Bay Ridge

Bay Ridge salutes Pioneers of Third Avenue

Ten Business Owners, Civic Leaders Hailed for Improving Neighborhood

October 28, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Pioneers of 2015 are Annette Fisher, Phillipa Morrish, Giacomo Santangelo, Kathy Khatari, Brian Chin, Anne Strafaci, Dr. Donna Burg, Anton Fallah, Leigh Holliday Brannan and Lisa Becker (left to right). Eagle photos by Paula Katinas
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All hail the pioneers! Ten of Bay Ridge’s most dedicated business owners and civic do-gooders were given public recognition for their efforts to make the community a better place to live and work at a special dinner hosted by one of Brooklyn’s leading merchants’ organizations.

The Merchants of Third Avenue held its 22nd Annual Pioneers of Third Avenue Champagne Reception Monday night, welcoming more than 100 people to the Bay Ridge Manor catering hall.

The Merchants, a group that represents the interests of store owners on Third Avenue from 67th Street to 95th Street, bestows Pioneer awards on shop keepers who have made a long-term commitment to the avenue and to Bay Ridge.

“These are the good guys,” Charles Otey, executive secretary of the Merchants, told the audience.

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In addition, the Merchants also hand out civic service awards to individuals who are not necessarily store owners on Third Avenue, but who have demonstrated community spirit by working to improve the quality of life for Bay Ridge residents.

The Pioneers of 2015 are Leigh Holliday Brannan, co-owner of The Art Room; Brian Chin, vice president of Northfield Bank; Giacomo Santangelo, owner of Giacomo’s; Anton Fallah, owner of Best Pharmacy; and Dr. Donna Burg, a dentist who has been practicing on Third Avenue for nearly 30 years.

The Civic Award winners are Anne Strafaci, director of development for St. Patrick’s Church; Annette Fisher, founder of the organization People Empowering Seniors Independence and Dignity (PESID); Kathy Khatari, vice president of the Yemeni Association of New York; Phillipa Morrish, a protocol and etiquette expert; and Lisa Becker, past president of the Bay Ridge Lawyers Association.

“Each year, we celebrate all that is good on Third Avenue. Our community is the envy of all of New York City,” Merchants President Bob Howe said.

Brannan, a native of Washington D.C. who came to New York City to follow her dreams of being an artist, is the co-owner, with her husband, Justin Brannan, and mother-in-law, Mary Brannan, of The Art Room, an art school-gallery space for students.

“When I came to New York, I knew I was home,” she said. “When I came to Bay Ridge, I really knew I was home.”

Fallah, who came to the U.S. from his native Lebanon 32 years ago, accepted his award by talking about how much he loves the neighborhood. “I think I will be forever in Bay Ridge,” he said.

Khatari was cited by the Merchants, in part, for her efforts to combat drug abuse among young people, according to leaders of the business group. She gave notice that she isn’t going to back down in that fight. “I’m here and I’m here to stay,” she said. “I will continue to fight drugs.”

The awards were presented by Howe, Otey and Pioneer Committee members Marc Hibsher, Lori Pedone and Ilene Sacco.

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