Honoring The Women of Queens, Part 2

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Tina Lee,  Executive VP, World Journal

Although Tina Lee was born into the family business, she had humble beginnings as an intern at the World Journal – the largest Chinese language newspaper in the United States.

Years later, Lee returned to the business as the executive vice president of the well-respected publication.

“I always had an interest of coming back to the family business because in media, it is a service to the community,” Lee said.

Lee first returned to the World Journal in August 2001. Just two weeks into her job, the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened and she got her first lesson on just how important the role of media was.

“We had to coordinate trucks to have papers deliver to people reliant on the news,” she said. “It was interesting for me, for someone who had just come in, to see the dedication of all of the staff to make sure the paper got to the readers and to see how much the readers were in need of the information.”

Now entering her 12th year, Lee understands the value of keeping communities informed.

“We connect the Chinese communities with other communities in a number of ways. One of the ways is through news and information,” she said. “We’ve increased activism in the Asian American community. In one way, we’ve partnered with the community to increase awareness. I think that having the next generation become involved and aware is important.”

Lee said she is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to connect the media to the Asian community in America. Whether it is getting the World Journal more involved with charitable organizations like the Red Cross or sitting as the co-chair of the Flushing Business Improvement District, she is completely dedicated to what she does.

“I do see myself at the World Journal 10 years from now,” she said. “I think that continuing to work with the communities is something I would love to do.”

- Natalia Kozikowska

Gail Mellow, President of LaGuardia Community College

President of LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, Dr. Gail Mellow, Ph.D., said “Without community colleges, we wouldn’t have a middle class because it is the best and the most economic way for students to get more serious about their studies.”

In her 13 years as President, Mellow said she was proud to see the community college grow by 40 percent.

Mellow applauds the college for becoming one of the top three community colleges in the nation,  playing an influential role in helping students further their studies at four-year institutions after graduating with a two-year associate’s degree, many of those being Ivy League colleges.

The college does a lot to connect with small businesses in the community, like the recent collaboration with Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District and the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce to sponsor a map contest that gave students an opportunity to draw a colorful and artistic map of Sunnyside for a chance to win cash prizes.

“We use education to help businesses and communities grow,” said Mellow.

One of the areas of study Mellow highlighted was LaGCC’s Business and Technology degree because it gives students a chance to receive two years of required courses in business and technology, which then prepares them to start working or further their studies.

Another degree Mellow spoke highly of was their most popular area of study, philosophy.

“It is a very important degree, because we live in a complex world, so it is important we graduate students who know how to think critically,” said Mellow.

As a woman leader in Queens, Mellow said she “loves being a role model.”

The diversity she sees within the staff, faculty and student body helps her to step out of the box and learn new things every day.

- Trisha Sakhuja

Shanie Persaud, Executive Director of GABPC

Queens is widely known has the most diverse county in the world. With so many different groups, it can be a challenge to provide for all of them. Shanie Persaud, the executive director and one of the founders of the Guyanese and American Business and Professional Council, is dedicated to bringing the Guyanese and American communities together.

The Guyanese and American Business and Professional Council is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to develop stronger ties between Guyana and the United States and forge closer relations between the professional groups of both nations.

“A group of us, both Guyanese and Americans, put it together,” Persaud said. “It formed primarily for that and to give more prominence to the Guyanese community over here and to allow Americans to market themselves for this community.”

Persaud put her media experience in both Guyana and Queens to good use, using her ability to make contacts as a way to drive together the Guyanese community with organizations, such as the Queens Chamber of Commerce, the Queens Economic Development Corporation and the Greater Jamaica Corporation.

“More and more, I try to partner with other organizations within the community to bring services to our members and the business community at large,” she said.

The South Ozone Park non-profit provides business and career services as well.

GABPC also works with charities, doing activities like raffles to assist the American Cancer Society and others.

For the future, Persaud said she hopes that GABPC’s membership will continue to grow and that the organization will be able to do even more to help members of the Queens Guyanese community.

“My heart and soul has always been Guyana and always will be,” she said.

- Joe Marvilli

 

Claire Schulman, Community Activist

Former Queens Borough President Claire Schulman has continued to stay involved in the Borough, since leaving as Queens Borough President in 2001.

Currently, she serves as chief executive officer at the Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corporation and as a board member of New York Hospital Queens as well as York College in Jamaica.

Part of the work she has been doing at the Flushing LDC is planning how to develop 60 acres of land in downtown Flushing close to Willets Point.

She describes the area as underdeveloped with scattered businesses in that portion of Flushing. They hope to change the zoning in those 60 acres to encourage more businesses to move there.

What ends up happening with the Willets Point nearby is another key factor into deciding what to do with the 60 acres.

“Whatever development we encourage there, it has to be compatible with whatever happens across the river at Willets point,” Schulman said.

Her work on the York College board, she said, was getting the college more recognized so that more funding and programs were allocated for that university. Schulman said that York would often be forgotten about by the City because of its location and they have worked to change that.

Although she is now 87 years old, Schulman said she will continue to be active in the Borough for as long as her health permits her to.

She added that she loves being involved in Queens and to make things happen so it is a better place to live and visit.

- Luis Gronda

Cynthia Zalinksy, Queens Jewish Community Council Executive Director

Cynthia Zalinsky’s goal for the Queens Jewish Community Council is to “improve the plight of and be an advocate for the people of Queens.”

Since she became the executive director of QJCC 10 years ago, the council has expanded in a plethora of areas and is continuously working to service the entire Borough, Jewish or not.

“We service close to 15,000 people annually; our work has definitely expanded. I’m working to improve the economic and social services of Queens,” she said.

Zalinsky began her time with QJCC as a board member, and answered to a higher calling as executive director because of something her parents always instilled within her: the act of giving back.

“My parents are Holocaust survivors,” she explains “They always carried around a guilt with them, asking why they lived while others were killed. Raising my brothers and I, they always taught us to do God’s work and give back. They feel that they were able to live because they were meant to do God’s work. That’s what I want our council to do. I want us to work hard to give back to the Queens community.”

Zalinsky has led QJCC to increase their offered immigrant services, involve themselves with youth at risk and enhance and support programs for the empowerment of women. Her continued efforts with the QJCC and sense of giving back to others makes her a true female leader in Queens.

“QJCC is the lead agency of faith based agencies in Queens. We will continue to hold that title through responding always to the needs of the community,” she said.

Caption: Cynthia Zalinsky

- Asia Ewart