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Paving the Way for Future Leaders


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Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore to Honor and Recognize Phenomenal Role Models on Sept. 22

Girl Scouts will celebrate, recognize and honor eight Jersey Shore women for their accomplishments at work and in the community at its annual Phenomenal Women Under 40 event on Sept. 22 in Farmingdale.

“Our Jersey Shore community is home to many remarkable women,” said Eileen Higgins, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore. “This year, we are thrilled to recognize and celebrate eight outstanding role models who embody the Girl Scout go-getter spirit.”

“In this challenging time, Girl Scouts more than ever need positive role models to inspire them and encourage them on their path to becoming leaders,” Higgins added.

Phenom Award recipients were selected from a public nomination process that considered “leadership in the workplace, community volunteerism, and demonstrated hard work and dedication necessary to be a success,” noted Teri O’Connor, chairperson of Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore’s board of directors.

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The 2021 Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore Phenom Award recipients are:
  • Alaina Bontales, Holmdel, clinical director of Patient Care for Inpatient Oncology at Monmouth Medical Center and a volunteer at the Holmdel Greek Orthodox Church, where she created a religious bookstore to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award.
  • Kristina Henderson, Pine Beach, is CEO and co-owner of Henderson Promos based in Red Bank and the reigning Mrs. New Jersey American.
  • Danielle M. Jones, Eatontown, serves as Student Communications & Leadership Development specialist for the Educational Opportunity Fund at Brookdale Community College and councilwoman for the borough of Eatontown.
  • Eboné Lawrence-Smith, Neptune, teaches in the Long Branch Public School District and is a member of Quinn Chapel AME Church in Atlantic Highlands, where she is active on many committees.
  • Chelsea Masterson, Toms River, owns Chelsea’s Messy Kitchen in Ocean County, and is digital managing editor at Townsquare Media South Jersey, on-field emcee for Jersey Shore Blueclaws, and hosts the podcast, “Her Product Lab.” She is a recipient of the Girl Scout Gold Award and an active Girl Scout volunteer and advocate.
  • Megan O’Keefe, Bayville, is executive director of Caregiver Volunteers of Central New Jersey. She has helped numerous nonprofits raise support to fund transformative change in social services, higher education, and healthcare.
  • Shannon Oreficé, Eatontown, serves as director of programs for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Coastal & Northern New Jersey and advocates for social justice.
  • Melissa Schwaner, Manahawkin, is a licensed clinical social worker and owner of Swan Therapy Group LLC in Toms River and expanding to Brick and Manahawkin.

The community is invited to attend the outdoor event, which will take place 6-8 p.m., under a tent adjoining the Girl Scout Program Activity Center in Farmingdale. For everyone’s safety, COVID-19 guidelines will be followed.

The Ohana Grill Food Truck and The Roving Bar will roll up with dinner, dessert, and beverages for guests.

Proceeds will support leadership programs for nearly 9,000 Girl Scouts representing every zip code in Monmouth and Ocean counties and help fund the organization’s financial assistance program to ensure all girls can join and benefit from leadership programs.

Event co-chairs are past Phenom honorees: Jamie Bertram, Jersey Shore BlueClaws; Kate Dowd, New Jersey Resources; and Stephanie Toal, OceanFirst Foundation.

Sponsorship and underwriting opportunities ranging from $350 to $3,000 are available to local businesses and individuals. Event tickets are $85 and tickets for a 50/50 raffle, to be drawn at the event, are $10 each.

To attend, sponsor or get more information about the event, go to GSFun.org/Phenom or call (800) 785-2090.