From 14-year-old transgender high school freshman Jackie Iulo to the legendary retired tennis coach and sports star Lucille Kyvallos, the inaugural Dan’s Papers Out East End Impact Awards honored individuals whose achievement, vision, leadership, talent and advocacy have made a positive impact on the LGBTQ+ community of the East End and Long Island. The event celebrated 30 honorees and represented people from the worlds of healthcare, business, media, the arts, law, sports, education and community service.
A capacity crowd at the Mediterranean-inspired Calissa restaurant in Water Mill gathered at the beautiful courtyard and underneath a giant rainbow arch as the sun shone brightly on a festive and meaningful afternoon and evening.
Hosted by Victoria Schneps, owner of Schneps Media and publisher of Dan’s Papers, and Angela LaGreca, VP of Features and Events at Dan’s Papers, the event featured an open bar with passed hors d’oeuvres, an awards gala where the honorees were presented with engraved crystal Out East End Impact Awards, as well as special framed citations from the New York State Assembly, presented by State Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright.
Several of the honorees had been profiled in Out East End, Dan’s Papers’ bi-monthly column, which debuted in March of 2021 and features in-depth interviews with notable subjects as well as LGBTQ+ events and happenings.
A fabulous silent auction and live raffle to benefit The Edie Windsor Healthcare Center, an outpost of Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, drew great interest and participation. The newly expanded center, which relocated earlier this summer to Hampton Bays, is a full-service healthcare facility catering to the LGBTQ+ community and its allies; it includes HIV care at the Rose Walton Care Services as well as mental health services and aims to provide wellness and first-class healthcare for all, with a distinct regard for a patient’s dignity and privacy.
From 4–5 p.m. guests enjoyed an open bar (which featured a tasty specialty vodka cocktail named “The Edie,” in honor of marriage equality champion and activist Edie Windsor), and delicious passed hors d’oeuvres (lobster rolls, tuna tartare, spanakopita, spiced chicken skewers and an array of Calissa’s famous dips, sauces and vegetables, along with a refreshing snap pea, mint and lentil salad) while mingling with friends.
At 5 p.m. Victoria Schneps welcomed the enthusiastic crowd and thanked the corporate sponsors who generously donated their support for the gala event: Almost Famous, Brown Harris Stevens, Carolines on Broadway, Quatela Chimeri, EG Event Group, First Central Savings Bank, First Coastal, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, The Melissa Cohn Group, New Beginning Cleaners, Seafield, Terrebonne, Winkler Kurtz LLP, Zara Luxury Homes and ZE Creative Communications.
LaGreca, the event’s producer, sang the National Anthem and then she and Schneps introduced the honorees who walked the red carpet to the podium, cheered on by friends and supporters, to receive their awards and citations as their images were projected from large television monitors.
Impact Awards were presented to banking executive, LGBTQ+ activist and philanthropist Judith Kasen-Windsor (Community Service & Leadership); Dr. Eric Lella (Medical Director of The Edie Windsor Center); Queens College legendary women’s basketball coach and Sag Harbor resident Lucille Kyvallos (Lifetime Achievement & Inspiration Award); and business executive, LGBTQ advocate and philanthropist Mitchell Draizin (Leadership & Philanthropic Achievement Award).
Draizin then introduced and presented the Youth Leadership Award to Jackie Iulo, a freshman at Pierson High School (who later came back to close the awards program with a rousing, lip-synching performance to Barbra Streisand’s version of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” — as the song crescendoed, the crowd yelled, “Encore!”
Following Iulo’s award presentation, Impact Awards were presented to honorees Inda Eaton (singer, songwriter, storyteller), Lindsey Albinski (matrimonial/family lawyer, advocate for LGBTQ+ youth), Christiane Arbesu (filmmaker, digital content producer), Julian Bannister and Yannick Jules-Bannister (business owners, New Beginning Cleaners), Isaac Boots (Instagram star, owner of Torch’d Shoppe), Christopher Chimeri (matrimonial/family/trial lawyer noted for work on landmark LGBTQ+ cases) and D&J Concepts (CEO David Hornun, Justin Fisher and Jason Fisher).
Seawright then presented special citations to longstanding couple Clare Coss (playwright, composer, author of Emmett, Down in My Heart) and Blanche Wiesen Cook (distinguished professor of history and women’s studies, author of the definitive biography Eleanor Roosevelt).
Following Coss and Wiesen Cook, Impact Awards were presented to honorees Cynthia Daniels (Grammy Award-winning recording engineer, owner of MonkMusic Studios), Peter Gordenstein (licensed associate real estate broker at Compass) Eric Lemonides (owner of Almond restaurant, community leader), Robert Nelson (Executive Managing Director, Brown Harris Stevens), Brent Newsom (former co-owner of The Swamp, former owner of Brent Newsom Catering. Note: Tom House accepted on behalf of Newsom), Thuyen Nguyen (celebrity facialist, owner of Curated by Thuyen), Sam Lippitt (Head of Electronic Sales at State Street Global Markets, board member Family Equality Council) and Pamela Godwin (RN, Senior Clinical Manager for New York at Hillrom, Jimmy Mack (longtime volunteer EMT at the Southampton Volunteer Ambulance), Brian Mott (special education teacher), Michael Serao (Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of First Central Savings Bank), Rachel Wilkins (artist, LGBTQ+ activist) and Robert Zimmerman (Co-President of ZE Communications, television political commentator).
After the awards ceremony, guests danced to the great music mix by DJ Mike at Bravo Sound and bid on the silent auction for generous gift items donated by local vendors, which included hotel stays (Sage & Madison, The Maidstone Hotel), theater tickets (Guild Hall, Bay Street Theater), restaurant gift certificates (Almond, Calissa), a facial and full skin care line by Thuyen Nguyen of Curated by Thuyen and a fine jewelry heart bracelet (Shawn Warren Jewelry). The live raffle featured a grand prize trip to Cancun, as well as gift certificates to Mixology, BookHampton, a Sherpa Lounger and candles from Jill Martin’s G.I.L.I. collection, and shirts by Profanity Paraffins.
Swag bags for VIP ticket holders and honorees were filled with goodies that included a coveted facial serum by Thuyen Skincare, Isaac Boot’s Torch’d socks from his Torch’d Shoppe, sage spray by Best of Nature, vodka/tequila spritzers by Talkhouse Encore, Boom Chicka Pop lollipops by Sage and Madison and chocolate chip cookies from Tate’s Bake Shop. Guests also received a parting gift so exclusive (and embargoed), we aren’t allowed to name it! (But we can say it was valued at $199.)
A special thank you to the generous and beautiful donations of artwork by Rachel Wilkins and Hulbert Waldroup. Each artist donated pieces of original artwork to the silent auction to help raise funds for The Edie Windsor Healthcare Center.
The Schneps Event Team of Elizabeth Aloni, Demetra and Joe Mattone, Toni Cimino, Chloe Senteio and Kristen Romney did a stellar job behind the scenes and onsite to help make the production and event a success, while the Dan’s Papers sales staff (Stephanie Bitis, Brenda Pesce, Julie O’Rourke, Maria Ramirez) lent their support at check-in and with the raffle. Special kudos to Addison Aloni, Vicki Schneps’s granddaughter, for helping to hand out the Impact Awards.
As 7 p.m. rolled around and the celebration came to an end, many guests remarked that it was more like “the beginning” — a time to truly shine a spotlight and acknowledge the influence and impact of the LGBTQ+ community.
As Judith Kasen-Windsor put it, “It was a great event … we now have a terrific foundation for future years.”