By Nicole Bode
DNAinfo Senior Editor
MIDTOWN — Novelist Carol Higgins Clark, comedienne Susie Essman and Bowery Mission philanthropist Veronica Kelly, wife of NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, were among those dubbed the "Women of the Year" in Midtown on Thursday.
The Police Athletic League's 22nd annual ceremony honors those who have "achieved excellence in their chosen field," according to the PAL website. Past recipients have included Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Candice Bergen.
"It's a great honor," said Veronica Kelly, who works with the New York City Global Partners, a non-profit organization that connects municipal leaders in New York City with leaders from around the world to discuss shared problems facing their cities.
Kelly said she was proud to have her son, James Kelly, introducing her for the award, as well as her other son, Fox's Good Day New York host Greg Kelly, and husband, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, on hand for the ceremony.
This year's ceremony at the Pierre Hotel on Fifth Avenue drew a star-studded array of guests including actress Lorraine Bracco, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr., and former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.
Ray Kelly praised his wife's work as one of the main proponents of the Bowery Mission Women's Center on the Upper East Side.
"I'm so proud of her, she is just phenomenal," said Kelly. "She can do anything and everything."
Veronica Kelly was responsible for raising the funds to restore a working garden at the five-story brownstone, where up to 20 formerly homeless or drug-addicted women can stay while they rebuild their lives. She has also raised funds for the renovation and maintenance of the center.
"There is no shortage of powerful and influential women in New York City," said Felix Urrutia, executive director of PAL. "We had talked for years about having Mrs. Kelly. She was always shy about it. This year she said okay."
Gina Rena Lovett, founder and managing member of the New York-based hedge fund Little Wolf Capital, was also honored.
The Bowery Mission women's program is open to women between the ages of 18 and 55, and has been in place since 2005. The faith-based rehabilitation program offers skills training, education, and other support to help its residents. Women can stay at the center between nine and 15 months, according to the Mission's website.
"Veronica has been a very special and significant friend to the Women's Center," Deborah Jones, Director of the Bowery Mission Women's Center at Heartease Home said in an e-mail.
"She has lovingly invested her time and energy in making our center a beautiful and welcoming home for women who walk through our doors ... We appreciate and love Veronica for all that she has done on behalf of women in need in New York City."