On Wednesday evening, Sept. 16, the New York Women’s Foundation will host its 26th annual Neighborhood Dinner. This year will be the first time NYWF has brought the event to Staten Island — and Wagner College has agreed to host the event honoring women leaders and supporting women and girls.
This year’s Neighborhood Dinner will honor five Staten Island community leaders. Diane Arneth, Zeinab Eyega and the Rev. Terry Troia will be honored with the Neighborhood Leadership Award for their outstanding leadership in Staten Island and longstanding commitment to neighborhood-based work on behalf of women and families. Diane Arneth is president and CEO of Community Health Action of Staten Island. Zeinab Eyega is founder and executive director of Sauti Yetu. Terry Troia is executive director of Project Hospitality.
The Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award will be presented to Maria Morales, owner and operator of Los Potrillos, a Port Richmond restaurant whose presence enriches the community and demonstrates a deep level of commitment to Staten Island.
Elizabeth Egbert, former president of the Staten Island Museum, will be given a posthumous Special Life Celebration Award for her cultural contributions to Staten Island.
The NYWF Neighborhood Dinner will also feature local Staten Island businesses such as Hemlock Theatre Co., Staten Island Arts, Alice Austen House, Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness, 30,000 Degrees, Light House Museum, the Tibetan Museum and many more.
Also featured in the program will be soul-jazz saxophonist George Braith, and Staten Island’s unofficial “poet laureate” Marguerite Rivas.
The New York Women’s Foundation is a voice for women and a force for change – a cross-cultural alliance that catalyzes partnerships and leverages human and financial capital to achieve sustained economic security and justice for women, girls and families in New York City. The foundation identifies innovative organizations that are effecting change for women in the communities they serve, and strategically funds the programs and organizations that move women, girls and families toward long-term economic security through individual transformation and systemic change, mobilizing leaders and community partners as philanthropists and agents of change.
For additional information about the Neighborhood Dinner and the New York Women’s Foundation, please visit the foundation’s website.
Wagner College students who would either like to volunteer for the event, or who would like to attend the dinner, should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diane Arneth, a lifelong Staten Islander, has been a tireless worker for community health and social justice. She was a founder of the Staten Island Teen Pregnancy Network in 1981 and the Staten Island AIDS Task Force in 1988. She is board chairwoman of the Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness. She is one of the original members and sits on the board of the Staten Island Not‐for‐Profit Association, a trade association for 150 nonprofit agencies, and she completed two years as board president in June 2014.
Arneth has been the director of Community Health Action of Staten Island for 24 years. Under her guidance, Community Health Action became a recognized leader in community health and won the 2008 New York Times Nonprofit Excellence Award for Overall Management Excellence. In January 2015, she negotiated a successful affiliation with Brightpoint Health, a citywide leader in integrated health care for individuals, families and communities challenged by health disparities. She serves as a gubernatorial appointee on the New York State AIDS Advisory Council and is a member of the New York State Health Foundation Community Advisory Council. An active member of the North Shore Rotary Club for 17 years, she serves on the board of directors and is club foundation chair. Arneth earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Hunter College, and master’s degree in public administration from Baruch College. She lives in West Brighton, Staten Island, with her husband, Robert Brown, and counts among her numerous blessings her daughter Clare, son‐in‐law Joel and grandchildren Ella and Eamon.
Zeinab Eyega is the founder and executive director of Sauti Yetu — meaning “Our Voices” in Swahili — an advocacy organization based in New York that seeks to empower women to exercise, advocate and protect their rights against sexual and gender‐based violence. Previously, Ms. Eyega was a program director for the African Immigrant Program at the Research, Action and Information Network for Bodily Integrity of Women, or RAINBOW. In 1995, she started a pilot project that examined the needs of circumcised women and girls in New York City.
Eyega is from southern Sudan. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the School for International Training in Vermont, and a graduate degree in health policy from the New School.
Her published work includes “Facts and Fiction Regarding Female Circumcision/Female Genital Mutilation: A Pilot Study in New York City.” She has contributed to the development of “Caring for Women with Circumcision: A Technical Manual for Health Care Providers” and “Female Genital Mutilation: A Guide to Worldwide Laws and Policies.”
In addition to teaching and public speaking, Eyega has facilitated numerous cross-cultural competency workshops for health care providers, and reproductive health promotion seminars for African immigrant and refugee communities throughout the United States. Her areas of work include but are not limited to issues of gender, race and ethnicity in the Afro‐Arab borderlands, and women’s protection and rights in conflict and post-conflict regions of Africa.
Since 1985, Terry Troia has been executive director of Project Hospitality, an interfaith effort serving the hungry and homeless of Staten Island. An ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America, she is pastor of the New Utrecht Reformed Church in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
Troia volunteers as a member of several city- and statewide boards, including the New York City commissions on Economic Opportunity and AIDS, the NYC Temporary Commission on Day Laborer Job Sites, the NYC Committee to End Homelessness, the NYC Commission for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Runaway and Homeless Youth, and the NYC Inter‐Agency Task Force on Youth Violence. She is co‐chairwoman of the NYS Department of Health’s Statewide AIDS Service Delivery Consortium.
Troia serves on the board of directors of El Centro del Inmigrante, a local day laborer organization, and as chairwoman of the Staten Island Family Health Care Coalition and the Staten Island Clergy Leadership, a network of local religious leaders committed to upholding the biblical charism of hospitality and justice. She holds leadership positions in the Port Richmond Improvement Association, New Brighton Coalition of Concerned Citizens, Port Richmond Anti‐Violence Task Force and Staten Island Immigrant Council.
Since Hurricane Sandy hit Staten Island in 2012, Troia has been at the forefront of relief efforts. In the days immediately following the storm, Troia ensured that victims had the essentials — clothing for warmth, food to eat, and shelter. She turned Project Hospitality’s mobile food truck into a commissary and sent it into the disaster area to distribute cleaning and household supplies, blankets, diapers, toilet paper, food and water. A week after the storm, Troia was at the helm when Project Hospitality was asked by the borough president to manage the evacuation sites at Bayley Seton Hospital and Mount Manresa. She is currently serving as president of the Staten Island Community and Interfaith Long-Term Recovery Organization. She has served as an adjunct lecturer at the New York City College of Technology and is an ESL teacher. For fun, she teaches scripture and plays basketball with local youths in the New Brighton section of Staten Island as a volunteer for the Eye Openers Youth Against Violence Organization.
Maria Morales, a Mexican‐born immigrant, has called New York City her home for the past 21 years. Originally, she came to New York — like many other immigrants — to improve her life. Her first job was as a domestic worker in Staten Island. Morales’s daughter was diagnosed with asthma as a baby, and she thought that in order to be more independent and be able to spend more time with her daughter she would open her own business.
Wagner College has been a great supporter of Morales and has collaborated with her in many endeavors from catering events, to hosting meetings with students at the restaurant, to identifying ways of improving her business. Morales has always been involved in community efforts, especially when her business was a victim of a hate crime.
Against great odds, Morales has been able to truly realize her American dream and, at the same time, enrich the cultural and social fabric of Staten Island. She is an example of a person giving back to her community — and the most important part is that she feels joy doing it.
A beloved figure in Staten Island’s arts community, Elizabeth Egbert was named director of the Staten Island Museum in 2002. She had previously served as executive director of the Hudson Valley Children’s Museum in Nanuet, N.Y., vice president for administration at the Staten Island Botanical Garden, assistant director of the Staten Island Children’s Museum, and both acting curator and interim director of the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor. A distinguished sculptor known for her large works of outdoor public art, Egbert also taught art, sculpture and painting at various New York City colleges and universities prior to becoming involved in museum administration. Her love of Staten Island led her to become an important community activist.