Biennial gala at CCSU honors nine Women of Influence

Published on Sunday, 25 February 2018 22:00
Written by Lorenzo Burgio


NEW BRITAIN - Nine female trailblazers were honored Saturday for making a difference in their communities at the fourth biennial Women of Influence Gala.

Each honoree was presented her award by a past winner in front of more than 150 people at Central Connecticut State University’s Alumni Hall.

“They’re all incredible women,” said Professor Carolyn Fallahi. “This is just a fabulous evening of fun, dancing and raising some money for scholarships that are going to benefit students.”

Proceeds from ticket sales for this year’s gala went toward the university’s mental health scholarships and initiatives, said Fallahi, who has helped organize the event since its inception.

The university hosted the event for the first time in 2012, after Fallahi had become aware of a student at the university who needed a scholarship, she explained.

“My daughter, at the time, had her prom to go to. So that helped me come up with the idea of having a nice, fancy gala for adults and having it as a way to raise money for scholarships for students,” she said. “It’s the time that we all get together, enjoy and celebrate.”

The university’s Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies Committee, of which Fallahi was co-chairwoman in 2012, organized the first gala, Fallahi said.

Every two years since then, the gala has raised money for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer), graduate programs and Women’s Gender and Sexuality scholarships and initiatives, she said.

All of the 2018 honorees have a connection to the university, Fallahi added. Three - Christine Perez-Burby, Elizabeth Angelillo and Cynthia Rivera - are sisters and all graduated from CCSU.

“We had a lot of nominees this year,” Fallahi said.

Each honoree was nominated by someone in the CCSU community, then a committee reviewed the nominees and chose the winners, she said.

The 2018 Women of Influence are:

Linda Reeder, professor in the Department of Manufacturing and Construction Management, CCSU.

  Susan Sebastian Lineberry, Retired from GE Capital; influential in the global business community.

 Kathy Pirog, professor of athletic training at CCSU.

Mary Anne Cannon, vice president of commercial engine programs, Pratt & Whitney.

Nancy Sarra, superintendent of schools, New Britain.

Christina Perez-Burby, therapist for Connecticut Junior Republic, Waterbury.

Elizabeth Angelillo, family relations counselor for the Judicial Court, New Britain.

Cynthia Rivera, therapist for Connecticut Junior Republic, New Britain.

Zulma Toro, president of Central Connecticut State University.

Lorenzo Burgio can be reached at 860-801-5088 or by email at

Posted in New Britain Herald, New Britain on Sunday, 25 February 2018 22:00. Updated: Sunday, 25 February 2018 22:02.