March 14, 2008


Governor Designate David A. Paterson today lauded several New York women who are being honored tonight at the fifth annual New York State Women of Excellence Award Celebration. The honorees have made extraordinary contributions to their communities in areas from the arts and community service to health and business.

The award was created by the Governor Designate while he was the Senate Minority Leader to honor women who were working within the Harlem community. It was expanded last year to include all communities in New York. This year’s outstanding candidates have demonstrated selfless dedication to serving the needs and improving the lives of others. Criteria include continued commitment to community service and volunteerism with a focus on solving community-based problems.

This year’s honorees are: Patricia Cruz, for her work in the performing arts; María Román Dumén, for her work in the Hispanic community; Julia Hahn, for her work with visually-impaired athletes; Billie Holliday-Hayes, for her work in community service; Tina Lee, for her work with Chinese immigrants; Ivonne Mosquera, for her dedication to health; Kathy E. Ryan, for work in the NYPD and at Ground Zero; Peggy Shepard, for her work on environmental justice and equality for low-income residents; Susan Solomon, for her promotion and support of stem cell research.

“These women truly exemplify the best of what we as New Yorkers can offer each other,” said Governor Designate Paterson. “Every day, they work to make their communities cleaner, safer, healthier and more vibrant places to live. It is my honor, especially during Women’s History Month, to celebrate their many accomplishments.”

March is marked nationally as Women’s History Month, and many view New York as the birthplace of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in the United States. Though it took a full century of rallies and protests, women won the Constitutional right to vote in 1920.

This year’s honorees are listed below:

Woman of the Arts: Patricia Cruz

Patricia Cruz is Executive Director of the famous Aaron Davis Hall Performing Arts Center and Harlem Stage. Ms. Cruz is responsible for overseeing programmatic and administrative management. Under her tenure, the center has expanded audiences and programs, retired an accumulated deficit, and secured $2 million in endowment funds, thereby making one of New York’s most cherished art institutions thrive.

Woman of Community Service: María Román Dumén

María Román Dumén is a woman for all seasons and has been crucial in putting the Hispanic community of New York on the map. As Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade she has long been involved with overseeing the parade, one of the largest cultural outdoor events in the nation.

Woman of Health: Julia Hahn

Julia Hahn is a woman who originally hailed from the field of the arts, but after a work related accident in 2003 which weakened her lungs, she began running to maintain and improve her health. Today she serves as an official guide for the Achilles Track Club for visually impaired athletes. Together, Ms. Hahn and Ms. Mosquera have run over 50 races.

Woman of Community Service: Billie Holliday-Hayes

Billie Holliday-Hayes is a trailblazer who began her career in law enforcement at a time when few women were part of that field. She is a home grown New Yorker and longtime community service advocate. Now retired, she serves as President of the NAACP’s Mid-Manhattan branch and is also a member of the New York Urban League Board.

Woman of Business: Tina Lee

Tina Lee is Executive Vice President of the World Journal, the largest Chinese language daily newspaper in North America. The Journal’s mission is to serve all Chinese immigrants by helping immigrants assimilate and prosper in America. Tina actively serves her community as a member of the Board of Trustees of Scholarship America helping students secure an affordable education.

Woman of Health: Ivonne Mosquera

Ivonne Mosquera is a remarkable woman. Despite being diagnosed with retinal cancer at the age of two and suffering the removal of both her eyes, she went on to be successful at everything she did. She graduated from Stanford University with a math degree and is pursuing a MBA at Baruch College. In 2001 she began running, completing triathlons, marathons and ultra marathons.

Woman of Community Service: Deputy Chief Kathy E. Ryan

Deputy Chief Kathy E. Ryan is head of the Domestic Violence Unit of the New York Police Department. A 27-year veteran of the force, she was assigned for nine months at Ground Zero supervising the World Trade Center Rescue/Recovery Police Detail. A 1993 graduate of the Police Management Institute at Columbia University, she holds a Juris Doctorate from St. John’s University.

Woman of Environmental Activism: Peggy Shepard

Peggy Shepard is the Co-founder of WE ACT (West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc.). She is a tireless advocate for environmental justice and equality for low-income residents in New York City. WE ACT works to highlight issues of land use, waterfront development, Brownfield redevelopment and air pollution.

Woman of Science: Susan Solomon

Susan Solomon is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Stem Cell Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and promoting research in embryonic stem cell science. The Foundation convenes education programs for the public and holds the pre-eminent annual translational stem cell research conference in New York at Rockefeller University.