbridge, New Jersey.
Fran, a native Staten Islander has been married to Frank for 52 years. She is the mother of four sons and grandmother of 12. Fran has been a Realtor for 40 years and has owned her Real Estate Company for 33 years. Some of Fran’s accomplishments include Founder of Protecting One Young Heart Foundation, SI Advance Women of Achievement, SI Advance Power Couple.
She has received the Staten Island Board of Realtors Fair Housing Award, Staten Island Board of Realtors 2020 Realtor of the Year, the Staten Island Board of Realtors 2016 Community Service Award, as well as the New York State Association of Realtors Community Service Award.
Other recognitions include Salvation Army Community Service Award, Best of NYC Business Award, Soroptimist International Citizenship Award, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate International Community Service Award, Wagner College DaVinci Community Service Award, SI Chamber of Commerce Louis R Miller Award.
Fran is a National Certified Real Estate Trainer, Charter Member RIS Media Top 5, Certified New York State Real Estate Trainer, International Real Estate Award Winner, a member of Staten Island Board of Realtors, Staten Island Multiple Listing Service, Brooklyn/NY and One-Key Multiple Listing Services, as well as five New Jersey Multiple listing systems. Designations include:
- Senior Real Estate Specialist
- Certified Buyer Representative
- Accredited Buyer Representative
- Certified International Property Specialist
- Certified Residential Specialist
- At Home with Diversity Certification
- Accredited Seller Representative
- REALTOR, National Association of REALTORS
Fran and her company have assisted over 6,000 families buy and sell real estate here and in New Jersey. Presently Fran, while being a member and on the board of director of a number of organizations on Staten Island, is the President of the Richmond County Kiwanis Club.
Jennifer Sammartino has been with the Office of the Borough President since January 2014. A graduate of the College of Staten Island, Jennifer earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and spent most of her career in communications – first as a reporter, then as a features editor with the Staten Island Advance; as Communications Director for Richmond University Medical Center; then as Public Affairs Officer for the Department of Veterans Affairs. She joined the BP’s staff as Director of Communications and External Affairs, a post she held until the BP appointed her the first-ever Director of Tourism and Cultural Affairs in 2017. Jennifer has since taken on the role of Deputy Chief of Staff, overseeing a division of the office and working on high-level projects. She lives in New Brighton with her husband, Michael Mallen, and daughter, Laila.
Dr. Gracelyn Santos
Dr. Gracelyn F. Santos is a family and cosmetic dentist in private practice for 23 years and co-owner and President & CEO of Santos & Mroczek, DDC, PC, in Meiers Corners, Staten Island.
Dr. Santos graduated first in her class from Curtis High School and received a B.S. in Biology from City College of New York as a Presidential Scholar. She earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery from New York University College of Dentistry.
She completed her general practice dental residency (PGY-I) and her second postgraduate (PGY-II) training at Staten Island University Hospital, where she was Urgent Care attending in the Dept. Of Dentistry, treating multi-specialty restorative cases and overseeing 16 first-year dental residents.
To satisfy her love for storytelling, Dr. Santos writes two popular weekly
columns, “Gracelyn’s Chronicles, Diary of a Working Mom” and “People” for the Staten Island Advance and SILive.com. In addition, she authors a biweekly Health column.
Active in the community, Gracelyn serves on the Executive Board of the St. George Theatre and the Museum of Maritime Navigation and Communication. She is a former trustee of Staten Island Mental Health Society, Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Gardens, Meals on Wheels of Staten Island, and the Staten Island Zoo. Gracelyn has co-chaired a variety of fundraisers, including the St. George Theatre Fashion Show; Snug Harbor Cultural Center’s Neptune Ball; the Staten Island Zoological Society Ball; the Meals on Wheels Annual Luncheon; the P.S. 29 GapKids Fashion Shows; the St. George Theatre Celebrity Golf and Tennis Celebrity Outing; and the Snug Harbor Mistletoe Ball. She has chaired the auction committee for the 2017 College of Staten Island Celestial Ball.
She has been honored for her community service by Snug Harbor Cultural Center; The St. George Theatre; The Staten Island Zoo; Wagner College’s DaVinci Society; The Eger Foundation; The Alan & Joan Bernikow JCC; Soroptimist International, Staten Island Chapter; The Alice Austin Museum; The Frank J. Reali Foundation; and The North Shore Rotary. Gracelyn was Miss Staten Island 1990 and Miss Southestern New York 1992 for the Miss America Organization.
A Randall Manor resident, she and her husband, Dr. Michael Mroczek, have three daughters: Charista, and twins Tatiana and Angelica.
Gina Schlagel is the Director of Marketing and Communications for Healthcare Associates in Medicine, a division of Orlin and Cohen Medical Specialists Group, where she oversees all marketing and public relations initiatives.
Her professional experience spans over 30 years of expertise in marketing, media relations, community outreach and external affairs for major healthcare and entertainment organizations, including Northwell Health/Staten Island University Hospital, Time Warner, Sports Illustrated for Kids, MTV and Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising.
A graduate of NYU, Gina has served as a mentor for students and young entrepreneurs, most recently with the SIEDC and the Police Athletic League.
With more than two decades of operational and management experience, Lana formed Help Organize My Business Inc., a business consulting firm established in 2014. As an entrepreneur, Lana is able to help other business owners set priorities and retool for a sleeker, more strategically focused organization. Lana’s clients hire her to maximize profits and develop business plans that incorporate work-life balance. Lana’s clients include global leadership firms, contracting companies and non-profit organizations. Lana’s professional experience, talent, and dedication to excellence has helped her client businesses get healthy.
Lana serves as the Executive Director of the Home Improvement Contractors of Staten Island (HIC), an organization that strives to educate homeowners of the importance of hiring licensed, insured and reputable home remodeling contractors. Through the HIC, Lana helped establish the Allen Hauber Scholarship Program which offers local High School seniors entering the Architecture, Engineering, Mechanical Trades, and Construction industries the opportunity for a scholarship award towards their continued education.
Lana serves as a mentor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA), a national program that transforms middle and high school students into confident entrepreneurs and serves as the Committee Chair for the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce’s Building Awards Program.
Dr. Ruta Shah-Gordon
Dr. Ruta Shah-Gordon has worked in higher education for close to 30 years; has broad experiences in leadership development, diversity, internationalization, and administration. Dr. Shah-Gordon serves on the Project Hospitality Board of Directors and a member of the North American Colleges and Universities (NAC&U) Board. She earned her Ph.D. in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.
Former restaurant owner, caterer and proprietor Pamela Silvestri graduated from Bryn Mawr College and built a career in the food service profession.
In 2006 she sold her Michelin-rated eatery to join the Staten Island Advance where she writes about the industry. An award-winning reporter for her beat, she established a daily human interest column in the pandemic which chronicled the supply and demand shifts in the economy. Pamela lives in West Brighton with her husband, a chef and their two boys.
Sorrentino launched Kelleher Financial Advisors in 1995 and works with high net worth individuals, families, foundations and corporations to build diversified, multi-asset class portfolios of cash, bonds, stocks, mutual funds, ETFs and REITs for their liquid assets. In addition to building appropriate portfolios, Sorrentino provides advice and a wide range of services in alternative investments, cash management, concentrated stock, income needs, estate planning, insurance and annuities, lending, mortgages, retirement planning, 401Ks and IRAs. She also provides solutions for business, trusts, college planning and 529 plans.
Sorrentino is a graduate of the University of Rochester and received her MBA in Finance from the Stern School of Business at New York University. She was awarded the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 2000. In 2008, Colleen was selected as one of the “50 Most Influential Women” by The Irish Voice and was awarded “The Wealth Manager of the Year” in 2011 by Manhattan Magazine. Colleen has been featured in ProActive Advisor Magazine, is an advisor to Forbes magazine and a frequent speaker at IC Summits RIA Events. She was the former Treasurer of Staten Island Academy and is currently a member of the Executive Women’s Council of the SIEDC, a Board member of St. John’s Bread of Life and Treasurer of the Friends of New World Prep.
Jaclyn M. Tacoronte is an award-winning marketing and public relations professional with over 20 years of experience in both agency and client-side settings, serving Fortune 500 companies, including Canon, Puma, Harley-Davidson and Proctor & Gamble. She is frequently a public relations guest speaker and panelist for New York State Council for the Arts, Staten Island Not For Profit Association, Center for Non Profit Success and Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness.
She is currently the CEO & President of JMT Media, LLC., a New York certified M/WBE boutique marketing, public relations and design firm that specializes in small business marketing and the non-profit sector. Mrs. Tacoronte has spearheaded all marketing and public relations efforts for the inaugural New York City Winter Lantern Festival and Winter Wonderland Staten Island Festival garnering over 200,000 on and off-island attendees. Mrs. Tacoronte is also the Executive Producer of JMT the BEAT; a new online series featuring the best of Staten Island’s Business, Entertainment, Art & Theatre groups (currently over 140,000 views).
Mrs. Tacoronte currently serves as 2nd Vice Chair of the Minority Women in Business Association of Staten Island, Executive Women’s Council for the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation, the Marketing Chair for Colloquy Collective and Board Chair for Staten Island Makerspace.
Ellen Tharp says one of her most vital roles in her performing arts career is to inspire new energy in the field to ensure that culture will endure for future generations. “Culture is the glue of a civilized society,” Ms. Tharp adds. In addition to mentoring and training scores of talented individuals in the arts, Tharp has demonstrated continued success with financing in the not-for-profit sector, as well as arts management, theatrical production and personnel issues that support the creative individual.
For 27 years, Tharp has provided fully staged performances of ballet, serving in excess of 56,000 audience members, as well as training more than 4,800 dancers for careers in the arts. Some have become theatrical producers, stage managers, arts educators and arts management executives. Others enter the fields of law, finance and many entrepreneurial endeavors – all aided by the poise and discipline that ballet training delivers at an early age.
Tharp is the recipient of a NOVA Award, a Bravo Award, and is an Advance Woman of Achievement. Tharp was honored with a proclamation by the New York State Legislature for her contributions to the arts. She also has served as grant panelist for the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. She was honored by the American Cancer Society for her contributions of using dance for patient recovery.
She also has developed approaches for dance to aid in various maladies such as autism spectrum issues, while also creating health and wellness programming serving both the physical and emotional realms.
Ms. Tharp founded the Staten Island Ballet in 1993 after performing many years as a classical dancer as well as an actress on Manhattan stages and in television dramas. She is a SAG-AFTRA member. Her choreography has been performed at the Sylvia & Danny Kaye Playhouse, the Center for the Arts at CSI, Cape May Performing Arts Center, Algonquin Theater, NYC & Co. CultureFest, Snug Harbor Cultural Center, and in venues abroad.
A native of Staten Island and long-time resident of Manhattan, Tharp is a graduate of Fordham University-Lincoln Center, and earned a post-graduate diploma from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She was a principal ballerina and senior faculty member of the Manhattan Ballet.
When she relocated back to Staten Island, she founded Staten Island Ballet and also created the organization’s “Dancing Over Walls” program. The pioneering program provides free, unlimited dance training to talented children from economically challenged homes and has helped launch careers and enhanced college scholarship opportunities for hundreds of youths. It is a signature program of the Staten Island Ballet, achieving remarkable outcomes in developing diversity and generating careers for numerous students.
At the Manhattan Ballet, she trained numerous children of luminaries including Robert Redford, Kurt Vonnegut, Jill Krementz, Sidney Lumet, Tommy Hilfiger, Broadway producer Manny Azenberg, and the granddaughter of Lena Horne.