Save The Date!
The Chocolate Factory’s Second Annual Gala

September 27, 2023

At The Chocolate Factory Theater, 38-33 24th Street, Long Island City.

Cocktails: 6pm
Dinner: 7pm
After Party: 9pm

Hosted by Neal Medlyn!

Performance by Heather Kravas!

Decorations by Stephanie Acosta!

Food and drink by Diana Manalang / Little Chef Little Cafe!

Margaritas by Casa Enrique!

Shakedown Goddess: Lucy Sexton!

After Party DJ: Flotilla DeBarge!

Gala Dinner tickets starting at $250 (includes admission to the After Party).

After Party tickets starting at $30.

Buy raffle tickets!

If you cannot attend but would like to make a donation, you can do that here.

Table Purchases, Sponsorships and Program Ads available; contact Sheila Lewandowski at (718) 482-7069 or

Featuring the Artist In Industry Award, Honoring: Amy Cassello (Interim Artistic Director, BAM), Alton S. Murray (Deputy Commissioner, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs) and Mary V. Torres (Realtor, Modern Spaces).

The Artist in Industry Award was created in 2016 to recognize business professionals with strong connections to The Chocolate Factory who have demonstrated creativity and artistry in their careers, thus impacting their fields as a whole.

About the Honorees:

Amy Cassello began her career as an arts administrator at the age of 11 by organizing neighborhood talent shows for charity. Upon graduating from Sarah Lawrence College and after a brief stint in statewide and national campaign politics as a press assistant, speechwriter and fund raiser, she returned to her original calling in the arts. She has worked in development, marketing/publicity, and general management for the City of New Haven’s Department of Cultural Affairs, the Arts & Ideas Festival, Colorado Dance Festival, Doug Elkins Dance Company, Urban Bush Women, nora chipaumire, and Souleymane Badolo (among other independent choreographers). She joined BAM in August 2012 in a newly-created position as the Associate Producer for the Next Wave Festival under Joseph V. Melillo. She was promoted to Producer in 2018 and then named Associate Artistic Director in 2019 at the behest of David Binder, BAM’s new Artistic Director. Over the years, she has served as a grant review panelist for NYSCA, Creative Capital, The MAP Fund, The Shed’s Open Call, and NEFA’s National Dance Project.

Alton S. Murray is the Deputy Commissioner for the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, where his portfolio includes a broad range of agency initiatives, policies, and programs aimed at supporting New York City’s vast, vibrant cultural sector. Previously, he served as Strategic Partnership Manager in the Corporate Affairs Department of Con Edison where he managed relationships with arts and culture and environmental non-profit organizations. His work helped to implement and measure new and existing programs that support the company’s philanthropic efforts and core business initiatives. Alton is also an ardent patron of the arts. He mentors emerging arts leaders and supports emerging artists from underrepresented communities, particularly those whose primary creative medium is paper. Alton holds a B.S in Liberal Studies from St John’s University and a Corporate Community Involvement Certification from Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship. He currently serves as the Co-Chair of the advisory Committee of Company Stefanie Batten Bland, a dance company.

Mary V. Torres has happily called Long Island City home since 2009 when she bought an apartment in Citylights – LIC’s first waterfront luxury high-rise condop. Nothing makes Mary happier than helping clients find their own perfect spot in LIC and she works tirelessly to guide them through the process of renting, buying or selling both residential and commercial properties in Long Island City and throughout New York City. Mary joins Modern Spaces with over two decades of combined experience as a business developer and community banker. It’s her love of the community combined with her professional experience in client and business development, which compelled her to pursue real estate in Long Island City. Mary’s superb communication skills, strong business acumen, and global market experience give her the ability to work with a diverse array of clients. Whether they are looking to rent, buy or sell, Mary ensures her client’s needs are met and moreover, that they are at ease with the process from beginning to end. Mary holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics, and is certified as a Buyers Representative and a Certified Negotiation Expert. She is a registered member of the Real Estate Board of New York.

Neal Medlyn (host) is a performer whose work appears regularly at Joe’s Pub and whose works have been commissioned nationally and internationally. He has also been commissioned twice for evening length shows from the lovely folks at the Chocolate Factory and is thrilled to be your host!