On Monday, March 11, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx) joined women from across New York's 14th Congressional District to celebrate Women's History Month and to honor community leaders during his 10th annual Women's History Month event. Special guest Rear Admiral Wendi Carpenter, USN (Ret.), President of SUNY Maritime College in the Bronx, served as the keynote speaker for the event and was recognized by Crowley for her service to our nation and the New York community. Crowley also honored community leaders Lily Gavin, owner of Dazies restaurant in Sunnyside, Queens, and Helen Arteaga, co-founder and director of Plaza Del Sol Family Health Center in Corona, Queens. A champion of women's rights in both the U.S. and abroad, Crowley has hosted an annual Women's History Month community event every year since 2004.
"Women's History Month is a time to recognize those pioneers who broke glass ceilings and paved the way for women's rights and equality. While it is important we celebrate the great progress that has been made, it is equally important that we don't lose sight of the challenges that remain. We must all continue the work needed to eliminate gender inequalities once and for all," said Rep. Crowley. "Our three honorees today represent the very essence of Women's History Month. It is an honor to be joined by a true pioneer in Naval aviation, a small-business owner helping to lift up other entrepreneurs, and a community advocate dedicated to improving health care for all as we celebrate the many contributions women have made to our city, our state, and our country."
Rear Admiral Carpenter served in the Navy for 34 years and is among the pioneers of women in Naval aviation. She was the 31st woman to be designated a Naval Aviator and was the Navy's first woman aviator to attain the rank of rear admiral. She deployed throughout the Pacific, western United States, and Alaska in support of the nation's strategic nuclear mission. Rear Admiral Carpenter graduated from the University of Georgia (B.S. Psychology, 1976) before she entered the Navy in 1977. She holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Salve Regina University and is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval War College. Rear Admiral Carpenter has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various unit awards. She is also a recipient of the Lifetime Community Service Award from the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation.
"After 34 years of leadership in the Navy, it is now my great privilege to be daily impacting and shaping the next generation of leaders who are enrolled as students at SUNY Maritime College," said Admiral Carpenter. "Many of these outstanding individuals are women who will be breaking paradigms in the global maritime industry or related fields, rising to be ship's captains, port engineers and chief executives across the public and private sectors. A big thank you to Congressman Crowley and his staff for their tremendous efforts in celebrating Women's History Month -- remembering the past in order to help us all take part in building a better future. It is every citizen's responsibility and opportunity to have a positive impact."
A prominent community leader and advocate in Sunnyside, Queens, Lily Gavin, owner of Dazies restaurant, has worked tirelessly to improve the community and encourage business growth in Sunnyside. Gavin is a past president and chair of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, one of the first women to be inducted into the Sunnyside Kiwanis, and is an active supporter of the YMCA, the Sunnyside Senior Center, the Sunnyside Drum Corporation, and the Queens Council of Tourism. Gavin also serves on the boards of the LaGuardia Community College Foundation and Sunnyside Shines (BID), and is a trustee of the Queens Library.
Helen Arteaga co-founded Plaza Del Sol Family Health Center, a division of Urban Health Plan, Inc., in 2009 to help provide the community with essential and cost-effective health care. Since its opening, Plaza Del Sol has provided care to more than 17,500 patients and ended 2012 with an estimated 130,000 visits. A long-time resident of Corona, Arteaga has been a leader in the community through her involvement as a member of Community Board 4 and the Neighborhood Housing Board, as well as by serving on the board of Our Lady of Sorrows School. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Community Impact Award, Humanitarian Award, and City of New York American Dreamer Award.
Women's History Month is celebrated nationwide during the month of March. The theme for this year's celebration is: "Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics."