2019 Award Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2019 Young Professionals Recognition Awards!

Award Categories and Descriptions:

  • Community Catalyst: a young professional who brings together members of diverse communities with shared interests for amazing results. Also known as a facilitator, intermediary, or connector.
  • Entrepreneur: a young professional who has brought an innovative initiative, product, or service to the market in an original way.
  • Teammate: a young professional who has shown commitment and dedication to their team and team members.
  • Visionary: a young professional whose pioneering work and vision is impacting their community for the better.
  • Mentor: a young professional who has made a significant positive impact on their mentees’ education and career.  The key roles of a mentor include, but are not limited to, nurturing intellectual growth, career development, professional guidance, and positive role modeling.
  • Community Advocate: a young professional who has made significant contributions to the community through civic engagement, board or committee work, and/or involvement with charitable organizations.
  • Work-life Champion: a young professional who takes unusual or extraordinary measures to balance work and family.

For more information about the awards, click here.

Community Catalyst of the Year

  • Quentin Phipps
    Diana Martinez is the Assistant Director for the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships of Wesleyan University.  She’s responsible for building relationships between the City of Middletown, the University, and students with volunteerism opportunities with local not-for-profits. Diana is also on the Middletown Racial Justice Coalition steering committee where she’s lead the efforts in creating a more inclusive education climate for Middletown Public Schools. Her work was directly responsible for the hiring of a superintendent who utilizes an equity model for budgeting and pedagogy.

Entrepreneur of the Year

  • Mike Haggerty
    Dionte Lee is working full time for the University of New Haven while also working on building his business Lee & Best Development Firm with his partner Curtis Best. Dionte also has served on the board of PULSE going on 3 years and has contributed a lot to the group. He is taking on his second year of Social Events Chair and previously was the Professional Development Chair. He has helped bring multiple other YP groups together including FLY, CTYP, NAHSE, and CURVE to collaborate on events. He serves as a link to multiple other groups and networks in the New Haven area and is always working his butt off to better connect this city and state.
    Dionte is also an extremely kind and generous person and extremely friendly. You will be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t enjoy Dionte’s company as he always makes everyone feel welcome.

Teammate of the Year

  • Thomas Saul
    John came on my team and immediately distinguished himself by diligently attending to all tasked assigned to him. On top of that, he readily accepted and completed short fused tasks that were important to the team’s processing efforts. John continues to be the consummate professional within our team

    Karen Van
    Shares openly and willingly  - John willingly passes on his organization skills and writing skills to help other become better.
    Listens actively –  John understands complex or sensitive topics and gives consideration.
    Communicates constructively  - Honest. Approachable. Reliable.
    Work as a problem-solver - John finds ways to make things work rather than blame others.
    And he volunteers to take on tasks that are beyond his job description.

Visionary of the Year

Denval Lawrence is a Managerial and Professional Recruiter in Human Resources at Yale University, where he works to find top future talent and create strong candidate pipeline strategies for Information Technology, Human Resources, Environmental... read more

  • Marinda Monfilston
    As the Co-Chair and Co-Founder of Future Leaders of Yale’s (FLY) Lean In Mentorship Program, Denval Lawrence has been instrumental in creating a program that has not only impacted the way mentorship is viewed at Yale University, but has also aided in shaping Yale’s future talent and leadership, by providing numerous avenues of knowledge and access to key resources within the community. Under Denval’s leadership for the 2017-2018 academic year, FLY offered a group mentorship program (a new approach) through which young professionals could learn to lean into their careers. Over five sessions (Be Your Own Job Architect, Overcoming Ageism, Getting on the Leadership Lane, Challenges in the Work Environment, and Navigating Your Career at Yale), 326 program participants (about ten times more participants than when the initial one on one mentorship program launched in 2014) heard valuable advice applicable to their own career progression, learned strategies for dealing with workplace challenges, and gained knowledge from experienced perspectives. In the 2018-2019 academic year, the program has already engaged over 200 participants in its first two sessions (Creating Meaning in Your Work and Managing Up and Down); further demonstrating the tremendous value of this program to all involved.

  • Allyssa Antunes (nominated for Mentor)
    Since arriving at Yale University in 2016, Denval did not hesitate to jump right into a role as co-chair of FLY’s Mentorship Program. Along with co-chair, Julia, he assisted in revamping the mentorship program into a series of yearlong programming events, touching hundreds across campus. If I call on Denval to assist with reviewing a resume, job description, or just for career advice for myself or others – he never turns away. For these reasons I am nominating Denval Lawrence for the mentor award.

Mentor of the Year

  • Mansur Ghani
    As a resident fellow for Yale’s Grace Hopper College, Naureen Rashid lives in the college with current undergraduates, organizes study breaks and exciting student trips (e.g., Met Opera, Les Miserables at the Shubert), and most importantly, serves as a college adviser to first year students, providing guidance on choosing courses and majors, navigating potential career and internship opportunities, and maintaining a healthy balance in life. She also creates career development opportunities for her peers as Co-Chair of the Asian Network at Yale’s Career Development committee and has organized events around topics like leadership, risk-taking, and networking. In the broader New Haven community, Naureen loves tutoring and fostering the growth and success of her young students at New Haven Reads, a non-profit that empowers the academic success of children through individually tailored one-on-one literacy tutoring and community book banks.

Community Advocate of the Year

  • Kyle LaBuff
    Ms. Elizabeth Misiewicz has been an active member of Habitat for Humanity for years. In addition to teaching in the public school system, Elizabeth was on the Run Committee of Habitat for Humanity, co-organizing a 5k run in 2017. This event raised over $14,000.00 for Habitat’s amazing cause. In addition, he remains active in Habitat’s charity functions throughout the calendar year.

Community Advocate of the Year

  • Symone Maguire
    Tim has worked tirelessly for the last 11 years with homeless youth in the city of New Haven. He has been advocate and mentor for this population trying to ensure that each person he meets leave his “care” better than when they entered. He manages several programs assisting homeless youth he and his organization have been awarded nearly a million dollars to continue to shelter and house these young people. Tim has always enjoyed working with youth and the opportunity to provide housing and shelter to those in need makes his career choice that much more enriching!

Work-life Champion of the Year

  • Odell Stewart III
    Smart, dedicated, creative; and stylish while still balancing work and home while making it look fun and easy.
    Anthony McKnight
    Ratasha has shown the ability to adapt to changes that’s may occur in her personal and professional, while still maintaining a balance.
    Allyssa Antunes (nominated Ratasha for Community Catalyst)
    I nominate Ratasha Smith for the Community Catalyst Award. Ratasha makes it her goal to bring together people from diverse communities all over Connecticut. She works hard to find various shared interests and reaches out to groups and individuals to connect them. She uses her experience from the Greater New Haven area, and her vast portfolio from her work with the Community Foundation and always knows ‘who to call’ to solve a problem. Last year she became the President of the growing Urban League of Southern Connecticut’s Young Professionals group.