10 Middlesex County Women Honored for Achievements, Service to Community

MIDDLESEX COUNTY — One of the world’s foremost global experts in prenatal, childhood and adolescent infectious diseases, the founder of one of the most successful Realtors in Central Jersey, the queen of tween fashion and a tireless fighter for the Hispanic community in Central Jersey are among 10 Middlesex County women who will each be honored as “Citizen of the Year.”

The newly reactivated Middlesex County Commission on the Status of Women will honor these women, who have made significant contributions to their chosen fields, at a banquet to be held March 23 at the Pines Manor in Edison.


“I am completely awed by the talent, tenacity and achievements of the 10 women we will honor,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Blanquita B. Valenti, a member of the Commission. “They are fantastic role models who truly make a difference in their communities. They help make Middlesex County the Greatest County in the Land!”

The honorees are:

· Arts and Entertainment: Lian Farrer, Vice President of Education at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, whose efforts are largely the reason for the incredible growth of theater’s educational program, which now serves tens of thousands of students each year.

· Business: Sally Miller, the creator of clothing lines specifically for girls ages 7 to 14 that have taken the fashion industry by storm.

· Business: Gloria Zastko, President and Founder of Gloria Zastko Realtors, whose passion for the real estate industry and high ethical standards keep her a step ahead of her competitors and as one of the area’s most successful and trusted realtors.

· Education: Vickie Albert, whose zeal for teaching has left an indelible mark on her students and on the curriculum and physical space at Frost Elementary School in East Brunswick.

· Government: Senator Barbara Buono, who serves as the first woman Senate Majority Leader in New Jersey, and who has either authored or primarily sponsored legislation addressing education reform, child welfare, predatory lending and environmental issues.

· Health and Medicine: Sunanda Gaur, M.D., professor of pediatrics at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, whose investigation, experiments and educational programs about prenatal and pediatric infectious diseases have improved and saved countless lives.

· Law and Public Safety: Middlesex County Sheriff Mildred S. Scott, New Jersey’s first African-American female Sheriff, who has broken down barriers since beginning her career in law enforcement.

· Social Services: Ingrid Diaz, a social worker and doctoral candidate, who fights tirelessly to help others overcome the stigma associated with mental illness, counsels juvenile offenders and who devotes her time to assisting the Hispanic community of central New Jersey through a myriad of programs, therapies, support groups, and meetings.

· Volunteerism: Marylynn Matacera, whose dedication and diligence have benefitted a substance abuse treatment center in New Brunswick, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, St. Peter’s University Hospital, the Elijah’s Promise soup kitchen in New Brunswick, the North Brunswick Meals-on-Wheels program and numerous recreational and civic organizations.

Anna M. Aschkenes, Executive Director of the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission, will receive a Special Recognition Award. Aschkenes is responsible for the daily operations and with the support of Board of Chosen Freeholders, sets the vision and goals of largest Cultural and Heritage Commission in New Jersey, serving a population of nearly 800,000 persons.

The women will be feted at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 23 at the Pines Manor in Edison. Tickets, $50 per person, must be reserved by March 14. For tickets or information, call 732-745-4518 or visit http://co.middlesex.nj.us/humanservices.

The Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders has revived the Commission on the Status of Women under the guidance of Freeholder Blanquita Valenti. The Commission advocates for all women in Middlesex County by developing an effective forum to identify and address women’s issues and concerns.

Serving on the Commission on the Status of Women are: Freeholder Blanquita B. Valenti, Paulette Crabiel Wahler (Chair), Nancy Nicola (Vice Chair), Andrea Mackaronis, Chanelle McCullum, North Brunswick Councilwoman Catherine Nicola, Elizabeth Raspa, Linda Van Derveer, and Debbie Wisniewski.

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