More than a dozen women from the Town of North Hempstead, including several with ties to Great Neck, were named to the 26th Annual May W. Newburger Women’s Roll of Honor.
Since 1994, North Hempstead has held the Women’s Roll of Honor breakfast to commend women who have made a contribution to their community or have accomplished a significant achievement through public or private efforts.
“We are proud to honor these inspirational women who have contributed so much to our North Hempstead community,” said Supervisor Judi Bosworth. “We are fortunate to have so many altruistic and charity-minded women among our North Hempstead family, and we are looking forward to inducting yet another extraordinary group to the Women’s Roll of Honor.”
The 2019 honorees included Great Neck residents Ellen Dressner and Muriel Neufeld, posthumous; along with Seemi Ahmed of Albertson; Margaret Bores of Williston Park; Joan Echausse and Angelica Medina of Westbury; Nancy Feinstein, Louise McCann and Karanda Shuen of Roslyn; Dyan Finguerra-DuCharme of Sands Point; Elizabeth Johnson of Manhasset; and Allison Breidbart White and Nancy Wright of Port Washington.
“I am proud to honor these outstanding women for their incredible service to North Hempstead,” said event chairperson and Town Clerk Wayne Wink. “Each of these women reflects the best that our communities have to offer and we are proud to honor them for their work.”
An Asset to South High’s Robotics Team
Ellen Dressner, a Great Neck resident for 40 years, started her career as a counselor for college students at Polytechnic Institute. Her passion for helping students routinely found her outside her office, whether it be establishing a tutoring program, developing a peer leader training program or by securing a federal grant to provide support services for disadvantaged students.
Since 2012, Dressner has been a non-engineering mentor for the award-winning Great Neck South High School robotics team, Rebel Robotics. She was introduced to robotics when her son was part of the team, and she saw its transformative effect on him both educationally and personally.
“Ellen Dressner is undoubtedly one of the most important assets to the Great Neck South High Robotics Team,” said her nominator. “She drives our success and involvement in the community that surrounds us. She has devoted an unbelievable amount of time and energy into making our team prosper.”
She has helped the team with fundraising, marketing and student leadership, but it’s her work with the students themselves that really inspires her. She feels it is incredibly satisfying to see how the robotics platform gives students an opportunity to realize their talents and passions—all while learning and having fun.
“She has become a role model for our team, especially to aspiring female students,” her nominator continued. “The female population on the team has increased significantly since her start as a mentor.”
When not hanging out with her robotics family, Dressner enjoys spending time with Joel, her husband of 47 years; her daughter, Madeline; and son, David.
Memorial and Veterans Day Parade Chair
Wishing to give back to her country, Louise McCann enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1975 and retired in 2004 with the rank of Master Sergeant, serving more than 25 years of active duty and reserve. Following her retirement, she joined the CPT Charles A. Fowler Jr. American Legion Post 160 in Great Neck, where she currently serves as Post Commander and Chair of the Great Neck Memorial and Veterans Day parades. She thanks her comrades in the VFW and American Legion for nominating her.
The Importance of Community
Joan Echausse, who passed away on May 5, also had a connection to the peninsula. Born in 1934 to Mary and Joseph Crampton, she learned at a young age in Great Neck about the importance of faith and community. At age 84, she continued to work for the betterment of her community. The mother of eight children and 16 grandchildren was an inspiration to her family and community.
A Steadfast Social Justice Advocate
The Town of North Hempstead lost a steadfast social justice advocate in Muriel Neufeld, who fought against racial discrimination, capital punishment and gun violence for more than half a century, helping to bring about social change.
A longtime Great Neck resident and lifelong member of the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island, Neufeld shared the group’s principle of dedicating one’s life to the greater good of humanity.
In 1959 when Prince Edward County in Virginia closed all public schools to avoid integration, Neufeld collected books from all over Long Island and drove them to the churches.
After learning that Nassau Family Court did not have a child care center to care for children while parents waited for their cases to be called, she worked with the staff and started one in the courthouse.
Neufeld was vice chair of the Nassau County chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union. She founded the Long Island chapter of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty and New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.
Born Muriel Newmark on Feb. 9, 1920, she was predeceased by her husband, Stanley, who she married in 1941.
Her passion for social justice was passed down to her sons, Russell and Peter, both attorneys. Peter is cofounder of the Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization that has helped free hundreds of wrongfully convicted men and women. Russell specializes in federal death penalty cases.
Neufeld’s philosophy made a lasting impression on her boys, “If you believe something is wrong and unfair, don’t just criticize it, do something about it.”
Losing an Inspiration
Longtime Great Neck resident, actress Shirley Romaine, a first-year winner in 1994, who has been reciting an inspirational message at the breakfast over the years, presented her last reading, “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou, shortly before she passed away on April 14.