The Long Island Press and Push Pause, a community magazine featured on Verizon FiOs News, have partnered together to bring you the stories of the Fortune 52 women. The partnership was announced to more than 700 Long Island business professionals that were on hand for a night of networking with the most recent group of Fortune 52 honorees, which was hosted by Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice at the Inn at New Hyde Park on January 31st.
Fortune 52 Honorees for the evening were:
- Three Walt Whitman High School who teenagers started a non profit to honor and thank non paid family caregivers by raising awareness of their selfless sacrifices. Jennifer Kielawa, Maria Pezzino, Haley Kammerling and mother Patricia Kielawa founded Caregivers for Life and they award restaurant gift certificates, spa treatments, house cleaning and other gifts to non paid family caregivers.
- Catherine Gaynor, Founder of Sophia’s Cure Foundation. Catherine’s daughter Sophia was diagnosed with SMA (Spinal Muscle Atrophy, a degenerative disease that affects one in 6,000 babies. Last year Catherine and her husband Vincent founded Sophia’s Cure Foundation to assist in funding clinical research and to support other families who have children with SMA. But in a very short time, they have done what no other non profit on LI has accomplished. They won a $250,000 grant through the Pepsi Refresh Contest.
- Jennifer Cona, Esq., Managing Partner of Genser, Dubow, Genser & Cona, LLP and Founder – GDGC Charitable Events, Senior Dreams Come True
Jennifer is an expert in elder law and has seen the way many senior citizens are struggling financially. She wanted to something different to help others. She founded Senior Dreams Come True which benefits low income LI seniors by raising the funds to grant their wishes: it might be money to buy a dress for a child’s wedding or paying for the airfare so they can visit a child who lives far away.
- Melinda Murray – Founder – Dominic A. Murray 21 Memorial Foundation – Melinda’s only child, Dominic, died at the age of 19 from Sudden Cardiac Arrest while playing a pick up game of basketball at Farmingdale State College. Her goal is to certify 2,100 people in CPR. She offers the training for free, so that there is no financial burden on anyone wishing to be trained. The foundation also advocates for youth-athlete cardiac screenings, AED accessibility, and provides PCR-AED training.
- Susan Cohen, PHd, RN, CS – Co Founder, The Soldiers Project, Many of our soldiers have returned with PTSD which not only affects them, but their spouse and children. TSP is a non profit group of volunteer licensed psychiatrists, psychologist, social workers, mental health nurses and family therapists who offer free, confidential counseling to military service members and their loved ones. Susan has amassed a network of more than 70 therapists who are ready to donate their time and expertise to help these soldiers and their families.
- Shari Bender – President and Co Founder NYC Hemophilia Chapter. Shari’s daughter, Rose, was diagnosed with hemophilia type A when she was 9 months old. Rose is one of only 12 females in the US with HA. Shari has dedicated herself to fundraising for a cure and in 10 years the Benders helped raise more than $1 million for research and Shari is a co founder of the NYC Hemophilia Chapter.
- Virginia Peragallo-Dittko, RN, Executive Director, Winthrop University Hospital Diabetes and Obesity Institute. Virginia was a pioneer in diabetes education and literally built the education center from the ground up. Winthrop’s program was the first to be accredited in NYS and many programs have been modeled on its structure.
- Renee Brennan – President R Promotions, Cancer Advocate – Renee was diagnosed with Stage IV colorectal cancer last year. While undergoing chemotherapy she suffered with extremely painful mouth sores that made it impossible to sleep, eat and talk. After trying every medication, she found that a new drug was just FDA approved – tried it and miraculously her sores were gone within a week. She was so excited to share the news with her doctors, but they were less enthusiastic and said that they wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else because it wasn’t on the formulary list. Renee then began going from cubicle to cubicle when she was receiving chemotherapy telling the other patients about MuGard, the new oral rinse that healed her mouth. She has continued to lobby the medical community and advocate for this new drug and hopes that by sharing her story it will inspire other cancer patients to have hope.
- Joanne Brass – President, Brass Private Investigations – Joanne Joann worked for her husband’s business United Claims Services in Baldwin for more than 20 years and continues to run the business even after his death two years ago. She now runs Brass PI with her sister Maryellen Schook. Joanne does a lot of pro bono work, especially for women who are abused or whose children are being bullied and only charges $50 an hour. She advocates for pre-marital background checks and for those who are online dating.