By Erin Levi

Yesodot CEO Diana Rachnaev was honored at the «Power Women of Queens» event, hosted by Bethpage Federal Credit Union on February 29, 2024. She was the sole Bukharian woman at the event.
«It was a very big deal. That’s for sure,» said Diana.
Diana’s humility shines through in her response to being nominated. Despite being the CEO of Yesodot, Schneps Media, with whom they’ve collaborated, was seemingly unaware of her position. When Schneps wanted to recognize Yesodot, prompting the question, «Who’s the CEO?» Diana modestly raised her hand, «It’s me. So, I had to take the trophy,» she said, laughing. Her inclination to let the spotlight shine on the organization rather than herself is evident.
Aside from being the CEO and Co-founder of Yesodot, Diana serves as Senator Addabbo’s community liaison (District 15). She is also part of the Jewish Advisory Council for District Attorney Melinda Katz. And she is member of Community Board 6, where she co-chairs the Health, Mental Health and Substance Use Committee.

«I feel like I’m missing something,» she says. I try prompting her, «You’re a mother?»
«I am a mother. I’m a wife. I’m a sister. I’m a daughter. And I’m Diana.»
The multifaceted Diana received congratulations and citations from a Senator and Assemblyman David Weber, along with a hefty 10-pound marble trophy, which she plans to display at Yesodot’s new headquarters. (Stay tuned for an announcement.)
Reflecting on her experience, she emphasized the opportunity to connect with other influential women, learn about each other’s respective organizations and companies, and deliver a brief speech. She also highlighted the absence of Victoria Schneps-Yunis, the event’s organizer, who was unable to attend but was represented by her dedicated children. Diana praised Schneps-Yunis as a remarkable woman, acknowledging her commitment to showcasing women’s achievements over the event’s 30-year history.
«It speaks volumes about her dedication to empowering and showcasing the amazing contributions that countless women make within our communities,» said Diana. «Yet often these efforts go unnoticed. No one talks about it. Victoria gives us a platform to shine. And I think that’s phenomenal.»
The «Power Women of Queens» event, presented by Bethpage Federal Credit Union, aims to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of influential women in Queens, fostering connections and community support. Schneps Media, the event’s organizer and publisher of over 11 newspapers and sites including QNS, Queens Courier and Jamaica Times, is recognized for its commitment to showcasing women’s achievements across various platforms. «When women support women, amazing things happen,» says Schneps Media’s website. Additionally, proceeds from this year’s event supported the Tiegerman School.
Full Circle Moment

It’s a full circle moment for Diana. «I started out in this field because of [Geraldo Rivera’s exposé] and went full throttle. And here I am today getting an award from the same woman who made that stance and made sure that the silence would be broken.»

Victoria Schneps-Yunis’ Legacy

«She’s a woman who has her own story,» said Diana. «She launched the Queen’s Courier in her living room over 40 years ago. And this is how it evolved into Schneps media, with all of its amazing legs – they’re not just here, they’re everywhere.»
But this is not just the story of a trailblazing entrepreneur.
«One of her children was born with developmental disabilities. Having a child back then in the 60s with a developmental disability was extremely taboo,» said Diana.
The State lacked proper facilities or programs for individuals with special needs, leaving this population consistently underserved. Consequently, a movement arose, leading to the establishment of a facility in Willowbrook, Staten Island, where she ultimately had to place her child. However, conditions there were deplorable due to severe understaffing, resulting in rampant abuse. So she reached out to Geraldo Rivera. Witnessing the appalling situation, Rivera took action, conducting an exposé on the Willowbrook State School titled «The Last Great Disgrace,» which aired in 1972.
«I remember watching this documentary when I was about 19 years old,» said Diana. «It ignited a passion within me to advocate for people who don’t have a voice. This is why I went down this road, and 20 years later, I’m still going strong.»