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Ladies night! We celebrate Brooklyn’s strong, selfless women

Fierce females: The 2017 Brooklyn Women of Distinction were honored with a gala at Sirico’s Caterers on June 1.
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

Like the borough they’re from, the Brooklyn Women of Distinction Class of 2017 are a tapestry.

Courier Life Publications and Community News Group honored 25 of Kings County’s most worthy women during a June 1 awards gala at Sirico’s Caterers in Dyker Heights, the accolades celebrating ladies — who include activists, designers, executives, volunteers, and a roller disco queen — that were profiled in our 2017 Brooklyn’s Women of Distinction magazine.

The awardees — nominated by their peers and selected by independent judges — included top borough judge Kings County Supreme Court Justice Katherine A. Levine, Marine Park’s famed “Ice Cream Lady,” Anastasia D’Amato, and Katie Lusso, the News12 Brooklyn reporter whose “Bravo! Brooklyn!” segments spotlight do-gooders across the borough.

Certain women were honored because they are synonymous with community service in their neighborhoods, including Aileen McKinnon of East Flatbush, Candace Woodward of Park Slope, and Lola Star of Coney Island. And others — like Grisel Amador, Violetta Livshiz, Frances Schwartz, and Pauline Yeung-Ha — were recognized for their careers of selfless giving to Brooklyn’s senior citizens.

Some Women of Distinction are ladies of the cloth, including the Rev. DeVanie Jackson, who brings healthy food and dietary practices to needy neighborhoods, the Rev. Amy Kienzle, who opens the doors of her missionary church to all in Greenpoint, and the Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Butler, whose Bedford-Stuyvesant ministry mixes activism and community outreach.

“There are only two kinds of people in the world; those who live in Brooklyn, and those who want to live in Brooklyn,” Butler said, reciting a favorite quote.

And while this year’s awardees may have taken different paths to “Distinction,” they are united in their fondness for their home borough.

“I am proud to call Brooklyn home,” said honoree Tonya Ores, the executive director of Neighborhood Housing Services of Brooklyn. “Its leadership is strong, its communities are strong, and its vision is limitless.”

The event gave important recognition to the service each woman performs in her community, which they all do with little fanfare.

“The night celebrated 25 outstanding women in Brooklyn who go above and beyond their day-to-day responsibilities to make their neighborhoods and communities a better place. They are often the unsung heroes who see a problem, organize their friends and family and tackle the issue,” said Community News Group President and Publisher Jennifer Goodstein. “Their stories are truly inspiring.”

Reach James Harney at (718) 260-2529 or e-mail him at jharney@cnglocal.com.

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