STATEN ISLAND LEADERS IN BUSINESS, CULTURE, AND THE ARTS SHARE THEIR GREATEST CAREER ACCOMPLISHMENTS, FAVORITE SPRING ACTIVITIES, AND INTERIOR DESIGN STYLES

BY JESSICA JONES GORMAN AND AMANDA McCOY PHOTOS BY AMESSE PHOTOGRAPHY, AMANDA DOMENCH, AND TOM ZAPCIC

Annamarie Gulino Gentile, Esq.
Supervising Partner at Angiuli & Gentile, LLP / aglawnyc.com
As an elder law attorney, Annamarie Gulino Gentile advises families on how to protect life long assets in the event that long term care is required. A magna cum laude graduate of the State University of New York at Albany who received her J.D. degree from Brooklyn Law School, Gentile’s estate planning work includes drafting wills, living trusts, family agreements, health care directives, and durable powers of attorney.

A past chair of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce Foundation Board, Gentile maintains an active role in the Staten Island community. She is the immediate past chair of the Community Agency for Senior Citizens (CASC) and is currently a board member of CASC and Meals On Wheels of Staten Island, Inc.

In May 2019, Gentile was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to the age friendly NYC Commission. She is an avid volunteer for many causes involving the elderly and special needs populations and offers frequent seminars to the public in the area of elder law. The attorney was a recipient of the Staten Island Friends for Hospice Care Couple of the Year Award, and was an honoree at both the Garibaldi Meucci Annual Luncheon and the Italian American Women of Staten Island Annual Luncheon, where she was recognized for her contributions as an Italian American in the Community of Staten Island. Most recently, she received the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce Louis R. Miller Business Leadership Award and the Community Agency for Senior Citizens (CASC) Community Service Award.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENT?
I would say it is building the elder law department at our firm to offer a comprehensive venue for senior citizens and their family members to rely on for all of their elder law needs, especially when facing a crisis situation.

DESCRIBE YOUR INTERIOR DESIGN STYLE IN A FEW WORDS
I am an HGTV freak! I would describe my “current style” as transitional, using neutral palettes, crisp fabrics, and lots of natural light to create an open and airy environment (We have over 125 windows in our home!).

A&G SPREAD

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SPRINGTIME ACTIVITY?
Planting flowers and herbs in my home garden to enjoy their delicious scents throughout the whole summer.

 

 

 

 

 

Justin Freedman
President, GPS / generalplumbingsupply.net
is year marks 111 years since Freedman’s great grandfather opened a small general hardware store in Bayonne, and GPS (then Goldberg Plumbing Supply) has since become one of the largest plumbing supply distributors on the East Coast. Today, the company president represents the fourth generation of leadership in the family business, following in the footsteps of his great grandfather, grandfather, and uncle. Freedman took over the reins of day to day management after serving in several roles within the company, from technology and marketing to general management of the overall sales and operations. For him, it’s a source of pride to carry on the family legacy, but he laughs today that if asked his career aspirations in college, he would’ve given a very different response.

“I was on a path to work in sports sponsorship, and it was only after going to business school that I began to appreciate the opportunity to contribute and help grow this successful business,” said Freedman.

And the key to lasting success for over a century? That’s simple: “The strength of our business has always been focusing on the details, being accessible, and adapting quickly to customer needs,” he explained. “We are always available to our employees and customers so when a change is needed, we can pivot quickly without much of the proverbial corporate red tape.”

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENT?
I take a lot of pride in our growth with Kohler over the last few years including opening two Kohler Signature Stores in New Jersey (Paramus & Eatontown), as well as our other ten GPS branded showrooms. But navigating the last 12 months with our team has also been a huge task, and while we are still dealing with the impact of COVID, I am proud of the way we managed through chaos and extreme uncertainty.

DESCRIBE YOUR INTERIOR DESIGN STYLE IN A FEW WORDS.
I would say that I have traditional taste that can stretch into modern especially with the trend of matte black. I am a big believer in a clean white kitchen but can appreciate the trend for a gray island or vanity for an impact piece.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SPRINGTIME ACTIVITY?
Seeing a Yankees game at the stadium with family and friends, which hopefully we can start to do again soon.

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Pernice
Co-Owner, Aunt Butchie’s of Brooklyn auntbutchiesofbrooklyn.com, auntbutchiesmarlboro.com
In 2011 Joe Pernice teamed up with Frank Santo and Pete Marcolini to open a restaurant. Friends since childhood, each member of the trio brought a different skill to the table. Pernice? He tackled the finances.

“I worked in public accounting before opening my insurance agency 20 years ago,” noted Pernice, detailing his full time position with Associated Consulting Group in Carroll Gardens. “Owning a restaurant was definitely a leap of faith for me but when Frank decided to bring his business out to Tottenville, I wanted to take the chance with him.”

In Brooklyn, Santo had already built a reputation among Kings County residents for serving legendary desserts at his small, family owned Aunt Butchie’s Bake Shop in Dyker Heights. Upon finding an available spot on Arthur Kill Road, the duo called in Marcolini, a former distributor of Italian specialty foods, who the friends lovingly refer to as the “unschooled chef.”

“We opened up as a small bakery and café on what was then this quiet strip of Arthur Kill Road and people thought we were crazy,” said Pernice. “But in the past ten years we have expanded at that location two times and opened another outpost in New Jersey, so I guess you could say the concept was on point.”

Aunt Butchie’s stayed float throughout the COVID pandemic by offering takeout and delivery, and with the support of various organizations the restaurant provided lunch and dinner to hospital staffers on a daily basis during the height of the outbreak.

“The community was wonderful throughout the entire ordeal,” he said. “One year later and thankfully we made it. We are extremely optimistic about the year ahead.”

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Utilizing my background in public accounting to build my insurance agency and also helping operate the financial end of Aunt Butchie’s business.

DESCRIBE YOUR INTERIOR DESIGN STYLE IN A FEW WORDS.
Clean, bright, and spacious it’s a style that’s evident in Aunt Butchie’s Marlboro location.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SPRINGTIME ACTIVITY?
After the pandemic I found a new love for bike riding with my three kids. I dusted off the bike and it gave us a new activity that I look forward to in the spring.

 

 

 

 

 

Christina and Diane Klein, D.D.S.
Dentists and owners, Dynamic Dental dynamicdentaldocs.com
As experts in the field of dentistry with more than 30 years of collective experience, Drs. Christina and Diane Klein recognize the undeniable importance of a smile. Experts at “tweaking what God has already made” and identifying crises of the mouth through technological advancement, the sisters, who have been practicing together for the past 16 years at their boutique practice Dynamic Dental in Great Kills, maintain a strong focus on family care. “We’ve coached many of our patients through Tooth Fairy visits, and now we’re whitening their teeth for their Sweet 16s,” said Dr. Christina Klein. “It’s a beautiful thing to watch each smile adapt from childhood to adulthood.”

Born and raised in Staten Island, Drs. Klein earned their D.D.S. degrees from New York University College of Dentistry. Dr. Christina Klein was inspired to pursue a career in dentistry by their family dentist, Dr. Murray Edelman, who made her childhood appointments “exciting and fun.” Dr. Diane Klein always had an interest in science and medicine and was eventually influenced by her sister’s positive experience.

“I watched Dr. Christina excel at NYU,” she noted. “Despite the rigorous curriculum and hours of studying, I saw how much she enjoyed it. And I also saw how dentistry enabled her to have a wonderful work/life balance. We come from a long line of strong, capable women, and I saw this career as a way to uphold that lineage.”

The sisters, who rely on innovative dentistry techniques and work with state of the art equipment, credit their NYU education with helping them establish a strong foothold in the industry. “General dentistry is a very fulfilling field because we are able to treat all different types of ailments and we see all different types of challenges come through our office door,” said Dr. Christina Klein.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Enhancing the health of our community with enthusiasm, diligence, and integrity. Working side by side as dentists building our family practice around the needs of our loyal patients is a wonderful accomplishment.

DESCRIBE YOUR INTERIOR DESIGN STYLE IN A FEW WORDS.
An elevated look that is inviting with customized features for an overall aesthetic appeal. Like dentistry and smile design, interior design is all about the details.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SPRINGTIME ACTIVITY?
Spring is a reminder that the seeds we plant with good intentions bloom. Building our own business and watching it grow is a beautiful process to witness. Especially now, we are looking forward to a springtime renewal. Spending more time in the pleasant weather and appreciating Mother Nature.

 

 

 

 

 

David Mostafavi, M.D.
Ophthalmologist, Mostafavi Eye Institute mostafavieye.com
David Mostafavi, M.D., completed his undergraduate degree in chemistry with a full scholarship at Rutgers University. He continued his medical training at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, where his initial interest in ophthalmology was sparked by his brother and mentor, Ray Mostafavi, M.D.

He completed his ophthalmology residency at SUNY Downstate and was named administrative chief resident by the faculty his last year.

While a resident, he was inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) medical society, an honor given to only a few residents at an academic institution annually. After residency, Dr.

Mostafavi extended his training with a fellowship in Ocular Immunology and Uveitis at New York Eye and Ear In firmary, further specializing in ocular inflammation and corneal disease.
Dr. Mostafavi was named chairman of Ophthalmology at Richmond University Medical Center last year at the impressive age of 36. Since taking the role, he has increased surgical and clinical volume and has created a residency training program where he allocates one day a week to teach the latest techniques in cataract surgery to ophthalmology residents. Dr. Mostafavi is the author of numerous publications in peer reviewed journals and chapter textbooks. His interests include cataract surgery, uveitis, general ophthalmology, and resident education. In his free time, he enjoys staying healthy and spending time with his wife, daughter, son, and dog.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENT?
I created a business plan for the ophthalmology department at Richmond University Medical Center when I became chairman. In previous years the department wasn’t doing well financially. We’ve turned the department around by hiring the right people and creating a culture which understands that business and medicine need to coexist, and both entities are important for the sustainability of a department.

DESCRIBE YOUR INTERIOR DESIGN STYLE IN A FEW WORDS.
Unique! I like to push the boundary between eclectic and useful. Living in spaces which reflect uniqueness with colors, lighting, plants, and also at times minimalism brings me happiness and creativity.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SPRINGTIME ACTIVITY?
Going on walks with my wife, three year old daughter (Violet), and our Australian Shepherd to the center of our town. We get coffee, watch Violet run around in the park, and have conversations with people. It’s a good time to be in the present and appreciate what’s important in life.

 

 

 

 

 

Jody Hall
Owner, Gables New York / gablesnewyork.com
James Hall has been decorating interiors for decades, from spaces in Virginia and D.C. to Manhattan. e gifted interior designer, who holds several degrees in fine arts and the preservation of architectural history, is especially skilled in the art of window design. But in 2006, the Staten Island resident decided to localize his firm, bringing his talent to his home borough. The inspiration for this change? His wife, Jody.

“My youngest son was diagnosed with autism, and when we found out that news we both needed to have a more flexible schedule,” explained Jody Hall. “I had been working in real estate, so it was a great dovetail.”

Hall, who also has a background in marketing and operations, immediately found her niche in the business.

“We started out of the house, working with some of my husband’s Manhattan clients, and little by little we branched out, gaining customers here on the Island. Connie Profaci [of Connie Profaci Realty] became a customer, and she suggested we open a storefront.”

The Halls rented a small space in Profaci’s New Dorp real estate office for a year before expanding into their own space on the lane. They titled their business Gables New York.
“Our concept from the start was to bring a Manhattan design center here to Staten Island,” said Hall. “We o er a full range of services custom furniture, accessories, artwork, and window treatments. It’s a one stop shop for all of your interior design needs.”

Now entering its 15th year in business, Gables New York is a fully accredited Hunter Douglas Gallery with a dedicated clientele throughout the tri state area.

“We offer thousands of fabrics, hundreds of wallpapers, and all kinds of crystal, metal, and wood hardware,” she said. “Fifty five percent of our business is repeat business, which is something I am quite proud of.”

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Turning my business from a multi line window treatment dealer into an exclusive American made Hunter Douglas gallery.

DESCRIBE YOUR INTERIOR DESIGN STYLE IN A FEW WORDS.
My personal style is very transitional; I blend both traditional and modern elements in my home and use no more than three colors if I can help it. I like the serenity of a plain backdrop, and I inject color in the form of artwork and textiles, sometimes carpeting. You can’t really impose your personal style onto a client so I interview them and then create a space based on their likes. Together we search for a look that is timeless.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SPRINGTIME ACTIVITY?
Jim loves working in the garden, and I love sitting in the garden, watching all of the growth and seeing all of the colors bloom. It reminds me of all the colors I can work with, bringing the outside in.