Contributors

FOUNDERS

Debra Toppeta and Charlene Giannetti launched Woman Around Town to help other women — natives and recent arrivals — get the best out of two of the best cities in the world, New York and Washington, D.C. Debra, an attorney, and Charlene, a journalist, are combining their talents and resources, assisted by an impressive group of people who can’t wait to tell others what they love and sometimes loathe about their cities.

Debra Toppeta

Debra Toppeta is the Publisher of Woman Around Town. After graduating from Cornell University, Debra began her career in financial services where she ultimately became the lead technical and motivational speechwriter for the members of the Executive Suite, including the CEO and several board members. Debra left financial services to attend Brooklyn Law School, graduating magna cum laude, and immediately joined a large white-shoe law firm in Manhattan where she spent eight long years working in mergers and acquisitions. Committed to public service, Debra has served on the board of a special education institution in Manhattan, reads to the blind, and with her husband, has created several foundations to help underprivileged teens afford college. While she enjoys writing, Debra is happy to leave that to the experts and prefers to work in the “back office” of Woman Around Town getting the word out about the website, supporting all of the talented writers and keeping things legal. View All Posts By Debra Toppeta »

Charlene Giannetti

Charlene Giannetti, editor of Woman Around Town, is the recipient of six awards from the New York Press Club for articles that have appeared on the website. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Charlene began her career working for a newspaper in Pennsylvania, then wrote for several publications in Washington, covering environment and energy policy. In New York, she was an editor at Business Week magazine and her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines including the New York Times. She is the author of 11 non-fiction books, eight for parents of young adolescents written with Margaret Sagarese, including "The Roller-Coaster Years," "Cliques," and "Boy Crazy." She and Margaret have been keynote speakers at many events and have appeared on the Today Show, CBS Morning, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many others. Charlene divides her time between homes in Manhattan and Alexandria, Virginia. Her new book is "Parenting in a Social Media World." View All Posts By Charlene Giannetti »

Contributors

Alix Cohen

Alix Cohen is the recipient of six New York Press Club Awards for work published on this venue. Her writing history began with poetry, segued into lyrics and took a commercial detour while holding executive positions in product development, merchandising, and design. A cultural sponge, she now turns her diverse personal and professional background to authoring pieces about culture/the arts with particular interest in artists/performers and entrepreneurs. Theater, music, art/design are lifelong areas of study and passion. She is a voting member of Drama Desk. Alix’s professional experience in women’s fashion fuels writing in that area. Besides Woman Around Town, the journalist writes for Times Square Chronicles, Cabaret Scenes, and Theater Pizzazz. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine, and ifashionnetwork. She lives in Manhattan. Of course. View All Posts By Alix Cohen »

Marti Sichel

Marti Davidson Sichel is incredibly pleased by her good fortune to join such an impressive lineup of talented contributors. A voracious reader from her earliest years, her parents were more than once called to the principal’s office to discuss her overly advanced free-reading materials. (They loved that.) Exposure to all of those big words clearly left a mark. After a brief dalliance with poetry in college (everyone experiments in college), the acquisition of an English degree and several years spent working to change other people’s words, Marti was positively brimming over with words of her own. Her background and interests lean heavily toward the scientific, but she has always had a huge place in her heart for all things theatrical, which has come to serve her well. A 2014 New York Press Club award winner (for excellence in journalism, sub-category Entertainment News, sub-category Internet), Marti finds the schlep in from Connecticut as exciting as ever. When not editing or writing (and even sometimes when editing or writing), Marti often can be found with her headphones firmly in place. If she’s not singing along, it’s either NPR or the BBC or a comedy interview podcast. View All Posts By Marti Sichel »

Merry Sheils

Merry Sheils won the New York Press Club’s Journalism Award for best business writing in 2011 and 2012. As a portfolio manager for private clients, she writes a financial column for WomenAroundTown.com as well as features and profiles. She frequently writes economic and capital markets commentary, including white papers, thought leadership pieces and investment reports, for companies and investment managers. Prior to becoming a writer, Merry worked as a senior portfolio manager and investment analyst at BNYMellon and Wilmington Trust Company (now M&T Bank). A SUNY graduate with a degree in finance, she is the author of “Debt-Based Securities” and has been published in The Financial Times, Forbes and Chief Executive Magazine, and has appeared as a guest on CNBC. She founded First New York Equity, Incorporated, an investment advisory firm, and sold it to Price Waterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers). She divides her time between New York City and her 18th century house in Columbia County, NY, where she is active in the North Chatham Free Library, the Old Chatham Hunt Club and the Columbia County Historical Society. View All Posts By Merry Sheils »

Michall Jeffers

Michall Jeffers began her career as an actress in New York and Los Angeles, and now uses her considerable knowledge and experience to review theater. Her professional affiliations include Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, American Theatre Critics, International Association of Theatre Critics, Dramatists Guild of America, Dance Critics Association, Actors’ Equity, SAG-AFTRA, and National Book Critics Circle. Michall received a BFA from Boston University. She’s been the founder, artistic director, and dramaturge of an equity theater; a guest lecturer for the Cunard Line; and has written, directed, and produced commercials for cable TV. Her eponymous cable TV show, which she writes, produces, and tapes at the legendary Sardi’s restaurant, features reviews, commentary, and interviews with a who’s who in entertainment and publishing, including Alan Arkin, Kathy Bates, Eli Wallach, Daniel Sullivan, Wendy Wasserstein, Alan Dershowitz, Stanley Donen, Simon Schama, Mary Higgens Clark, Barbara Taylor Bradford, and Ken Follett. When she’s not taking notes in the audience or reading, Michall enjoys doing lifestyle articles with her husband, photographer John Warner. They live in a log cabin in Northern Westchester. View All Posts By Michall Jeffers »

Eleanor Foa Dienstag

Eleanor Foa Dienstag is a journalist and photojournalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Harper's, the New Republic, the New York Observer, Ms., McCall's,Travel & Leisure, Frequent Flyer, and many other websites and publications. Eleanor is the author of two nonfiction books: a memoir, "Whither Thou Goest: The Story of An Uprooted Wife," acclaimed by Business Week for its insights into corporate life; and "In Good Company: 125 Years At The Heinz Table," a unique view of a quintessential American company. Both books were promoted with national radio and television appearances. Eleanor served as staff speechwriter to the Chairman and CEO of American Express. In 1983, she founded Eleanor Foa Associates (www.eleanorfoa.com). It provides a wide variety of corporate services, including annual reports, executive speeches, corporate histories and marketing materials for profit and not-for-profit organizations. Eleanor is past president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), received speechwriting awards from IABC, and was awarded literary residencies at Yaddo, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA). She resides in Manhattan.   View All Posts By Eleanor Foa Dienstag »

Christen Kinard

Christen Kinard has advanced degrees in both French literature and international conflict resolution, and has never once put them to use professionally. Instead, she owns and operates a small social media marketing firm which focuses on enabling small businesses in the fashion retail sector to compete online with bigger brands. Toward this end, she has developed online platforms of her own to further promote the value of shopping and spending locally. Finally, Christen is also the buyer for a high-end shoes and accessories boutique where she experiences firsthand how trends spotted on the runway and celebrities translate in the "real world." And while her closet may be full to the brim with a curiously large collection of harem pants, vests and vintage hats, she is happiest in her pajamas reading Women's Wear Daily on the couch with her husband and dog. View All Posts By Christen Kinard »

MJ Hanley-Goff

MJ Hanley-Goff was a frequent contributor to Long Island’s Newsday for ten years before moving to upstate New York in 2000. She immediately began contributing to the Times Herald-Record where she continues to write on health and area events. Her work has appeared in many publications including Hudson Valley Magazine, AAA’s Car & Travel magazine, and Orange Magazine. In 2007, she self-published "The Bench," her first novel. She recently ended a stint as editor of a parenting magazine as she realized her true calling: writer. Having founded MJWRITES, INC, she is now at work on two books, “How Writing Can Get You Through Tough Times: No Experience Necessary,” and “PR Tips and Secrets.” She is thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to write for Woman Around Town, and the amazing adventures it offers. View All Posts By MJ Hanley-Goff »

Winnefred Ann Frolik

Winnefred Ann Frolik (Winnie for short) was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She completed the International Baccleareate program at Schenley High School and then attended the University of Pittsburgh where she completed a double major in English Literature and Creative Writing. After graduation she spent a number of years working in the non-profit sector and it was during that phase in her life she moved to D.C.  Winnie co-wrote a book on women in the U.S. Senate with Billy Herzig.  She enrolled in a baking program in culinary school and worked in food services for a while. She currently works in personal services while writing for Woman Around Town and doing other freelance writing projects including feeble personal attempts at fiction. Her brother is a reporter in Dayton, Ohio so clearly there are strong writing genes in the family.  She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with two demanding cats. View All Posts By Winnefred Ann Frolik »

Jennifer Madden

Jennifer Madden is an award winning broadcast journalist. While a junior at Ramapo College of New Jersey she began her professional broadcast career at Time Warner Cable Channel 10 News before moving on to NY1 News. Jennifer first appeared on-air as a sports reporter covering professional teams in the New York Metropolitan area. Her career path then led her to cover breaking and hard news, politics, features, entertainment and human interest stories. She has helped produce and host many televison specials including live parade coverage. Jennifer has appeared on various local television and radio stations as a traffic reporter. Most recently an anchor, Jennifer also has experience writing and producing segments and shows. View All Posts By Jennifer Madden »

Becky Langton

Becky Langton is a professional comedian and actress for over 15 years. She began her entertainment career working at the prestigious Creative Artists Agency. Knowing her true calling to be on the performance side of the business, she trained with The Groundlings in Los Angeles and with the Upright Citizen’s Brigade in New York. Becky has performed stand-up comedy in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and London. As well as spreading laughter first hand, she went on to teach stand-up at The American Comedy Institute, William Paterson University and The South Orange /Maplewood Adult School. When she is not performing in the city, Becky is currently instructing a stand-up comedy course for children in the New York and New Jersey areas. She is the proud mom of three children who she says are the “greatest and most inspirational productions” she could have ever hoped for. View All Posts By Becky Langton »

Alex DiBlasi

Alex DiBlasi is a writer and musician based out of Philadelphia. As a journalist, he has contributed articles for the Queens Courier, Long Island City magazine, the Journal of Rock Music Studies, and the American Music Review. As an academic, he has written about Frank Zappa, The Monkees, The Kinks, and the cinema of the Czech New Wave. He also previously taught literature at St. John’s University in Queens. His first book, an anthology of scholarly essays from all over the world on Geek Rock, co-edited with Dr. Victoria Willis, will be released in October 2014 by Scarecrow Press. Alex spent most of 2013 and part of 2014 on the road with his partner Alexa Altman, visiting each of the Lower 48 states as the basis for a book. Aside from his work in the arts, Alex also works with the Manhattan-based Sikh Coalition as an advocate for religious freedom. View All Posts By Alex DiBlasi »

Jill Schuck-Brown

Jill Schuck-Brown has worked as a writer, producer, and director, in NYC broadcast media for some 20 years, starting initially as an intern for CNBC during her freshman year at Ramapo College. Jill worked as a news producer for WCBS-TV, as well as in creative services, for Disney, Sony Domestic Television, CBS, NBC, FOX, and others, managing branding for a variety of talk, news, and entertainment shows, including “Mad Money”, “the Apprentice”, “The Ricki Lake Show”, “Judge Hatchett” and “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” Her work has earned numerous local Emmy nominations, as well as multiple (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) Telly Awards for “Outstanding Health and Science Programming” for an original online web series,, “On Call with Dr. Rob.” Jill currently consults as a strategist in content and brand development for a number of media and corporate clients, including QVC and NBC Sports. In her free time, she is a Conservation Commissioner in Fairfield County, CT advocating for open space and environmental conservation, and a volunteer for a number of animal rescue groups in NY, PA and CT. View All Posts By Jill Schuck-Brown »

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