The Rockland Business Women’s Network (RBWN) held its annual Awards Dinner on Thursday, June 7, 2012, from 6 pm to 10 pm at The View, Piermont, NY.
Three local businesswomen who exemplify the mission of the RBWN and showcase the exceptional talent of its members, and the Rockland County community were honored at the event. Maria Luisa Whittingham of Maria Luisa Boutique in Nyack received the Woman of the Year Award; Cynthia Branca from the Pajama Program received the Service Woman/Charity of the Year Award; and Ellen DiVietro, of Tastefully Simple received the RBWN Service Woman of the Year Award.
Dara L. Onofrio, RBWN president and owner of Onofrio Law in Nyack, said, “We honored these exceptional women this year in part to remind the community the caliber of business women we have right here in Rockland County.”
Arlene Levine, executive vice president of the RBWN, chair of the Annual Dinner Committee, and owner of Arlene Levine Design in Nyack said the Dinner was both entertaining and good for the organization. “This year, we had a great program filled with incredible entertainment, silent auction items and honorees," said Levine.
150 people attended the event with over $20,000 raised to benefit the RBWN and student scholarships.
$2,600 was donated to the Pajama Program, the organization's 2011-2012 Charity of Choice.
Maria Luisa Whittingham, Maria Luisa Boutique - RBWN Woman of the Year. Maria Luisa Whittingham, and the stores that share her name, has been a Nyack institution for 25 years, opening her highly successful original store in 1987 and her ML Gifts & Accessories in 2004. Born in the Bronx, and raised in Puerto Rico, she moved to Queens with her family at the age of nine. Maria’s success is integrally tied to her commitment to the community in which she does business. Her community involvement includes past board membership of the Nyack Center, Political Action Chair and Youth Advisory Chair of the Nyack NAACP, and a current board member of the Rockland Country Day School. Maria received “Friend of the Year” honors in 2011 from Friends of the Nyacks, was a 2007 Woman of Vision awardee from the Nyack Center, and is a 2010 graduate of Leadership Rockland. She is also an annual sponsor of the Hopper House and Music in the Park summer concert series. Maria attributes her success to a combination of appreciation and hard work - being grateful for what she has, and not being afraid to strive for more.
Cynthia Branca, The Pajama Program - RBWN Charity/Community Service Woman of the Year. The Pajama Program is a national not for profit organization, with a local chapter headed by Cynthia Branca. Donations and books collected locally are distributed in Rockland County. The Pajama Program provides new pajamas and new books to children in need, many who are waiting and hoping to be adopted. A longtime resident of Stony Point, NY, Cynthia joined the Pajama Program in the role of Chapter President in the Rockland and Orange Counties. Cynthia is a certified financial planner specializing in retirement. She has been involved with the Girl Scouts for many years.
Ellen DiVietro, Tastefully Simple - RBWN Service Woman of the Year. Ellen DiVietro is involved in charitable causes throughout Rockland County and is a long-time RBWN member. She currently serves as our VP of Membership. She is a successful business builder with the nation's original in-home gourmet food-tasting company. She mentors and trains consultants in 14 states how to grow their own Tastefully Simple gourmet food business. In her 12 years with the company, she has consistently received regional and national recognition for her personal sales and team building achievements.
About the RBWN:
The Rockland Business Women’s Network supports and empowers women by providing networking and educational opportunities. This non-profit organization focuses on leadership and professional development, building personal and professional relationships, and community support through scholarships and training. RBWN is dedicated to women helping women. Find the RBWN on Facebook and Linked In.