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Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore to Honor Community Role Models at Annual Women of Distinction Gala on March 22

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Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore will host its annual Women of Distinction & Community Partners Gala on Friday, March 22, from 6 to 11 p.m., at Eagle Oaks Golf and Country Club in Farmingdale. The gala will honor a group of outstanding community role models and a dedicated community partner to raise support to provide girls in Monmouth and Ocean counties with opportunities to achieve their greatest potential.  

“We are pleased to congratulate all our honorees in their commitment to community,” said CEO Eileen Higgins. “They are positive role models who inspire our girls to become the leaders of tomorrow - women of courage, confidence and character.”

Honorees of this year’s gala include four Women of Distinction:  Patricia Carlesimo, executive director of the LADACIN Network; DiAnne Gove, New Jersey Assemblywoman, 9th Legislative District; Eva J. Smithers, retired business owner; and Bonnie Torcivia, a founding member of Impact 100 Jersey Coast.

Carlesimo leads the LADACIN Network, a non-profit organization that provides education, therapy, social, residential and support services for people with physical and developmental disabilities.  Carlesimo has served as executive director since 2004 and has been employed at the nonprofit for over 40 years. She is committed to inclusion and serves on various volunteer community boards, including the Monmouth County Workforce Development Board where she is chairperson of the Services to People with Disabilities Committee. She fondly remembers the Girl Scout troop that was established many years ago for young girls in LADACIN’s school program.   

Assemblywoman Gove’s lifelong commitment to community service began as a young Girl Scout in Ocean County. She went on to become a high school teacher, mayor and commissioner of Long Beach Township. In 2009, she was elected to serve in the General Assembly in the 9th Legislative District and was reelected in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017. Assemblywoman Gove currently serves on the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Assembly Human Services Committee and the Assembly Higher Education Committee. A recipient of the Girl Scout Women of Achievement award, Assemblywoman Gove credits scouting with developing her leadership skills and nurturing a sense of social responsibility.

Smithers is a community service activist and a retired business manager of facilities providing quality care for disabled adults. She is the former business administrator and owner of Whispering Pine Residential Health Care Facility and Jefferson Boarding Home, both in Lakewood. She has served on the boards of several organizations including the Garden State Philharmonic Symphony, Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, Ocean County College Board of Trustees, and the Ocean County Lakewood Chapter of the NAACP.

Torcivia is a founding member of Impact 100 Jersey Coast, an organization of women united in a cause to provide high-impact grants to exceptional non-profits in Monmouth Country. Dedicated to developing strong girls, she led her two daughters’ Girl Scout troop and started a girls’ lacrosse program in the Rumson area. She coached the sport at Rumson Country Day School and Rumson Fair Haven Regional High School. Torcivia has volunteered for many local organizations and is currently serving on the Board of Directors of Clean Ocean Action.

Stillwell-Hansen, Inc., and its President and CEO Carol Stillwell will be presented the Community Partner Award at the gala. Stillwell-Hansen has been a force for good in local communities through its generous support of numerous non-profits and organizations devoted to children and families. Stillwell is a recipient of the Girl Scouts’ Women of Distinction Award, a past speaker at the Gold Award ceremony and active in Dancing with Your Monmouth & Ocean County Stars, an annual fundraising event to support Girl Scout programs.

Timothy Hearne, president and CEO of the United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties since 2008, has been selected for the Man Enough to be a Girl Scout award. Hearne guides the United Way’s mission to mobilize donors, volunteers and community partners to improve the lives of youth and their families. Prior to joining the United Way, Hearne culminated a 21-year career with New Jersey Natural Gas company and has volunteered his time with numerous organizations including the Brookdale Community College Foundation and the Jersey Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Support for the gala makes it possible for Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore to offer all girls an opportunity to practice a lifetime of leadership, adventure and success through a wide variety of year-round programs and experiences.

Serving as co-chairpersons of the gala are Teri O’Connor, first vice president of Girls Scouts of the Jersey Shore’s Board of Directors, and Tom Hayes, director of Consumer and Community Relations at New Jersey Natural Gas.

Individual gala tickets are $225 and include a cocktail reception, dinner, live music from Kindred Spirit, gift auctions, a raffle and inspiring stories about the honorees and their support of Girl Scouts and the community. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.

For information, sponsorship levels, tickets and auction donations, visit, call (800) 785-2090, or e-mail