Hundreds gathered for the Premier Business Women of Long Island Awards Gala at the Heritage Club at Bethpage on March 28.
RichnerLive, a division of Richner Communications, publisher of Herald Community Newspapers, hosted the event to honor 48 esteemed Long Island business women for excellence in their fields and contributions to their local communities.
The honorees came from 17 different career fields, including banking, engineering, health, education, law, entrepreneurship and non-profit. Before the dinner and awards ceremony, which drew more than 500 guests, the honorees celebrated with a VIP cocktail and networking hour, at which County Executive Laura Curran congratulated the women.
“I was really excited to help honor these wonderful women tonight and to see so many strong women in lead positions getting the recognition they deserve,” she said. “I’d also like to congratulate Stuart Richner, whose RichnerLive events are off to an auspicious start. I’m sure this will be the first of many.”
A performer wearing a shiny black “champagne dress,” which held 102 glasses of champagne, floated around the room delivering bubbly to the honorees and special guests during the VIP hour.
Amanda Talty, president and CEO of the Tourette Association of America, was among the youngest women being honored. When asked her biggest career accomplishment, she said, “I was appointed CEO and president of a national organization before I turned 40.”
Talty had 15 years of non-profit experience before she joined the Tourette Association of America as vice president of development in 2016. She became president and CEO on June 1, 2018.
The mother of two spends much of her time traveling the country to the non-profit’s 32 chapters and over 80 support groups to connect with people with Tourette syndrome and learn about the challenges they face. While this means spending time away from her family, she expressed a passion for helping children and families, as well as bolstering awareness of Tourette syndrome, which she said is highly stigmatized.
“My biggest challenge is managing expectations and balancing the needs, wants and desires of my staff, of the people I serve and my family,” she said. “The balancing act can be hard.”
Antoinette Gordon-Hessing, customer care manager of Mercedes-Benz of Rockville Centre, agreed. She has been married for 22 years and has three children, all the while rising up the ranks of the male-dominated automotive industry.
“We, as women, go about our everyday lives doing what’s expected of us as wives, mothers and employees … I’m sure if you ask any woman in this room tonight what their initial thought was about coming here to be honored, they’re going to tell you it is an inconvenience,” she joked. “But we said, ‘I’m going to walk in here and be honored.’ It’s a beautiful thing.”
Gordon-Hessing is a first-generation immigrant from the Caribbean Island of Jamaica, which made climbing up the ladder difficult, she said. “I got here with hard work and tenacity,” she said. “And I still face challenges today. Most people assume that I’m an assistant. People don’t realize that I make the decisions — especially being a woman in the automotive industry, it’s tough.”
Honorees also spoke of the impactful role women play in business and how it felt to be recognized for their work.
“It’s a big privilege,” said honoree Teresa Laspina-McCarthy, director of community outreach at Maple Family Centers. “It’s nice to be recognized for something you love.” McCarthy holds fundraisers for organizations large and small at Maple Family Centers’ four Long Island locations.
“This is a great night to be with women who are at the top of their fields,” said honoree Kathleen Deegan, a partner at Forchelli Deegan Terrana Law. “The slate of honorees is really impressive.”
Andrea Elder-Howell, vice president of legal at PSEG Long Island, another honoree, said it felt amazing to be recognized. “It shows people that women play a critical role in business,” she said. “We bring a whole different perspective.”
Dan Eichhorn, president and chief operating officer of PSEG Long Island, attended the awards dinner to support Howell. “We’re just so proud of Andrea, it’s so well deserved,” he said. “She is a great asset to our company and the community. It’s fabulous that she’s being honored.”
The evening continued with step-and-repeat photo-ops and cocktails. Once attendees settled in for a three-course meal in the ballroom, members of the Girl Scouts of Long Island presented the colors to begin the ceremony.
Stuart Richner, CEO and publisher of Richner Communications, then welcomed guests to the event. “It is my deep belief that women must be represented equally in every profession, that they should have access to every rung on the career ladder,” he said.
He announced the inauguration of the Richner Business Network and inducted the women honorees as the first official members of the new community.
Richner then presented honorees with elegant, jade crystal awards commemorating the event. Masters of ceremonies Antoinette Biordi, of News 12 Long Island, Kara Reifert, of K-98.3 and Alyssa Seidman, of the Sea Cliff/Glen Head Herald, announced each woman as she walked to the stage to cheers of support and appreciation.
Last, the event honored “Wonder Girl” Casey Roszko, a senior at Manhasset High School, for her dedicated service to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, raising over $118,000 in 2018. A portion of the evening’s proceeds will be donated to the charitable organization.
Click here to view more photos or purchase a photo from the event.