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Women honored for contributions to Queens

More than a hundred Queens leaders and community members gathered at Douglaston Manor Saturday to pay tribute not only to the women of today who are a making a difference, but also to the elected official who paved the way for their success.

The Center for Women of New York’s 24th-anniversary luncheon was a bit sentimental this year because of the death of the late Democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, according to her longtime friend and the nonprofit’s founder, Ann Juliano Jawin.

The Forest Hills native and congresswoman, who died after a long battle with cancer in March, was a pioneer for women in borough politics and represented the ideals that the Center for Women stand for, Jawin said.

“Having women in office is really important,” she said.

The event was dedicated to Ferraro’s memory and all of the honorees, including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), reflected on their memories of her. Borough President Helen Marshall recalled how Ferraro was a serious leader but always remained friendly and approachable.

One time the congresswoman had to cancel a meeting with Marshall and the two had such a close friendship that Ferraro was candid as to why she could not make the appointment.

“Oh, heck. Helen you’re a mother, I have to do some food shopping,” the borough president recalled.

Quinn was one of several women who was given the nonprofit’s Women in Leadership Award and recognized that there are many the center has helped go a long way.

“This borough really has put women on the map,” she said.

Other awardees included former state Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza; Queens Theatre in the Park board member Constance del Vechio-Maltese; St. John’s University board member Carol Gresser; Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills); Fior Rodriguez-Langumas, a staff member for U.S. Rep. Gray Ackerman (D-Bayside); attorney Sybil Shainwald; longtime community activist Anita Blank; and state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone).

The gents of the neighborhood were also recognized for their work. Community Board 11 District Manager Jerry Iannece and James Wrynn, superintendent of the state Insurance Department, were presented with the “Good Guys” Award.

“They are very important people. They are leaders of the community,” Jawin said.

Since its creation in 1987, the Center for Women of New York has helped to empower future female leaders with job assistance, training and other initiatives.

“We serve women of a diverse background,” Jawin said.

It has also campaigned for several causes to help women, including equal wages and the fight against sex trafficking.

Quinn praised Jawin’s work in that area because she said it is a growing problem and criminals are using John F. Kennedy International Airport to bring in helpless women for their illicit human trafficking operations.

“You and the center were one of the first places in New York to talk about it, before anyone in the mainstream talked about it,” the speaker said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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