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 completed filming on February 1, 2020. Charlene divides her time between homes in Manhattan and Alexandria, Virginia. View All Posts By Charlene Giannetti »

Contributors

Alix Cohen

Alix Cohen is the recipient of eight 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 »

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 »

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 »

MJ Hanley-Goff

MJ Hanley-Goff has been contributing to WomanAroundTown since its inception in 2009. She began her career at Newsday and for ten years wrote for the Sunday Real Estate section. A move to the Hudson Valley brought her to the Times Herald-Record where she continued to write for a Sunday Real Estate section, and also joined the writing team at the monthly Orange Magazine. MJ then became editor of Hudson Valley Parent magazine, and contributed articles to Hudson Valley Magazine, AAA’s Car & Travel, and Tri-County Woman. After completing her novel and a self-help book, she created MJWRITES, INC. and conducts writing workshops, and as a self-proclaimed book “whisperer,” works with new writers on their books. Now back on Long Island, she continues to enjoy the opportunity to write for Woman Around Town, and the amazing adventures it offers, including reviewing concerts, events, and tourist attractions in New York, and around the world. “I particularly enjoy drawing attention to the off the beaten path kinds of events and experiences,” 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 "Life in Opera: Truth, Tempo and Soul," two translations: "Europe à la carte" and Molière’s "The School for Wives" (performed at Canterbury Christ Church University, U.K.), three poetry collections, and numerous articles and interviews in "Classical Singer" Magazine, "Das Opernglas," "Studies in European Cinema," and "Opera News." A classically-trained singer, she has performed in the New York City area at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, Florence Gould Hall, and the Westchester Broadway Theatre, and released four albums, among which two are of her own songs. Maria-Cristina has presented on opera at The Graduate Center, Baruch, The City College of New York, UCLA Southland, the White Plains Library. Fluent in six languages, she honed her language skills at the Sorbonne University in Paris and the University of Vienna, and obtained her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from The Graduate Center. Besides music and writing, she enjoys traveling, reading, playing tennis, skiing, and spending time in nature. www.mariacristinanecula.com View All Posts By Maria-Cristina Necula »

Paula M. Levine

Paula is an award-winning writer, producer, and storyteller who has spent over twenty years producing news, feature stories, documentaries, and web content. Since 2014, she has also taught Writing and Media Relations at NYU in their Masters Program in PR and Corporate Communication. In her "copious spare time", she runs, bikes, and swims; and has completed 7 NYC Marathons. View All Posts By Paula M. Levine »

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 head dietitian at Buena Vida Continuing Care and Rehabilitation Center in Brooklyn. 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. Feel free to contact Jean with any nutrition-related questions at jhanks3181@gmail.com. View All Posts By Jean Hanks »

Daria Sommers

Daria Sommers is an award-winning filmmaker/writer whose work includes both fiction and non-fiction storytelling. Her films have been broadcast on PBS, BBC, CBC as well as at festivals and museums internationally. www.dariasommers.com View All Posts By Daria Sommers »

Tamara Moscowitz

Tamara Moscowitz is a writer on art, design, and home décor for digital and print media. Starting out as a features writer for Florida Designers Review and Florida Design she transitioned to online magazines that include elledecor.com, designintell/vandm.com, and creativeabode.com. Currently, in addition to contributing articles to Woman Around Town she also writes for InteriorDesign.net. She was Founder and Managing Editor of “The Jewish Experience,” a magazine published under the auspices of the Center for Jewish History one of several undertakings as director of communications. As a book publicist she freelanced at Harcourt, among others, planning press and publicity activities for foreign authors. Her long association with PEN American Center, the international writers organization involved fundraising events and marketing literary forums.    View All Posts By Tamara Moscowitz »

Jason Veduccio

Jason Veduccio is a writer, speaker and business entrepreneur. He uses his own blend of strategic philosophy and humor to help others increase value in their businesses and in their lives. While creating full-experience solutions in education and marketing, he has developed a special insight into human behavior, which he passes along to his clients and colleagues. After starting his own creative studio, he published his first book, The New American Dreamer: How to Land That Ideal Job in a Nightmare Economy. He frequently guest speaks at events and is active in helping under served communities. View All Posts By Jason Veduccio »

Marti Sichel

Marti Davidson Sichel is happy to be a part of such an impressive lineup of talented contributors. She has always loved the capital-A Arts. Some of her fondest early memories include standing starry-eyed at stage doors to meet musical cast members who smiled and signed playbills, singing along to Broadway classics and dancing as only a six-year-old can to Cats. She was also a voracious and precocious reader. The bigger the words and more complex the ideas her books contained, the better — even (especially) if a teacher raised an eyebrow at the titles. Marti’s educational and professional experience tends toward the scientific, though science and art are often more connected than they seem. Being able to combine her love of culture and wordsmithing is a true pleasure, and she is grateful to Woman Around Town’s fearless leaders for the opportunity. A 2014 New York Press Club award winner, Marti finds the trek in from Connecticut and the excursions to distant corners of the theater world as exciting as ever. When she’s not working, you can often find Marti in search of great music, smart comedy and interesting recipes. View All Posts By Marti Sichel »