Schneps Media celebrates next generation at ‘Stars Under 40’ gala

Schneps Media celebrated the young and influential at the eighth annual ‘Stars Under 40’ celebration on May 16 in Dyker Heights. Honorees included Brooklyn business tycoons, charitable community leaders, and the next generation of Kings County stars.

The event was emceed by Ruschell Boone, the dynamic screen presence from Spectrum News NY1 news, who livened up the crowd with her signature, charming humor.

This year’s ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ honor was bestowed upon Abdul Elenani, who founded his specialty coffee and healthy kitchen franchise, Cocoa Grinder, while in college in 2013. The 26-year-old businessman now manages numerous locations around the city, but says the workload comes naturally to him.

“I’ve been in the food game all my life,” he said. “It’s stressful, but fun. If you’re doing something that you like, then you’re not working a day in your life.

This year’s commendation for ‘Entrepreneurial Dynamic Duo’ went to Julian Bannister and Yannick Jules-Bannister, who co-founded New Beginning Cleaners, a 60-employee cleaning operation to help people and their loved ones achieve a healthy living environment.

“People needed help getting their homes and their lives together. And, we couldn’t deny helping people,” said Julian Bannister. “We quickly built a process to declutter their home, redo their home, and really change their lives.”

Other honorees included Natoya McGhie, the incoming president of the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association.

“We help college students who are going into law school, and young lawyers who want to network by meeting attorneys and judges,” she said. “That’s how I got involved in the bar association. Seven years later, I wanted to go back and help people coming up like I did.”

McGhie provides guidance to young women who are rising through the legal world, including Gabriella Castellano, who took home the ‘Rising Star’ honor as a New York Law School student. The first in her family to graduate college, this Bay Ridge up-and-comer will be working for the Bronx District Attorney’s Office this summer, training for her forthcoming prosecutorial career.

Castellano called the award a welcome step for her fast-rising future.

“When I found out I was going to be honored, it was the middle of finals, so I was a mess, but it was like a light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.

This year’s ‘Health Hero’ award went to Dr. Ramsey Joudeh, the Chief Medical Officer of Artisans of Medicine, a state-of-the-art facility serving all Brooklynites’ medical needs.

Other awardees included educators, entertainers, legal eagles, and artists, each with their own story of personal successes and community caring.

The awards sparkled as bright as the stars receiving them, as did the sponsors who helped make the event possible: Spectrum / Charter Communications, Artisans of Medicine, JP Morgan Chase, Flushing Bank, Ben Bay Realty, New Beginning Cleaners and Candy Mingles.

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at twitter.com/aidangraham95.

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