people standing and smiling for picture

As part of Women’s History Month, the Westchester County Youth Board hosted the 4th Annual Shero Awards virtually on Tuesday, March 22, 2022. This year’s “Sheros” were Executive Director of the Mount Vernon Youth Bureau Debbie Burrell-Butler, Executive Director of the Youth Shelter Program of Westchester, Inc. Joanne Dunn and Coalition Coordinator of the Ossining Communities that Care for Open Door Family Medical Center Alice Joselow.

County Executive George Latimer said: “Westchester County is fortunate to have no shortage of women who are seen as every day sheros in their communities.  This year’s honorees are noted for their tireless work in the areas of positive youth development, juvenile justice, and alcohol and substance abuse prevention. We thank them for serving as excellent resources and role models to the children, youth, and families that they serve.”

Westchester County Youth Bureau Executive Director Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden said: “When the ‘Shero’ Awards were conceptualized in 2018, we knew there would be an extensive list of dynamic women who immerse themselves in remedying quality of life issues for children and youth. We also recognized that there would be many who were born with the superpower to of creating change day after day, even when they think no one notices. Therefore, this occasion is our way of acknowledging the contributions within County funded programs and beyond.”  

Youth Board President Dr. Alexandria Connely said: “the 2022 Sheros are recognized as true collaborators and key influencers in their respective agencies and have ensured effectiveness within the programs that they oversee. The Board and Bureau appreciates their dedication particularly for their partnership with the Westchester County Youth Bureau, Board, and community at large.”

About the 2022 Sheros:

Debbie Burrell-Butler is the Executive Director of the Mount Vernon Youth Bureau. Debbie attended the Mount Vernon City Schools and graduated from Mount Vernon High School in 2001.  For the past 21 years, Debbie has worked various roles within the City of Mount Vernon government until her appointment to her current role in August 2018.  Today, she continues to drive changes within the Mount Vernon Youth Bureau and her community by providing youth and young adults ages 6-24 with a voice to advocate for themselves and others. She also continues to write and apply for grants that provide paid internships and work experiences for youth, which have led to careers within high-demanding fields. She remains dedicated to her mission and provides resources to families in need, increase positive youth development like job readiness and educational programs to youth and building meaningful relationships within the community which aides in young people overcoming barriers and provide them with life-changing opportunities. Debbie has mentors, coaches, friends, families and a lot of support that sculpted her into who she is today; therefore, she feels obligated to do the same for the youth in Mount Vernon that eventually leads to their self-sufficiency and future successes. 

Joanne Dunn is a human service professional who has over 15 years of experience creating and executing programs throughout the Westchester County, NY. She is the first women to lead the Youth Shelter Program of Westchester, an alternative to incarceration program that serves young men between the ages of 16-21, awaiting disposition or who have been sentenced for various criminal convictions. She has served as a troop leader for the Westchester Putnam Girl Scouts, a member of the Peekskill City School Districts Parental/Community Involvement Committee, a Parent Coordinator for the Peekskill Pop Warner Football League and as an Executive Board Member for the Peekskill NAACP.  Joanne’s leadership philosophy is to lead by example.  She embraces the notion that an organization moves forward when its staff feels empowered and appreciated and provides her staff with many opportunities to learn and grow. 

Her mission in life is to empower and employ others to channel their pain into their purpose; particularly those who are troubled with life's obstacles and helping them use these adversities as a vehicle for good/change. She continues to push her own boundaries personally and professionally. In her spare time, she is a champion for children in need of a home and works with the United Way of Westchester Putnam to promote and locate foster families. 

Alice Joselow is a community advocate. She has lived in Ossining for 24 years and currently works for the Open Door Family Medical Center where she coordinates and chairs a federally funded (SAMHSA Drug Free Communities grant) coalition called Ossining Communities That Care which is focused on reducing teen substance abuse and the promotion of positive youth development in Ossining.

Alice has volunteered in the PTA where she organized many activities including storytelling festivals, afterschool programs, and assemblies and served as president for several years. Alice was elected to the Ossining Board of Education (BOE) in 1999 and served for 12 years on the board. In the course of her BOE service she worked to keep kids first, to narrow the achievement gap and ensure equitable and high academic outcomes for all students, she worked to build up many new community collaborations, and helped to plan and pass several bond issues. Alice also helped to start “A Kid’s Place” day care center, and was the managing vice president of the Ossining Food Pantry for many years as well. Alice is a founding member of both the Ossining Communities That Care (OCTC) community coalition and Ossining MATTERS, the local educational foundation.