We are proud to announce the winners
in the first annual Lifting Up Westchester essay contest!


2018 Essay Contest Winners

7th & 8th Grade Category:
1st Place – Daisy Hernandez
Eugenio Maria De Hostos Microsociety School
2nd Place – Gabriella Tucker
Blind Brook Middle School
3rd Place – Daniela Jerez
Eugenio Maria De Hostos Microsociety School

9th & 10th Grade Category:
1st Place – Zia Joseph
Woodlands High School
2nd Place – Chanelle Holmes
Fox Lane High School
3rd Place – Lucy Rosenbaum
Mamaroneck High School

11th & 12th Grade Category:
1st Place – Michelle Pani
White Plains High School
2nd Place – Peter Harkins
Iona Preparatory School
3rd Place – Kamrin Howell
Fox Lane High School

Congratulations to our winners and to all the students who entered the contest!

The essays we received were both heartwarming and insightful.

Winners will be celebrated on April 8th at a brunch sponsored by Ruth’s Chris Steak House.


A special thank you to our esteemed 2018 essay contest judges!

Panel of Judges

Dr. Terry Kirchner is the Executive director of the Westchester Library System where he oversees all aspects of the 38-member public library system. His experience in various management positions at public and academic libraries spans 25 years. 

Spencer Barback, is a CPA and tax partner with Citrin Cooperman.  He has 35 years of experience providing complete tax, estate planning, business consulting and compliance services for businesses and individuals.  Spencer is also a Board Member and Past Chair of The Food Bank of Westchester.

Sandra Malpica Chaiken, LCSW retired after 42 years as a Public Hospital Social Worker. She is a recognized expert in crisis management, emergency response, biomedical ethics, and the prevention of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault. She serves as a consultant to the NYS Department of Juvenile Justice and is a Past Chair and member of the NYS Board for Social Work.

Matthew Darnall is a Managing Director in Modeling and Technology at Element Capital Management. He received a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a BA in Mathematics from Humboldt State University. 

Nancy Garretto, RN started her career as a pediatric nurse at Blythedale’s Children’s Hospital.  For the past 30 years she has served as the school nurse for approximately 1,000 students at the combined campus of Blind Brook High School and Blind Brook Middle School in Rye Brook. 

Ernestine Glenn was employed as a Middle School English teacher in the White Plains Public School System for thirty-four years.

Maria Imperial is the CEO of the YWCA White Plains & Central Westchester, whose mission is eliminating racism and empowering women.  Ms. Imperial is a member of the Board of Directors of Nonprofit Westchester and the Fund for Modern Courts. 

Danny Massey is a senior vice president at Berlin Rosen, where he helps lead the firm’s work on labor campaigns and issues. Prior to Berlin Rosen, Danny was a senior reporter at Crain’s NewYork Business. An award-winning journalist, Danny’s writing has also appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, Salon, Newsday, The NewarkStar-Ledger and The New York Daily News.

Alessandra Ravetti is Assistant General Counsel and Executive Director at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals where she leads a team that provides legal advice on a wide range of regulatory law issues associated with helping get new products approved by regulators and to the patients who need them.

Denise Reshard is a Housing Retention Case Manager at Lifting Up Westchester were she has been serving homeless individuals and their families for over two decades. 

Dr. John J. Russell, Ed.D is currently the Head of School at Winward and has had thirty years of experience in leadership and teaching positions in Westchester and Fairfield County including serving as Superintendent for the Hastings-on-Hudson school district for 11 years.

Rashid Silvera is an award-winning educator who has taught in public and private schools across the US, most recently as a social studies teacher at Scarsdale High School where he served for 35 years until his retirement in 2016.