Padavan selects three ‘Women of Distinction’

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Three Queens women have been selected as 2002 New York State “Women of Distinction” for the mark each has made on the borough and all of the work they have done for their communities.

Marilyn Bitterman, district manager of Community Board 7 in College Point and Whitestone; Michelle Fratti, superintendent of School District 25, which covers Flushing, Whitestone, College Point, Bay Terrace and parts of Fresh Meadows; and Carol Gresser, former president of the Board of Education who lives in Douglaston were joined May 21 by women from throughout the state at the fifth annual Women of Distinction celebration at the Capitol in Albany.

“The large number of dedicated, talented women that live and work in my Senate district and the diverse achievements on behalf of their communities always makes selecting an honoree a difficult decision,” said state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose). “Selecting just one was too difficult and as a result I’ve decided to submit the names of all three of these women. They all deserve it.”

Padavan’s district stretches from Douglaston to College Point through Bayside, Whitestone, Glen Oaks and Bellerose to part of Fresh Meadows and Queens Village.

The Senate majority’s Women of Distinction program, started in 1998, consists of an exhibit which honors the state’s historic women and includes a reception for the women saluted for their contribution to their communities.

Queens’ previous winners include former Borough President Claire Shulman; Amy Fischetti, director of the Queens County Farm Museum; Claire McIntee, superintendent of School District 26, in northeastern Queens; and Irene Scheid, executive director of the Alley Pond Environmental Center.

As district manager of Community Board 7, Bitterman has succeeded in fostering a relationship between the new immigrants and the long-established residents of the College Point and Whitestone communities, Padavan said.

He also pointed out she has given of herself as a member of Borough President Helen Marshall’s Flushing Meadows Corona Park Coordinating committee and has worked on the borough’s health care priorities with the Turning Point Initiative. Bitterman also is on the board of directors of the Garden Jewish Center and on the advisory boards of New York Hospital Queens, Flushing Hospital and St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center.

Fratti’s hard work and dedication to public education, Padavan said, has helped her move quickly through the ranks from math teacher to superintendent of School District 25. After starting her career in the Bronx, he said, she moved to School District 2 to be part of the team that planned an innovative middle school.

Four years later, in 1991, Fratti headed to Queens and School District 25, where she served as assistant principal of JHS 194 for a few months before being promoted to principal.

Gresser is a longtime activist for public education and was president of the Board of Ed from 1990 to 1998, Padavan said. As a leader in educational policy, he said, she has appeared on numerous panels and “helped to raise the level of debate in last year’s race for borough president.”

In addition, Gresser serves as commissioner of the New York State North East Queens Nature and Historic Preserve Commission and is on the board of the Queens Children’s Guidance Center as well as Walk the Walk, which aids abused senior citizens.

“Our community is lucky to have such a distinguished pool of women to choose from,” Padavan said. “It’s a great source of pride to stand up in front of my colleagues in Albany and point to these community leaders who call my district their home and to acknowledge their achievements.”

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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