By Madeline Armstrong
The Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce honored business people from different chambers at its 36th annual awards program on Friday.
In some cases, chambers honored members from 2020, when the awards ceremony was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the honorees were people from Port Washington, Roslyn, the Willistons, Floral Park, New Hyde Park, Mineola and Great Neck.
From Port Washington, Lisa Donatelli, a member of the executive board of the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce, was the 2020 honoree. She works as a real estate agent and is the founder of the NYC Women’s Life Underwriter Conference.
One of her accomplishments during 2020-21 was the Try Port First app, which acts as a guide to “everything Port Washington.”
“2020 was such a difficult year,” Donatellli said. “I’m just trying to do my bit to help our community.”
Bill Gordon, a member of the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce, was the 2021 honoree for Port Washington. Gordon is an entrepreneurial business executive and president of the Greater Port Washington Business Improvement District. He also contributed to the development of the Try Port First app. “I was really appreciative of the Chamber for recognizing all the effort I put in trying to improve the business community here in Port Washington,” Gordon said.
Richard Branciforte, the incoming president of the Roslyn Chamber of Commerce, was the 2021 honoree. He is the founder and publisher of Good Times Magazine, America’s oldest regional entertainment paper, which has “chronicled the history of Long Island entertainment.”
He is also an inductee to the Long Island Music Hall of Fame and executive director of the Long Island Music Business Organization.
Nancy Zolezzi was the 2020 businessperson of the year from the Chamber of Commerce of the Willistons.
Currently treasurer of the chamber, Zolezzi continues to advocate for local businesses in a myriad of ways. She is currently the mayor of East Williston, co-founder of the Wings of Winthrop and co-publisher of the Williston Post newspaper. She also owns and operates Albert Zolezzi Auto Body.
Raymond Haller, vice president of the Chamber of Commerce of the Willistons, was also a 2021 honoree. Currently president and owner of the Haller-Zaremba Insurance Agency, Haller works to promote local and independent shops and professionals through networking events, the annual street fair and by putting hometown businesses first.
From Great Neck, Roger Chizever, a member of the Great Neck Chamber of Commerce, was the 2020 honoree. Chizever has represented the Allstate Insurance company for over 25 years. In 2018, he implemented a new phone program that resulted in substantial savings in telephone expenses, positively affecting the Great Neck Chamber of Commerce. He is also the co-president of the Great Neck Social Center and president of the Rotary Club of Great Neck.
Lauren De Santolo was also a 2021 honoree from the Great Neck Chamber of Commerce. Currently membership chair of the chamber, DeSantolo has been instrumental in reviving interest in community involvement in the chamber. She is a senior real estate specialist at Douglas Elliman Real Estate and is on the Advisory Committee of the Great Neck Adult Education Center.
Christos Vassiliou, a member of the Floral Park Chamber of Commerce, was the 2021 honoree. Vassiliou founded the Floral Park Diner with the intention of bringing a family friendly diner to the heart of Floral Park.
Saveeta Barnes, second vice president and secretary of the New Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, was the 2021 honoree. She is currently the branch manager, AVP at People’s United Bank in Garden City and is co-chair on the Beautification and Finance Committee. Barnes volunteers throughout the year at local pantries, soup kitchens, clothing and toy drives and fundraisers. “We support our local businesses,” she said, “and we want to keep the money right here on Long Island.”
From Mineloa, Ross Levine, a member of the Mineola Chamber of Commerce, was the 2020 honoree. He is the principal of L&L Painting Co., founder and principal of Third St. Associates/Bridge Ventures and founder of Cuse Capital. Levine also spearheaded an effort to diversify his family business.
John F. MacAvoy, board member of the Mineola Chamber of Commerce, was the 2021 honoree. He works with Hanover Bank and is also a member of the New Hyde Park and Forest Hills chambers.
Many of the honorees said they will continue to focus on how they can serve their communities for the betterment of Long Island.