Menendez Honors Six Trailblazing New Jersey Women

Menendez Honors Six Trailblazing New Jersey Women

Women’s History Month Award Named for Senator’s Mother

CLICK HERE to view & download remarks,photos & video.

NEWARK, NJ - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) honored six New Jersey women for their accomplishments, leadership and tireless determination to make New Jersey and the nation a better place during a ceremony on Sunday afternoon in celebration of Women's History Month. More than 500 community leaders and residents from across the state attended the standing-room-only event at Saint Peter's University which featured U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power as its keynote speaker.

Sen. Menendez honored six New Jersey leaders with the Evangelina Menendez Trailblazer Award in tribute to his mother, who left Cuba because she wanted to give her family a better future and who passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease: "My mother, Evangelina Menendez, represented the kind of determination, wisdom, and leadership these awards are meant to celebrate," said Sen. Menendez. "After she passed away, I knew I wanted to do something to honor her life and her memory. That's why I am delighted to recognize this year's trailblazers, in her name, for their tireless leadership and resolve to make New Jersey and our country a better place."

Ambassador Power spoke about the importance of promoting the rights of women not just in our country but around the globe, telling the story of Malala Yousafzai who was gunned down in Pakistan for championing the right for girls to go to school: "Young and brave, she was noticed and she was listened to," said Power. "And as her message took hold, she got under the skin of the Taliban who recognized the danger that she posed to their ideology. So the Taliban tried to defeat her not by debating her ideas but through cold blooded murder. And in attempting to silence her, they have succeeded in amplifying her words far beyond the confines of Swat Valley."

The 2014 Evangelina Menendez Trailblazer Award Honorees:

Kathleen Assini - Deptford; New Jersey Teacher of the Year (2013-2014), Delsea Regional Middle School

"Women leaders are tantamount to a successful society as far as I'm concerned, because when young women or young girls see women in leadership roles, it gives them something to look up to and work towards."

Laurel Brennan - Cherry Hill; Secretary-Treasurer of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO:

"I joined a union because I saw organizing and solidarity as the surest way to promote equality in the workplace and create a better life for working women," said Brennan. "I am deeply humbled by the Senator's decision to present me with this award, and I am proud to accept it on behalf of all union women who are dedicating themselves today to making a difference in their workplace and in their communities."

Danielle Gletow - Ewing; Founder, One Simple Wish, granting wishes of children in foster care

"Growing up, I had a very strong mom who did a lot, and she was definitely someone I looked up tomy whole life. When I read about the award and I saw this relationship that the Senator had with his mother, it definitely made me feel like wow, you know, its similar to how I feel about my mom, and I think its amazing to create an award in her honor; recognizing other women who are doing extraordinary things."

Amy Mansue - Hightstown; President & CEO, Children's Specialized Hospital, the largest pediatric rehabilitation health system in the country

"I think for women, we are just trying to catch up, when you look at the rate of women graduating college it shows you that we have caught up. Now we are going to catch up in reference to what we earn and the jobs we hold, and the most important thing is to inspire all women that anything is possible. Thanks to the Senator for continuing to find ways to encourage, promote, and support women. We are indebted for all the work he has done and will continue to do."

Aida Marcial - Haddon Heights; Founder & President, Global Justice Investigations LLC & human trafficking investigator

"I love my work and I don't expect anything in return other than smiles from children, and to have someone like Senator Menendez call me and acknowledge me under the auspices of an award that he has named for his mother, I was completely humbled, honored, and taken by surprise "

Janet Mino - Montclair; Autism Educator at Newark's JFK High School & subject of documentary film "Best Kept Secret"

"By recognizing me, he is also seeing the needs of the young adults who have autism. I never dreamed about receiving an award like this, I just didn't imagine. I am really grateful to Senator Menendez for seeing me, for recognizing my work. It's just awesome."

Retired U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Women Meryl Frank served as Mistress of Ceremonies. Passaic Community College student Bryanna DeVore sang the Star Spangled Banner.

Senator Menendez and recipient Kathleen Assini.

Senator Menendez with recipient Laurel Brennan.

Senator Menendez and recipient Danielle Gletow.

Senator Menendez and recipient Amy Mansue.

Senator Menendez and recipient Aida Marcial.

Senator Menendez and recipient Janet Mino.

Previous recipients of the Evangelina Menendez Trailblazer Award:

Colonel Terese Bernadette Acocella

Chairwoman, New Jersey Commission on Women Veterans

Jeanne M. DelColle

New Jersey Teacher of the Year, 2012

Linda Walder Fiddle, Esq.

Founder & Executive Director, The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation

Katherine Grant-Davis

President & CEO, New Jersey Primary Care Association Esperanza Porras-Field President & CEO, Morris County Hispanic-American Chamber of Commerce

Phyllis Salowe-Kaye

Executive Director, New Jersey Citizen Action

Kathleen DiChiara

President & CEO, Community Food Bank of New Jersey

Major General Maria Falca-Dodson

Commander, New Jersey Air National Guard

Zulima V. Farber

Member, Lowenstein Sandler PC

Danielle Kovach

New Jersey Teacher of the Year, 2011

Jeannine LaRue

Senior Vice President, The Kaufman Zita Group

Alice Stokes

Paul Women's Suffragist (1885-1977)

Mary Jo Cody

Former First Lady of New Jersey

Judy Hyde

New Jersey PTA President

Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver

Former Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly

MaryAnn Woods-Murphy

New Jersey Teacher of the Year, 2010

Noemi Velazquez

Chairwoman LUPE

Joan Verplanck

President, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce

Janet Sharma

Executive Director Volunteer Center of Bergen County