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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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Sustainable LI: Getting Good Things Done

Farmingdale-based Sustainable Long Island is hosting its eighth annual Sustainability Conference on Friday, April 4, at Carlyle on the Green, at Bethpage State Park.

The event will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and traditionally draws hundreds of people from all walks of life: government, business and not-for-profits. This year’s theme is “Accomplishing More Together.” Tickets are $75 per person, which includes the cost of lunch.

Since its founding in 1998, Sustainable Long Island has facilitated downtown revitalization efforts across Nassau and Suffolk counties, advised elected officials at all levels, and linked tens of millions of dollars in investment with communities in need.

Superstorm Sandy was a catalyst in many ways for breaking through the silos that previously separated government and non-governmental entities which also serve the general public, according to Amy Engel, executive director of Sustainable Long Island for the past two and one-half years.

“We saw a lot of those barriers come down because of Sandy, and we don’t want them to go back up,” Engel said.

When asked for an example, she pointed to financial institutions like Citibank and Bethpage Federal Credit Union. Both developed relationships with the city of Long Beach in Sandy’s aftermath.

“They continued their investment in the city to help small businesses get back on their feet and rebuild the customer base,” Engel added.

On the April 4 agenda, Engel pointed to the Morning Plenary session, to be held between 9 and 10:30 a.m., as one featuring panelists who can claim significant accomplishments. Russell Albanese, chairman of the Albanese Organization, has been a driving force behind the construction of Wyandanch Rising, a transit-oriented residential development in Suffolk; David Altschuler, coordinator, Long Island Civic Engagement Table, helped register more than 4,000 voters; Gemma de Leon, secretary-treasurer, Local 1102, a Westbury-based union representing retail, wholesale and department store workers, has secured protections for 1102’s members, and county Legislator DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) is the first African-American presiding officer in the Suffolk County Legislature’s history.

“They see a need, and they address it,” Engel said, referring to the Morning Plenary’s panelists.

An Economic Growth and Development Workshop (10:30 a.m.-noon) will discuss how businesses have successfully navigated hurdles for development or expansion, as Andrea Lohneiss, the state Empire State Development Corporation’s (ESDC) Long Island Regional Director, moderates a panel discussion that will include Amy Newman, director, administration group, Canon USA, which has its national headquarters in Melville.

The conference’s luncheon keynote speaker is Jon Kaiman, a special advisor to Governor Andrew Cuomo for Long Island Storm Recovery. The former North Hempstead town supervisor joined the Cuomo administration in 2013, and is also the chairman of the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority (NIFA).

Before the conference concludes, Sustainable Long Island will bestow on its founder and now-retired board member, Amy Hagedorn of Port Washington, a special Lifetime Achievement Award.

Earlier in her career, Hagedorn, an educator and the widow of Horace Hagedorn, the founder of Miracle-Gro plant food, launched the pre-K programs at St. Aloysius School in Great Neck and in the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park public schools. Mr. and Mrs. Hagedorn shared 10 children, 29 grandchildren and, at last count, five great-grandchildren.

For more information on the conference, visit www.sustainableli.org, call 516-873-0230, or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: MFBARRY@optonline.net