2017 Winners

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Karen Armstrong

Assistant Commissioner, Queens Adult Services, NYC Department of Probation

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Vilma Raquel Daza

Community Library Manager, Corona Branch, Queens Borough Public Library

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Deirdre DeAngelis-D'Alessio

Principal, New Dorp High School, Staten Island

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Vincent DiGaetano

Bronx Borough Safety Director and now Principal, Bronx Alternate Learning Center, Office of Safety and Youth Development, NYC Department of Education

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AnnMarie Santiago & Lois Winters

Assistant Deputy Commissioner and Program Analyst, Office of Enforcement & Neighborhood Services, NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development

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Harriet Taub

Executive Director, Materials for the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs

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Karen Armstrong

Assistant Commissioner, Queens Adult Services, NYC Department of Probation

Karen Armstrong, who joined the department in 1989 as a probation office trainee, now leads a team of 140 who are responsible for 8,000 New Yorkers on probation in Queens. Her ability to implement new programs is unmatched. Prior to assuming her current position, Armstrong held the same job in Brooklyn, where she started three model NEON programs that connected probation clients to community organizations, government agencies, local businesses and residents. These efforts were so effective that when Armstrong left, Brooklyn led the city in the number of clients who achieved early release from parole for model behavior. Says a colleague, "She makes one of the most difficult jobs look effortless. She never stops working for our clients." 

 

Vilma Raquel Daza

Community Library Manager, Corona Branch, Queens Borough Public Library

Vilma Daza and her staff of 9 full-time employees serve over 18,000 library patrons at the Corona Branch Library each month, making it the busiest library per square foot in all of Queens. As an immigrant to New York from Peru, Daza knows firsthand what an important lifeline a library can be and she has made the Library "the central educational and resource hub of Corona." Residents line up around the block to register for a wide arrange of classes; in the summer, programs are offered outdoors in the plaza; and Daza and staff volunteer their time to keep the library open in the morning and evening, beyond regular hours. A colleague notes, "I've been working in the Queens Library system for 30 years. I have never met a more passionate, driven, and dedicated individual."

Deirdre DeAngelis-D'Alessio

Principal, New Dorp High School, Staten Island

New Dorp High School on Staten Island was a very different school before Deirdre DeAngelis arrived in 1999. The school's transformation was built on DeAngelis' bold decision to reorganize the school into eight "smaller learning communities," her pioneering work in the inclusion of special education students in the general school population, and her unwavering focus on strengthening students' writing ability (including the integration of The Writing Revolution program) in all classes. Today the school is a true national model of excellence, and educators from around the world regularly visit New Dorp to gain insights into how to improve their own schools. Says a former colleague, "Deirdre's status as a pioneer and innovator is unquestionable."

Vincent DiGaetano

Bronx Borough Safety Director and now Principal, Bronx Alternate Learning Center, Office of Safety and Youth Development, NYC Department of Education

After 7 years as a teacher at Dewitt Clinton HS, in 2008 Vincent DiGaetano was named campus manager of Adlai Stevenson in the Bronx, which housed 9 smaller schools and needed a more secure environment. In 6 months, there was a turnaround and DiGaetano was appointed Bronx Safety Director for 200 schools in the Bronx. By working with principals, teachers, students and local businesses, and by helping to create a General Response Protocol, safe schools are now a given. Says one principal, "Since Vinny arrived on the scene, the difference in our campus is night and day. He is an innovator filled with energy and compassion." This spring he became Principal of the Center for Alternative Learning, 8 schools for students serving Superintendents' suspensions.

AnnMarie Santiago & Lois Winters

Assistant Deputy Commissioner and Program Analyst, Office of Enforcement & Neighborhood Services, NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development

Each year tenants in NYC's more than 2 million rental units register 600,000 complaints, which become the responsibility of the NYC HPD's Office of Enforcement and Neighborhood Services. There, the formidable team of AnnMarie Santiago, a policy and program expert, and Lois Winters, a data analyst, design and oversee the implementation of programs to make sure apartments are livable. A notable success is a program that identifies the city's most distressed properties. Since it began, 26,000 apartments in 2,000 buildings, which house more than 50,000 people have had their roofs, electrical, plumbing and heating systems replaced or repaired and fines are assessed against the owners. Says a colleague, "Their job is massive, but no two people are better able to meet the challenges."

Harriet Taub

Executive Director, Materials for the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs

In a 35,000 square foot warehouse in Long Island City, Harriet Taub presides over Materials for the Arts (MFTA). Each year she and her staff of 17 and a 1,000 volunteers collect and redistribute almost 2 million pounds of materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Over 4,000 member organizations including dance, theater and arts groups, afterschool programs, public libraries, and thousands of public school teachers put the fabric, paper, trim and notions and office supplies to creative use. In addition, MFTA is among the city's largest providers of professional development courses in arts education for NYC school teachers and others. Called a true leader in "creative reuse," Taub exemplifies the term "going above and beyond."

 
 

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