The Wagner College DaVinci Society will host its 11th annual scholarship and awards dinner on Thursday, Sept. 18 at 6 p.m.at the Hilton Garden Inn. Tickets for the dinner are $150 ($75 tax deductible). For information and reservations, contact Betty McComiskey or Jenny Kelly at 718-390-9333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To purchase tickets with a credit card, please click here for a secure link to our website.
The DaVinci Society is chaired by the Honorable Ralph J. Lamberti, 12th borough president of Staten Island, with Wagner College President Richard Guarasci serving as honorary co-chairman. Eleanor Conforti, former chairwoman of Community School Board 31 and a Staten Island Advance Woman of Achievement, is the chairwoman for the annual dinner.
Seven special people will be honored at the dinner this year: Vincent D’Antuono, Elissa Montanti, Jeffrey Palmese, Vienna Profeta, John Vento, Michael Walsh and John Fusco.
COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARDS
VINCENT D’ANTUONO is the owner of Pastosa Ravioli in West Brighton, Staten Island. His store provides authentic Italian food specialties to the community. His warm greetings, special recipes and family traditions offer a welcome to all of his customers.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, he served in the United States Army for three years with the 440th Army Band/18th Airborne Division. A professional jazz musician and published songwriter, he toured the country and played with many legendary entertainers.
Vincent D’Antuono was the first president of the Forest Avenue Business Improvement District, which works to improve the area. His family makes it a priority to give back to those in need by supporting various community organizations. Houses of worship, schools, veterans and many charities have benefitted from their generosity.
D’Antuono has been honored by Meals on Wheels and the New York City Council, earning the Louis Miller Business Award and the NYC Neighborhood Small Business Award, to mention just a few well-deserved awards.
Vincent and his wife Elizabeth have been married for 43 years; they have two sons and one grandson.
It is because of his continuing generosity and his contributions to our Staten Island community that Wagner College is proud to present the 2014 DaVinci Society Community Service Award to Vincent D’Antuono.
ELISSA MONTANTI is a native of Staten Island who reached out to help children who had been injured by land-mine explosions during Bosnia’s civil war, founding the Global Medical Relief Fund, a nonprofit organization supported entirely through private donations and grants. Since its founding in 1997, more than 170 children from more than 17 countries have been brought to the United States for treatment and prosthetic services. Her belief is that each child who is helped becomes an ambassador who returns home, not only with a mended body and new hope for life, but also with an experience of America at its best.
Elissa Montanti lives on Staten Island with her adopted son, Kenan. She continues to work diligently to raise funds and assist children in need. Her work has been featured on “60 Minutes” and has been written about in both Parade and People magazines, where she was called the “Saint of Staten Island.”
The number of awards and honors Elissa has received are a true reflection of her generosity, compassion and love for her fellow human beings. Wagner College considers it a privilege to present her with a DaVinci Society Community Service Award.
JEFFREY PALMESE graduated from St. John’s University with a degree in accounting and joined the firm of Price-Waterhouse in 1972. Several years later, he entered into the home heating business. As the owner of Brown’s Fuel, Palmese has always tried to care for his customers and staff with attention to detail and a strong work ethic. He believes it is important to always treat people with kindness and concern.
Recently, Palmese entered the deregulated energy business. He is the chief financial officer of Harborside Energy, which supplies electricity and natural gas to consumers in New Jersey.
Over the years, Palmese has supported many charitable organizations, including St. Jude Children’s Hospital and the CYO, but the one about which he is the most enthusiastic is Camp Good Grief, an organization started by Linda and Irwin Steinman that hosts children who have suffered the loss of a parent.
Jeffrey Palmese’s family includes his wife of 40 years, Deborah, their sons Jeffrey Jr., Michael and Christopher, their daughters-in-law Jennifer and Kelly, and their new grandson, Griffin.
In appreciation of his volunteer work in the Staten Island community, the DaVinci Society of Wagner College is privileged to present Jeffrey Palmese with a 2014 Community Service Award.
VIENNA PROFETA is the founder and president of Staten Island Friends for Hospice Care and the senior vice president of the Eger Foundation/Eger Lutheran Homes and Services. As a result of her father’s illness, she vowed to build the first hospice residence on Staten Island and dedicated her efforts to raise money to start a full-service hospice program in our community.
For Profeta, caring and giving to hospice patients of all ages is truly a work in progress. She responds to people as a humanitarian on both a personal and spiritual level and is always available to provide services to terminally ill patients and their caregivers. Through her work, she finds ways to bring cheer and hope to so many people who desperately need it.
Her work as a true humanitarian has brought her honors and awards from a variety of organizations including but not limited to the Staten Island Advance (Woman of Achievement), the Visiting Nurses Association, the YMCA, the NYC Fire Department and the Italian-American Women of Staten Island, and she was named a Woman of Distinction by the New York State Senate. She does not rest on her laurels, however, but continues her efforts, using her time and talents to make life easier for so many of our residents.
Vienna Profeta took a dream and made it a reality, with support from Eger. Today, the Addeo Hospice Residence at Eger is a testimony to her hard work. Wagner College is proud to present her with a 2014 DaVinci Society Community Service Award.
JOHN J. VENTO is the president of a Staten Island-based certified public accounting firm as well as the certified financial planning firm of Comprehensive Wealth Management Ltd. His firm works with clients throughout the country and is focused on those committed to becoming financially independent.
Vento has been the keynote speaker at various seminars and conferences throughout the United States focusing on tax and financial strategies that create wealth. He is the author of “Financial Independence: Getting to Point X.” With an MBA in taxation from St. John’s University, Vento is a certified public accountant and financial planner. He holds a Series 7 stockbroker license and a Series 24 security principal license.
Earlier in his career, Vento worked with KPMG, one of the “Big Four” CPA firms, where he specialized in audits of the medical and dental profession as well as the financial service industry. Since 2008, he has been ranked among the most successful financial advisers by a nationwide investment service firm.
John Vento has been an adjunct professor at St. Francis College and Wagner College. He has also been an advocate for promoting financial literacy and has been a lecturer throughout the New York City Public Library system as well as high schools and universities throughout the area.
For his long-time expertise and his contributions to the Staten Island and Greater New York communities, the DaVinci Society of Wagner College is pleased to present John Vento with a 2014 Community Service Award.
MICHAEL WALSH earned his bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University and his law degree from New York Law School. He is a member of the Richmond County, New York State and American bar associations. As a self-employed, independent attorney, he volunteers on the Richmond County Bar Association’s judiciary, membership and young lawyers committee.
Michael Walsh and his wife Karen reside on Staten Island with their children, Sarah Ann and Michael Jr.
As a resident of Staten Island, Walsh believes in giving back to his community. He has served on the board of the Staten Island chapter of the March of Dimes, the St. Patrick’s Society of Staten Island and the Boy Scouts of America, to name just a few of his volunteer efforts. He also helped raise funds for St. Vincent’s Medical Center, St. Joseph Hill Academy and the Reali Family Foundation.
Michael Walsh continues to improve the quality of life in the Staten Island community, and it is with great pride that the Wagner College DaVinci Society presents him with the 2014 Renaissance Award.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
A Staten Island native, a son of Italian immigrants and a former lieutenant in the United States Army, Fusco earned his law degree from the New England School of Law. Once he started practicing law, he became active in the Republican Party, serving as law chairman of the Richmond County Republican Party.
John Fusco is married to Carol Ann and is a father of two as well as a grandfather of five. He has been actively involved in the San Bernardino Society, Meals on Wheels and Knights of Columbus as well as the American Heart Association and Staten Island University Hospital, to name a few.
As a result of his continuing interest in our community and his volunteer work, he has been honored by many organizations, including the American Red Cross, Staten Island Lions Club, Richmond County Bar Association and the New England School of Law.
Judge John Fusco has devoted his professional and personal life to improving the quality of life on Staten Island. He is a wonderful example of a man deserving of the 2014 DaVinci Society Lifetime Achievement Award.