Downtown Alliance Honors Five Community Members with Exceptional Service Awards 

Downtown Alliance Honors Five Community Members with Exceptional Service Awards 

The Alliance for Downtown New York presented Exceptional Service Awards to five outstanding members of the Lower Manhattan community on Wednesday, June 22, at Felice 15 Gold. The honorees were recognized for their efforts to improve the lives of residents, workers and visitors in the neighborhood.  

“This year’s recipients have devoted themselves to making life better and brighter for everyone, in both good and challenging times,” said Downtown Alliance President Jessica Lappin. “They’re part of the collaborative spirit that makes Lower Manhattan one of the most dynamic and resilient neighborhoods in the city and today we offer them a round of applause for their contributions.”   

The 2022 Exceptional Service Awards recipients include (in alphabetical order):

Wellington Chen, Executive Director of the Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corporation — Wellington’s leadership made an important difference during a time of crisis not only for the small businesses that are the backbone of Chinatown but also during a disturbing rise in violence against Asian Americans. His determination and passionate defense of his community has been instructive and inspiring. An architect by training, Wellington worked for renowned architect I.M. Pei early in his career. He was the first Asian American to serve as a commissioner on the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals and now sits on a dozen boards, including the City University of New York, the MET, Queens Economic Development Corporation and Asian American / Asian Research Institute.

Supervisor Andrew Damico, New York City Department of Sanitation — Supervisor Damico has been with the New York City Department of Sanitation since August 2008 and has served as a vital partner to the Alliance’s efforts. During his time downtown, which ended when he was transferred to Queens in January, Supervisor Damico went above and beyond to maintain the neighborhood. He worked hard with the Alliance to squash illegal dumping, ensure trash removal and find new garbage drop locations. He showed a passion for his job and concern for the safety of others. This was especially true through Covid, when DSNY’s team was spread thin.

Rocco DiSpirito, Chef, Author and Host of Dine Around Downtown: Cooking At Home Edition — DiSpirito has become a vocal champion of all of the incredible food in Lower Manhattan and those who create it. During the pandemic, he provided invaluable leadership in helping local restaurants and hosted 18 episodes of Dine Around Downtown: Cooking at Home Edition. He also hosted this summer’s Dine Around Downtown community food festival and has been named Best New Chef by Food and Wine, America’s Most Exciting Young Chef by Gourmet and written 13 books — including the James Beard award-winning Flavor and five NY Times bestsellers while simultaneously appearing on a variety of national cooking shows. DiSpirito is a staunch supporter of food security charities, as well as other charitable organizations that are dear to him.

Police Officer Brian Nelsen, NYPD’s First Precinct Community Affairs — Officer Nelsen is part of NYPD’s First Precinct Community Affairs and has been assisting the Downtown Alliance with quality of life issues and general nuisance complaints. Nelsen specifically is responsible for facilitating cooperation between city and other agencies to address conditions that residents and businesses encounter in our district, on a daily basis. He is a major part of why Lower Manhattan is such a safe and delightful place to live, work and visit.

Anthony Notaro, Former CB1 Chair and Stalwart Champion of Lower Manhattan — Notaro, who passed away on December 30, 2020 was the very embodiment of community service and forever committed to civility and kindness. He helped organize the annual Battery Park City Block Party, which was a community celebration and affirmation of the neighborhood’s rebirth after the attacks on September 11. He co-founded the BPC Community Emergency Response Team in 2003 and served as President of the NYPD 1st Precinct Community Council. He served more than two decades and was elected Chair for the last four years of Community Board 1. As Chair, Notaro was also an Alliance board member. His mark on this community is indelible.