The Business Council of Westchester Announces 2015 Hall of Fame Winners

By | News, Press Releases

WHITE PLAINS, NY (February 2015) – The Business Council of Westchester recently announced the winners of its prestigious Business Hall of Fame Awards.

This year’s honorees represent a diverse group of Westchester’s top businesses including a world-renowned technology developer, a leading holiday decorator, one of the nation’s oldest medical colleges, an affordable housing developer, a full-service insurance company and a family-owned funeral home that has operated for three generations.

Unique to this year’s Hall of Fame is the addition of the Chairman’s Recognition Award.  The recipient of this inaugural award was chosen from among all of the entries received across all categories. The award recognizes a business or organization for its outstanding contributions to the community.

“We are proud to have a diverse and distinguished group of honorees that represent the best of Westchester businesses,” said Marsha Gordon, President and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester. “Our winners are a reflection of the dynamism of Westchester’s economy that is made up of everything from large corporations to family-owned businesses. We are honored to induct these companies into the 2015 Business Hall of Fame.”

The winners will be honored at the 2013 Business Hall of Fame Awards Dinner on Tuesday, April 21 at the Glen Island Harbour Club in New Rochelle. The winners in their respective categories are:

Corporate Citizenship: New York Medical College in Valhalla. Dr. Robert Amler, vice president for government affairs and professor of public health, will accept the award.

Entrepreneurial Success: Mindspark in Yonkers. Tim Allen, CEO, to accept the award.

Small Business Success: York International Agency, LLC in Harrison. Robert Kestenbaum, CEO, to accept the award.

Women in Business Success: Rella Fogliano, president of MacQuesten Development Companies in Pelham. Fogliano to accept the award.

Family Owned Business: American Christmas in Mount Vernon. Fred Schwam, CEO, to accept the award.

Chairman’s Recognition Award: Beecher Flooks Funeral Home in Pleasantville. William Flooks Jr., funeral director, to accept award.

About the companies:

New York Medical College (NYMC) is one of the Nation’s oldest and largest private health sciences universities with more than 1,500 students, 800 residents and fellows, 2,800 distinguished faculty members and more than 15,000 living alumni. A member of the Touro College and University System, NYMC offers graduate-level degree programs for careers in medicine, public health, the biomedical sciences and the health professions. While NYMC’s economic impact is significant, it’s expected to grow as it recently joined the state’s START-UP NY program. As part of that, NYMC is designating 11,800 square feet of newly developed research space on campus, including the new biotechnology incubator (BioInc@NYMC), as tax-free under Governor Cuomo’s business development initiative. A biomedical research leader, NYMC is ideally positioned to supply the critical support infrastructure that biotech and life sciences companies need to start and grow. The biotech incubator known as BioInc@NYMC will provide clients with access to state-of-the art lab equipment and workforce training suites while fostering collaboration and synergistic relationships between researchers, academics and entrepreneurs.

 

Mindspark Interactive Network, Inc. (Mindspark) is a leading media and Internet company focused on the areas of search, applications, online dating, media and eCommerce. The Yonkers-based company is consistently ranked by Fortune magazine’s annual standings among the world’s most admired companies in the Internet Services & Retailing sector. Mindspark is home to some of the most popular and engaging mobile and digital applications in categories such as lifestyle, entertainment and utilities. Mindspark builds and strategically markets unique mobile and digital applications for audiences across a diverse range of interests. Mindspark’s product portfolio now includes more than 80 mobile and digital applications with users throughout the world. In 2013, Mindspark moved its corporate headquarters to the heart of the Yonkers Waterfront District. The move provided a new base of operations for staff and supports the company’s continuing, robust growth. The company, and its CEO Tim Allen, are now prominently featured as part of the city’s Generation Yonkers marketing and advertising campaign that is widely recognizable throughout the Tri-State area.

York International Agency, LLC is a full service privately held insurance agency headquartered in Harrison. At York, a team of 42 insurance professionals represent 3,000 clients and $100 million of gross written premiums placed with various insurance companies. The company tailors risk management programs to meet the unique needs of each client. Specialty practices include Property, Casualty and Employee Benefits for businesses ranging from local sole proprietors to multi-national corporations, as well as Personal and Life insurance policies for clients within Westchester and the surrounding communities. In addition to being a leader in the insurance industry, York International has a long history of community involvement with a focus on Westchester County. More than half of its staff currently resides in Westchester — including CEO Robert Kestenbaum, who was born and grew up in Mount Vernon and now lives in Scarsdale. Kestenbaum currently serves as a Board Member of the Boys and Girls Club of Mount Vernon and employees are encouraged to volunteer in the communities they serve. A few examples include environmental clean-ups, walk-a-thons and serving meals to families in need.

MacQuesten Companies is a Pelham-based full-service company that includes general contracting, construction management and real estate development that consistently delivers high quality residential and commercial properties. The firm, founded in 1960, evolved from a Mount Vernon-based family construction business to a company with an unwavering commitment to improving local communities by developing superb, affordable market rate mixed-use projects. The MacQuesten Companies has developed 11 buildings and 1,500 units of affordable housing in New York City and Westchester County since 1992. The company’s recent project is Heritage Homes in New Rochelle – a $72 million, three-phase, 228-unit housing project in partnership with the New Rochelle Municipal Housing Authority. The company recently broke ground for a Transit Oriented Development in downtown Mount Vernon called The Modern. The While MacQuesten Companies has a portfolio of over $140 million in completed projects, over the next five years, it will have in excess of $200 million in current projects and developments throughout the five boroughs and Westchester County. In 2014, Rella Fogliano, president of the company, was named Developer of the Year by the New York Housing Conference and the National Housing Conference.

American Christmas is the leading commercial holiday decorating firm in America. The Mount Vernon-based company designs, manufactures, installs, removes, stores and refurbishes holiday displays for office lobbies, tenant offices, hotels, restaurants, banks, theaters, retail stores, shopping centers, hospitals and television sets. Clients include Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s, Cartier, Bloomingdale’s, Madison Square Garden and Uniqlo. American Christmas has 385 clients and over 525 installations. In addition, the company ships décor to over 2,000 stores throughout North America. The company was founded in 1968 by Marvin Schwam. In 1988, Fred Schwam, Marvin’s son, became the CEO and owner of American Christmas.  In 2014, Fred had 50 full time employees and 125 seasonal employees, though many of the seasonal employees begin working as early as June. In 2014, the company increased sales by 8 percent over 2013 as the company, now a global provider of decorations, has expanded its the scope of its products and services.

Beecher Flooks Funeral Home, Inc. has drawn on its three-generation pedigree to earn a reputation as one of the most compassionate, qualified funeral homes in the region. The business has been owned and operated by the Flooks family – including father, son and grandson – since its purchase in 2004, and also features two additional New York State licensed funeral directors with approximately 32 years in the industry. Together, the family has worked for a decade to strengthen their community, grow business and respect the environment, all without losing sight of their primary mission: making difficult times easier for grieving families. The non-denominational funeral home has worked with approximately 2,500 families since 2004 and is a member of several industry organizations, including the New York State Funeral Directors Association, the Metropolitan Funeral Directors Association and the Westchester Funeral Directors Association. The business has grown annual revenues by 20-percent year over year.

 

 

 

His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan ’14H and James P. Hynes ’69,’01H To Be Honored By Iona College

By | News, Press Releases
Timothy Cardinal Dolan

Timothy Cardinal Dolan

New Rochelle, NY (February 2015) — One of the nation’s most charismatic and influential religious leaders and a businessman who has been a stalwart supporter of Iona College will be honored by the College at its annual scholarship gala this year, the Board of Trustees recently announced.

His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan ’14H and James P. Hynes ’69,’01H will each be honored at the 2015 Iona College Scholarship Award Gala & Diamond Jubilee Celebration on Friday, April 10, at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan. This year’s gala is unique as Iona College will be recognizing its 75th anniversary while honoring these two deserving individuals.

As part of the gala, Mr. Hynes will be presented with Iona College’s Legacy Award and Cardinal Dolan will be presented with the Blessed Edmund Rice Humanitarian Award.

“These honorees exemplify Iona College’s mission of community service, scholarship and achievement,” said Iona President Joseph E. Nyre. “They live their lives leading by example and are proof that the mission of Iona’s founders remains a core value of our College and its community.”

Cardinal Dolan and Hynes join an impressive group of individuals who have been honored by Iona College, including Francis Cardinal Spellman, New York Governor Malcolm Wilson, U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy, football great and businessman Roger Staubach, Yankee legend Mariano Rivera, business executive Robert LaPenta, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and the 15 Iona alumni lost in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

The Blessed Edmund Rice Humanitarian Award, named to honor the founder of the Congregation of Christian Brothers, recognizes those who by their activities and service to others have reinforced Iona’s identity as a College founded in the tradition of the Congregation of Christian Brothers and American Catholic higher education.

Cardinal Dolan, who was given an honorary degree from Iona last year, was named Archbishop of New York by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 and soon after he received the pallium — a symbol of his office as an archbishop — from the Pope at Saint Peter’s Basilica. Before coming to New York, Dolan served as Archbishop of Milwaukee, a position to which he was named by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1976, Dolan served as a pastor, seminary rector and professor of church history. For seven years, he was rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome where he served until June 2001. While in Rome, he was a visiting professor of Church History at the Pontifical Gregorian University and a faculty member in the Department of Ecumenical Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. He is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of The Catholic University of America and a member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

In 2010, Cardinal Dolan was elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, succeeding Cardinal Francis George of Chicago. Two years later, Cardinal Dolan was appointed to the College of Cardinals.

Hynes, who has more than 30 years of experience in the telecommunications and technology industries and has served in many executive TRUSTEE22 JAMES P  HYNESand director roles throughout the world, will receive the Iona College Legacy Award for his lifetime achievements. In addition to holding chief executive roles at companies including COLT Telecommunications, MetroRED Telecom and KVH Telecom, Hynes’ career included senior positions with Chase Manhattan, Continental Corporation, Bache & Co. and New York Telephone. He is currently chairman and co-founder of Inteliquent Inc. and Hynes Capital Resources and serves as president of Advanced Mobile Communications International.

Hynes has made significant contributions to the College and student body as an alumnus, mentor and advocate for Iona. A 1969 graduate of Iona, Hynes also received an honorary degree in 2001. He currently serves as chairman of the College’s Board of Trustees. In 2006, the Hynes Athletics Center became a reality because of his record-breaking gift. He was also a member of the Alumni Board of Directors for 15 years, serving as president from 1989-1991.

In 1994, Hynes was the recipient of the Alumni Association’s Brother Arthur A. Loftus Award for Outstanding Achievement. He was also honored with the Brother Patrick B. Doyle Award for Distinguished Service to the Alumni Association in 1996. As an undergraduate student, he competed on the rowing team at Iona.

Hynes and his wife, Anne Marie, have twin daughters and live in Riverside, Conn.

Proceeds from the Scholarship Gala will support student scholarships. For more information, visit Iona College online at www.IonaScholarshipGala.org.

About Iona College:
Founded in 1940, Iona College is a four-year private, coeducational institution of learning in the tradition of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers and American Catholic higher education. It is a diverse community of learners and scholars dedicated to academic excellence and the values of justice, peace and service. Iona offers undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, science, and business administration, as well as Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees and numerous advanced certificate programs. Iona College is the second largest private sector employer in New Rochelle.

Hampton Inn Coming to Yonkers

By | Press

Hampton Inn in Yonkers

Destination Yonkers? Definitely.

Just ask the developers of a new Hilton in Westchester’s hottest city.

Mayor Mike Spano, members of the Yonkers City Council, the Yonkers Industrial Development Agency and Alfred Weissman Real Estate on Tuesday broke ground on a 150-room Hilton Hampton Inn at 555 Tuckahoe Road in Yonkers.

Mayor Spano says the hotel business is growing faster than one of Mariano Rivera’s splitters (ok, my words not his) and that the city is establishing itself as a “leading destination for business and travel.”

The point is, developers are investing big in the Y-O because things are happening there. There’s great restaurants, new buildings, artists, high-tech businesses and one of the best waterfront views you’ll see anywhere.

Check out what these business leaders have to say as part of the GenerationYonkers campaign.

Al Weissman of Alfred Weissman Real Estate, LLC told News12 that wonderful things were happening in Yonkers and that a new hotel was the perfect fit for the city.

When finished, the 188,000 square foot hotel will offer a state-of-the-art hospitality experience including a pool, fitness center and comfortable lobby environment.

Construction will create nearly 200 temporary jobs. When it’s open, the Hampton Inn will provide an estimated 50 permanent jobs. And a place for people to put their bags while checking out everything the city has to offer.

Beyond Giving Tuesday: Social media fuels school’s ’85 Acts of Kindness’ program

By | Press, Press Releases

Anybody can donate money or time on Giving Tuesday, but a girls’ prep school in New York City is encouraging students, staff, alumnae and the public to participate in a social-media fueled kindness campaign that will last for the rest of the school year.

“Service is really one of the characteristics that our students identify with,” Flora Lugo, the school’s director of recruitment and admissions, told TODAY.com. “We collaborated to team up with our students and our community, and show our service component to not only our community, but to the state and the nation. And hopefully, it’ll go global.”

In honor of the 85th anniversary of St. Jean Baptiste High School, staffers launched the “85 Acts of Kindness” campaign Monday. The initiative asks students in each homeroom class to perform a combined 85 acts of kindness by May, and post photos of their works to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #85KindActs and the handle @stjeanhs.

St. Jean Baptiste students also are reviving the school’s Toys For Tots program, which had been dormant at the school for six years, according to Lugo.

Although participation isn’t mandatory, seniors Annie Garcia and Deja Jenkins are on board with the campaign. Both 17-year-olds have been volunteering at local day-care centers.

“I help them read,” Garcia, a co-vice president of the school’s National Honor Society, said. “And I help them with activities like painting.”

Added Jenkins, who’s vice-president of the school’s student council, “I love waking up in the morning, knowing that I am giving back to these children.”

As additional examples of good deeds, school officials encouraged students to serve the underprivileged, tutor, speak out against bullying, and empower girls. But even the smallest acts of kindness count toward the greater goal, as evidenced by a recent post to the school’s Instagram account.

Link to the TODAY show article here: http://www.today.com/news/beyond-giving-tuesday-social-media-fuels-schools-85-acts-kindness-1D80332292

St. Jean Baptiste High School Launches #85KindActs Social Media Campaign for 85th Anniversary

By | News, Press Releases

Students at All-Girls Catholic School in New York City
to Perform Acts of Kindness in Celebration of Anniversary

NEW YORK, N.Y. (December 1, 2014) – On the heels of Thanksgiving and the start of the season of giving to others, St. Jean Baptiste High School, located in New York City’s Upper East Side, today launched 85 Acts of Kindness, a campaign to celebrate its 85th anniversary. As part of a school-wide initiative, student teams will each commit to collectively perform 85 Acts of Kindness starting today through the end of the 2014-15 school year.

“This is a perfect opportunity for our students to work together and celebrate our anniversary, while also staying true to our mission ‘to participate actively in the transformation of society for a more just world,’” said Sister Maria Cassano, Principal of St. Jean Baptiste High School. “We’re encouraging students to perform a positive act that benefits the health, well-being, education, spirit or happiness of someone else. It is fitting to begin this initiative during the holidays, the season of giving. We can envision our initiative spreading throughout the community.”

During the campaign, students will be asked to perform various acts of kindness. Some examples include volunteering at a soup kitchen, nursing home or organization for the less fortunate or underprivileged. However, they will be challenged to come up with their own creative activities, as well.

Every time the team commits an act of kindness, they will post a picture of the activity on Instagram with the hashtag #85KindActs. The posts will then be shared on the school’s Facebook and Twitter accounts and updates will be featured on the school’s website. St. Jean Baptiste High School is also encouraging its faculty, administration, board members, alumnae and members of the community to participate.

“The goal is for our entire school to be involved in something positive and begin a St. Jean Baptiste High School movement that will spread outside of our classroom walls,” added Sister Maria Cassano. “This outreach to the neighborhood and city celebrates our mission of service as well as commemorates our 85th anniversary.”

To learn more about St. Jean Baptiste High School’s 85 Acts of Kindness movement, visit their website at www.stjean.org, follow them on Twitter @stjeanhs or Like their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/St.JeanBaptisteHighSchool.

St. Jean Baptiste High School
Founded in 1929, St. Jean Baptiste High School, located in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, educates young women of diverse strengths and backgrounds. Through a rigorous academic program, St. Jean Baptiste High School prepares its graduates to excel in college and their future professions. As a Catholic community rooted in the spirit of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, the foundress of the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame, St. Jean Baptiste High School develops women of faith, service, and leadership and empowers the whole community to participate actively in the transformation of society for a more just world. St. Jean Baptiste High School is located at 173 East 75th Street in Manhattan. More information about St. Jean Baptiste can be found by visiting www.stjean.org/ or calling (212) 288-1645.
acts of kindness

Liz & Geoff Spotted in WAG Magazine’s “Power Couples!”

By | Awards and Nominations, Press

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 1.07.15 PMWe think it’s pretty cool one of Westcheser’s power couples comes right from our little yellow house on the hill! See the other power couples chosen by WAG Online.

Elizabeth Bracken-Thompson and Geoff Thompson – She: Is the creative force behind the public relations firm Thompson & Bender and formerly a Miss America contestant, (as Miss New Jersey) and vice president of marketing for the Gannett Suburban Newspapers (now The Journal News). He: Is head of Thompson & Bender’s government relations and crisis management efforts, operator of Thompson’s Cider Mill and Orchard in Croton-on-Hudson and another GSN alumnus (as a news reporter). They: Have a dog named Molly.

powercouple

Elizabeth Bracken-Thompson and Geoff Thompson – She: Is the creative force behind the public relations firm Thompson & Bender and formerly a Miss America contestant, (as Miss New Jersey) and vice president of marketing for the Gannett Suburban Newspapers (now The Journal News). He: Is head of Thompson & Bender’s government relations and crisis management efforts, operator of Thompson’s Cider Mill and Orchard in Croton-on-Hudson and another GSN alumnus (as a news reporter). They: Have a dog named Molly.