44 THE QUEENS COURIER • BUZZ • APRIL 1, 2021 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
DA honors infl uential Queens women during virtual celebration
BY CONNOR WALTER
In celebration of Women’s History
Month, Queens District Attorney
Melinda Katz hosted a virtual celebration
on Th ursday, March 25, to honor women
who have infl uenced Queens through
their leadership and work.
Th e four honorees celebrated at the
event were Victoria Schneps, Dr. Maria
L. Hubbard, Carolyn Dixon and Sandi
Pope of CISTA Girls.
Th e virtual event started with performances
Queens College faculty and alumni awarded at Grammy Awards
BY JENNA BAGCAL
Members of the Queens College faculty
and alumni came home winners on
“music’s biggest night.”
Th e school announced that Aaron
Copland School of Music faculty member
Eric Davis and alumni Arturo
O’Farrill and JoAnn Falletta won across
multiple categories at the 63rd Annual
Grammy Awards on Sunday, March 14.
Queens College faculty and alumni
have been nominated for or won over
100 Grammy Awards since 1980.
“Th is recognition perfectly refl ects the
caliber of a Queens College Arts education,”
said Queens College President
Frank H. Wu. “Students who enroll in
the Aaron Copland School of Music can
expect to learn from exceptional faculty
who are also real-world successes — an
experience that will provide them with
a sound musical foundation, as well as
the skills needed to succeed with their
degree. Another remarkable example is
music school alumnus, Queens music
teacher and performer Peter Archer,
who served as a consultant on Pixar’s
Golden Globe-winning and Academy
Award-nominated movie, ‘Soul.’”
Davis received a shared honor for
his guitar playing on the album for
“Jagged Little Pill,” which was awarded
Best Musical Th eater Album. Th e musical
is based on Alanis Morissette’s 1995
Grammy Award-winning album of the
“Jagged Little Pill” star and fi rst-time
Grammy winner Lauren Patton credited
Davis along with associate conductor,
drummer and percussionist Damien
Bassman and choreographer Marc
Kimelman with making the music come
to fruition for the show.
“I’m the song interpreter as far as lyrics
go and whatever I’m doing vocally,
but full credit for the musical arrangements
goes to Damien, Eric Davis and
Marc,” said Patton.
Joining Davis in Grammy greatness
are alumni O’Farrill and Falletta, both of
whom earned master’s degrees from the
Aaron Copland School of Music.
O’Farrill won his seventh Grammy for
“Four Questions,” which was chosen as
Best Latin Album of the Year. Falletta
earned her second Grammy for conducting
Richard Danielpour’s “Th e Passion of
Jeshua” with the Buff alo Philharmonic,
chosen as the Best Choral Performance
in the Classical category.
“I am so happy and grateful for
the three musicians from the Aaron
Copland School of Music community
who received Grammy Awards for their
work in our fi eld. All three are exceptional
talents!” said Michael Lipsey, chair
of the Aaron Copland School of Music.
by young girls from the Queens
Alexandra H., from Girl Scout
Troop 1680, opened the night reciting
the Pledge of Allegiance. Next was
Lanesha Burton from the Frank Sinatra
School of the Arts, who sang “The
Star-Spangled Banner.” The final opening
performance was a poem written
by Serena Yang from the 2021 NYC
Youth Poet Laureate. The poem reflected
on grief and rage regarding women’s
inequality through the generations.
Following the performances was a
speech from Congresswoman Stacey
Plaskett, who represents the United
States Virgin Islands and was the event’s
keynote speaker. In her speech, Plaskett
addressed equal rights for women, police
injustice, gun violence and shared a message
of hope for women who have been
negatively impacted by COVID-19.
“When women lead, communities
advance,” Plaskett said. “Female representation
in elected roles is vitally important.
When women don’t have a seat at
the table, gender experiences and perspectives
do not enter the debate, as they
Plaskett was honored with the 2021
Women’s History Month award for her
accomplishments while in offi ce. Plaskett
also reminded everyone that March is
Virgin Islands History Month.
“I’ve made it a point this month to
wear as much as our traditional clothing
as possible to let our daughters know that
they can incorporate their own culture
and their traditions, along with being
forward thinking in the 21st century,”
Katz then turned things over to Lt.
Gov. Kathy Hochul, who spoke about
how important it is to embrace fellow
women in government.
Following Hochul’s speech wasLisa
Helmni Johanson, who performed
a spectacular rendition of Alicia Keys’
“Th is Girl is on Fire.”
Focus turned to the honorees, starting
Schneps founded Th e Queens Courier
in 1985 from her Bayside living room
with an investment of $250. Today,
the media company — now known as
Schneps Media — owns over 70 media
outlets across the New York City area and
Schneps serves as president and co-publisher.
She also founded Life’s WORC, a
nonprofi t that helps individuals with disabilities.
Katz honored Schneps for her
commitment to the news industry and
advocacy with nonprofi ts.
“I know that with great passion, great
persistence and a positive attitude,
women can rule the world,” Schneps said.
Katz next honored Dr. Hubbard, who
is a minister and advocate for economically
disadvantaged communities. Her
leadership and evangelism of the word
of God has served many individuals in
underprivileged communities. She credited
her success to her female ancestors
and the women who raised her, including
her mother and grandmother. During
the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Hubbard
has partnered with churches and elected
offi cials to provide resources for those
struggling during this time.
Th e next woman to be honored was
Carolyn Dixon, founder of Where Do We
Go From Here. Dixon was recognized for
her work helping families aff ected by gun
violence transition into healing from the
grief process. Aft er losing her own son,
Darrell Lynch, right in front of her eyes,
Dixon turned her own mourning into a
way to help others. Dixon changed her
career as a substance abuse counselor to
working with LIFE Camps Inc. to help
families fi nd their new life aft er experiencing
Th e last honoree was Sandi Pope, who
leads the CISTA Girls, a nonprofi t that
teaches girls about the environment and
their community. CISTA Girls learn the
value of community service through
education and resources that requires
them to engage in activities and fundraise.
Th ey also encourage good self
esteem and a positive environment.
Pope warned that people need to be
more aware about the plastic and debris
that is collecting in oceans and waterways.
She encouraged people to recycle
as much as possible.
To conclude the night, Katz introduced
the newest Council member, Selvena
Brooks-Powers, who was declared winner
of the City Council District 31 special
election. Katz thanked her and the honorees
for their unwavering commitment
to helping the next generation of females.
“When we celebrate Women’s History
Month, we need to remember all of
the women that came before us, all the
women whose shoulders that we stand
on every single day, all of the women
who are responsible for the fact that we
can all be here doing what we do,” Katz
Photos courtesy of Queens College and Reuters
From left: Eric Davis, JoAnn Falletta, Arturo O’Farrill.
Screenshot via Zoom