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Women Of Distinction Awards Ceremony

Assemblyman Tom McKevitt recently joined local leaders and residents on Aug. 10 at the Farmingdale Public Library to honor Louise Cassano, Margaret Santer, Jessica Koenig, Laurie May, Tina Diamond, Deborah Canova, Millie Jones, Carol Muscarella, Laurie Rozakis, and Barbara Sherwin, residents of the 17th Assembly District at the annual “Women of Distinction” Awards. Each year, McKevitt recognizes women throughout his district that have demonstrated an exceptional impact on their communities and the lives of others through their commitment service.  


“I have been immensely fortunate during my time in the Assembly to have met countless women whose work has enriched our lives and communities, but too often their contributions have gone unnoticed,” said McKevitt. “The ‘Women of Distinction’ event affords our community the chance to thank these women and recognize them for their dedication and efforts to make a lasting difference in the lives of others. The accomplishments of these women embody a shining example for all to follow.” 


Massapequa American Legion Post 1066 served at the Color Guard for the ceremony. Barbara Sherwin directed Alexis Adams, Kathryn Davison, Lillie Renck, Ashley Soliwoda, Kaitlyn Sidoti, Emily Rail, Katie Crawford, and Lauren King of the Seaford Middle School Woodwind Ensemble, who performed for the ceremony guests. 


The women honored were selected based on their accomplishments in the fields of business, community and civic affairs, education, government, health care, humanitarianism and military service.

Louise Cassano

According to Louise Cassano, she refers to the place she has lived nearly all her life this way: “Levittown is a large community with a small town quality.” A graduate of Levittown schools, Cassano received her Associates Degree in Fine Arts from NCC, her Bachelors Degree in American Studies from SUNY-Old Westbury and her Masters Degree in

Communication Arts from New York Institute of Technology (where she is also currently an adjunct instructor in public relations). Cassano began her career as an award-winning news reporter for Chanry Communications, covering local Nassau and Suffolk county issues. Working her way up from reporter, she was named to various editor positions until becoming executive editor, managing 90 reporters and editors publishing 70 weekly editions, while directing community affairs.  


In 1994, Cassano established her own business, LuCas Communications, a public relations firm specializing in PR consulting, event planning, marketing collateral and community affairs. Cassano is the only person to have held the presidency in Long Island’s two prestigious communications organizations: Public Relations Professionals of Long Island (PRPLI) and the International Association of Business Communicators-Long Island Chapter. 


Cassano has served as president of the Levittown Chamber of Commerce and the Levittown Community Council; is active in St. Bernard’s Church, where she taught religious instruction and co-chaired the pre-cana program; and co-chaired the 50th and chaired the 60th anniversary celebrations for Levittown, among many community activities for which she is known. Cassano is married to Mauro and they have two sons and four grandchildren.

Margaret Santer

Margaret Santer is the type of person for whom volunteering to better the lives of those in her community is as natural as breathing. She has been a Levittown resident for 45 years. During those years, she has been a Brownie Troop leader and a PTA volunteer at Summit Lane School, Wisdom Lane Middle School and Division Avenue High School, all in Levittown.


Santer is an active congregant of St. Bernard’s Roman Catholic Church in Levittown, where she has been involved in Rosary Confraternity and been a Eucharistic Minister to the homebound. She is also a volunteer at local blood drives. 

Santer has served on the Levittown Public Library Board for 25 years. This year, she was re-elected by her community to serve on the board for another 5-year term of office. 


When she has any free time, Santer enjoys traveling, watercolor painting, shopping and playing dominoes.

Santer celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary in April of this year with her husband, Richard. She is the mother of four children: Richard II, Christine, Thomas and the late Paul.

Jessica Koenig

Born in Philadelphia, Jessica Koenig has been a resident of Long Island since 1980. She attended Hofstra University for three years and graduated from Grinnell College in Iowa.

Koenig attended graduate school at St. John’s University, where she earned her Masters Degree in Library Science. She has been in the library field for over 25 years, serving as assistant director of the Long Beach Library for 4.5 years, Director of the Island Trees Library for two years and now the director of the Island Park Library, just reopened following Hurricane Sandy.


Koenig has selflessly volunteered her time in the Levittown community, representing the Levittown Historical Society in the Levittown School District’s Annual LEADD Walk & Fair, representing either the Historical Society or the Island Trees Public Library at the Levittown/Island Trees Memorial Day Parade, running the sand table at the Levittown Community Council’s Lazy Days of Summer event, and participating at the Community Council’s Winterfest and Earth Day Cleanup events.


Koenig is married to Bob and they have a son, Jonathan. On a musical note, she sang on her husband’s CD, a musical tribute to Levittown entitled “Abbey Lane.”

Laurie May

Laurie May spent many years dedicating herself to improving the education system for her children and this passion has become her life’s work: ensuring children throughout New York State receive the education they deserve.


May, a native of Levittown and a resident of Westbury for 35 years, has been involved with the PTA for over 25 years, starting with her children’s elementary school, Meadowbrook School, in the East Meadow Union Free School District.


May has served in many positions in the PTA, including unit president and council president. She is currently serving in her second year as the Nassau Region PTA director, which has over 88,000 members comprising 330 PTA units across Nassau County. As regional director, May also serves on the NYS PTA Governance Team.


May has been recognized for her work by receiving the NYS PTA Honorary Life Award three times; the National PTA Lifetime Achievement Award, the PTA’s highest honor; and the Nassau Region PTA Caroline Fiori Leadership Award. 


Although the PTA has been her passion, May has also worked for entities such as TWA Airlines; Action Fitness, a successful fitness supply company; and St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Massapequa. 


When she is not working or preparing for or attending PTA meetings or workshops, May can be found at the beach. She is married to Robert and they have three children, Gregory, Jeremy and Brianna.

Millie Jones

According to those who know her, Millie Jones is the type of person who is always ready, willing and able to help her community in any way. 


Jones began her banking career in the proof department of The National Bank of North America. She is currently the assistant branch manager of The First National Bank of Long Island in East Meadow.


Jones has been involved with the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce for 10 years, serving as President in 2012. She has served on the Culinary Delights, Casino Night and Chamber Networking Committees. 


She has taken a leadership role with the East Meadow United Methodist Church, serving on the Outreach Committee, Nursery School Governing Board and EMUMC Players Theatre Group. In conjunction with the Outreach Program and Sunday School, Jones is involved with the “Teddy Bear Sunday Program,” a community program that supplies teddy bears to less fortunate children and seniors. She has also volunteered her time at the Nassau University Medical Center holiday party for the children’s unit. 


Jones is a member of the East Meadow Kiwanis and East Meadow Sons of Italy. She is married to Dave and they have two children, Cassandra and Matthew.

Barbara Sherwin

Barbara Sherwin has been musical from the time she was in elementary school, when she started playing the flute. She discovered the piccolo and singing in high school. After high school, Sherwin attended Hofstra University, where she performed as a vocalist and played flute and piccolo in many musical productions with the Symphonic Band, Orchestra and Chamber Singers, to name just a few. 


Sherwin earned a Bachelor of Science in Music Education and continued her graduate studies at Hofstra, earning two Masters Degrees: Master of Arts in Secondary Education and Master of Arts in Wind Conducting. She was the graduate conducting associate for the Hofstra University Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band.


Sherwin began her teaching career in the East Meadow Public Schools and is currently teaching at Seaford Middle School. She was the director of music for the Seaford School District from 2006-11. Sherwin has taught elementary general music for grades K-6, elementary band, middle level band and chorus, high school band and marching band. Her memberships have included the NYS School Music Association, the Nassau Music Educators Association and the NYS Band Directors Association, to name a few. She currently performs with the Northwinds Symphonic Band, playing piccolo. 

Sherwin is married to Tom and they have a daughter, Christina.