EXECUTIVE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Salah M. Hassanein (+)
Club Founder & Film Producer
Mr. Salah M. Hassanein was born in 1921 in Egypt and attended the British School in Alexandria, followed by the London School of Economics in Cairo. He came to the United States in 1945, serving in the U.S. Armed forces from 1945 to 1947. Mr. Hassanein later joined Skouras Theatres Corporation as an usher in 1947 and became President in 1961. Subsequently, Mr. Hassanein was appointed Executive Vice president, a member of the Board of Directors of the United Artists Communications and later President of United Artists Eastern Theatres. In 1987, he was appointed President of Warner Brothers International Theatres and was entrusted with the task of building a network of multiplex theatres in Europe, Japan and Australia on behalf of Warner Brothers. In July of 1994, he assumed the Presidency of The Todd-AO Corporation, which he occupied until June of 2000.
Mr. Hassanein was an integral member of the Variety Boys & Girls Club’s founding committee in 1955 and continues to serve the Queens community as Chairman of the Board. In addition, he currently serves in on the following boards: as President of SMH Entertainment, Chairman of the Board of PointSource Technology and Chairman of the Variety International Lifeline Program. He is an Honorary Chairman of the Will Rogers Memorial Fund, an advisory board member of the National Bank of New York City and a trustee of the North Shore Hospital, Manhasset, N.Y. Additionally, he serves as a board member for SeeBeyond, the New York State Motion Picture and Television Advisory Board and the Board of Aging in America, Inc. He has previously served as Chairman of the Board and President of Variety Clubs International, Chairman and President of the Foundation of Motion Picture Pioneers and a member of the Board of Television & Film Committee of the United States Information Agency.
Mr. Hassanein currently resides in San Diego with British fashion designer Zandra Rhodes.
Walter Sanchez (+)
BQE Media/Queens Ledger
For 30-years Mr. Sanchez has been the publisher of the Queens Ledger/Brooklyn Star News Group, which operates a wide array of news outlets: a few dozen hyperlocal news websites; eight weekly, one-hundred-year-old community newspapers; as well as multiple monthly publications. These publications include: Queensborough Magazine (the magazine of the Queens Chamber of Commerce) and the Queens Bar Bulletin (the monthly newspaper of the Queens County Bar Association). He is a member of the New York Press Association’s Board of Directors and has been active with the Queens Council of the Boys Scouts of America since 1984.
Mr. Sanchez spent 20-years, from 1990-2010, coaching young men and women in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. He coached tennis at Msgr. McClancy HS in East Elmhurst and at St. Joseph's College, Brooklyn as well as women's basketball at Dominican Academy, Manhattan, St. Joseph’s College and St. Stanislaus CYO program in Maspeth. He lives in Maspeth, Queens with his wife Tammy. He has three children: John, Caitlyn and Thomas.
Vincent Renda (+)
Vincent C. Renda is a financial advisor with Edward Jones and has been serving the Sunnyside Queens Community for over 10 years. Renda grew up in Sunnyside and understands the values and needs of the community. He serves as Vice President of the Variety Boys & Girls Club’s Board of Directors and has been awarded multiple service awards by prestigious institutions.
Steve Zimmerman (+)
Coalition of Community Charter Schools
Steve. Zimmerman is Co-Director of Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). In addition, he founded two charter schools in Queens—Our World Neighborhood Charter School in Astoria, where he served as board chairman for five years and, most recently, Academy of the City Charter School in Woodside. Mr. Zimmerman worked as an elementary school teacher in the inner-city of Chicago for the Model Cities Program and later worked for 15 years in educational publishing, beginning as a science editor and later as principal of BookLinks, a company that provides ESL, bilingual and design services for US school publishers. He is the founder an educational technology startup and has spent the last several years working on a digital collaborative tool for authentic assessment.
Kathleen Prager (+)
St. Johns Prep
Kathleen Prager is a life-long resident of Astoria. She taught at St. Vincent Ferrer High School in Manhattan before joining the faculty of of St. John's Preparatory School, where she has taught for the past 36 years and currently serves as the English Department Chair. She also served on the summer faculty of the Dublin School of English in Ireland.
Ms. Prager is also a multi-sensory language practitioner and literacy advocate. For over 25 years, she has been engaged in the assessment and treatment of reading problems, particularly dyslexia. A sports enthusiast and St.John's University athletic alumni, she has taught tennis with the Police Athletic League, the NY Junior Tennis League's summer program, as well swimming for St. John's Prep and her parish program. In addition to her work with Variety Boys & Girls Club, she is currently a member of the Board of Directors at both the Immaculate Conception Catholic Academy and the Ladies of Charity at St. John's University.
Tony Barsamian (+)
Mr. Barsamian began his newspaper career 40 years ago while attending Stuyvesant High School and went on to graduate from Queens College with a B. A., Honors in Political Science, Magna Cum Laude. In the summer of 1978, at the age of 17, Mr. Barsamian founded his own Dollar Saver-Penny Saver style publication. Four years later, in 1982, the Queens Gazette was born. Mr. Barsamian is the publisher of the Queens Gazette, which celebrated its 36th anniversary this year. Five years ago, he furthered his commitment to the Queens community by launching a new magazine in Astoria -The Queens Scene.
He has been a board member of Variety Boys & Girls Club since 1990 and currently sits on several boards; he is the Chairman of the Steinway Astoria Partnership -The Steinway BID and serves as the Executive Vice President of Central Astoria LDC. Additionally, he has been serving on the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation for more than 20 years, and has served on on the Board of Directors as the Vice President for three different Presidents, where he chairs several committees. He previously served on The NYC EDC for more than 20 years and as a Parish Council member at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church for 15 years. Additionally, he was the PTA President of the William Spyropoulos Greek American Day School and Vice President of The Townsend Harris High School PTA.
Tony has been married to his wife Maria for 30 years and they have three adult children Nicollette, Anthony and Phillip.
NYC Parks Department
Stephen Hans (+)
Stephen D. Hans & Associates
Stephen Hans is a dedicated attorney who has specialized in employment law, representing businesses throughout New York City for three decades.
In addition to his work with Variety Boys & Girls Club, Mr. Hans serves as Chairman of the Labor Law Committee of the Queens County Bar Association. He was born and raised in Queens, attended Msgr. McClancy High School and currently resides in Manhattan with his wife Wendy and two sons, Matthew and Dylan.
Robert Mackay (+)
Queens Economic Development Corp.
Rob is the Director of Public Relations, Marketing & Tourism at the Queens Economic Development Corporation. His responsibilities include writing press releases and brochures, placing stories in media outlets, providing information to the public and news agencies, organizing and promoting events such as Queens Taste and Restaurant Week, and spearheading the Queens Tourism Council–because “It’s in Queens!” A Brooklyn native, Rob fell in love with the diversity, people, restaurants and attractions in Queens almost instantly after moving to Woodside in 1991. He has worked as an editor/reporter for the Times Newsweekly and an English teacher. He also lived in Honduras as a Peace Corps volunteer.
Frank Siguenza, MD (+)
Mr, Siguenza was born in Ecuador on November 24, 1961 and raised by his grandmother until 1970 when he came to United States. He grew up in Jackson Heights Queens and attended PS 69, IS 145, WC Bryant HS in Queens. Mr. Siguenza went on to graduate from Adelphi University with a B.S. in Biology and attended medical school at the New York Institution of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine. He currently resides in Maspeth.
Tamekia Wakefield, MD (+)
ENT and Allergy Associates, LLP
Dr. Tamekia Wakefield is a native of Memphis, Tennessee. She attended Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland and completed a General Surgery Internship at Lenox Hill Hospital which was followed by Otorhinolaryngology Residency at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. After leaving residency, Dr. Wakefield spent 4 years serving with the United States Navy at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Dr. Wakefield then completed a Pediatric Otolaryngology Fellowship at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland and specializes in pediatric otolaryngology at ENT and Allergy Associates Astoria/Bayside.
Dr. Wakefield became involved with the Variety Boys & Girls Club after hearing about its great programs from several of her young patients and their parents. She lives in Long Island City, enjoys international travel, cooking and is a voracious reader.
New York Anti-Crime Agency
LeMed Specialty Pharmacy
Robert E. Robotti (+)
Robotti & Company
Mr. Robert Edward Robotti CPA founded Robotti & Company in 1983. He serves as the President and Chief Investment Officer at Robotti & Company, LLC and Robotti & Company Advisor, LLC. His areas of coverage at Robotti & Company Advisor include special situations, energy industry, home building, oil and gas producers, oil-service companies and property-casualty insurance. Mr. Robotti is the Principal at the Managing Member or General Partner of several investment vehicles. Prior to forming Robotti & Company, Mr. Robotti served as the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President at Gabelli & Company, Inc., where he was also a Shareholder. He has also served as a managing member of Robotti Global Fund, LLC, a global equity fund.
Mr. Robotti has been a director at AMREP Corporation since September 13, 2016, a director of Panhandle Oil and Gas Inc., since April 30, 2004, a director of Building Materials Holding Corporation from May 2012 to December 1, 2015, a director of Advanced Marketing Services, Inc. from November 29, 2006 to January 16, 2007 and as a director of BMC Stock Holdings, Inc. and BMC Building Materials Holding Corporation. Presently, he serves on the board of Bishop Capital Corporation and the Catholic Medical Mission Board. He has been the Chairman at Pulse Seismic Inc., since May 23, 2013 and has been its Independent Director since December, 2007. Since 1980, he has been the Managing Member at Ravenswood Management Company, LLC (and its predecessor).
Mr. Robotti was in public accounting before coming to Wall Street. He is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive) charter holder. He received his M.B.A. degree in Accounting from Pace University in 1978 and B.S. in Business Administration from Bucknell University in 1975.
Rocco Sacramone (+)
Born in Orsonga, a small town in Abruzzo, Italy, Rocco Sacramone came to the United States in 1970. At the age of fourteen he worked after school as a dishwasher at an Italian restaurant, which initiated his culinary journey. During these early years his mother Tina, an excellent cook herself, would discuss food and teach him about the cuisine from their hometown. It was at this time that Mr. Sacramone began to respect and love the art of cooking. As his interest in the industry developed, so did his job opportunities which led to a position in management where he learned the many other aspects of the restaurant business.
Mr. Sacramone always had a close relationship with his mother who cooked for her own family from an early age. Over the years, preparation of delicious food became Tina’s passion, thus when Trattoria L’incontro opened its doors, it was an obvious choice that Tina should be part of this new exciting restaurant and she climbed on board to help with the kitchen staff and prep work. This gave Rocco the opportunity to spend more time creating new dishes while still maintaining the traditional recipes that he knew and loved.
As a chef, Mr. Sacramone maintains a well-organized kitchen and staff. As a restaurateur, his demand for front of the house excellence in service, he has left no stone unturned. The staff is amiable and highly trained professionals, who like Rocco himself, take nothing for granted.
Peter Vallone, Sr. (+)
Peter Vallone, Sr. is a New Yorker that truly needs no introduction. As The New York Times stated, “there have always been intensely political families in New York City, like the Cuomos, the Wagners and the Vallones.” Peter F. Vallone served as Speaker of the New York City Council from 1986 through 2001 and represented the 22nd Councilmanic District in Queens since 1974. Mr. Vallone was the Democratic nominee for Governor in 1998 and a candidate for Mayor in 2001. As Speaker, he was the City’s top legislator and was responsible for making the City Council an equal partner in New York City government. Mr. Vallone’s ability to reach all levels of New York City, State and Federal government is unparalleled, and his vast experience results in the achievement of short and long term goals for C&V clients.
Through his leadership as Speaker, the Board of Estimate was eliminated, thereby bringing the budget, land use and zoning under City Council purview. Mr. Vallone’s “Safe Streets — Safe City” rebuilt the police force from 26,000 to 41,000 officers and resulted in the lowest crime rates since the 1960s. He is a graduate of Fordham University and Fordham Law School, where he received the George W. Bacon Award for Excellence. Peter taught at Fordham and Baruch College, lectures at Baruch School of Public Affairs and is the author of “Learning to Govern: My Life in New York Politics, From Hell Gate to City Hall” as well as “God Came Home with Me.”