CONTACT: William Gerlich, 917-608-8784 (CM WILLIAMS)

Kristia M. Beaubrun, 718.260.9191 (CM CUMBO)


2:30 P.M. EST, March 24, 2015




Council Members Laurie Cumbo (left) and Jumaane D. Williams (right) cohosted the second annual Shirley Chisholm Women of Distinction Celebration and Award Ceremony on Friday, March 20, honoring six New Yorkers in various industries.

(l-r, Council Member Laurie Cumbo, Sukanya Krishnan, Martha Kamber, Monique Waterman, Joanne N. Smith, Yandy Smith, Aga Trojniak and Council Member Jumaane D. Williams)


BROOKLYN, NY: Friday , March 20th  Council Member Jumaane D. Williams  (D-Brooklyn) ,   Deputy Leader and Chair of the Council's Housing and Buildings Committee, and Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo (D-Brooklyn), Chair of the Council's  Committee on Women's Issues, co-hosted the second annual Shirley Chisholm Women of Distinction Celebration & Award Ceremony at the Dweck Auditorium, Brooklyn Public Library-Central Branch.  The celebration  honored six extraordinary women from New York City who are making tremendous strides in their fields by using their skills and expertise to strengthen our communities.  Each honoree was presented with a New York City Council Proclamation, and citations from  Congress Member Yvette Clarke,  New York City  Comptroller Scott Stringer and  Assembly Member Michaelle C. Solages  during the award ceremony.

Four emerging community leaders were also honored during the event and  New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito served as the event's keynote speaker. Special remarks were also made by Greetings from: Congress Member Yvette Clarke, Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte, Assembly Member Roxanne Persaud and Rev. Dr. Cheryl Anthony.


"It is fitting that we honored these six extraordinary women as Shirley Chisholm Women of Distinction during women's history month, as no one exemplified what it means to be a strong, tough, accomplished woman, let alone a trailblazer, more than Shirley A. Chisholm," said Council Member Williams. "Her 'unbought and unbossed' brand of leadership opened the doors for so many women- and men-  in politics and in leadership in many fields. When you hear the names Martha Kamber, Sukanya Krishnan, Joanne N. Smith, Yandy Smith, Aga Trojniak and Monique Waterman, you see Shirley's legacy of leadership and accomplishment living on today."


"One month is not enough to recognize women for their leadership and incredible work year-round in communities across the City of New York. As chair of the Women's Issues Committee, I was honored to join my colleague, Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, in honoring such a dynamic group of women who like Shirley Chisholm embody a humanitarian spirit and courage to change the standard. Each woman - a trailblazer in her own right - has inspired and empowered countless others through public service while paving the way for the next generation of women to thrive in their respective fields," said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo.


"America's promise and its potential are plainly written in the pages of Women's History and I thank my City Council colleagues Laurie Cumbo and Jumaane Williams for organizing this event to ensure that Shirley Chisholm's important legacy lives on," said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. 


"These women of high distinction - New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito,. Beverly Bond, Martha Kamber, Sukanya Krishnan, Joanne N. Smith, Lydia Caesar, Yandy Smith, Aga Trojniak, and Monique Waterman - have earned not only our recognition, but also our gratitude for their contributions to this community and its people. Their service to the public demonstrates that the legacy of the Honorable Shirley Chisholm continues to inspire those individuals who believe in our ability to change our civil society for the better," said Congress Woman Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn).

"It was an honor to join Council Members Williams & Cumbo during the second annual Shirley Chisholm Women of Distinction Award Ceremony, and to stand with Speaker Mark-Viverito - a dedicated leader and advocate in her own right -in honoring these unsung sheroes who are distinct trailblazers carrying Shirley Chisholm's Legacy every day into their work," said Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte (D-Brooklyn).


Each of the honorees were chosen because of their distinguished backgrounds and tireless commitment towards bettering the lives of others. Click the honorees name below to view a photo from the event:

  • Sukanya Krishnan, Anchor, PIX11 Morning NewsThree-time Emmy Award winning anchor and reporter, Sukanya Krishnan joined PIX11 Morning News in August 2001 as the first South Asian anchor in local morning news in the number one market. After proving herself in the field, she took on a new challenge as host of Home Delivery, a nationally syndicated show for NBC/Universal. But the world of news beckoned, and Krishnan returned to Channel 11 in 2004. Before joining the PIX11 news team, Krishnan worked at WCBS in New York for 5 years. Prior to that, Krishnan anchored and reported the morning news for WHP-TV, a CBS affiliate in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In 1995, she worked at WUTR-TV, an ABC affiliate in Utica, New York as an anchor, reporter and producer for its weekday newscasts. Since 2002, Krishnan has been involved with World Cares, an organization that helps first responders and fosters safe and effective disaster response and resilient recovery within communities. Krishnan lives in New York with her husband and two children.
  • Martha Kamber, CEO & President YWCA of Brooklyn: Martha Kamber is the Chief Executive Officer of the YWCA of Brooklyn, building 300 units of housing for low-income and homeless women; a community center dedicated to social justice initiatives; and an office and program space for a wide array of progressive nonprofits and community groups. Martha has invested over thirty years of social justice and nonprofit management experience and has worked extensively in the areas of women's empowerment, domestic violence and trauma, advocacy, affordable housing, public health and education. She is Vice Chair of UN Women, NY Metro Chapter; a board member of the YWCA World Service Council; a board member of the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District. Martha lives in Sunset Park, Brooklyn where she is active in various neighborhood initiatives.
  • Aga Trojniak, Founder of Flatbush Tenant Coalition: Aga Trojniak is an Organizer for the Flatbush Tenant Coalition, a member-led, grassroots group of tenant associations that builds tenant power in south Brooklyn.  Ms. Trojniak founded the Coalition in 2011, bringing together eleven tenant leaders who were fighting harassment and displacement in their rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods.  Today, the Coalition is made up of more than fifty tenant associations that organize their buildings, educate their neighbors, and work together to preserve safe, affordable housing and strengthen tenant rights in New York City and across the state.  Prior to her work with the Flatbush Tenant Coalition, a program of Flatbush Development Corporation (FDC), Ms. Trojniak served as FDC's Director of Housing and Immigration Programs.  Ms. Trojniak is deeply committed to grass-roots, community organizing as the path to social justice.
  • Joanne N. Smith, Founder & Executive Director Girls for Gender Equity (GGE): Joanne N. Smith is the founder and executive director of Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) and is responsible for moving its mission closer through strategic planning, development, and leadership cultivation. Ms. Smith is a Haitian-American social worker born in New York City. She founded GGE in 2001 with the support of the Open Society Foundation to end gender-based violence and promote gender, race and class equality. She has co-authored her first book published by Feminist Press, Hey Shorty: A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets, 2011. Girls for Gender Equity's work to combat sexual harassment in schools is featured in the 2014 documentary about Anita: Speak Truth to Power
  • Yandy Smith, Founder of Everything Girls Love & Music Mogul: Music and Media Mogul Yandy Smith is one of the most sought after entertainment powerhouses in the industry today. Yandy has worked alongside the likes of LL Cool J, 50 Cent, Missy Elliot, Busta Rhymes and Mona Scott-Young at the multi-media Conglomerate Violator Management. Yandy also worked as a consultant at Warner Music Group/Atlantic Records, securing a joint venture as an artist with Columbia records. In 2008, Smith gained worldwide recognition as one of Billboard Magazine's Top 30 Executives under 30 and rejoined Mona Scott-Young to help start and run Monami Entertainment and is a creative producer for VH1's, Love & Hip Hop New York. Yandy's entrepreneurial spirit continues to flourish, as she owns and operates a successful lifestyle Brand, Everything Girls Love (EGL, an online magazine, as well as a jewelry and clothing line.) This past year, Yandy has produced several projects including featured films, an Off-Broadway musical and most recently, The "Modern Domestic" web series. In addition to her many professional endeavors, Smith is a soon-to-be bride and a doting Mother to her two Children Omere and Skylar Harris.
  • Monique Waterman, Founder/Program Director East Flatbush Village, Inc.Monique Waterman is a community organizer, mother of four and Brooklyn resident dissatisfied with the lack of services for youth in East Flatbush and decided to be the change she wanted to see, co- founding an organization, East Flatbush Village, Inc. East Flatbush Village Inc. is a not-for-profit organization offering proactive solutions to develop the community and combat violence through sports, cultural enrichment and academic programs.  Monique is a civically engaged community organizer, Block Association President , community board member and works towards initiatives to combat the growing epidemic of for gun violence in East Flatbush.
"I am so honored to be recognized with the Shirley Chisholm Women of Distinction Award! Shirley Chisholm was a phenomenal woman and an inspirational role model for all women and girls. It's shameful that 43 years after her run for President of the United States, women still hold less than 20% of congressional seats and the United States ranks 98th in the world in percentage of women in national legislatures.   We need more women like Shirley Chisholm, women of courage who can shape public policy and create a more just and equitable nation," said Martha Kamber.

"Receiving the Shirley Chisolm award means we're on the right track as we work to combat gender and racial bias against Black and Latina girls. We're breaking the silence about the violence and discrimination our girls of color experience so it can feel daunting but Council Member's Laurie Cumbo and Jumaane Williams gave us the encouragement our team of youth and adults needed to keep advocating for ourselves and our community. We believe we will win!"said Joanne N. Smith.

"I am deeply touched that I was nominated to be a Shirley Chisholm Woman of Distinction. This was the first time that I was truly able to reflect on my accomplishments and be selfish in the moment. This honor allowed me to reconfirm the reason why I am doing what I am doing even though it is a rough road to travel. I celebrated with my fellow nominees and now move forward reinforced that I have made the right decision to live a life in service to others. Thank you Councilman Williams and Councilwoman Cumbo for allowing me to join this esteemed list of women!" said Monique Waterman.


"It is a real honor to have our work recognized by Councilmembers Laurie Cumbo and Jumaane D. Williams, himself such a strong advocate not only for tenant rights, but civil and human rights in NYC.  The Flatbush Tenant Coalition looks forward to continuing our work preserving affordable housing in Brooklyn, together with our Councilmembers, as the Coalition continues to grow bigger and stronger!" said Aga Trojniak.


Emerging Leader Honorees included Bodi Du, Sabrina Guillaume, La Chanda Moor and Jadayah Spencer.


This year's program featured entertainment by Lydia Caesar. Sponsorship was provided by Brooklyn Public Library, Emblem Health and Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow (OBT). Additional partnership was provided by Girls Like Us Project, Brooklyn Swirl, Dlo Pou Viv, Golden Krust, Creole Girls Rock, Everything Girls Love, Haitian American Caucus, Visima One Events & Design, Majopial Inc., The Brooklyn Lotus, Stacy Armand + Co.




Council Members Laurie Cumbo and Jumaane D. Williams co-hosted the second annual Shirley Chisholm Women of Distinction Celebration & Award Ceremony at the Dweck Auditorium, Brooklyn Public Library-Central Branch.


City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito delivered the keynote address during the second annual Shirley Chisholm Women of Distinction Celebration.




Emerging Leaders honored during the second annual Shirley Chisholm Women of Distinction Celebration & Award Ceremony included:

Jadayah Spencer, Bodi Du, La Chanda Moor, and Sabrina Guillaume.



This year's program featured entertainment by Lydia Caesar.



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