Joel Schumacher is a native of the Capital District and a resident of Jackson Heights in Queens, New York. In high school, he was active in La Salle Institute’s JROTC program, and he enlisted as a Private in the United States Army Reserves days after his 17th birthday – a very brave young man.
Cristina Furlong is originally from the Finger Lakes Region in New York State, and has lived in Queens since 2000. She is a founding member of Make Queens Safer, a community group that advocates for pedestrian safety and livable streets. Make Queens Safer was formed in 2013, after three children were killed by reckless drivers in less than 10 months in her neighborhood of Jackson Heights, Queens. Together with other street safety groups and elected officials, Make Queens Safer helped with outreach and advocacy that led to nine new traffic laws, and a reduction in the speed limit in New York City.
Jacob Worrell grew up in Nashua, New Hampshire, and graduated from Nashua High School in 2001. In 2003, Jacob enlisted in the United States Army to protect his fellow citizens. He completed Basic and Advanced training at Fort Knox, graduating five months later.
After attaining the rank of Sergeant, Jacob served as a team leader in the 172nd Stryker Brigade, headquartered in Fort Wainwright, Arkansas. He served one 16-month combat deployment to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While in Iraq, he performed numerous mounted and dismounted patrols in cities such as Mosul, Baghdad, Rawah, and others.
Seema Agnani is the Executive Director of Chhaya Community Development Corporation and was one of the initial founders when it was officially formed in 2000.
Under Chhaya, Ms Agnani works with New Yorkers of South Asian origin to advocate for and build economically stable, sustainable, and thriving communities. Using a strategy that combines direct services and community organizing, backed by critical research and policyadvocacy on core areas of housing and economic development, Chhaya is able to impact a range of social outcomes including education, employment, civic participation, community pride, as well as mental health and well-being.
"It Takes a Village to Raise a Child.” This is the motto Shannon Mancuso-Getzel lives by and it guides her in all she continues to do for her Queens community. A licensed social worker, Ms. Mancuso-Getzel earned her master’s degree from Fordham University in 2008.
In 1944, Captain George M. Vujnovich served with the United States Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor of the CIA. While attempting to destroy Nazi Germany’s most important oil pipeline in occupied Eastern Europe, 512 airmen were downed, trapped, and
in dire straits. As a result, Captain Vujnovich was called upon to plan and execute the largest air rescue in history for American soldiers behind enemy lines. Under his leadership, a secret airstrip was created inside a corn field to allow cargo planes to land and rescue the Americans. The entire rescue operation—known as Operation Halyard—took place without a single casualty.
Alice “Pat” Thorpe’s community vocation started while she was working in the health field in 1956. Throughout her career, she has also worked for two unions: Local 144 AFL-CIO and 1199-SEIU and eventually went on to Cornell University where she studied to become a business agent for the unions.
In 1995, Ms. Thorpe received the prestigious award from the president of the AFL-CIO in New York City for her outstanding work and dedication as a delegate for the hospital.
Gloria M. Dixon is a well respected educator within her community, helping countless children and families for over 30 years. Besides teaching in the classroom, her other assignments were: Science and Bilingual Coordinator, Science Instructor for Teachers, Early Childhood Reading Coordinator, Coordinator and Teacher of Black History, PTA Advisor, Mentor for Student Teachers and member of the School Development Management Team. She also held the positions of Supervisor of Summer and After School Reading Programs, Administrator, and Assistant Principal.