Annual Gala & 5th Birthday Party


Join Brooklyn Bridge Rotary Club as they celebrate their 5th birthday as a chartered member of Rotary International!

Come out for a night of food and spirits, raffles and silent auctions, and a spectacular birthday party! 

Guests will enjoy an open bar and live jazz hour from 6:30-7:30. Dinner will be served at 8 pm, followed by recognizing our honorees. The evening will conclude with birthday festivities, including cake and champagne toast.

For more information, or place to congratulatory message in our keepsake journal - available only at the event - please email





Mary Avanzino

Mary Keenan Avanzino emigrated from Gortletteragh, Country Leitrim, Ireland in 1948. Although she loved the farm where she grew up, she longed to live in New York City and experience the exciting lifestyle she had heard so much about. When she arrived in The United States, Mary worked as a nanny and then as a bookkeeper for Johns Manville Corporation. She was living and working in Manhattan within two years of coming to The United States, quite a feat for the shy, immigrant from a small town in Ireland.


In 1957, Mary married John Avanzino, a Naval Officer and Attorney and they moved to Park Slope, Brooklyn. They had two sons, John and James and a daughter, Louisa, all who grew up surrounded by the excitement that Mary sought when she first dreamed of coming to The United States. Almost 60 years later, Mary still calls Park Slope home.

Throughout her adult life, Mary became known as a friend to those in need. When her children were younger, she was a tireless volunteer at their schools. She also took care of many of the elderly in her apartment building—accompanying them to doctors’ appointments, bringing meals to those who were sickly and spending hours sharing stories with people who often had no one else to speak to. 


In the early 1970s, Mary began volunteering at The Madonna Residence, a home for the elderly located in Park Slope. She loved her work and sought to do more. In the late 1970s, she began a long connection with The Park Slope Safe Homes Project, a grass roots organization that was on the cutting edge of education and prevention of domestic violence. Once again, Mary threw herself into her work—collecting so many clothes that vans were rented to transport them, “adopting” victimized families that still send her Mother’s Day cards and gifts, and lending a kind ear to those who needed to tell their stories. 


In recent years, Mary joined and became the President of, The Brooklyn Woman’s Club, one of the oldest, incorporated, female clubs in The United States. The club began as a way to educate women in political and legal matters and grew into a philanthropic club supporting various Brooklyn charities. The club continues to donate to several Brooklyn charities and still seeks to educate members and the community around women’s issues. 


Mary is also a proud member of The Brooklyn Bridge Rotary Club and has aided in many fund-raising and donation events. When Mary receives a call or sees a need, she is the first to knock on doors to find the help she needs. Whether it is collecting hundreds of cell phones for the Military overseas or visiting a Rotary supported Gift of Life child, Mary strives to embody the Rotary motto, “Service about self.” In her own quiet and unassuming way, Mary Avanzino is a true humanitarian.



Dawn Diaz

DAWN DIAZ is a powerful Motivational Speaker and Life Coach who merges professional strategies, spiritual principles, and urban flair. She is the founder of the Not-For-Profit Organization Milagros Day Worldwide, and CEO of the Rescue Coaching Institute

During her career as a Paramedic/Captain in the New York City Fire Department, she held the vital responsibility of bringing order and calm to countless situations of tragedy and chaos; including the recovery efforts of September 11th, 2001; and led an elite team that trained close to 5,000 First Responders on innovative ways to sort and prioritize victims during major accidents and natural disasters. She now manages the online community Post Traumatic Growth to provide 24/7 inspiration; as well as practical, emotional and spiritual support to those affected by PTSD.  

Dawn created Milagros Day Worldwide in honor of her mother Carmen Milagros, a victim of severe domestic violence; to provide leadership and mentorship for survivors of domestic violence, or those who grew up in an abusive household. As a child affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and losing her mom in a tragic car accident at the age of 14; Dawn has traversed a very long, painful, and rewarding journey of self-discovery and healing. 

With 25 years of research in the field of Personal Development through Therapeutic InterventionsTwelve-Step Philosophies and Holistic Modalities; Dawn Diaz is a co-author of the book Building on Greatness, the Courage to Thrive, and is featured in the Amazon Best-Selling Trilogy, Common Threads. She regularly delivers her personal growth courses Dare to Dream and Dare to ActHappiness is a Choice, and Design Your Future in 8 Weeks; and is the creator of The Annual Brooklyn Bridge Mother's Day Festival; which has become a “Must-Experience” New York City tradition. 

As a multiple award-winning acclaimed Empowerment Expert and Keynote Speaker; Dawn Diaz has been a special guest on Fox NewsCNNNBCTelemundo and Univision; and her story has been archived in the National Library of Congress.



Terrence Lyght

Terrence grew up in Georgetown, Guyana. He started as a copy boy at the Guyana Graphic a tabloid daily newspaper, and within six years became the assistant advertising manager before moving on to work at the Evening Post Georgetown Guyana. After obtaining a certificate in fire prevention, he worked as a fire prevention consultant for the New Swift Fire Prevention Company. 


In 1976, Terrence emigrated to the USA and worked in the hospitality industry, managing and then owning both a hotel and restaurant in Brooklyn. Earlier this year he was named Publisher of the Brooklyn Phoenix, a newspaper keyed to the Caribbean communities in the borough.



Rick Miranda

Born in the Lower West Side of Manhattan, New York and of Puerto Rican descent, Rick has been involved in Businesses in New York for over 30 years. He is a graduate of Pace University (specializing in Marketing, Business and Information Technology). 

Today Rick not only leads the Brooklyn (Kings County) Hispanic Chamber of Commerce but sits on several boards as well as

  • Co-Chair “Northeast Region Leadership Council” for the United Sates Hispanic Chamber of Commerce representing Region V (approximately 14 states from Maine to Virginia which encompasses 34 Hispanic Chambers of Commerce).
  • Member of the “Community Advisory Council” for St. Joseph’s College.
  • Member of Boricua College’s “Advisory Board”
  • Member of the U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand’s Business Focus Group & member of
  • the Minority and Woman Business Enterprise Certification Focus Group
  • Member of the Hispanic Alliance for Free Trade and the New York State Federation of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce

Mostly recently The Brooklyn Hispanic Chamber of Commerce under Rick’s leadership successfully secured a Minority/Women Business Enterprise contract with New York City Small Business Services under the Minority/Women Business Enterprise Leadership Association. The Chamber is the only organization under this program that represents Brooklyn.



Salvatore "Buddy" Scotto

Salvatore “Buddy” Scotto of Carroll Gardens is a first generation Italian-American whose family has been in the funeral business since the 1920s. He got a funeral license in 1955, and incorporated Scotto Funeral Home in 1957. 

Buddy is a veteran of the United States Army. He served for 13 years, fought in the Korean War, and retired as a Captain. 


In 1964, Buddy founded the Carroll Gardens Association (CGA) to plant trees, get landmark designation, and clean up the Gowanus Canal. In the future, CGA would also take on the role of advocating, building and managing senior and affordable housing. Buddy still sits on their board of directors. 


Buddy was also one of the earliest advocates for cleaning up the Gowanus Canal – nearly 40 years before it was designated by the EPA as a Superfund site. In 1967, he secured $17 million from Congress to restore the flushing tunnel. He also secured another $458 million from the federal government in 1976 to build the Red Hook sewer treatment plant, which reduced sewage drainage into the canal. 

Buddy was also a founding member of Independent Neighborhood Democrats (IND) originally to protest the Vietnam War. The club has emerged as a voice for local participation in annual elections on the city, state and federal level.



Elizabeth Yeampierre

Elizabeth Yeampierre is an internationally recognized Puerto Rican attorney and environmental and climate justice leader of African and Indigenous ancestry born and raised in New York City. She is Executive Director of UPROSE, Brooklyn's oldest Puerto Rican community based organization. Her award winning vision for an inter-generational, multi-cultural and community led organization is the driving force behind UPROSE. She is a long-time advocate and trailblazer for community organizing around just, sustainable development, environmental justice and community-led climate adaptation and community resiliency in Sunset Park. Prior to assuming the Executive Director position at UPROSE, Ms. Yeampierre was the Director of Legal Education and Training at the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund, Director of Legal Services for the American Indian law Alliance and Dean of Puerto Rican Student Affairs at Yale University. She holds a BA from Fordham University, a law degree from Northeastern University. 

In 2015, Ms. Yeampierre was part of the leadership of the People’s Climate March Mobilization – a march of over 400,000 people. She played a major role in ensuring the frontline was made up 


of young people of color, and successfully proposed the adoption of the Jemez principles for democratic organizing which have since become the road map to building just relationships in the climate movement. Elizabeth was the first Latina Chair of the US EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council.


She worked diligently to ensure that environmental justice was incorporated into EPA rulemaking and integrated into all federal agencies. Her most recent effort led to the creation of a US EPA NEJAC workgroup dedicated to developing recommendations for resilience from storm surges for industrial waterfront communities. Ms. Yeampierre also served as member of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences Advisory Council where she successfully advocated for authentic engagement and leadership of communities in scientific research in their own communities. In addition, after joining a group of national environmental justice leaders to brief the Obama transition team in 2008, Elizabeth was selected as the opening speaker at the first White House Forum on Environmental Justice. In September 2015, Elizabeth was one of the opening speakers at Pope Francis’s Climate Change Rally at the National Mall in Washington DC. Ms. Yeampierre is a co-founder of the BEA-I (Building Equity & Alignment for Impact) an initiative designed to strengthen strategic relationships between philanthropy, big greens and the grassroots and she also serves on the steering committees of the Solution Project and Climate Justice Alliance. 

Ms. Yeampierre was part of the New York City environmental justice leadership responsible for getting New York State’s first Brownfield legislation passed and NYC’s Solid Waste Management Plan adopted. Ms. Yeampierre helped incorporate environmental justice into the State of New York Climate Adaptation and Integration Plan. She served on Mayor Bloomberg’s Long Term Planning and Sustainability Advisory Board, the NYS Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Advisory Board, and was a Commissioner on the historic NYS Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission. She currently serves on Mayor DeBlasio’s Sustainability Advisory Board. 

As a community leader, her work at UPROSE has facilitated an aggressive urban sustainability and environmental justice agenda. She created an urban forestry initiative and significantly contributed to the doubling of open space in Sunset Park. Just recently, the Sunset Park community celebrating the opening of a 23 acre waterfront park, UPROSE championed for over 15 years. Ms. Yeampierre developed a project that resulted in the retro-fit and re-powering of 12 diesel trucks for a local business. She founded the NYC Climate Justice Youth Summit, a space where young people of color throughout the City come to learn how to engage their local communities in addressing climate change. Most recently, in response to the community’s request after Super Storm Sandy, Elizabeth created the Climate Justice Center-NYC’s first grassroots-led, bottom-up, climate adaptation and community resiliency planning project. 

Elizabeth was named one of the top 100 Green Leaders by Poder Hispanic Magazine. She is the recipient of the 2015 Earth Day New York& NRDC Advocate of the Year Award, 2011 National Alliance for Hispanic HealthVIDA(Vision, Innovation, Dedication, and Advocacy)Award, Boricua College Professional Achievement Award in Environmental Health Award 2011, American Bar Association Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities 2011 Award, La Federación Nacional de Pioneros Puertorriquenos Award 2010, Speaker Quinn's 2009 NYC Council Women's History Award: Women in Environmentalism, 2007 NRDC Earth Day New York Environmental Advocate of the Year Award, the Municipal Art Society Yolanda Garcia Community Planner Award, 2007 American Planning Association Paul Davidoff Award, 2006 USEPA Region 2 Environmental Quality Award, 2006 Urban Agenda Urban Visionary Award, 2004 National Latina Leadership Award from the National Foundation of Women Legislators and its affiliate, the National Council Of La Raza, the country’s largest Hispanic civil rights organization. Ms. Yeampierre received the 2003 Asian Americans for Equality Dream of Equality Award and the Comite Noviembre Hispanic Heritage Award. 

Ms. Yeampierre has been a featured speaker at local, national and international forums including Sage Paris 2015, 2016 GRI Amsterdam, White House Forum on Environmental Justice, Yale, Harvard, Cooper Union, Columbia, and universities, colleges and conferences all over the country and spoke at the opening climate rally for Pope Francis at the National Mall. Her work is featured in several books, in addition to TIEMPO, Latina Magazine, VOGUE, Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Grist, American Prospect, Al Jazeera, Huffington Post, Despierta America, and a variety of media outlets throughout the United States, Latin America and Europe.



Master of Ceremonies: Issa-Davis Burton


Issa Burton is a wife, mom and a change agent known for her ability to improve any situation that she encounters. Born in Trinidad, W.I and raised in Brooklyn, she has learned the value of appreciating differences. She is a Director Consultant for Business Network International (BNI) and the co-owner of Duchess Celeen Gift Baskets. She is a trained marketer and communications specialist with unique 15-year background in strategic planning, leadership and the ability to turn ‘no’s’ into ‘yeses’.