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 Law School 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 and, with her husband, has created several foundations and scholarships to help underprivileged teens afford college. She serves on the Board of Trustees of the American Classical Orchestra, a period instrument orchestra in NYC that makes its home in Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, and is 1st Vice President and member of the Board of Governors of the New York Press Club. While she enjoys writing, Debra is happy to leave that to the experts and prefers to work behind the scenes 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 seven 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. She is the author of 13 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. Her last book, "The Plantations of Virginia," written with Jai Williams, was published by Globe Pequot Press in February, 2017. Her podcast, WAT-CAST, interviewing men and women making news, is available on Soundcloud and on iTunes. She is one of the producers for the film "Life After You," focusing on the opioid/heroin crisis that had its premiere at WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, where it won two awards. The film is now available to view on Amazon Prime, YouTube, and other services. Charlene and her husband live in Manhattan. View All Posts By Charlene Giannetti »

Contributors

Alix Cohen

Alix Cohen is the recipient of nine 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 and Drama League. Alix’s professional experience in women’s fashion fuels writing in that area. Besides Woman Around Town, the journalist writes for Cabaret Scenes, Broadway World, and Theater Pizzazz. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine, Times Square Chronicles, and ifashionnetwork. She lives in Manhattan. Of course. View All Posts By Alix Cohen »

MJ Hanley-Goff

MJ Hanley-Goff has been contributing to Woman Around Town since its inception in 2009. She began her career at Newsday in the early 90’s and has continued writing professionally for other New York publications like the Times Herald-Record, Orange Magazine, and Hudson Valley magazine. Former editor of Hudson Valley Parent magazine, she also contributed stories to AAA’s Car & Travel, and Tri-County Woman. After completing her novel and a self-help book, she created MJWRITES, INC. to offer writing workshops and book coaching to first time authors, and college essay writing help to students. MJ is thrilled and honored to write for WAT for the amazing adventures it offers, like reviewing concerts, people, authors, events, and tourist attractions in New York, and around the world. “I enjoy drawing attention to the off-the-beaten path kinds of stories,” she says. “It’s great big world out there, with so many talented and creative artists, doers, and thinkers.” View All Posts By MJ Hanley-Goff »

Maria-Cristina Necula

Maria-Cristina Necula’s published work includes the books "The Don Carlos Enigma: Variations of Historical Fictions" and "Life in Opera: Truth, Tempo and Soul," two translations: "Europe à la carte" and Molière’s "The School for Wives," and a new collection of poems, "Evanescent." Her articles and interviews have appeared in "Classical Singer" Magazine, "Opera America," "Das Opernglas," "Studies in European Cinema," and "Opera News." As a classically-trained singer she has performed in the New York City area at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, Florence Gould Hall, and the Westchester Broadway Theatre, and has presented on opera at The Graduate Center, Baruch, The City College of New York, and UCLA Southland. She speaks six languages, two of which she honed at the Sorbonne University in Paris and the University of Vienna, and she holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from The Graduate Center. Maria-Cristina is the recipient of a 2022 New York Press Club Award in the Critical Arts Review category for her review of Matthew Aucoin's "Eurydice" at the Metropolitan Opera, published on Woman Around Town. Discover more at www.mariacristinanecula.com. View All Posts By Maria-Cristina Necula »

Stephen Hanks

During four decades as a magazine publisher/editor/writer for a variety of national magazines and websites, Stephen Hanks has written about sports, politics, the media, health and nutrition, and most recently, cabaret and theater. In 1999, Stephen created and edited the multiple award-winning Archaeology magazine for children called DIG. Between 2004-06, Stephen was Publisher and Editorial Director of Energy Times, an award-winning health and nutrition publication. From 2012-2016, Stephen was the lead New York Cabaret Editor and Writer for BroadwayWorld.com, and was cited by the website in 2013 as “Most Creative Male Editor.” Since entering the world of Cabaret in 2010 as a reviewer for Cabaret Scenes Magazine, Stephen has also been a producer, promoter, publicist, and performer. During that time he produced seven critically acclaimed shows for the Urban Stages “Winter Rhythms” Cabaret Series. In 2018, Stephen produced the five-show series “Cabaret Campaigns: Ride the Blue Wave: 2018,” which were fundraisers for Democratic candidates in the 2018 Midterm elections. In 2021, this life-long New York moved from Brooklyn, NY with his wife Bea to Sedona, AZ, where he now works with the Sedona International Film Festival, is a Board Member of The Democrats of the Red Rocks PAC, and is planning to launch "Red Rocks Writer," an independent copy writing, copy editing, and publicity service for Sedona-area businesses. Stephen's daughter Jean Louise, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, is also a Contributed Writer for Woman Around Town. You can contact Stephen with your comments and questions at: stephenhanks41@gmail.com. View All Posts By Stephen Hanks »

Marina P. Kennedy

Marina Kennedy began her writing career when her four children were grown and she returned to college to study in the humanities. She is delighted to be a contributor for Woman Around Town. The majority of her articles focus on the culinary scene, theatre, and travel. Marina and her husband Chuck enjoy the rich cultural experiences of the New York metro area and beyond. She hopes that readers like reading her articles as much as she enjoys writing them. View All Posts By Marina P. Kennedy »

Jean Hanks

Jean Hanks is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, passionate runner and lover of all things food. Jean grew up in Brooklyn, New York and attended Brooklyn Technical High School, where a mandatory health class sparked her interest in nutrition. She went on to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in sociology (with a minor in dance) from Tulane University in New Orleans, and then a Masters of Science in nutrition from Hunter College in New York City. While attending grad school, Jean wrote for the Jewish Daily Forward as the Food Intern, commenting on food news, reviewing cookbooks, and posting original recipes to the publication’s website. Jean is now the lead dietitian at Bethany Medical Clinic of NY, where she provides nutrition counseling to busy New Yorkers. She has run eight half marathons and made her marathon debut in Philadelphia in November 2018. You can often find Jean in the kitchen, cooking, with a glass of red wine. View All Posts By Jean Hanks »

Eleanor Foa Dienstag

Eleanor Foa Dienstag is a veteran author, journalist, photo-journalist and award-winning corporate writer. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Harper's, the New Republic, the New York Observer, Ms., Travel & Leisure, and many other websites and publications. Eleanor is the author of three books. Her most recent, available on Amazon and Centro Primo Levi is MIXED MESSAGES: Reflections on an Italian Jewish Family and Exile. It is a multi-layered memoir about Eleanor’s personal journey, her father’s exile from Fascist Italy and the Foa Family journey, whose Italian-Jewish roots go back to the 1500s in northern Italy where her ancestors were famous printers. WHITHER THOU GOEST: The Story of an Uprooted Wife, also a memoir, was acclaimed by Business Week for its insights into corporate life. Her third book, In Good Company: 125 Years At The Heinz Table, offered a unique view of a quintessential American company. 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 writing and marketing services. 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 »