Women’s Empowerment Group Launched

Ladies First Astoria:

Ladies First Astoria is a new, real-world social network of women supporting women in their community. The group was co-founded by two Astoria residents, Renee Heitmann and Nicole Panettieri. Heitmann is a singer and private voice teacher who also runs Single Girl Cookies, a baking business with a mission to spread kindness throughout the community. Panettieri is the owner of The Brass Owl (36-19 Ditmars Blvd), a ladies boutique in Astoria that also hosts many fundraisers and female-run pop-up shops.

The mission of Ladies First is to provide tools and resources for women to lift each other up, through inclusive social media, events, and group fundraising efforts. With an emphasis on fostering personal and professional relationships, Ladies First Astoria will be hosting locally focused social gatherings, leading industry-specific talks, and facilitating intimate discussions about issues facing women, in their communities and beyond.

The Ladies First Astoria Instagram account will be tooled to showcase community leaders and local business owners with the aim of encouraging women to share their stories and utilize social media as a positive platform that promotes inclusivity and positive thinking.

The idea for Ladies First Astoria came about after Heitmann encountered more and more women in Astoria feeling inspired by her message of kindness and female empowerment. Wanting to take this sentiment to a higher level, Heitmann approached Panettieri, who has a business background, and began to brainstorm ideas. As both women have such strong ties to Astoria and value giving back to the community, they quickly settled on the Ladies First Astoria initiative.

Ladies First Astoria just hosted its launch event on July 19 at T Studio in Astoria. The organization’s first function included entertainment, a raffle with Astoria-made products and businesses, and a special guest speaker, Queens native and candidate for the New York State Senate Jessica Ramos. “Ramos has led by example working towards the advancement of gender equality and the rights of immigrants, embodying the values of Ladies First Astoria,” said Heitmann and Panettieri.

The proceeds from the event went to benefit the Center for the Integration and Advancement of New Americans (CIANA), an Astoria-based non-profit that helps integrate immigrants from South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa into American life and culture. (See the Queens Gazette, June 27, Local-Express: Emira Habiby Browne, about the founder of CIANA.)

Tickets for the sold-out event were $30 which included food and drinks.

You can follow Ladies First Astoria on Instagram at www.instagram.com/ladiesfirstastoria/

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