Shining a light on the human spirit

Malverne mayor receives the Christopher Leadership award


Fox 5 anchor Ernie Anastos, author Joan Bauer and film, TV and literary luminaries were on hand last week when Malverne Mayor Patti Ann McDonald received the Christopher Leadership Award.

The award recognizes people as well as media work that demonstrate human struggles and virtues. It is given by the Christophers, a nonprofit founded in 1945 by Father James Keller of the Maryknoll order. The organization is also known for its “Christopher Closeup” weekly radio program.

McDonald, Dr. Chuck Dietzen — founder of TIMMY Global Health and a physician at Riley Children’s Hospital — and 22 films, television and cable programs and books were given the award at a ceremony on May 16.

McDonald was accompanied by her son, New York City Police Department Sgt. Conor McDonald; her mother, Sheila Norris; and several friends, including the Rev. Peter Le Jacq, a Maryknoll priest and medical doctor who was appointed by Pope John Paul II as a special consultant on AIDS in East Africa.

“I am very humbled and privileged to be in the company of so many extraordinary people and their accomplishments,” McDonald said at the event, which was held on the 35th floor of the Mutual of America building in Manhattan.

The Christopher Leadership Award recognizes individuals whose work and actions demonstrate the better side of human nature and have the potential to influence a mass audience positively.

McDonald was lauded for her support of her late husband, Steven — who was shot in the line of duty in 1986 and became quadriplegic as a result — and her son in the aftermath of the life-changing tragedy. “She’s the person that kept me going, and kept my father going,” Conor said during the ceremony. McDonald’s work as a trustee and mayor of the village was also recognized, as was her work coaching tennis at the Sacred Heart Academy for 12 years, and the years she and Steven both coached a girls’ basketball and softball team.

Anastos, Bauer and Tony Aiello, a reporter for WCBS-TV, were emcees of the event and presented the award to other recipients as well. They included the films “Hacksaw Ridge” and “Hidden Figures,” the television pilot “This Is Us” and HBO’s “Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing,” among others.