For the second year in a row, during Women’s History month in March, PEF recognized and celebrated female members who have demonstrated significant accomplishments or leadership. Members were asked to nominate women in the union’s ranks who have demonstrated at least one of the following qualities: 

  • Leadership
  • Service and community engagement
  • Key characteristics of a leader
  • Committed to diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Continued support of union values

Women’s History Month was established by Congress in 1987 to address the fact that, “the role of American women in history has been consistently overlooked and undervalued in the body of American history” and that to remedy this “the President is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe such month with appropriate ceremonies and activities.” (Public Law 110-9) In his 1987 proclamation, President Ronald Reagan stated: “I call upon all Americans to mark this month with appropriate observances to honor the achievements of American women.” 

The following PEF members were honored and recognized. Included below their title and agency is a quote from the individual who nominated them. 

Melissa Mead
Disability Analyst 3

“Melissa had such a strong work ethic and knew the value of her Union. Up until COVID, she drove herself to work nearly every day, as her health permitted, and was faithful and dedicated to the state of New York. She also documented her own end of life. One message simply stated, ‘It’s not COVID.’” 

Gina Lopez
Parole Officer

“Gina is the division leader for New York State parole. She has really shined over the past year as a vocal advocate for the needs of officers and the parolees on their caseloads. Gina has traveled the state, engaging members in organizing and advocacy work through rallies and media campaigns to raise awareness around the Less Is More reform legislation.” 

Randi DiAntonio, PEF Vice President
Licensed Master Social Worker

“Randi has been a constant support of the PEF members. She is always available if there is a problem. She is committed to helping all PEF members.” 

Leslie Huston
Parole Officer

“PO Huston demonstrates the qualities of a leader on a daily basis. She selflessly teaches, coaches and mentors anyone who crosses her path. She is always observant and looking out for a fellow parole officer who may be having a bad day.” 

Nora Higgins
Teaching and Research Center Nurse 2, Region 12 Coordinator
Stony Brook Hospital 

“She goes above and beyond every day in all she does. Nora shows her commitment by the actions she takes. She talks the talk and walks the walk. We are fortunate to have such a wonderful and committed person in our union.” 

Shaquana Perry
Recreation Worker

“She runs a nonprofit for those in need and is always working in her community to make it better.” 

Carmen Pimentel
Teaching and Research Center Nurse 2
Downstate Medical Center 

“Carmen is a true and compassionate nurse at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. She sees to it that all the patients in her unit receive excellent care. She supports her staff and makes good decisions. She’s diligent and hardworking.” 

Lasoria Thomas
Teaching and Research Center Nurse 3
Downstate Medical Center 

“A leader is a person who directs the group of nurses she works with to become the best nurses they can be without judgment. Mrs. Thomas demonstrates this quality every day at work.” 

Muriel Hardy-Lee
Social Work Assistant 3, PEF Trustee

“Muriel is our union rep and is always advocating for our rights as well as hers. They have tried to cut into her union hours, and she stands up to the administration and never is unavailable to fight for us. She gets things done like no one I have ever seen in her position.” 

Michelle Carter
Addictions Counselor 3

“Michelle served as a shop steward and council leader, and with the support of leadership was able to advocate and execute a plan for the safety of PEF members to include a safe enclosed nursing station.  Nurses were acknowledged and team meetings were held. She advocates for social justice and supports the team.” 

Jenny Blake
Nurse 2 Psychiatric

“Jenny has poured her creativity into the Bronx ATC by her acts of kindness and appreciation by honoring Black History Month, Womenswear Month, Nurses Month, all holidays and creating billboards for members that we have lost throughout the years. She takes the lead in these projects that allow the agency and visitors alike to see the commitment to service and how proud she is to be a person of service.” 

Carmela Triolo
Standards Compliance Analyst 2

“Carmela is steadfast, persistent and committed in her work as our PEF Steward. She is always available to answer questions, offer support and seek answers. Many colleagues are hesitant to speak up for fear of adverse reactions from management. Carmela speaks for them and is courteously persistent even when she is not treated respectfully.” 

Geraldine Stella
Director, PEF Health & Safety Department 

“Geraldine is committed to making significant changes in DOCCS facilities to make them safer for all employees. She is 100% dedicated to the union mission and goes above and beyond the scope of her duties to guide and assist employees who require help.” 

Leisa Abraham
Psychologist 2, Region 3 Coordinator

“Leisa is hardworking, honest and committed to our union – she is focused and dedicated to improving the lives of the members of Region 3 and the individuals with developmental disabilities that she serves.  Leisa has delivered masks and goodie bags to our frontline heroes, met with members to encourage them to become stewards at the School for the Blind, and set up appreciation and letter-signing events at all work sites.” 

Pam Cockle
Supply Chain Manager
Allegany County Employees 

“Pam has represented her members at Allegany County Employees as their Council Leader for many years. She has proven to be exceptionally adept at contract enforcement and our grievance procedure. Pam holds regular local LM meetings and is fearless in asserting right over wrong.” 

Shelby Wisneski
Social Work Assistant 3

“Shelby represents our OPWDD members as a Council Leader across multiple regions. She holds regular meetings and promotes PEF’s values and keeps her members informed. She is a leader who knows how to follow through.” 

Jennifer Bradt
Nurse Administrator

“I have known Jennifer for a long time as I first met her at a Region 3 nurse meeting which she chaired. Her Leadership abilities were apparent then and I was impressed with her professionalism and the respect that the 100+ nurses bestowed upon her that day.” 

Erica Pandolfo
Senior Attorney

“Ms. Pandolfo is a strong advocate for self-determination and supported decision making for people with developmental disabilities. She is passionate about ensuring safe transitions from special education to appropriate adult services for individuals entering into our service system.” 

Susanne “Shoshana” Stein
Management Specialist

“Shoshana is a great supervisor. I just started at the state and she’s been fundamental to finding my place in the agency. Not just for me, either – everyone I’ve worked with has told me how lucky I am to be working under her. She’s always been upfront and clear, and she’s made coming to work a real pleasure.” 

Nilima Chokshi
Dietitian 2

“She leads and encourages every person in our department and other departments to be a team to improve quality of service for our patients. She has been at RPC for almost 30 years, and it shows how deeply she cares about our patients and staff/peers caring for those patients.” 

Elizabeth Morrisey
Temporary Assistance Specialist 2

“She has shown a leadership role in spite of the lack of a speech supervisor for over a year.” 

Vivian Falto
Associate in Education Children with Disabilities

“Vivian has worked tirelessly with local PEF leaders at the Shirley Chisholm Bldg. in Region 11 to fight for health and safety concerns of our members across multiple agencies. As a result, PEF has put together a team of activists and staff who are organizing and improving the work environment for everyone.” 

Renee Schemitz
Social Work Supervisor 1 LCSW

“She is always the one to help and get down and dirty when needed. She values her staff with understanding and during the pandemic she made sure staff was always safe. She is not only a great leader, but also always there for clients as well as staff.” 

Amy Bonner
Senior Recreation Therapist

“Amy has been a vocal advocate in her workplace. She stands up for her coworkers to be treated with fairness and respect. She took the lead on coordinating her colleagues in forming their own division to ensure they’d be better represented at the local level with management.” 

Michele Silsby
Senior Case Manager, Region 1 Coordinator
Roswell Park 

“As the Region 1 Coordinator, Michele has exemplified leadership. Michele uses her leadership skills to advance the mission of PEF and women within the region. She never hesitated to start the region’s Women’s Committee and is committed to preserving the memory of our fallen sister, Judy Scanlon.” 

Darlene Williams
Occupational Therapy Assistant 2, PEF Vice President

“Darlene is serving her first term as Vice President and second term as Contract Chair.  The value of these two roles scream leadership. Our Vice President is a hardworking union sister, and she deserves all the accolades.”