The Business Council of Westchester Announces 2015 Hall of Fame Winners

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.




Donielle Stanton

<span class="team-name">Donielle Stanton</span><br>
Senior Media and Communications Specialist

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Donielle Stanton
<span class="team-name">Donielle Stanton</span><br> Senior Media and Communications Specialist

Donielle has more than 25 years of experience as a TV producer. Most recently she was a segment producer for the award-winning show “Good Day New York” on Channel 5. 

Over the course of 17 years she worked with wide variety of celebrities, politicians’, and newsmakers to deliver the best quality segments for live TV.  

Prior to that, she helped to create and launch CBS 2 local weekend morning news program.

She grew up in Hastings-on-Hudson and has extensive knowledge of Westchester County. Donielle currently resides in Hartsdale with her husband Chris and their 4 children.