2019 IMPACT Awards Gala Honorees

Ms. Vanessa Gibson,

Council Member, District 16, The Bronx

Advocacy IMPACT Award

“Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson proudly represents the Bronx’s 16th Council District. As the West Bronx’s voice at City Hall, she passionately advocates for affordable housing, low income families, seniors, job creation, and meaningful opportunities for our youth.

During the 2014-2017 session, Gibson served as Chair of the Council’s Committee on Public Safety, and has the distinction of being both the first woman and first person of color to hold this role. As Chair, she had oversight of the operations and budget of NYPD, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the District Attorneys and the Special Narcotics prosecutor, and Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.

Gibson has been a leader in school safety reform, championed criminal justice reform legislation, and is a vocal proponent of anti-gun violence programs. Under her leadership, the Council was able to secure funds necessary to expand the NYPD’s headcount almost 1300 officers in FY16, and expand the DAs baselined budgetary allocation by over $21 million in FY17, with over half of the money going to the historically underfunded boroughs of the Bronx and Staten Island.

Currently, Gibson is a Deputy Leader and Chairs the Subcommittee on Capital Budget where she helps oversee the City’s capital investments.

Gibson is a life-long New Yorker, proud graduate of the City’s Public School system, a former State Assemblywoman, and an alumna of SUNY Albany (undergraduate) and Baruch College, where she received her MPA.”

Mr. Robert W. Mercedes

Principal, NYC Department of Education

Leadership IMPACT Award

Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Mr. Mercedes and his family immigrated to the United States and settled in New York in 1974. Mr. Mercedes is a graduate of Lehman High School in the Bronx and has degrees from Hobart College (Bachelor of Arts, Sociology), Fordham University (Master of Arts, Adult Education and Human Resource Development), and Lehman College (Master of Arts, Early Childhood). Mr. Mercedes received his teaching credentials from Fordham University (Administration and Supervision).

Mr. Mercedes began his long career in education at the ground level, teaching Bilingual education in The Bronx at PS 122, and soon rose to the position of Principal at Middle School 390. Under his tenor, the troubled school rose to an “A” rated school, and a score “Well Developed,” according to School Quality Review, and is today a school in Good Standing with a 94.8 % rate of Attendance. Middle School 390 is the only school in the City that has both a 1:1 I-pad and Mac Air for every student, and students have the option of using the device at home. The home school option sets it apart from other middle schools in the City.

A strong supporter of his community, Mr. Mercedes was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Morris Heights Health Center in 2019, one of the largest community health centers in New York City. He is also President of the Association of Dominican American Supervisors and Administrators (ADASA) and serves as Chair for the Council of Supervisors’ and Administrators (CSA) for District 10, and is a member of the Board of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute.

Mr. Oswaldo Rodriguez

President & Owner, SUYO Gastrofusion

Trailblazer IMPACT Award

Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Bronx, New York. Mr. Rodriguez was determined to succeed on anything he put his mind to. He graduated from College of Aeronautics School while working for People Express. He then ventured out to the bodega and supermarket industry. After successfully owning and partnering 5 supermarkets around the 5 boroughs, two of which are in the Bronx, he set his eye on a new project. Wanting to give the Bronx the change it’s been waiting for, he opened SUYO Gastrofusion, with the help of his partner Jose Almonte. SUYO has brought the ambiance of the Upper East Side with a Latin Asian fusion gastronomy menu.

Mr. Jose Almonte

President & Owner, SUYO Gastrofusion

Trailblazer IMPACT Award

Federico José Almonte Collado, father of two children, born in the heaps of San Jose de las Matas, Dominican Republic, where he also studied his primary schooling. He later moved to the city of Santiago de los Caballeros, where he began his professional preparations to earn his accounting degree.

Throughout his life he has devoted himself to different commercial activities, such as, Auto Body Parts, Jewelers, and distribution of beauty products, among others.

Coming to United States in 2014, Mr. Almonte established association with Mr. Oswaldo Rodríguez in the supermarket industry, specifically Antillana Superfood located in the Bronx, New York. Only two years later, in 2016, they created the restaurant project of SUYO GastroFusión.

Stocking with Care

Special Recognition Award

Stockings with Care is a New York City nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting local families by providing their children with three holiday gift wishes. With a long history of partnering with MHHC’s school based health program, Stockings with Care distributed more than 40,000 gifts over the past 26 years.

Stockings with Care partnered with the MHHC Foundation for the first time this past year (2018) distributing gifts not only to our school-based students, but also to patients throughout MHHC including WIC, Healthy Families, Dental, and Behavioral Health services. All told, Stockings with Care distributed more than 1,700 gifts to MHHC’s patients.

We are enormously grateful to their consistent generosity. Please follow the link below to appreciate the amazing work of SWC!