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Town Bestows Pathfinder Awards To Community Trailblazers

East Meadow’s Leone earns citation for Pathfinder Award

It’s not easy to shatter a glass ceiling in any industry, but that’s just what nine remarkable women who live and work in the Town of Hempstead were honored for doing at this year’s Hempstead Town Pathfinder Awards ceremony held on Tuesday.

The first woman supervisor in the Town of Hempstead’s long history, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray praised the women pathfinders for going to great lengths to accomplish their goals. “We’re doing it. From shattering the glass ceiling in business and breaking records in sports to achieving impressive victories in science and blazing a trail in government, women are making their mark and refusing to let anyone define their roles in any facet of our society,” Murray exclaimed to a crowd of spectators at Town Hall.

In celebration of women’s history month, Murray praised self-made businesswoman Mary Kay Ash for blazing a trail through the cosmetics industry. A founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics empire, Murray says, Ash’s philosophy captures the essence of Town of Hempstead women’s history program. “Do not limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, you can achieve,” Murray said.

Proving that women can chart their own course to success, Long Island’s own Christine Conniff Sheahan, founder, publisher and CEO of Networking magazine, detailed her humble beginnings as a display artist at The New Yorker and her meteoric rise to become owner of her own publishing company in 1981 and Networking magazine in 1991.

Graduating from Marymount College in the 1960s, Sheahan said it was a very different time period for women who were entering the work force. She emphasized that acceptable career choices for an educated woman seemed limited to only teaching, nursing or clerical secretarial work, which Sheahan called “unappealing.”

“Now if you dream it, you can do it. And it’s so true. There’s so many examples of women who have been able to break the glass ceiling. It’s not easy but it’s doable,” Sheahan added.

After moving to eastern Long Island in 1981, she and husband Dennis pooled their talents and started an architecture and interior design magazine called House in the Hamptons. “Our talents dovetailed very nicely and it has grown in scope and popularity,” she said.

With $2,000 in savings, she started a monthly networking newspaper for women and enterprising executives. “Since its inception Networking magazine has profiled important leaders and the one thing the publication has afforded us is from going to the White House to coming here today. This is what happens, this is what networking is all about,” she said.

Her advice for young entrepreneurs is to seize opportunity when it comes. “Never say no, if someone invites you to something, you never say ‘Oh I don’t want to go, I’m really tired. I don’t feel like it. Don’t do that... You miss the opportunity and somebody else will take it,” Sheahan said.

The winners of this prestigious award the women were heralded for making a genuine difference in the communities and have gone to great lengths to accomplish their goals. They include: Mary Ann Cali of North Valley Stream; Taniella Jo Harrison of Garden City; Camille Leone of East Meadow; Leeann Graziose of Bellmore; Carolyn Simpkins of Freeport; Kayla Babbush of Merrick; Nancy Howard of Rockville Centre; Dorthy Criscuolo of Rockville Centre; and Town of Hempstead employee Sheila Dausher.