The Ambassadors of March: Brooklyn DA Honors 33 ‘Extraordinary Women’ of 2012

March 9, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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JAY STREET — Some of Brooklyn’s Extraordinary Women include a woman who mentors families of children with Down Syndrome. Another woman is a victim of breast cancer who spreads awareness and encourages others with the same illness and even formed a non-profit organization for young women with cancer. Another woman helps struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure.

One of these Extraordinary Women founded an organization that has helped over 1,000 survivors of strokes and brain injuries. There is also a mother/daughter team that formed the 17th Street Cancer Crusade, which gathers people together to raise money to help find a cure for cancer.

These are some of the 33 Extraordinary Women honored this month by Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes as he announced the recipients of his sixth annual Extraordinary Women’s honor, making another year of recognition of Women’s History Month.

District Attorney Hynes said, “These exceptional women serve as role models because of their selflessness, dedication and compassion. They give back to the community, trying to make life better for others. It is an honor for me to recognize these women for their outstanding work, which benefits the people of Brooklyn.”

Marlena Ortiz, who lives in Marine Park, is a second generation Puerto Rican. At 25, she was diagnosed with stage-two breast cancer after being misdiagnosed over the course of a few years. Through her battle with cancer, Marlene devoted her time to spreading awareness of cancer, alerting others that breast cancer does exist even in young women, and proving to other young women that life should still be lived. She formed a non-profit organization called Beating Cancer in Heels, dedicated to empowering young women with cancer. The organization provides life coaching, beauty and style workshops, and recreational activities.

In recognition of March being Women’s History Month, the 33 honorees were lauded for their accomplishments in their careers and their service to the communities in which they live and serve. District Attorney Hynes unveiled a huge calendar, in the lobby of 350 Jay St., for the month of March with each of the 31 days dedicated to one of the extraordinary women (one day is dedicated to the mother/daughter team) nominated by Brooklyn residents.

  The 33rd honoree, Michele Kirschbaum, is honored with a special “DA’s Choice Award.”

The women will be further acknowledged at a ceremony on March 27 at 6 p.m. at Brooklyn Supreme Court Criminal Term, located at 320 Jay St.

One of the honorees is Shannon Hummel from Red Hook who has been a choreographer and arts educator for over 20 years. She is the founding artistic director of Cora Dance, a professional dance company and education organization. She is passionate about bringing the performing arts to those who have limited resources. Shannon has brought dance performances and education initiatives to isolated and under-served communities in New York and other states. She opened the Cora Studio in Red Hook which provides live performances, daily professional dance classes, and gathering space to the entire community, all on a pay-what you-can basis. Through this initiative, Shannon has worked with over 1,500 people since 2009. In addition, Shannon has served on the faculty of numerous schools and studios. She is also a curator and has been a guest speaker at several dance festivals, workshops and universities. The theme of her presentations is providing arts to communities that lack access to it.

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