Mar. 29, 2023 By Carlotta Mohamed
In celebration of Women’s History Month, south Queens Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar and Mayor Eric Adams honored 11 women leaders during a “Toast to the Great Women of Queens” awards ceremony on Friday, March 24.
The event was held at Rajkumar’s district office, located at 83-91 Woodhaven Blvd., where attendees received a pleasant surprise from the mayor who paid tribute to all of the honorees. Adams noted the major influence of women in his life since childhood, particularly his mother, as well as the women in his community who donated goods to his family.
“To the women, you’re not the women of Southeast Queens: you’re the women of the City. Your energy and spirit cascades throughout the City. You do so much,” said Adams, who noted he is hosting a Women’s Health Summit on March 30.
Rajkumar praised the mayor for his commitment to a city where women thrive and reach their full potential, while recognizing the honorees for their work in their communities.
“I was proud to honor these great women of South Queens. They uplift and inspire our community with their leadership. They are the voice of my district, uniting us all for the common good,” Rajkumar said. “The entire 38th Assembly District owes these remarkable women our deepest respect, admiration, and gratitude for the love, energy, and leadership they bring to our neighborhoods every day.”
Each honoree received a unique proclamation from Rajkumar and made an acceptance speech. Following the awards ceremony, there was a joyful dance party in the district office, featuring a live singer and a diverse musical playlist including Lain dancing, Top 40, and Classic Rock.
The women honorees are:
Connie Altamirano – Community Education Council 24 Vice President and child advocate (Ridgewood)
Sherry Algredo – Chairperson of Community Board 9 (Richmond Hill)
Christine Barbour – Founder of Woodhaven Poetry Society, Just published her first Poetry Book
Vedo Basdeo – Leader of Federation of Hindu Mandirs (Richmond Hill)
Elizabeth De La Cruz – President, 104th Precinct Civilian Observation Patrol (Glendale)
Sookranie Dhanpat – Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit Senior Community Liaison for the South Asian Community (Ozone Park)
Teresa Donahue – Past President of Glendale Kiwanis
Janet Forte – Vice President, Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association
Kerrie Hansen – Distinguished Past Lieutenant Governor of Kiwanis Club Queens West Division (Glendale)
Catherine Murawski – Community Media Persona and Community Leader (Glendale)
Simone Zito – Founder and CEO of Community Care Food Pantry and One Queens Fund, Inc. (Ozone Park)
While being recognized for their leadership, the honorees also commended Rajkumar for her work in the district and making history as the first South Asian woman elected to office.
“It was great being in the company of such great women, especially the one who had her own history making, to honor us,” Algredo said. “Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar is a standout woman who brought the mayor out to show us just how special we are.”
For Donahue, it was humbling and thrilling to be among those who were honored. In her speech, she recalled when she met Rajkumar.
“What an amazing group I find myself to be with. I met Jenifer in January of 2020. It was a very cold, very dark night and my bell rang and Jenifer was standing on my stoop…we had a lovely conversation and I was so impressed that Jenifer was out there in January in the neighborhood trying to reach us and that left a lasting impression with me…that was by no means the last time Jenifer was in our neighborhood,” Donahue said.
In her acceptance speech, Hansen said she was honored to celebrate “with all of the wonderful ladies that do phenomenal work,” while also praising Rajkumar.
“Thank you for all your support. And I, too, see her. She’s like Waldo: she’s everywhere. Whether it’s Community Day or I’m at Sacred Heart or I’m turning the corner, there’s Jenifer, and I so appreciate everything you do. So thank you very much,” Hansen said.