Photo by Christina Santucci
Honoree Matilda Raffa Cuomo, (c.) former first lady of New York State, accepts her Women of Distinction award from the Center for the Women of New York. CWNY Chairwoman of the Board of Directors Ann Jawin (l.) and honorary member Ann-Margaret Carrozza join her at the podium.
By Phil Corso

Awards ranged from Woman of Distinction, Community Service and Women in Leadership, and Good Guy awards for men.

Women leaders were the center of attention Saturday at the 25th anniversary gala luncheon held by the Center for Women of New York. Popular Queens political figures, including the state’s former first lady, Matilda Raffa Cuomo, received leadership awards in the company of more than 50 residents.

“There’s so much to offer when so many leaders come together,” said Ann Jawin, chairwoman of the center’s board of directors. “We’ve come a long way as a group and I’m so happy to say that a large number of our founders are still with us today.”

The group’s message, Jawin said, centered around women’s rights with an emphasis on women’s economic opportunities.

The Center for Women of New York’s gala luncheon at noon, inside Douglaston Manor, at 63-20 Marathon Pkwy., featured a star-studded lineup of influential men and women from the Queens community.

Cuomo, who received the Woman of Distinction Award, spoke of the importance of providing children with the right mentors to guide them through life. Her message was reiterated by virtually each speaker, who reflected on his or her own mentors.

“I have been blessed with the opportunity to do what you’re doing in helping others in such an important way,” Cuomo told the audience at the luncheon. “There’s still so much to do and I will support the center in any way I can.”

Other honorees were City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and state Assembly members Grace Meng (D-Flushing), Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood) and Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside).

Crowley said she was humbled to have received her Woman in Leadership Award and passed much of the credit on to Jawin, who founded the center.

“The world would be a much better place if we had more people like Ann Jawin,” Crowley said. “No obstacle can ever get in the way of a woman when she is dedicated to her goal.”

Meng spoke of her beginnings in government and said she remembered it being harder to be a woman and a mother in the Assembly than a minority.

“Women have accomplished so much, but there’s so much more we have to do,” Meng said. “So many of the honorees here today have served as mentors for me and I’m so thankful for their help.”

A Community Service Award was given to Nolan and several others also received Women in Leadership awards, which honored women of diverse backgrounds who are committed to women’s rights and have made contributions to the community, the center said.

Women in Leadership honorees included Nolan, Crowley, Meng, state Democratic Committeewoman Catherine Glover, licensed master social worker Sasha Greene, Nassau County Commissioner for the Aging Evelyn Roth and Jamaica High School physical education Coach Sue Sutera.

Braunstein received a Good Guy Award alongside Alan Kaufman, treasurer and CEO of Melrose Credit Union, and Fred Papert, president of the 42nd Street Development Corp.

Since the center’s founding in October 1987, the Center for Women of New York has worked with the Queens community to act as a one-stop, walk-in resource for women, with services ranging from legal clinics and job clubs to support groups.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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