Staten Island Business Outreach Center honors 6 community leaders at annual Women’s Empowerment Breakfast

STATEN ISLAND, NY — The Staten Island Business Outreach Center (SIBOC) will host a Women’s Empowerment Breakfast on Tuesday, October 2. Held at Staaten in LiGreci on February 25, 2022, six outstanding women will be honored. The event was originally scheduled for March 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The recipients are Loretta Cauldwell, Claudette Duff, Dr. Joanne Gerenser, MaryLee Montalvo, Ph.D. Grace Lynn Santos and Kathy Weaver.

SIBOC’s Nina Flores said: “These extraordinary women were selected as honorees at the Women’s Empowerment Breakfast because they demonstrated the highest standards of ethical conduct, integrity, citizenship and social responsibility. “They make valuable contributions to our community through volunteering and exemplify the empowerment of corporate leadership roles. We are thrilled to be able to host this event in person after so long in a faraway place.”

The Staten Island Business Outreach Center (SIBOC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has served the Staten Island community since 1980.

SIBOC’s mission is to provide development programs and technical assistance to small businesses, and to provide services and improvements to the business corridor on the North Shore of Staten Island. Our goal is to support personal growth, which in turn promotes the growth of the Staten Island community.

Read on for the winners’ profiles.

SI Advance file photo

Loretta Cauldwell is the Executive Director of West Brighton Local Development Corp. and Director of the Forest Avenue Business Improvement District. (SI Advance file photo)

Loretta Caldwell Former Executive Director of the West Brighton Community Local Development Corporation and former Executive Director of the Forest Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) – the first BID created in Staten Island. She is currently a member of Staten Island Community Board 1, where she chairs West New Brighton/St. George/Tompkinsville Area Council. As Vice Chair of the District 120 Community Council, she is also a graduate of the NYPD’s Citizens Police Academy and CORO’s Neighborhood Leadership Program, which is instrumental in her day-to-day dealings at SIBOC.

Staten Island Forward / Jan Somma-Hammel

Winner Claudette Duff reacts to her roast at the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce at the Excelsior Grand on Wednesday, February 25, 2015. Lewis Miller Award (Staten Island Advance/Jan Somma-Hammel)

Claudette Duff is the founder and director of Integrity Senior Services (“ISS”), a provider of home mental health counseling and support services to seniors, people with disabilities, caregivers and their families. She is also the founder and executive director of Out Of the Storm Senior Housing, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The organization’s mission is to create a family-like, affordable and stable living arrangement for seniors who may be homeless, victims of elder abuse, low-income or those who have run out of their resources. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, she grew up in Brooklyn and has lived in Staten Island since 1972. She received her BA in Art Education from Brooklyn College in 1978, her MA in Art Therapy from Pratt Institute in 1993, and her MA in Social Work from New York University in 1998. Claudette has worked in the mental health field as an art therapist, social worker, and administrator since 1980.

Joanne Gerenser (Courtesy/Project Hospitality)

Joanne Gerenser (Courtesy/Project Hospitality)

PhD.Joanne Grunther is the Executive Director of the Eden II Project in Staten Island. She is also an adjunct associate professor at Brooklyn College. She holds a Master of Science in Speech and Hearing Science and a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. Speech and Hearing Sciences at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is vice chair of the Autism Research Organization’s Scientific Advisory Board. She serves on several boards, including the Autism Service Providers Council, the New York Interagency Council, and the Staten Island Nonprofit Association. PhD. Gerenser is co-editor of the book ABA for SLPs: Interprofessional Collaboration for Autism Support Teams. She has authored several book chapters and articles on autism and developmental disabilities.

(SI Advance file photo)

MaryLee Montalvo (SI Advance file photo)

Mary Lee Montalvo Is the president of the MLM Public Relations Department. Prior to founding the company, she was National Director of Public Relations for the Parkinson’s Association of America; Director of the Staten Island Red Cross Society of America; Director of Public Relations for the Staten Island Mental Health Association and Historic Richmond Township.She is a co-author of the column read all about it for Staten Island Advance. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Rutgers University with a major in Journalism; completed a fellowship from the Rutgers University Hispanic Women’s Leadership Institute; a Continuing Education Certificate from the New York University School of Public Relations and Management, and was awarded the Rutgers School of Business Mini MBA Degree in Integrated Marketing Communications.

SI Advance file photo

PhD. Gracelyn Santos is a general and cosmetic dentist with 26 years of experience in private practice. (SI Advance file photo)

PhD.Gracelyn Santos A general and cosmetic dentist with 26 years of experience in private practice. She co-owns Santos & Mroczek DDS, PC Family Dentistry at Meiers Corners. She graduated first in her class from Curtis High School, earned a BA in Biology from the City College of New York as a Presidential Scholar, and received her Doctor of Dentistry from the NYU School of Dentistry. She completed her PGY-I and PGY-II at Staten Island University Hospital, where she was an emergency dental paramedic. Since 2012, Ph.D.Santos is Staten Island Advance / She is a member of the St. Petersburg Executive Committee. The George Theatre, where she co-hosted the SGT fashion show and served as tennis co-chair for golf, tennis and bocce outings. She is a past trustee of the Snug Harbour Cultural Center, and has co-hosted the Neptune Ball, the Mistletoe Ball, and the American Girl Fashion Show; Meals on Wheels, for which she co-hosted the Fall Luncheon; the Staten Island Zoo; and Staten Island Mental Health Association. She is a former Miss Staten Island for the Miss America organization.

(Courtesy of SIBOC)

Kecia Weaver (Courtesy of SIBOC)

Kathy Weaver is the owner of Gazebo®. She purchased the property in 2013, and after two years of renovations and the COVID-19 pandemic, the venue opened in March 2021. The venue has a beautiful 19th century aesthetic and has hosted many events to date. Kecia is a current member of the New York State Bar and holds a degree from Seton Hall University School of Law.

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