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Phenomenal Women Under 40

2019 Phenomenal Women Under 40

On Wednesday, September 18, Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore celebrated its fourth annual Phenomenal Women Under 40, recognizing the up-and-coming women leaders of our community.

The Phenom Award, which honors Phenomenal Women Under 40, recognizes emerging leaders from Monmouth and Ocean counties not only for their accomplishments to date, but also for the potential of what they might achieve in their future. 


Our Honorees


Chaniqua Buck


Chaniqua Buck of South Amboy works with youth and families dealing with severe emotional, behavioral and physical challenges. As a Wraparound Program Coach at MonmouthCares, Eatontown, she helps find community resources for families that need assistance overcoming extreme adversity. 

“Chaniqua has overcome many challenges in her young life,” said her nominator, Andrea Plaza. “She has turned those lessons into a strong conviction that will help all women to reach their goals in life.”

Buck graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. Soon after, she joined the Youth Development team at the YMCA and worked with at-risk teens. She also created a Model UN program for at-risk youth at Collier High School, where students were challenged to excel at a conference that included more than 2,000 peers.

Buck also mentors children informally. She is a volunteer support group facilitator at Konscious Youth Development and Services. She is also currently working toward her master’s degree in social work at Rutgers. 


Elizabeth D’Aloisio

IceBerg Ice Cream

Well known in her community, Lavallette resident Elizabeth D’Aloisio is the owner of IceBerg Ice Cream. At her ice cream shop, D’Aloisio hosts a predominantly female staff, and hand makes all of the ice cream on premise. She is also treasurer of the Lavallette Business Association, Vice President of the Lavallette Board of Education, a CCD teacher at St Junipero Serra, and Secretary of the Seaside Park Board of Education.

 “The number of activities that she has on her plate and her willingness to continually give of herself despite how busy she is such an example of the type of person we should all aspire to be,” says Paige Baran, D’Aloisio’s nominator and 2017 Phenom honoree. “Without her, our little town would not be the place it is.”

D’Aloisio has three children, Benny, Ava and Gia. After volunteering as a troop helper, she will soon become troop leader for Junior Girl Scout Troop 50293. She is also a class mom for two of her children’s classes.


Kate Dowd

New Jersey Resources

Kate Dowd is a dedicated mother, wife, daughter, granddaughter, sister, friend, and employee. Her many hats have helped her become an excellent multi-tasker with a desire to help others. She currently resides in Toms River with her husband, one-year-old son, and two cats. Kate and her husband are expecting their second child in October and are excited to add to the love and chaos in their household.

Kate currently works full-time as a Talent and Organizational Development Partner at New Jersey Resources Company in Wall. She helps manage the training, career development, performance management, talent management, and succession planning initiatives at her company. She has earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and holds a Senior Certified Professional certification from the Society of Human Resources Management. Most of her work experience has been in human resources in the utility industry.. 

In addition to her job responsibilities, Kate is a founding member and current co-chair of NJR’s Supporting Women’s Advancement and Growth business resource group whose mission is to serve the company as a positive, cohesive network of professionals that promotes women’s career and personal development in alignment with the company’s Commitment to Stakeholders and Diversity and Inclusion strategy. She has served on the NJR Diversity and Inclusion Council for three years and currently leads the Workforce and Workplace Pillar within the council. She is a mentor in NJR’s Project Venture program which partners with the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization to pair mentors with mentees from local middle schools. Kate is proud to work for New Jersey Resources because of its dedication to the communities that it serves. She actively participates in company VISION, charity and volunteer events to help give back to a community which has given so much to her and her family.

In her free time, Kate loves to read and spend time outdoors near the beach. She is certified in Reiki and crystal healing and enjoys taking time to connect spiritually with herself and others. Her favorite time is spent with her family, watching her son grow and learn. She would like to dedicate this award to Sawyer and Kevin who continuously inspire her to try to become a woman of grace, compassion, and strength.


Melissa Gallagher

Pinelands Regional School District

Melissa Gallagher began her career in marketing, but soon realized she wanted to have a greater impact on future generations. Today, after returning to school and finishing her certification, she is a math teacher with the Pinelands Regional School District. Through her involvement with the school, Ms. Gallagher has been an innovator and role model for colleagues and students alike. 

To make a further impact, Ms. Gallagher became a founding member of her school’s “Intervention Team.” In this role, she works as a teacher mentor for at-risk students and has played an instrumental role creating and implementing criteria, procedures, and evaluations for her program. She is now pursuing a graduate degree to earn her principal’s certification, which she hopes can be used to make an even greater impact motivating others.

“Melissa works a full-time job, is the mother of a one-year-old and attends graduate school! She is certainly a hard worker who is able to successfully wear many hats,” said her nominator, 2018 Phenom Award recipient Kimberly Clark. “Our students, staff and school are at a better place thanks to the work of Melissa Gallagher!”

Outside of work, Mrs. Gallagher is heavily involved with community service within the school community and served as the advisor to PRIDE, a service group at her school. She also organizes the school’s annual Thanksgiving food drive, helping provide dozens of underprivileged families with a full Thanksgiving dinner. Mrs. Gallagher also spends her time volunteering with a multitude of other organizations and projects. 


Elizabeth Golla

Family Promise of Southern Ocean County

Elizabeth Golla, of Eagleswood Twp. is a long-time advocate for children and families with a history working in the non-profit industry. Her work as a case manager and volunteer for Family Promise of Southern Ocean County began in 2013 and was named its Executive Director in late 2016. 

“Elizabeth has been very active in expanding Family Promise,” said her nominator 9th District Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove, a Girl Scout Woman of Distinction. “Her devotion to the organization is shown by her willingness to get the whole community involved. She has a passion for making a difference and will do whatever she can do so, by helping end homelessness one family at a time.”

Golla is a Board Certified Creative Arts Therapist and Dance/Movement Therapist. Both her children attend Amity Acres Day Camp and love every minute of it. 


Stephanie Karatzia

Holmdel School District

A proud Gold Award Girl Scout, Stephanie Karatzia of Hazlet has a long history of changing the world. Her Gold Award project “Project Bullyproof Me” created a desire to help more people. After graduating from Seton Hall University in 2011 she began teaching elementary school. Currently, she is a first grade special education teacher at Holmdel Village School where she teaches students with diverse needs. Karatzia also remains involved with Girl Scouts, and is a guest speaker at Girl Scout Daisy and Brownie meetings at her school.

Karatzia is an incredibly passionate individual, especially when it comes to her students. “She has provided her students with an environment where they are excited to learn and be accepted,” said her nominator Cheryl Bontales. “She is enthusiastic and passionate about what she does every day. She collaborates with other disciplines within the school system to advocate for all her students.”

Along with her many accomplishments as a teacher, Karatzia is also a 20 year member of Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore, a member of Ladies Philoptochos Society of the Metropolis of New Jersey, and an executive board member of Hellenic Dancers of New Jersey - Professional Greek Fold Dance Troupe. In her free time, she is an avid runner and often runs marathons, half marathons, and triathlons in support of various charities. She is also the proud mother of an active one-year old daughter and future Girl Scout.


Gabrielle Liguori

NorthStar Strategies

At 25-years-old, Gabrielle Liguori of Toms River is a founding member of NorthStar Strategies, where she works as Director of Association Management, planning and coordinating many different events. Her clients not only include Fortune 100 and 500 companies, but also non-profits and charitable organizations.  

“Gabrielle works extraordinarily well in a male dominated field and is not shy to express her opinion,” said nominator Teri O’Connor, Monmouth County Administrator and first vice chair of the Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore Board of Directors. “While this young woman has not yet amassed a laundry list of achievements, she is someone who has assisted other young women and her family throughout her life.  She is a positive role model with a bright future.”

Liguori attended Rider University and graduated Phi Theta Kappa. While in school she served on its Women’s Leadership Council.

A strong advocate for animals, Liguori participates in Popcorn Park Zoo’s “Share-a-Pet” program where she sponsors three dogs and a rescue horse with special/medical needs. She also spends time at local pet shelters. In her free time, Liguori enjoys tennis, skiing and boating.


Meagan O’Flaherty

Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation

As a young Girl Scout, Meagan O’Flaherty of Freehold learned the importance of helping her community. Through her involvement, she discovered a passion for community service and pursued a career in philanthropy, first with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, then with the Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation, where she was promoted to Strategic Officer in only two and a half years.

“Meagan’s knowledge of her industry is so impressive. She manages events for nonprofits with 1,000+ attendees. She makes it all look so easy and seamless and has such a drive for excellence,” says nominator Maria Farhat-Tanzola, Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore Woman of Distinction and board member. “She is a role model in all of the organizations she works with, setting the standard at the highest level in all that she does.”

Meagan received her undergraduate degree in Sports, Entertainment and Event Management at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.  While there she had the opportunity to study abroad at the International Event Management School in Australia.  Once she returned home to New Jersey, she earned her Master of Business Administration at Georgian Court University.   

In addition to her non-profit work, Meagan volunteers her time with several other organizations including the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, Toys for Tots, Clean Ocean Action, SBPNJ, the New Jersey Irish Festival and more.

Meagan calls Freehold home (BRUCE!) but spends most of her summer reading a good book on the beach in Avon, her happy place.  Otherwise, you can usually find her hiking, cheering on the New York Giants, eating her way through a Monmouth and Ocean County restaurant bucket list and spending time with her very big, very Irish family.


Cady Piarulli

DW Smith Associates, LLC

As a female engineer, Cady Piarulli of Burlington Township overcame countless barriers and challenges to get to where she is today. To encourage those who are following along the same path, Ms. Piarulli regularly mentors other young women considering careers in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field and encourages them to be the best women they can be.

“Cady Piarulli is a phenomenal young woman who exemplifies an amazing ‘GIRL.’  She is a Go-getter, an Innovator, a Risk-taker and an emerging Leader,” said her nominator Jennifer Nevins. “Her exuberance is contagious and she brings energy and excitement into our office every day.” 

Ms. Piarulli graduated Drexel University with a degree in Environmental Engineering and her engineering certification. She was recently recognized as a rising star as a Project Engineer at her company, DW Smith Associates, LLC in Wall Township and stays involved in her field—even outside her work. She is also a member of the Society of Women Engineers and the Water Environmental Association. 

Ms. Piarulli participates in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event and the Monmouth County Food Bank’s “Family in Need” program, as well as various other charitable endeavors. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends.


Lauren Concar Sheehy

Brookdale Community College and Garden State Film Festival

Lauren Concar Sheehy of Colts Neck has been involved with film making for over 23 years. She has worked as a production specialist, content producer, director, editor, and professional makeup artist. 

“Lauren often runs an all-male production crew, and seeks to employ skilled females whenever possible,” said her nominator Tim Zeiss. “As producer, director and editor of TEDxASBURYPARK for the past seven years she gets Brookdale students involved so that they can prepare for the workforce.”

Concar Sheehy is executive director of the Garden State Film Festival and the first woman to manage Brookdale TV, a channel operated by Brookdale Community College that broadcasts to over 626,351 homes locally.

As a Girl Scout and role model for women in her industry, Concar Sheehy is an advocate of highlighting work by other women in her field. She takes students under her wing and encourages them to reach their full potential. She touches the lives of diverse populations and underserved communities with her work, and always stands out as a professional in her field.


Stephanie Toal

OceanFirst Foundation

Stephanie Toal, is the Marketing & Communications Coordinator for the OceanFirst Foundation based in Toms River. She is responsible for sharing the Foundation’s positive impact on people and the organizations it supports. She is also an active member of the bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility and Community Support and Volunteerism subcommittees. She collaborates with the bank’s team to engage the nearly 1,000 employees in company-sponsored volunteer opportunities and promotes individual volunteer activities.

“In the short period of time she’s been on our team, we’ve all come to know Steph as a phenomenal, inspiring and creative force within the community,” said nominator Kathy Durante. “Stephanie helped establish the OceanFirst ‘WaveMakers’ Volunteer Team/Recognition Program from the ground up in 2018, organizing employees who enjoy helping and giving back to local nonprofits and schools through volunteer service.”

A 2017 graduate of Seton Hall University, Toal is a member of Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority (ZTA) and currently serves in a leadership role as general advisor for the 100-strong young women of the ZTA Chapter at Stockton University. Her mentoring and leadership in these advisory roles earned her recognition as the 2019 Zeta Tau Alpha Outstanding Advisor for the New York and New Jersey region.

Toal is a lifelong resident of Pine Beach and enjoys the beach, sailing, and destination running races.