Eight business and community leaders roasted and honored at Louis R. Miller Business Leadership Awards

Eight of the borough’s distinguished business and community leaders were roasted during the 25th Annual Louis R. Miller Business Leadership Awards Breakfast hosted by the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce at the Hilton Garden Inn.

While the business and non-profit professionals were certainly saluted for their stellar work making Staten Island a great place to live and work, the light-hearted affair contained plenty of laughs as presenters kept up with tradition by pulling no punches during comedic routines to honor the individuals.

Tom Scarangello (SCARAN) was the presenter for Dr. Kenneth Byalin (President of Integration Charter Schools) and Keith Cummings (Owner/Plumber of KCM Plumbing & Heating Corp.) while Frank Besignano (Signature Bank) handled the duties for Rev. Dr. Demetrius S. Carolina Sr. (Executive Director of Central Family Life Center) and Annamarie Gulino Gentile (Supervising Attorney and Partner of The Law Firm of Angiuli & Gentile, LLP).

Corey Shifter (Casale Jewelers) toasted Massimo DiDonna (CEO/Managing Partner of Partners in Sound Entertainment Group) and Danielle Reyes (Co-founder and Chief Relationship Officer of Wealth and Legacy Group) while Jon Salmon (Salmon Real Estate) brought the laughs for Debi Surmanek (Owner/Partner of Ivy Branding & Marketing Group) and Tariq Zaid (Owning Partner/Operations Manager at Richmond Hood Company).

The breakfast – which was sponsored by M&T Bank and presented by the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce and the Staten Island Advance – continues the legacy of Miller, a tireless community activist who viewed volunteering as a way of giving something back to his neighbors and repaying everyone for the love of America he found after immigrating to the country from Russia.

Pat McDermott (McDermott & Thomas Associates), a 1997 honoree, shared a personal relationship with Miller and told the crowd of nearly 300 people how the businessman would probably be looking down on this year’s honorees and be proud of what they’ve accomplished.

The Selection Committee chose the eight honorees from nominations submitted throughout 2018. This committee is co-chaired by Solomon Chemo (Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network Richmond Wealth Management) and Janet Langton-Magnuson (SCARAN/AAA Thrifty Exterminating). The committee members are Tatiana Arguello (United Activities Unlimited), John J. Amodio (SCORE Staten Island), Donna Long (Crossroads Unlimited, Inc.), MaryLee Montalvo (MLM Public Relations), and Jon Salmon (Salmon Real Estate).

Dr. Byalin and Rev. Dr. Carolina Sr. were honored in the Not-for-Profit category while Cummings, DiDonna, Gulino Gentile, Reyes, Surmanek, and Zaid were saluted in the Established Businessperson category. Since the event started in 1994, over 250 people have received Lou Miller Awards.

Gianna Callegari, a junior at Notre Dame Academy, started the event with a stellar rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Councilwoman Debi Rose (D-North Shore) and Staten Island District Attorney Michael E. McMahon attended the breakfast to help honor the eight award recipients.

To read all eight profiles of the Lou Miller Award honorees, visit

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