On Wednesday, 300 supporters cheered on 42 honorees encompassing a variety of industries in the Bronx, who were celebrated as Power Women of the Bronx. These women make the Bronx a thriving and vibrant place to live, work and play. The event took place at Maestro’s Catering in Van Nest.
The ultimate networking event celebrated extraordinary women from a broad spectrum of the business and nonprofit world who were recognized for their accomplishments and their commitment to making a positive impact on the borough.
What it means to be a Power Women is different for each honoree. Jeanette Melendez, Associate VP, Senior Administrator for Health Center Operations at Urban Health Plan, credited the mentors and colleagues that shaped her into a Power Women during her 20-year career.
“The first person that came to mind was my CEO, Paloma Hernandez. She always saw potential in me, allowed me to grow and learn from my experiences and mistakes,” said Melendez. “I also think about my directors, who are all women. … A very hard-working and colorful bunch. The last three years with COVID, we were challenged in health care, and they never backed down, and that inspires me.”
The May 24 event was hosted by Schneps Media, publishers of the Bronx Times, El Correo, Caribbean Life and amNY Metro, which is proud to bring together the most extraordinary women to connect, support one another, do business and build community. When women support women, amazing things happen.
For Rasheeda Petersen, MetroPlusHealth’s Associate Director of Bronx Sales, it was a humbling experience for a “brown girl from the Bronx” to share an honoree stage that included Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark and Bronx Borough Vanessa Gibson.
“I love events like this because it’s about celebration, and it’s about women empowerment. It’s great to be a part of anything that celebrates us as women, often the underdogs, as equals,” said Petersen. “You (have to) root for the underdog.”
Doris Esquilin-Gonzalez, Vice President, Loan Services Manager at Ponce Bank, said being one of the 42 honorees is a “privilege.”
When women are given an opportunity to succeed, Esquilin-Gonzalez said, they make great strides in their industry, as she did when she worked her way into an executive position as a bank teller.
“It’s a blessing that I could somehow influence other women and other people in the workforce,” said Esquilin-Gonzalez. “The opportunity I was given was so important. I was given a chance to grow and learn. I think the best way for women to continue to elevate (in their industry) is to learn whether you get paid or not because salary comes and goes, but knowledge stays with you.”
In addition to the ultimate networking, 100% of the raffle proceeds went to the nonprofit Cayuga Centers. The celebration was a night to remember for supporters and honorees alike.
The night’s honorees also dispensed some pearls of wisdom for the next generation of Power Women.
“It’s important that young people have the opportunity to learn and be part of a movement that can help others,” said Joanne Florio Siegel, Co-Director, Rose F. Kennedy UCEDD at Montefiore/Einstein. “We have to develop our future leaders. That’s what brings me here (Wednesday) because it’s important to grow and understand others so that they can succeed.”
And for some of Wednesday’s honorees, “taking up space” especially in male-dominated industries, can go a long way.
“I tell everybody that I’m the world’s best plumber and it’s important to also feel that confidence,” said Judaline Cassidy, a Local 1 NYC union plumber and founder of Tools & Tiaras Inc. “You have to take up space, like you belong there. It’s going to be a rough journey, but you can get to it by talking to other people and finding a network of support. … But don’t leave and let the boys have all the fun.”
2023 Power Women of the Bronx Honorees:
Jessica Aybar, Executive Principal, St. Athanasius/Partnership Schools
Rochelle Bent, Senior Business Affairs & Strategy Manager, Better.com
Cynthia Brackett, NYC Regional Director, Center for Employment Opportunities
Rachel Bradshaw, Friends of Devoe Park/Little Harriet Productions
Diana Breen, Interim Executive Director, The HOPE Program
Sgt. Erica Bukowiecki, President, Policewomen’s Endowment Association
Judaline Cassidy, Founder/Chief Visionary Officer & Union Plumber, Tools & Tiaras Inc. & Local 1 NYC
Hon. Darcel Denise Clark, Bronx District Attorney
Dr. Daisy Cocco De Filippis, President, Hostos Community College
Hope D. Coniglio, Broker, Owner, CEO, Hope Platinum Realty & Hope Tax Service
Yasmin Cruz, Executive Director, Westchester Square BID
Carjah Dawkins-Hamilton, LMSW, Executive Program Director, Stand Up to Violence Jacobi Medical
Doris Esquilin-Gonzalez, Vice President, Loan Services Manager, Ponce Bank
Irene Estrada, Bronx Community Activist
Joanne Florio Siegel, Co-Director, Rose F. Kennedy UCEDD, Montefiore/Einstein
Hon. Vanessa Gibson, Bronx Borough President
Det. Daisy Gonzalez, NYPD Detective, NYPD-Bronx Evidence Collection Team
Veronica Gonzalez, Entrepreneur, Vero G. Productions LLC
Geydi Guerrero, Founder, Finer Beauty
Sherene Hall, Bronx Community Leader
Ariela Heilman, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker, Brown Harris Stevens
Hon. Letitia James, New York State Attorney General
Donna Joseph, Former President, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated
Jeanette Melendez, Associate VP, Senior Administrator for Health Center Operations, Urban Health Plan
Royal Mickens, CEO, Royal Hustler Promotions Company
Hon. Rachel Miller-Bradshaw, PMP, State Committeewoman, 78th Assembly District
Phyllis Nastasio, Chair of the Education, Culture, and Youth Services Committee, Community Board 11 & Forum of Italian American Educators
Lisbeth Ortiz, LawMobile Director, Ricigliano & Filopei, P.C.
Aileen Padilla, Franchise Owner, CEO, RE/MAX Boutique Realty
Hon. Janet Peguero, Bronx Deputy Borough President
Rasheeda Petersen, Associate Director of Bronx Sales, MetroPlus Health
Elizabeth Pinos, Paralegal/Office Manager, Ricigliano & Filopei P.C.
Miriam Quinones, Volunteer/School Aide, The Albanian American Open Hand Association/Board of Education
Xiomara Romain, Executive Director, LIFT Inc.
Dawn Rowe, President & CEO, Girl Vow Inc.
Sanjya Tidke, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker, Sanjya Tidke Team-Brown Harris Stevens
Hon. Marjorie Velázquez, NYC Council Member, District 13
Hall of Fame:
Jessica Clemente, MUP, President & CEO, We Stay/Nos Quedamos, Inc.
Pamela Damon, Executive Director, Not On My Watch, Inc.
Dr. Reva Gershen-Lowy, Senior Vice President, Early Childhood Education Division, Cardinal McCloskey Community Services
Bharati Sukul Kemraj, Senior Associate, Patrick B. Jenkins & Associates
Kencle Satchell,Communications & Marketing Director, NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln