In what has become an annual tradition, Assemblyman Mike Miller celebrated the talents, contributions and achievements of local women who make our communities better places to live.
This year’s “Women of Distinction” ceremony was held in honor of Maria Thomson, the Woodhaven civic leader who passed away earlier this year.
Each one of this year’s awardees have contributed to our communities, and for that both Miller and State Senator Joseph Addabbo presented them with citations.
Michelle Cook Lopez is the manager of Cooks Crafts on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale. Upon accepting the award, she thanked her grandmother, who started the business back in 1970.
“That wasn’t common in the 1970s,” Lopez said. “Women usually stayed home. As a result, I was raised as a very independent woman.”
Antonetta Binanti is the owner of Rudy’s Bake Shop in Ridgewood, which recently celebrated its 80th anniversary. Binanti helped bring her community together by initiating the now-annual Seneca Avenue Stroll, where Ridgewood businesses come out for a day of music, food and fun.
Binanti also gives back to her community by helping to feed homeless New Yorkers through St. Matthias Roman Catholic Church on Catalpa Avenue in Ridgewood and the Sisters of Notre Dame in the Bronx.
Courtney Nilan recently took command of the 102nd Precinct, but she is not an unfamiliar face to residents. After joining the NYPD in 2004 and serving in different precincts in three different boroughs, Nilan transferred to the 102nd Precinct in 2014 and was promoted to special operations lieutenant.
She was promoted to captain in 2015, serving as executive officer of the 101st Precinct before coming back to the 102nd Precinct as its new commanding officer a few months ago.
“I couldn’t do my job without the help of the community,” Nilan said. “As important as my police officers are to me, the community is just as important. I think we all do a great job working hand in hand, and I’m more than pleased to be back here in the 102nd. I couldn’t have picked a better community.”
Joan Bachert has spent a lifetime being involved with her community, taking part in Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts. She was a businesswoman and get very involved in her community through the Richmond Hill Block Association, for which she serves as vice president.
Bachert is also the program director for the One Stop Richmond Hill Community Center.
Giedra Kregzdys is vice president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association and a member of the Avenue Poets Society. Miller noted that Kregzdys was a postal carrier for 37 years. In fact, she was one of the first women carriers in Queens.
Kregzdys is also a frequent attendee of the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society meetings, and always sticks around long after meetings are over to help clean up. She is a great asset to the Woodhaven community.
And finally, the last 2018 Woman of Distinction is Charlotte Butler, president of the K9 Korral Dog Run in Forest Park. Butler is a strong advocate for the safety and well-being of animals, and works tirelessly on their behalf.
Under Butler’s direction, the K9 Korral has flourished and provided a fun open space for people to bring their dogs to run freely. She has advocated for improvements to the park and those efforts have paid off, with major renovations to the dog run scheduled shortly.
Unfortunately, Butler was under the weather and unable to attend the ceremony.