Mayor Spano Presents Yonkers “Women Of Distinction” Awards In Honor Of Women’s History Month


Yonkers Women Recognized for Achievements Benefitting Yonkers Community

YONKERS, NY – March 28, 2024 – In honor of Women’s History Month, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano presented “Women of Distinction” Awards to Yonkers women whose distinct achievements have improved the lives of others in the community and whose impact has changed Yonkers for better.

“Women’s History Month celebrates the significant achievements of women, and Yonkers has the opportunity to honor the local leaders who live or work in our midst every day,” added Mayor Spano.

Mayor Spano presented the “Women of Distinction” Awards at a ceremony held at Yonkers City Hall on March 27th.

This year’s honorees range in talent and service. They include:

Detective Vionett Martinez – was hired by the Yonkers Police Department in 2006 as a patrol officer, later serving as a recruiter, a Field Training Officer, and a Field Intelligence Officer. In 2018, she became a Yonkers Detective assigned to the Major Case Squad, collaborating closely with other Detectives in the City of Yonkers. In 2019, Detective Martinez began to work on cold homicides alongside the now-retired Detective John Geiss. Upon his retirement in May of 2022, Detective Martinez was assigned to the Cold Case Unit and is now the City’s Cold Case Detective. Detective Martinez remains actively engaged with various families within the community, consistently reaching out and offering support. This ongoing communication is a testament to her deep-seated compassion and commitment to the well-being of her community members.

Sister Mary Alice Reamer – has been the principal of St. John the Baptist School in Yonkers since 1984 and has done a tremendous job with the school. She is the longest serving catholic school principal in Yonkers and the Archdiocese. In addition to teaching at St. Joseph’s, Sr. Mary Alice taught at Good Counsel Elementary, the Academy of Our Lady of Good Counsel and Kennedy Catholic High Schools. The Sister Mary Alice Reamer, RDC Scholarship was established to honor Sister Mary Alice, a Sister of the Divine Compassion. Mary’s unwavering commitment to the growth and development of young minds has been the cornerstone of her career. With a passion that extends beyond the traditional classroom, she has embraced multiple roles—each with its own unique impact on the lives of her students.

Yolanda “Loni” Shinault – is a member of KCCC where she has contributed significantly to the community by supporting teen mothers through the church group Loving, Lifting, Encouraging Girls Over Obstacles (LLEGOO), assisting local pantries, and establishing All Access Yonkers, a 501©(3) organization dedicated to providing scholarships and resources to seniors, teens, and adolescents. In collaboration with other community-based organizations, she has worked to fortify the community of Yonkers by fostering a vibrant spirit through the love of Christ by promoting spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Here efforts have contributed to rebuilding healthy individuals, reviving families, restoring the community, and creating lifelong partnerships. Yolanda’s vision is to cultivate a robust nonprofit network of partners in the City of Yonkers, committed to nurturing the community’s growth.

Meiling Macias-Toro – is an advertising and media expert known for producing award-winning commercials and content for Fortune 500 brands. As the former Head of Production and Executive Producer at Conill Advertising/Saatchi & Saatchi, Rapp Collins Worldwide, Siboney Advertising, and The Vidal Partnership, she has a broad trajectory in producing for iconic global and national brands. She also produced the award-winning Off-Broadway play ‘Frida Kahlo: Long Live Life,’ which won Best Biographical Show at the 2018 United Solo Festival in NYC. A passionate advocate for education and human rights for children, she served as the former President of 100 Hispanic Women in Westchester County, supporting young Latinas with scholarships to achieve higher education, develop leadership skills, and promote career equity. Additionally, she has been instrumental in organizing fundraisers to support research aimed at finding a cure for DIPG, a rare and fast-growing brain tumor that affects children.

Phylisha Villanueva – has been an essential part of her community in Yonkers, from working in schools to collaborating with senior recreational centers, and contributing within the Westchester County jail system. She gives back through arts and poetry, facilitating programs in our Yonkers Schools (Girls Inc., Arts Westchester), Art Gallery, Yonkers Arts & Blue Door Art Center, and was appointed as the Westchester County Poet Laureate. Phylisha also participates and volunteers with major organizations as a way to give back and make a difference. Her dedication and commitment to the people in her community mean a lot, and it is evident in her work.

Hope Hollinsworth-Coaxum – is a long-time resident of Yonkers, New York, wears many hats. Hope is deeply committed to her community. She co-founded two community-based organizations: Hope Healing and Growth and The Mothers’ 2016. As the President of the Gold Star Mothers of Yonkers and Westchester County, Hope provides unwavering support to veterans and their families. She initiates drives such as the Valentine’s Day Care Drive with the YPS and Salute and Serve with the City of Yonkers. Her County Tie Drive, named after her son Courtney, aims to make a difference through Volunteer NY. Hope is an accomplished novelist, having self-published several books. Beyond novels, she’s a playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director. Her works address social causes, including homelessness, domestic abuse, and child abuse. Hope Hollinsworth Coaxum’s dedication to her community, military families, and creative endeavors exemplifies her commitment to making a positive impact.

“These women have exemplified outstanding achievement and leadership in Yonkers, setting an example for other women who aspire to success,” stated Mayor Spano.

L-R: 2024 Women of Distinction Honorees: Detective Vionett Martinez, Sister Mary Alice Reamer, Yolanda “Loni” Shinault, Meiling Macias-Toro, Phylisha Villanueva and Hope Hollinsworth-Coaxum
AJ Woodson
AJ Woodson
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief and co-owner of Black Westchester, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Rap Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale,,, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.


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