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Women’s Achievement Awards handed out at Wallingford celebration

WALLINGFORD — Thursday afternoon was a day of celebration for the Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce as it hosted the annual women’s achievement awards at the Farms Country Club.

Among the winners for community achievement were Patricia Melton of New Haven Promise for Community Impact, the Record Journal’s Latino Communities Reporting Lab for Excellence in Advocacy, Alison Velez of Ludal’s Italian Restaurant for Excellence in Business, Allison Greene of BYK USA Inc. for Emerging Leader, Dr. Jennifer Miacci for Excellence in Healthcare, and Ginny Kozlowski of REX Development for Woman of the Year. Record-Journal Latino Lab reporters Lau Guzman and Crystal Elescano joined Lizandra Mejías-Salinas, assistant executive director of the Spanish Community of Wallingford, to accept the Excellence in Advocacy award.

Before the presentation of the awards, Wallingford Mayor William Dickinson Jr. made some remarks along with North Haven’s First Selectman Michael Freda.

Ray Andrewsen, executive director for the Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce, presented Dickinson, who is not seeking re-election after 40 years in office, with a plaque for his service to the town of Wallingford. Andrewsen said Dickinson “has been such a longtime supporter of our chamber.” 

When Dickinson made it up to the podium, he cheered to the crowd, saying what a beautiful day it was. “What a fantastic time to recognize six women who are leaders and true role models for our communities,” he said.

The keynote speaker of the awards was Rachida Parks, an associate professor of Computer Information Systems at Quinnipiac University. Parks has been in academia for over 12 years and has held several IT positions within the Department of Defense, NBC Universal Studios, as well as her own consulting firm. 

Parks speaks five languages — English, French, Arabic, Spanish and Italian — along with working on two more, Chinese and Hebrew. She had everyone say congratulations in English and then taught everyone to say that and then thank you in each of the languages she speaks.

Community Impact: Patricia Melton, New Haven Promise

Melton, a strategic transformational practitioner, leads a program whose mission is to promote college education and workforce pathway development for over 24,000 New Haven Public Schools students.

New Haven Promise is funded by Yale University, Yale New Haven Hospital, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and, more recently, corporate businesses and additional philanthropic partners.  

Excellence in Advocacy: RJ’s Latino Communities Reporting Lab

The Record-Journal Latino Communities Reporting Lab was launched in March 2021 to amplify local Latino communities' voices. Carrying out the mission relies on the support of individuals, the community, businesses, organizations and agencies who believe in the work.

Since its launch in 2021, the lab has told hundreds of stories and produced videos in both English and Spanish. Reporters have documented the contributions and impacts of their local Hispanic-Latino communities, along with the traditions, cultures, challenges, and inequities they face every day as Latinos. The mission is for reporters to proudly reach out to Hispanic-Latino roots and experiences when they craft stories.

Excellence inBusiness: Alison Velez, Ludal’s ItalianRestaurant

Velez is the co-owner of Ludal’s Italian Restaurant in North Haven. Ludal’s has been the center for events in North Haven for nearly 20 years.

Velez and her husband, Dalton, have been the “go-to” place in town to eat with their variety of appetizers, main entrees and desserts. Given the success of their restaurant, the couple opened a new restaurant named after Dalton in North Branford on Route 80.

Both restaurants are successful, and mentoring new restaurant owners has been a part of Velez’s commitment to the restaurant industry.

Excellence in
Healthcare: Dr.
Jennifer Micacci,
Best Life Hearing
Center, Inc.

Micacci, a doctor of audiology and the founder of the Best Life Hearing Center, has been practicing for over 20 years and has worked in ear, nose, throat and private practice settings. 

Best Life Hearing Center has offices in Wallingford, Ansonia and Cheshire.

Micacci is a member of the Southington Democratic Town Committee and served on the library board. She lives in Southington.

Emerging Leader: Allison Greene, BYK USA, Inc.

Green is a research chemist with BYK USA, Inc., with over 11 years of experience in the specialty chemical and coatings industry. She now leads the research and development of chemical additives at BYK USA by providing innovative solutions for the paint and coatings industry.

Greene joined BYK in 2015 to support the expansion of the research and development organization in North America. She has devoted her career to developing new patented technologies, establishing and leveraging a talented team of chemists, and maturing BYK USA’s research and development department within their global organization.

Woman of the Year: Ginny Kozlowski, REX Development

Ginny Kozlowski is the CEO of the REX Development and the Economic Development Corporation of New Haven.

In 1993, Kozlowski transitioned from a successful career in the lodging and hospitality industry to joining the Greater New Haven Convention and Visitors Bureau. From there, the Greater New Haven CVB morphed into REX Development and led to the Economic Development Corporation of New Haven, with Kozlowski at the lead through a series of collaborations and partnerships.

In addition to her work at REX and EDC, she taught as an adjunct professor at the University of New Haven in its hospitality program. As an active member of the community, Kozlowski has served on several boards of directors in the region, such as Connecticut Economic Development Association, Milford Progress Inc., New Haven Festival Inc., CERC, Collab Incorporated, Canal Dock Boathouse, Inc., and the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce.



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