Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino and members of the Town Board hosted a special ceremony to recognize exceptional women who have significantly given back to our communities. This year’s ceremony recognized 11 ‘Women of Distinction’ who live and work throughout the Town of Oyster Bay.
Supervisor Saladino stated, “These extraordinary women all have outstanding qualities and have truly made our Town a better place. Together with my colleagues on the Town Board, we salute these outstanding residents for giving back to the charities, our hometown and the neighbors they love so much.”
Councilwoman Johnson, Chairperson of the Women of Distinction Committee, added “All of our honorees went above and beyond in their communities. Even with the crazy times that have been upon us with the onset of the COVID pandemic, these women went even farther above and beyond. The honorees selected should take pride in their great achievements as they are true role models in their various fields and communities.”
ELSA VASSALLO of Bayville – Woman of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award
If you’ve ever visited the Bayville Meat Market, you know this woman needs no introduction. Elsa Vassallo has been working at the establishment since she and her husband opened its doors in 1976. The couple had met at a supermarket, where he was a butcher and she was a meat wrapper. Elsa’s husband Pasquale passed away in 1989, leaving her a young widow with four children. She and her son Eddie kept the business going. Elsa worked pretty much every day since, until the start of the pandemic. She is now 85 years old. Elsa is someone who everyone knows – and someone who knows everybody. Her family laughs when they recall how she knows everybody’s business and is not shy to give her opinion. To say she is a beloved member of the community is an understatement. She loves her neighborhood, never wanted to go anywhere else, and displays an unwavering commitment to her work, her family and her community. Although her family advises her not to come in everyday for her own health, she would rather be at the market than be home. She has seen three generations of her family come through the market, which remains and will remain a family run business and staple in the community. The business is now run by her son Eddie and her grandson, Michael. Elsa and her late husband had four children: Eddie, Kurt (who also works at the market), Rita and Nina.
JUDY CAREY of Massapequa
Looking for a volunteer opportunity when her children started school, Judy Carey turned to Canine Companions for Independence, which helps place highly-trained service dogs with people in need. She has helped raise several dogs and while it’s difficult for her to part with the amazing animals she raises, the reward of seeing someone in need get a service dog is all the reassurance she needs. One of her pets, a trained service dog, helps those in need at organizations such as DogAbility, where he helps both children and adults.
TERRI CAVALIERE of Plainview
Terri Cavaliere worked as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner in the NICU at Northwell in Manhasset from 1982 through 2020 and is now a Professor of Nursing at the School of Nursing at SUNY Stony Brook, a position she has held for several years. Terri is internationally known for her expertise on issues relating to the NICU and Nursing Education. She has mentored hundreds of nurses over her 40 plus years in nursing and education and continues to do so at SUNY. Terri also has served as Board Secretary of Trinity Lutheran Church in Hicksville and is active in the Abraham Comfort Dog Ministry of the church.
MELANIE DUFFY of Massapequa
Melanie Duffy is the owner of Broadway Gourmet Caterers in Massapequa. Over the years she has made countless contributions to the community, and especially so during the height of the COVID pandemic. She worked to give back to those on the front lines and residents in need, donating hundreds of meals to staff at hospitals, assisted living facilities and nursing homes. She initiated a ‘Feed our Heroes Mission,’ through which she matched all donations to feed our healthcare heroes. Melanie also teamed up with retired police officers to help feed over 1,000 of New York City’s police force and helped coordinate meal delivery giveaways to seniors living alone.
CATHERINE FLANAGAN of North Massapequa
Catherine Flanagan is the President of the Plainedge Board of Education and a staunch advocate for the children and taxpayers of the community. She has been recognized numerous times by the NYS School Boards Association, earning awards in areas of leadership, mastery in boardsmanship and board excellence. She is a Board Member for the Nassau/Suffolk School Boards Association Executive Committee, representing all Nassau County School Districts and advocating for all children and all public schools and also serves on the NYS School Boards Association Champions of Change Committee.
PATRICIA HART of Plainview
Patricia Hart is the owner of Hart & Soul Dance and Performing Arts – a studio for students ages 2-18. While COVID caused a huge setback to her business, her biggest concern was that the children were hit hard both physically and emotionally. As soon as she could get it set up – ‘Miss Trish’ reopened her studio that first summer and never looked back, all the while keeping focus on the students and the need for them to have a safe place to let go, breathe and enjoy dance and music. She also organizes donation drives in her community.
CHRISTIE JACOBSON of Massapequa
Christie Jacobson is a highly successful woman both in her professional and personal life. An accomplished attorney, Christie serves as general counsel to public school districts throughout New York State and is often called upon to speak on legal issues for various organizations, including the NYS School Boards Association, as well as others. Christie has been recognized by organizations for her leadership in law, as well as an Outstanding Woman in Law and New York Women Leaders in Law. She is also involved in her local PTA.
MARGARET MARCHAND of Locust Valley
Margaret Marchand has been described as a warrior when it comes to defending the rights of children, both in her role as a school board member and parent in her community. She was particularly active at the height of the COVID pandemic, when she helped countless children not only in her hometown, but across Long Island. Margaret worked tirelessly to help maintain some level of normalcy for all students and worked to make sure students didn’t miss out on once in a lifetime opportunities such as sporting activities and graduation ceremonies.
KATHRYN NASTRI of East Norwich
Kathy Nastri is a lifelong resident of East Norwich who has given her heart and soul to the community. Kathy serves as Executive Director of Harmony Heights, a nonprofit which provides mental health and educational support services to struggling young people. She joined the staff over 30 years ago as a clinical social worker, and is currently executive director. Kathy has made a concerted effort to forge a bond between her organization and the surrounding community, feeling it was important for both groups to become more connected and to help alleviate misconceptions with mental health.
KIM POULOS of Farmingdale
Kim Poulos Lieberz is the CEO, Chief Creative Officer, and entrepreneurial spirit of KGI Design Group, a woman-owned creative agency. She is also co-creator and owner of Barnyard Lane Sign Company and a founding board member of the interior design not-for-profit DesignGivers.org. Kim donates funds and services to various non-profit organizations, and is being honored as this year’s Corporate Honoree by the American Cancer Society for her dedication to the organization.
MERRIL ZORN of Bethpage
Merrill Zorn is the President/CEO of Zorn’s of Bethpage and the fourth generation to treasure the traditions of her 82-year-old family business. Merrill’s promise to her community and staff is to move into the future, while holding on to the values of the past. Her innovative managerial skills, excellent business insight and knowledge keep the business going strong. For 39 years, she has loved working in all aspects of the business’ day-to-day operations. Merrill is proud to run a business that gives generously – she is dedicated to charities and local organizations and is a member of multiple board and business associations.