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12 Outstanding Women Selected for Achievement Award

The Gloucester County Board of Chosen Freeholders announced that the Commission for Women has selected 12 outstanding woman from Gloucester County to be honored this year at the 2016 Women of Achievement Event.  The event will take place at Auletto's Caterers on Thurs. Oct. 13, at 6 p.m.   

Freeholder Director Robert M. Damminger said, "We are extremely lucky to be amongst so many extraordinary women who have exceled in their professional career, their commitment to their community and to their families."

Freeholder Jim Jefferson, Liaison to the Commission for Women said, “The women selected to receive this achievement award demonstrate leadership and success in their area of expertise and we are proud to honor them for their tremendous achievements and dedicated service.”

Jefferson added, “The honorees were nominated and selected by the Commission for Women and the Gloucester County Branch of the American Association of University Women.”

Tickets to the event are $45.00 and are available by calling (856) 981-2998 or emailing suedixon1974@gmail.com.  Auletto’s Caterers is located at 1849 Cooper Street., Deptford, New Jersey. 

This year’s honorees are:

Ave Altersitz- Ave is a pioneer in her field who despite suffering the injustice of mistreatment and disrespect because she was one of only a few women in her field, worked hard to pave the way for the next generation.  She has dedicated her life to fighting for equality and to making a difference in the lives of her students and helping professionals achieve success.  Presently she serves as the Gloucester County Executive County Superintendent overseeing all of the districts in Gloucester County’s curriculum, budgets, contracts, transportation, and special education programs.  In her community, Ave is part of the County Equity Committee where she visits schools in the county and sees firsthand what schools are doing to provide more equitable programs, environments, and extracurricular activities for its students.   In 2015, Ave joined the newly formed group 'Women’s Leadership Group in Gloucester County’.  It is here where she assists young woman by answering questions, quell fears, and teaches the best ways for a woman to present themselves, fight for themselves and improve themselves. 

Katelyn Darrow- A domestic violence survivor and raised by a single mother, Katelyn has turned her tragedies into a positive.  At 12 years old, Katelyn started a 501c3 non-profit organization called, Angels of God Clothing Closet.  Through her charity, she works closely with domestic violence shelters and serves single mothers by providing clothing and more at not cost to families in need.  Looking back, she will never forget the compassion and kindness that was shown to her and her family during their difficult times.  She believes it is important to take risks and have confidence.  Work hard when no one is looking, give back generously without expecting anything in return and never underestimate the difference one person can make. 

Linda DiMatteo- Linda is an EMDR therapist specializing in mind, body and spirit work.  She has 30 years’ experience working in corporate America.  Her ideal client is one who is ready to address any issues that prevents them from being a whole person.  As a therapist, she has counseled individuals, women and couples with an emphasis on additive behaviors, codependency and trauma.  As a leader, she works with groups for sexually abused women.  She believes women can be and can do anything they set their goals and sights to.  

Debra Prieto- Through her own struggles of fighting breast cancer at a young age, Debra continued her education and became a pediatric ophthalmologist.  As a doctor she is a listener and care provider helping mothers (and grandmothers, foster mothers, stepmothers, aunts) navigate through the challenges of doing their best to raise their children.  Outside of her career, Debra is an active member of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Pitman where she has taught Sunday school and mentored young women for Confirmation.  Debra believes that everything is possible, but not without obstacles, persistence, patience and hard work.  

Susan McKenna-Susan throughout her professional career in law and government has had a life-long commitment to the advancement of women.  Since 2007, Susan has served as Deputy Surrogate in Gloucester County. She was one of the founding members of the Volunteer Center of Gloucester County and a member of the Center’s Public Relations Committee.  Her community service includes serving as a board member and public relations chairperson to the Gloucester County Commission on Woman.  In order to promote the advancement of woman in business, she served as board member of the Business and Professional Woman’s Club of Gloucester County.  Susan believes that it is important to mentor and to be mentored and to remain professional and accountable in everything you do.  

Victoria Peters- Victoria is the Executive Director of Family Promise of Gloucester County.  She has dedicated her life to helping those less fortunate.  Ever since she was a little girl, she loved being involved with her community and helping others.  In her current position, Victoria oversees and manages the daily operations of a family homeless shelter.  One highlight of her career is when homeless families that came to the shelter with nothing come back to visit with a lease in hand and a new beginning.  She always tells her children, “Everyone has a story to tell, listening sometimes is all they need from someone.”  

Kimberly Reichert- Kimberly is currently in her 25th year of her law enforcement career.  Through her hard work and determination she worked her way through the ranks within the Gloucester County’s Sheriff’s Department and in 2014 she was promoted to rank of Captain.  This achievement made Gloucester County history as Kimberly was the first female Captain and the highest civil service (non-appointed-non-elected) department official.   Through her work with the Gloucester County Police Academy, she has the opportunity to show female police recruits that woman can achieve success in law enforcement.  She believes women in the workplace are just as capable of doing the job and gaining promotions as their male counterparts and if you work hard, your achievements will be recognized by your boss.  

Elmoria Thomas- For the past 25 years, Elmoria has been leading the charge to breaking through the many barriers working families, women and children are faced with on a daily basis.  As the Director of the Southern Regional Child Care Resource Center, she manages a state contract with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Human Services for the entire southern region.  Elmoria is a passionate and focused leader who is steadfast on making this a better world for women, children and families in New Jersey.  She dedicates her time and energy to community service and her contribution is to offer a forum for all woman to learn and grow. 

Michele Vallone – Michele is the VP/Business Relationship Manager for Newfield National Bank.  She is involved with many organizations throughout the county including the Mullica Hill Merchants Association, the Historical Society of Harrison Township, Economic Development Council, Women’s Leadership Council and the Woman’s Power Networking group.  She is also a member of the Rotary Club of Mullica Hill.  She has organized the collection of business attire donations for the United Way organization, volunteered as a mentor to teens through the United Way for Alice Paul Foundation and was a judge for the Lead-A-Way United Way program for 7th grade girls at the Intermediate school of Glassboro.  Her advice to young women starting their career is to always do the best job as possible, arrive early and stay late and you can achieve anything if you work hard for it. 

Cindy Vitto – Dr. Vitto is the Dean of College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Rowan University.  She has been an educator with Rowen University for 27 years.  As an English professor she has been able to prepare students to succeed in the work world by developing their communication and critical thinking skills.  As Dean, Dr. Vitto has been able to develop an internship program for students to help ease their entry into their first job.  She considers herself incredibly fortunate and blessed to have a career that allows her to make a difference for individuals and for the community as a whole.  Her advice to woman just starting out in their career is to demonstrate the courage of your convictions by speaking your mind, engage fully in both your professional life and personal life and don’t hold back through fear of failure or disapproval. Instead, be ready to take a risk, and when a door of opportunity opens, go through with confidence.   

Deborah Wilson- Deborah has built her career in education and was named Clearview’s Educational Specialist of the Year for the 2014-2015 school year.  She is the guidance department chair at the Clearview Regional School District.  Her community involvement is geared around her youth group at church and the South Jersey Links.  It is through her daily job and her volunteer work that Deborah is able to show examples of extraordinary things girls and women have accomplished with the belief that “if they can do it, so can I” mentality.  

Loretta Winters- Loretta is an excellent advocate for those who don’t have a voice.  She is the President of the New Jersey Gloucester County NAACP and the 2nd Vice President for the NAACP, New Jersey State Conference.  She is a member of the Board of Directors of SJFCU and is employed by the Deptford School district as the district’s Registrar, Homeless Liaison and Public Relations Coordinator.  She is known for her positive approach of building bridges and tearing down walls that separate communities.