These 7 Sons Share the Same Career Paths as Their Fathers, By Beth Whitehouse, Newsday, June 16, 2021

These 7 Sons Share the Same Career Paths as Their Fathers, By Beth Whitehouse, Newsday, June 16, 2021

Rich Shlofmitz was the first in his family to become a doctor — and his son Evan is the second. At 6 a.m. on any given weekday, the duo will touch base at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn before they start their day treating heart patients there. 

“I came from the projects in East New York,” says the senior Shlofmitz, 66, who is chairman of the cardiology department at St. Francis. “I knew I wanted to do something important with my life.”

Rich’s dedication to medicine made an impression on Evan, 38, when he was growing up in Manhasset. “It was an easy choice for me to follow in his footsteps,” says Evan, also a cardiologist and director of intravascular imaging at St. Francis.

Here are the stories of seven Long Island sons who are in the same line of work as their fathers — and may even work side-by-side with them.


Years ago, when Jonathan Cooper, 71, a social worker from West Hempstead, ran a support group for children with special needs at the North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, he would bring several of his five kids to interact with the group socially. So, it was no surprise to him when three of his sons followed him into the counseling field.

Aaron Weintraub, 42, his son from his first marriage, works with social skills groups and at a summer camp for children on the autism spectrum in Connecticut. Jacob Cooper, 31, of Massapequa, is a clinical social worker in private practice, and Raphie Cooper, 26, lives at home and is in his second year of social work school.

“It was always about service,” Jacob says. “That was really ingrained in us.” Jacob says his father always encouraged them to value a population that other people might look away from or stigmatize.

Aaron’s job is the closest match to his father’s. “As adults, I’ve had the chance to talk with him about how we both plan our curriculum and help each other with ideas and inspiration to try new things,” Aaron says.

For Father’s Day, the elder Cooper plans to fly to Chicago, where he grew up, with Jacob to show his son the area. “I want him to see that. Those were formative years for me,” Johnathan says.


“Whenever I had off from school, I’d shadow my dad around the hospital and got to see the impact he made on patients,” Evan says of his childhood. “He set the bar high with his innovation and work ethic and his unique way of practicing medicine.” Now that Evan is a peer, he will bounce ideas and approaches off his father, he says.

On the flip side, the elder Shlofmitz says his son’s involvement with clinical research got him motivated to start doing research as well. “I owe a lot to my son,” Rich says, including keeping him up on cutting-edge technology. “I’m so proud. The best part is watching his interaction with patients and staff. Everybody loves him.”

And who knows? There may be a third generation of Shlofmitz cardiologists — Evan and his wife, Lisa, who live in Port Washington, are expecting a baby girl in August.


Peter Lombardo’s late wife was the catalyst for Mike Lombardo joining in his father’s electrical business. The elder Lombardo, 65, launched his eponymous electrician company in Deer Park in the 1980s; his wife was his business partner, handling payroll and accounts.

Their son, now 31 and living in Farmingville, initially wasn’t interested in becoming an electrician. But when his mother got cancer, she showed Mike the ropes so he could take over her position. She died in 2015.

If that event hadn’t transpired, Mike says he wouldn’t have earned his own electrician’s license. “Not a shot. That’s not to say I don’t like it, but there’s just no way. Nope. I would probably have done something in banking or finance.”


The pandemic has been a boon to the company’s business. “Everybody was home, so they were doing home improvements,” Peter says. Many people put in pools that needed wiring, he says.

At some point, Peter hopes Mike will take over the business completely. “I look forward to the day when he says, ‘Dad, I got this,’ and I’ll go on my merry way.”


It was Luis Rosa’s wife who spurred her husband and son working together as well. When Amazon opened a facility in Shirley, she suggested that all three of them apply for jobs, and the trio was hired on the overnight shift Sundays through Wednesdays.

Sometimes they are unloading, other times they are scanning and stowing packages. They drive to work together, and they eat together on breaks.

“Working with my son has been one of the best things I’ve ever experienced. I’ve seen him grow up as a kid, and then to see him working with me, it’s such a great experience,” says Luis, 42. William, 19, says he looks up to his dad: “I always see him working really hard, and I want to work just as hard as he does.”


The toughest part for the duo was adjusting to the new work schedule. “My parents go to bed at 5 p.m.,” says William, who on the other hand, likes to sleep as soon as he gets home from work. The family lives in Mastic Beach, along with William’s two siblings and his sister’s two children. “Sometimes they’re making noise in the house,” he says.

At one point in the pandemic, the whole family had COVID-19. “I just can’t wait until all this is over,” William says. “It’s been really hard on us. Luckily, we didn’t get it that bad.”

When Lee Gaddy, now 64, of Wheatley Heights, joined the New York City Police Force in 1981 and was assigned as a housing officer, it was “the best thing that could have happened to me,” he says. His son, Sean, 36, echoed his dad’s words when talking about his own experience as a Nassau County police officer, now assigned to the department’s Police Athletic League program working on community sports programs to engage kids.

For Father’s Day this year, the family plans to barbecue before Luis, William and Margarita, 40, head to the job.


“Growing up, obviously watching my dad go off to work, it was always interesting to hear his stories over the dinner table,” Sean says. “My dad, he was big on telling me to take the Civil Service test. I thank him to this day. I never would have done it without him putting it in front of me. It’s the best thing I ever did.”

This isn’t the first time the younger Gaddy has mirrored his father, says Lee, who retired after 22 years in law enforcement and now works for the Copiague School District as a security person. “Sean is well-liked, like me. He played high school sports, just like me. I’m happy because I think he has that type of attitude I had coming on: Do the right thing.” 

Sean recently had his first child, and he plans to spend his first Father’s Day in part by wearing matching shirts with his newborn during a breakfast visit to Lee’s home. He also hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps as a parent: “I hope to be what he is to me with my son,” Sean says.

North Shore Child Guidance Center Outing is Back, Blank Slate Media, May 14, 2021

North Shore Child Guidance Center Outing is Back, Blank Slate Media, May 14, 2021

North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center has announced that its Jonathan Krevat Memorial Golf & Tennis Classic is back this year at a spectacular new location, Nassau Country Club in Glen Cove! The event, which will be held on June 14th, raises money for the Guidance Center, Long Island’s premiere children’s mental health organization.

“Our work bringing hope and healing to kids and families is more important than ever,” said Michael Mondiello, one of the event’s co-chairs and a Guidance Center board member. “The pandemic has created enormous stress and anxiety, and we are here to help address the crisis in children’s mental health.”

Co-chair Michael Schnepper concurred, stating, “The past year has been difficult for adults, but in some ways it’s been even harder for young people. Their entire normal routines with school, friends and extracurricular activities were upended, and the impact is going to continue long after COVID-19 is behind us. That’s why this fundraiser is such a crucial event.”

The Krevat Cup is one of the Guidance Center’s most anticipated events of the year, providing a full day of activities. “Golf may be the main feature, but tennis is my game,” said Troy Slade, co-chair and board member. “And we’re adding pickleball to the event for the first time ever, so that’s going to provide even more opportunity for friendly competition.”

While all current health and safety protocols will be in place to protect the safety of guests and staff, most of the event will be held outdoors, making it a perfect opportunity to enjoy great games while benefiting an important cause. “The golf course is among Long Island’s best,” said board member Dan Oliver, this year’s newest Krevat Cup co-chair. “It’s going to be a terrific day, including a delicious breakfast, lunch and cocktail hour. I hope many community members will join us to support the life-saving work of the Guidance Center.”

The event will also feature an exclusive silent auction, which is open to everyone, regardless of whether they buy tickets for the day. Bidding begins on June 1st.

For those interested in participating, becoming a sponsor or placing a journal ad, it’s not too late! Contact Nicole Oberheim, Noberheim@northshorechildguidance.org, (516) 626-1971, ext. 337

Closing Out a Career of Helping Others, Anton Media, by Dave Del Rubio, May 17, 2021

Closing Out a Career of Helping Others, Anton Media, by Dave Del Rubio, May 17, 2021

Guidance Center executive director retires after 45 years.

When Andrew Malekoff retires in July, it will have been after spending his entire 45-year career at Roslyn’s North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center. When he arrived as an intern to do his second-year field placement while working towards his masters degree at the Adelphi University School of Social Work, little did Malekoff know he’d leave four and a half decades later as the executive director. It’s an experience he treasures and attributes to how special a place North Shore was to work at all these years.

“It was really inspiring for me to become a part of an organization that was exclusively devoted to working with children, youth, teenagers and families,” he said. “We saw anybody that needed us without turning anybody away for inability to pay. Being able to be a part of an organization that had access to universal mental health care was really exciting. It was also innovative and saw children not as broken part. We invited the whole person to participate in the work that we did, so there was a kind of culture and tradition that I became a part of and was ultimately able to carry forth. That was really exciting. It felt like the right fit for me and was a big part of why I stayed there for so long.”

Having had a front-row seat, Malekoff saw changes in the clientele that sought North Shore’s help. “Just being able to observe things from the waiting room alone, you could see there was a big change over time.” Malekoff recalled. “It was a much more homogeneous, white, ethnic population [in the beginning]. Over time, there were more people of color and different religions. People dressed differently—some with religious garb. There were different accents, languages and so forth. Different groups over a period of time that were more reticent about going outside of the home and wherever they might traditionally go to seek help—for them to see that this was an alternative they could take advantage of versus what was available.”

During Malekoff’s run, he spent 15 years as a monthly contributor to Anton Community Newspapers. Publisher Angela Anton invited him to pen a column that initially started out as Parenting in February 2007 before it evolved into Parenting Matters a few years later. Despite having extensive experience as the author of a widely used textbook (Group Work with Adolescents: Principles and Practices, now in its third edition) and being the editor of the professional journal Social Work with Groups, the New Jersey native admits this new outlet required a creative pivot on his part.


“The discipline of writing a monthly column was something new to me,” he said. “It was a great opportunity and I like to take on new challenges like the experience of coming up with ideas and then putting something into 500 or 600 words and appealing to not just a professional audience, but to the regular citizenry so to speak. At the time, the column was called Parenting and I had wanted to change it and discussed that at the time with Angela. We changed it to Parenting Plus. I wanted to put the ‘Plus’ in because I felt there were things that I could write about that would fall outside of the more rigid guidelines of writing about parenting and kids. I thought [it could encompass] other issues whether it was government, policy or with certain news events that were reflections of issues of mental health that people would be interested in and give me a little more latitude.”

Over time, Parenting Plus became on of Anton’s more popular columns, always generating plenty of interest in print along with a heavy flow of traffic on the web. For Anton, bringing Malekoff into the editorial fold was an easy decision, particularly given the work she’d seen him do in his role at the North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center.


“I have know Andy from the start as a board member and as a dear friend,” she said. “He was responsible for starting many new programs and receiving many government grants at the North Shore Child And Family Guidance Center. The center was stronger because of him and as a columnist, we will always cherish the insight he brought to every story he wrote.”

Future Executive Director Andrew Malekoff got his start with the North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center as an intern in 1977

Malekoff’s path to a career in social work wasn’t readily apparent in the beginning. Born in Newark, he moved to the leafy Jersey suburb of Maplewood, eventually going to Rutgers University on a football scholarship as a linebacker, eventually being one of the two defensive captains of the 1972 Scarlet Knights football team. And while he earned a bachelor of arts in business, the idea of serving others came via work with volunteer organizations, first at Rutgers and then following his university graduation.


“When I was attending Rutgers University. I joined something called Rutgers Community Action, which was sort of a Big Brothers-type program,” he said. “That was my first exposure that I had to anything that would be considered close to social work. I majored in economics and thought I would go into business. [Social work] wasn’t anything I pursued. After trying a few different things after college, I joined VISTA, which is Volunteers In Service To America, which is the domestic equivalent of the Peace Corps. I went out to Grand Island, NE, where I lived and worked in a Mexican-American community for about three years. It was during the course of my work with teenagers and families there that I decided that I wanted to pursue this as a career.”

Having spent 45 years helping families and youth get through trauma, one thing Malekoff says hasn’t changed is the anxiety and depression young people continue to experience. For him, these experiences require quite a bit of self forgiveness for the people going through these trials and tribulations.


“It’s a harsh world and it’s easy to be too hard on yourself,” he said. “Anthropologist Joseph Campbell came up with a favorite quote of mine ‘Perfection is not lovable. It’s the clumsiness of a fault that makes a person lovable. It’s something that’s a little longer than go easy on yourself. I give that out because sometimes I think people can be too hard on themselves and think that they have to be perfect. It’s a great lesson for parents and for parents to give to kids. It doesn’t mean you don’t try to hard or strive for excellence. It means you go a little bit easier on yourself than otherwise.”

Top photo: from left: North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center board member Rita Castagna, North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center Executive Director Andrew Malekoff and Anton Media Group publisher Angela Anton

Guidance Center Hosts Shopping Benefit in Roslyn Village, Anton, April 28, 2021

Guidance Center Hosts Shopping Benefit in Roslyn Village, Anton, April 28, 2021

On Tuesday, May 4, you can do good while shopping for some of the finest goods around as North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center hosts “Care for Kids: Spring Shopping Spree.” Many of Roslyn Village’s best stores will be donating a portion of the day’s proceeds to the Guidance Center, Long Island’s premiere children’s mental health nonprofit organization.

As of April 21, the stores participating in the event are: Jill Scherer Ltd., Katherine Tess, Shag New York and Transitions, but the Guidance Center expects the list to grow significantly leading up to the May 4 event.

Leslie Cohen, owner of Transitions, has been a Guidance Center supporter for several years.
“The organization is easy to get behind and support, especially this year, with so many children being affected by the pandemic,” Cohen said. “Having a safe place to help the children cope is wonderful.”
She added that the Spring Shopping Spree will be “a feel-good day.”

According to Ann Corn, owner of Shag New York, nothing is more important than the health of our children.
“Mental health issues do not discriminate by race or financial backgrounds,” she said. “Shag is especially proud to be part of this fantastic fundraising day for the Guidance Center. We are honored to be involved with this amazing organization.”

Alexis Siegel, a member of the Guidance Center’s Board of Directors, expressed the agency’s gratitude for the generosity of participating Roslyn store owners.
“We are all so lucky to live in an area where our businesses and community members are so philanthropic,” Siegel said. “They understand the importance of supporting our work to bring hope and healing to kids and families who are struggling with issues such as depression and anxiety during these incredibly challenging times.”
Shoppers can visit the Guidance Center booth outside of Shag to take part in a raffle that will include many exclusive items.
For more information about the event, contact the Guidance Center at 516-626-1971, ext. 320.

Teen creates 175 art kits for children to learn about Picasso, Impressionism, Newsday, May 6, 2021

Teen creates 175 art kits for children to learn about Picasso, Impressionism, Newsday, May 6, 2021

“It’s a fun way to relax,” said Gwen, of Locust Valley. “It’s almost like a therapy, to sit down and do some artwork.”

Gwen wanted children on Long Island to have the same opportunity to unwind and express themselves creatively. They just needed the supplies to do it.

So once again heading to Michael’s, Gwen bought watercolor paints, paintbrushes, colorful pencils, markers, paper and yarn. She’s assembled 175 art kits and donated them to the North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center in Roslyn Heights, a not-for-profit children’s mental health agency.

Gwen made four different versions of the kit, distributing the supplies where they each fit. The “watercolor and Impressionism kit” contained a lesson plan on painter Claude Monet and a brief history of Impressionism. The “mixed medium kit” had a picture of an owl to be colored in and an inspirational quote. 

The “collage kit” included facts on artist Pablo Picasso. The most recent kit she’s made contained a canvas, acrylic paint, a paint brush, painter’s tape and a Sharpie pen, so that kids can create geometric shapes.

“I remember coloring as a kid was so much fun to do in art class,” said Gwen. Now, she prefers collaging and painting.

“I wanted to merge both what I liked to do when I was younger, and what I like to do now, and make it good for the younger age group,” she said.

When she first started putting the kits together, Gwen envisioned giving them to children. When she was done, she realized that may not be her only audience.

“Really, any age could do it,” she said. “Any age could have fun with this.”

The North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center serves clients from birth to age 24, according to its website. It provides services that address mental health for children and their families throughout Nassau County, said Lauren McGowan, the director of development. That includes programs on suicide prevention, depression and anxiety, specifically geared toward youth.

Dr. Sue Cohen, the director of early childhood and psychological services, is excited for her clients in particular to use the art kits. Her young clients don’t always have the words to communicate their emotions — that’s where art comes in, Cohen said. Anger can be expressed by scribbling, and fear by drawing what the monster under the bed looks like.

“We use art as a therapeutic tool,” she said. “It’s a great icebreaker to begin to establish rapport with children.”

Cohen added that the art kits arrived at a perfect time for the center: the clinicians had just begun to discuss a safe transition back to in-person therapy sessions and interactive programs, including details such as how to keep crayons and markers clean.

“These individual kits [Gwen] made are perfect because each kit has their own pens, markers and paints,” Cohen said. “As the kids are coming in, they can have a bag designated with their own art supplies, and they can keep them in the office for continued use or take it home.”

McGowan said she’s “delighted” that Gwen has taken initiative and was thoughtful in her approach to helping the center.

“It’ll help our clinicians to communicate better, because kids will open up as they start to feel comfortable and as they’re drawing,” she said. “Art is another modality they can have in their own toolbox, so she’s really given us a gift in that way.”

Gwen dropped off 150 art kits on April 8, and 25 more on April 29. This was a labor of love for her — as she carefully crafted each kit, she said she daydreamed of the moment that she would finally donate them and offer children the same creative outlet that’s helped her through the pandemic.

“Finally getting to hand them over was so exciting,” she said. “I’m excited to be making some more.”

She’s still brainstorming ideas for different art kit themes. McGowan said Gwen’s motivation aligns with the center’s mission to help children in need.

But Gwen’s biggest hope is that children will see that you don’t necessarily have to be a great artist to create something beautiful.

“I hope that younger kids can realize that everybody can be creative and everybody can have fun with art,” Gwen said. “It’s not such a serious thing; you can do whatever you want. It’s something anyone can do and have fun with.”

Click to watch the video interview
Gwen Jones, 17, recently put together 175 art kits and donated them to the North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center in Roslyn Heights. Her hope is that children can use art as an outlet to express themselves, just like she did throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: Howard Schnapp: Photo credit: Peter M. Budraitis Photography

By Rachel Weiss, Rachel Weiss joined Newsday in 2016. She writes and produces local content for newsday.com, including stories on religion and colorful characters from Long Island.

Guidance Center Hosts Shopping Benefit in Roslyn Village, Anton, April 28, 2021

Guidance Center Hosts Shopping Benefit in Roslyn Village, Blank Slate Media, April 21, 2021

On Tuesday, May 4, you can do good while shopping for some of the finest goods around as North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center hosts “Care for Kids: Spring Shopping Spree.”

Many of Roslyn Village’s best stores will be donating a portion of the day’s proceeds to the Guidance Center, Long Island’s premiere children’s mental health nonprofit organization.

As of April 21, the stores participating in the event are: Jill Scherer Ltd., Katherine TessShag New York and Transitions, but the Guidance Center expects the list to grow significantly leading up to the May 4th event.

Leslie Cohen, owner of Transitions, has been a Guidance Center supporter for several years.

“The organization is easy to get behind and support, especially this year, with so many children being affected by the pandemic,” said Cohen. “Having a safe place to help the children cope is wonderful.”

She added that the Spring Shopping Spree will be “a feel-good day!”

According to Ann Corn, owner of Shag New York, nothing is more important than the health of our children. “Mental health issues do not discriminate by race or financial backgrounds,” she said. “Shag is especially proud to be part of this fantastic fundraising day for the Guidance Center. We are honored to be involved with this amazing organization.”

Alexis Siegel, a member of the Guidance Center’s Board of Directors, expressed the agency’s gratitude for the generosity of participating Roslyn store owners. “We are all so lucky to live in an area where our businesses and community members are so philanthropic,” said Siegel. “They understand the importance of supporting our work to bring hope and healing to kids and families who are struggling with issues such as depression and anxiety during these incredibly challenging times.”

Shoppers can visit the Guidance Center booth outside of Shag to take part in a raffle that will include many exclusive items.

For more information about the event, contact the Guidance Center at (516) 626-1971, ext. 320.

Full Circle from Mischief to Good Trouble, by Andrew Malekoff, Blank Slate, April 19, 2021

Full Circle from Mischief to Good Trouble, by Andrew Malekoff, Blank Slate, April 19, 2021

Last week an article appeared about me in this newspaper entitled, “Guidance Center CEO announces retirement.” The average age of retirement in the US is 61. When I retire in two months I will have surpassed the average by nine years.

Among the articles I have been reading about retirement are those that offer cautionary notes and tips. For example, I learned that I should not expect retirement to feel like an endless vacation, I should structure my time and I should not neglect my appearance.

The last one will be difficult after working from home during the year of the pandemic. Although I think I’ll add a third pair of pants to the rotation and buy a couple of new sweatshirts.

With respect to structuring my time, although I am retiring after 45 years with the same organization, I have also held a part-time job for 31 years as a journal editor, which I will continue. I also plan to continue writing this column for as long as my imagination will take me and publisher Steve Blank will have me.

I never imagined retirement as an endless vacation, although living in Long Beach has always had a vacation feel to it, being within walking distance of the boardwalk and ocean. Driving home from Roslyn Heights to Long Beach on the Meadowbrook and Loop Parkway since the late 1970s offered me the benefit of landing in a resort every single day.

Despite addressing my impending retirement in a lighthearted manner here, I am well aware that there are risks and losses associated with this major life transition that cannot be simply brushed aside.

I’ll be losing daily contact with my dear workplace friends, some of whom I’ve known for decades. A benefit of my job has been an excellent health insurance plan. As a cancer survivor that has been vital.

Naturally, I will apply for the health insurance I will need in retirement, but I already know that it won’t be quite as good as what I have had for years and that the out-of-pocket costs for certain prescription medications are prohibitive.

As a social worker, I have always been an advocate. I can already see that if I choose to in retirement, there will be no shortage of causes to take on if I wish to continue to employ my advocacy skills.

One of the more mundane operations in preparation for my retirement has been cleaning out my office at work and making some room for my books and other items at home. In making space at home, I came across a box that contained some of my old report cards.

My first-grade teacher Gertrude Finkel wrote: “Andrew tends to go to extremes lately. He is either the best boy in the class, or he creates mischief.” A few years later my Hebrew school teacher wrote: “Andy has some disruptive influence on his neighbors.”

William Wordsworth wrote that “the child is the father to the man” in his 1802 poem “My Heart Leaps Up.” To the extent that this applies to one’s later years, I’m not sure that I want to create mischief in retirement, although it does sound like it could be fun.

Upon re-reading my teachers’ comments, I have come to believe that my disruptive behavior was a precursor, a primitive sign if you will, of what the late civil rights activist, Congressman John Lewis referred to as “getting into good trouble.” I think I can do that, whether or not I neglect my appearance in retirement.

Full Circle from Mischief to Good Trouble, by Andrew Malekoff, Blank Slate, April 19, 2021

The Evolving Landscape of Children’s Mental Health, by Andrew Malekoff, April 16, 2021

The good women and men who started the Guidance Center had the foresight, intellect and diligence that led to the creation of a force that would provide quality mental health care for hundreds of thousands of children, teens and family members for nearly seven decades. 

I owe the founders a debt of gratitude for offering me such an enriching spot to hang my hat for almost all my adult life. Confucius was right when he said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” 

Although the 45 years have come and gone swiftly, I’ve developed a capacity akin to time-lapse photography that has enabled me to observe change through a series of evolving images.  

The waiting room of Guidance Center headquarters in Roslyn Heights provides a snapshot of who seeks help. And who seeks help at any given time is in part a function of how mental illness and mental health are viewed by the public. 

As I contemplate my 45 years, I discover that the waiting room has become a much more richly heterogeneous place with respect to race, ethnicity, religion and language. Increasingly, families who were once averse to seeking outside help for emotional issues occupy that space like never before. 

What led to the change? A combination of factors including sustained public education efforts aimed at reducing stigma and ambitious advocacy initiatives directed at reducing disparities and increasing access to care. Both education and advocacy combined to ensure that diseases of the brain be treated on par with diseases of the body. 

Along with the demographic changes in who seeks help, there came the need for diversifying the workforce and providing consistent professional education to enhance the cultural literacy of frontline mental health practitioners. This is especially germane today when the social and political winds inside our nation reveal more profound divisions than in all my time at the Guidance Center. 

Intersecting with my reel of waiting room images is a reel of traumatic events that I never would have predicted when I started in 1977, all of which impacted the children who sat in our waiting rooms. Just a few examples: the Challenger explosion (1986), LIRR massacre (1993), Columbine High School shooting (1999), 9/11 attacks (2001), Madoff financial disaster (2008), superstorm Sandy (2012), Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting (2012), Parkland High School shooting (2018) and today’s COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout the reel is also a steady succession of racial injustices, deaths of unarmed people of color at the hands of law enforcement officers. The final frame I see is the January 6 domestic terrorist insurrection in Washington. 

In today’s waiting room sit people of all colors and backgrounds with personal stories of trauma and grief, and far too many young ones who feel as though they cannot live one day longer. They live in a world in which their mental health struggles are compounded by a toxic surround that we as adults either fuel, ignore or deny but cannot escape. 

These children have profound troubles and live in a profoundly troubled world. Yet there is hope in places like ours, where people of all backgrounds and skin colors share the dream that their children might live a peaceful and prosperous life in a better world.

My message to anyone who wishes to follow in my footsteps is to never lose sight of the situational surround. Context counts. We can all do better to understand our children from the inside-out and the outside-in. And, if you’re fortunate enough to find your authentic voice, don’t let anyone take it away from you. Healing involves quality care and a strong voice underpinned by a social consciousness, social conscience and an enduring quest for social justice.

Guidance Center Hosts Spring Lunch-In, March 30, 2021, Blank Slate

Guidance Center Hosts Spring Lunch-In, March 30, 2021, Blank Slate

When North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center decided to cancel its in-person Spring Luncheon fundraiser this year to keep its supporters safe during the pandemic, the organization came up with a creative alternative: the first-of-its-kind Spring Lunch-In, a virtual event held on March 24 that featured fabulous recipes and table design tips from some of our area’s most philanthropic businesses.

George and Gillis Poll, restaurateurs extraordinaire and owners of Bryant & Cooper Steakhouse, showcased three of their most popular recipes, giving viewers step-by-step instructions in the kitchen of the iconic Roslyn restaurant. They also gave a behind-the-scenes tour of their world-class Bryant & Cooper Butcher Shop & Retail Market, which is adjacent to the restaurant and open to the public.

Speaking to the mission of the Guidance Center, George Poll said, “The work they do to help children and families struggling with mental health is significant. My brother Gillis, my wife Kristen and I are proud to be part of the Center’s continuing great work.”

The event, held over Zoom, also featured talented designer Susan Micelotta of White + One, who gave attendees tips on how to create a beautiful outdoor table setting for spring that is sure to impress. All the products shown are available at the Port Washington store.

“I was proud to be a part of the Spring Lunch-In,” said Micelotta. “Children are our future, and we need to make a better world for them to live in by supporting and giving all that we can to organizations such as the Guidance Center.”

Guidance Center Board Member Alexis Siegel, who joined the Poll brothers and Micelotta as the event’s gracious hostess, was thrilled at the Spring Lunch-In’s success. “We’re so grateful to George, Gillis and Susan for their dedication to our work,” said Siegel, who co-chaired the event with Jan Ashley and Amy Cantor “The pandemic has created a real mental health crisis, with children, teens and their families experiencing high levels of anxiety and depression. I’m proud to be part of an organization that addresses these needs with compassion and expertise.”

Guidance Center Board Member and Spring Lunch-In committee member Jo-Ellen Hazan, who joined Siegel at the lunch and was instrumental in planning the event, said, “The Guidance Center is blessed to have so many wonderful community members who support our mission. Their dedication makes our work possible.”

The Guidance Center is looking forward to returning to Glen Head Country Club for next year’s Spring Luncheon, an in-person fundraiser on April 28th, 2022. The highly anticipated event will feature card games, Mahjong and a delicious buffet.

All proceeds for the Spring Lunch-In support the Guidance Center’s work to bring hope and healing to the children and families in our local communities. To learn more, visit www.northshorechildguidance.org or call (516) 626-1971.

Guidance Center CEO Announces Retirement, Blank Slate, April 14, 20201

Guidance Center CEO Announces Retirement, Blank Slate, April 14, 20201

After 45 years of dedicated service, Andrew Malekoff has announced his retirement from North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, Long Island’s premiere children’s mental health agency.

Malekoff, who joined the Guidance Center as an intern in 1977, has been the organization’s Executive Director/CEO for 15 years. He has a distinguished record of leadership and innovation, creating many of the agency’s most successful programs.

Malekoff provided administrative leadership in the development of the Guidance Center’s substance use treatment and prevention program, which made it the first organization on Long Island to be awarded an Outpatient Chemical Dependency for Youth License to treat adolescents.

As a leading voice in advocating for parity, Malekoff has testified in Albany calling for timely and affordable access to mental health and substance use care. His dedication led to a partnership with Long Island University on a research study called Project Access, which revealed massive inequities and roadblocks inherent in accessing mental health care.

The study has been cited as an important tool in advocating for essential systemic change.

Malekoff is a prolific and highly respected author whose articles have appeared in local and national outlets. He is a renowned expert in group therapy and wrote the definitive book on the subject: “Group Work with Adolescents: Principles and Practice,” which has been published internationally.

In partnership with Nassau B.O.C.E.S., Malekoff developed the Guidance Center’s Intensive Support Program (ISP), a school-based mental health program serving children from ages 5 to 21 years of age from all 56 Nassau districts. The program, now in its 25th year, provides students who are experiencing serious emotional problems an alternative to institutional or more restrictive settings.

During his tenure as executive director/CEO, Malekoff spearheaded the Guidance Center’s efforts in childhood mental health research in partnership with major research institutions including the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University, NYU Child Study Center and Northwell Health.

“Under Andy’s tenure, the Guidance Center has been there for families on Long Island during many crises, including the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Sandy and the pandemic,” said Paul Vitale, Board President. “His leadership has been steady, strong and innovative.”

Nancy Lane, former board resident who has worked with Malekoff for three decades, said, “Over his many years at the Guidance Center, Andy has provided compassionate, expert care to children and families experiencing issues such as depression, anxiety, bullying and other serious challenges.

His advocacy work and dedication to ending the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness is unmatched. While I have no doubts that the agency will continue to thrive, Andy will be sorely missed.”

Full Circle from Mischief to Good Trouble, by Andrew Malekoff, Blank Slate, April 19, 2021

Andrew Malekoff Honored for Lifetime of Service by NY State Senate, March 31, 2021

Senate Resolution No. 556
 
BY: Senator KAPLAN
 
        HONORING  Andrew Malekoff upon the occasion of his
        retirement after 45 years of  distinguished  service
        to North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center
 
  WHEREAS,  The  unity  of  our  State  and  Nation  is built upon the
compassion of individuals, such as Andrew Malekoff who uphold the values
of community life and who, through their great  actions,  epitomize  the
best of humanity; and
 
  WHEREAS,  This  Legislative  Body  is  justly  proud to honor Andrew
Malekoff  upon  the  occasion  of  his  retirement  after  45  years  of
distinguished  service  to North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center;
and
 
  WHEREAS, For the more than four decades,  Andrew  Malekoff  rendered
faithful,  conscientious  and  valuable service to North Shore Child and
Family Guidance Center; and
 
  WHEREAS, North Shore  Child  and  Family  Guidance  Center  is  Long
Island's  premiere  children's  mental health agency; it is a rare thing
for a person to devote their entire career to one organization  and  one
mission; Andrew Malekoff is one such individual; and
 
  WHEREAS, Andrew Malekoff, joined the Guidance Center as an intern in
1977;  as  a  clinician,  he  gave  his  all  to  every client, offering
compassion, creativity and wise counsel; and
 
  WHEREAS, In 2007, Andrew Malekoff became Executive  Director/CEO  of
the   North  Shore  Child  and  Family  Guidance  Center,  continuing  a
distinguished record  of  leadership  and  innovation;  furthermore,  he
created  many  of  the  agency's most successful programs, always facing
challenges with strength and grace; and
 
  WHEREAS, While many agencies were bought up  by  huge  conglomerates
and  became factory-like in their approach, Andrew Malekoff's dedication
prevented the Guidance Center from ever veering from  their  mission  to
provide  community-based  mental  health  care to all that entered their
doors; and
 
  WHEREAS,  Andrew  Malekoff  was  instrumental  in   organizing   the
development  of  the  Guidance  Center's  substance  use  treatment  and
prevention program, which made it the first organization on Long  Island
to  be  awarded  an  Outpatient Chemical Dependency for Youth License to
treat adolescents; and
 
  WHEREAS, In his official acts, Andrew Malekoff  was  governed  by  a
keen  sense  of duty and always showed a unique grasp of human problems;
in an extraordinary career which traversed more  than  four  decades  he
served  with  loyalty,  honor  and  distinction, earning the admiration,
esteem and affection of his colleagues; and
 
  WHEREAS, Rare indeed  is  the  impressive  dedication  shown  by  an
individual for the benefit of others which Andrew Malekoff has displayed
throughout his life; and
 
  WHEREAS,  It  has always been the objective of this Legislative Body
to  honor  and  support  those  individuals  who  have  displayed  their
commitment  to the betterment of their communities, and it is the intent
of this Legislative Body to inscribe upon its records, this  tribute  to
Andrew  Malekoff,  that  future  generations may know and appreciate his
admirable character, his many benevolent  deeds,  and  the  respect  and
esteem in which he is held by his peers; now, therefore, be it
 
  RESOLVED,  That  this Legislative Body pause in its deliberations to
honor Andrew Malekoff upon the occasion of his retirement after 45 years
of distinguished service  to  North  Shore  Child  and  Family  Guidance
Center,  and  to  wish  him  well in all his future endeavors; and be it
further
 
  RESOLVED, That a copy of this  Resolution,  suitably  engrossed,  be
transmitted to Andrew Malekoff.
For Children, Isolation Lingers, By Andrew Malekoff, Newsday, April 2, 2021

For Children, Isolation Lingers, By Andrew Malekoff, Newsday, April 2, 2021

As children return to classrooms and playgrounds, and maybe soon to summer camp, we must not forget that many are still feeling the effects of the social isolation they experienced when school went virtual last year. Learning is still remote for many kids, who continue to be cut off from treasured spaces that nurture positive, developing relationships, caring about others, thinking critically and avoiding negative behaviors.

Even though the physical settings might be restored, many children continue to feel an undermined sense of security. Some will be resilient and bounce back. Others will need extra support from parents and adults in their community.

Mental health workers are seeing young people in their second decade of life who are anxious and depressed. These include both kids who were struggling with their mental health before the pandemic and those who were stellar students with rich social lives who seem to have fallen off the coronavirus cliff.

The unforeseen loss of routine is especially impactful on young folks like these for whom connecting with peers is so integral to their daily life experience. Now, and since the onset of the pandemic, it’s as if the adolescent ecosystem has suddenly been deprived of oxygen and light.

For far too many young people, this is a painful time when an essential aspect of their lives has been suddenly threatened, resulting in lost connections, isolation and longing. This is a lonely time in which the grief they experience is unacknowledged and unsupported by any social ritual, a demoralizing reality that may lead to days and nights of anxiety, desperation and, for some, deep depression and dark thoughts about whether life is worth living even one more day. 

Although this may be a time to draw closer to one’s family, the notion of increasing togetherness with parents at the precise time in one’s life that a young person is striving to become more independent can create an existential crisis. Parental support should include encouraging social connection outside the family, either virtually or in safe face-to-face settings. This does not suggest pushing away one’s child, but rather empathizing with the healthy need for some separation and peer connection. Groups of peers can create the sparks necessary to ignite the warm fires of intimacy that will help see many a young person through this public health disaster.

Adults need to understand the uncertainty and shakiness that kids might be feeling. Reinforce to them that you are there for them, that we all went through a very difficult time and there will be more tough times ahead in life, but that you will always stand by their side. 

What we know is that young people who feel connected are less likely to engage in high-risk behaviors such as self-harm, violence, early sexual activity or suicidal actions. As my friend and colleague Dr. Ariel Botta, a group worker at Boston Children’s Hospital, advised: “Healthy human development and adjustment require both connection and solitude. At this point in history, there is plenty of isolation and a dire shortage of connection.”

The importance of attachment and connection carries on throughout a child’s life and impacts relationships as they move into adulthood. The support you give them is not just for now — it’s forever.

Andrew Malekoff is the executive director of North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center in Roslyn Heights. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Marko Geber

Guidance Center CEO Announces Retirement, Blank Slate, April 14, 20201

We All Have a Responsibility to Stand Up Against Racism, by Andrew Malekoff, March 29, 2021

There has been a growing concern about the surge of racial violence, hateful incidents and discrimination against people of Asian descent in the U.S. amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A new study released by Stop AAPI Hate showed that there were nearly 3,800 incidents targeting Asians in the U.S. in the past year alone.

This has only intensified after a gunman killed six Asian women and two others in senseless attacks on spas in Atlanta on March 16. Although uncertainty remains about whether the perpetrator will be charged with a hate crime as well as murder, the killing spree became a flash point, leading to nationwide protests to #StopAsianHate.

According to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, “The pandemic continues to unleash a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering.” He asked governments worldwide to take action “to strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate.”

A week before the mass shootings in Atlanta, at a March 8 forum on anti-Asian racism, Chinese American activist and journalist Helen Zia said, “We have seen this terrible nightmare before.” She recounted some of the brutal milestones, beginning with the interning of Japanese Americans during World War II from 1942-1945, an episode that has long been considered one of the most dreadful violations of American civil rights in the 20th century.

Forty years later, in 1982, Vincent Chin, a Chinese-American draftsman, was murdered in Detroit by two white men who worked in a Chrysler plant. Asian Americans of all backgrounds were targeted when automakers from Japan that were producing more fuel-efficient cars were blamed for layoffs.

Looking back, “people knew from personal experience that we were lumped together,” said Zia. “But in terms of identifying as pan-Asian, the key thing was that a man was killed because they thought he looked like a different ethnicity.”

In the U.S. there is no concrete governmental response toward protecting people of Asian descent from pandemic-fueled racist attacks, despite their growing number. During the Trump administration, slurs like “Wuhan virus” and “Kung Flu” were routinely used even at the highest levels of government. When officials used the term “China virus” it was never purely descriptive and always pejorative.

It was recently brought to my attention by a concerned parent that a 5-year-old Asian American child on Long Island was on the receiving end of a coronavirus-driven tirade while playing in a park. The child was left in a state of shock, not fully understanding why a perfect stranger, an adult, was raging at him.

Parents are worried about racially motivated attacks ranging from teasing to physical confrontations against Asian American students when schools fully reopen in the fall. They want to know if their children will be returning to a safe environment.

Historically, immigrant communities have been singled out in times of public health crises. Their passages to the U.S. have been given derogatory labels such as “plague” and “invasion,” objectifying migrants as infected, dirty and carriers of disease.

In her new book “Caste,” Isabel Wilkerson cites anthropologists Audrey and Brian Smedley who explain, “We think we ‘see’ race when we encounter certain physical difference among people such as skin color, eye shape and hair texture. What we actually ‘see’ are the learned social meanings, the stereotypes that have been linked to those physical features by the ideology of race and the historical legacy it has left us.” Indeed, most of the attacks against people of Asian descent in America are not against Chinese but anyone who looks East Asian.

Law enforcement surveillance and vigilance is necessary; however, nothing less than what Wilkerson calls “radical empathy” will lead to lasting change — “the kindred connection from a place of deep knowing that opens your spirit to the pain of another as they perceive it.”

Only our solidarity with those who are targeted will prevent community spread. We must all stand tall and together against the toxic pandemic of racism, whether individual or systemic.

Andrew Malekoff of Long Beach is executive director and CEO of North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center, a nonprofit children’s mental health agency on Long Island.

Guidance Center Hosts Family Magic Show

Guidance Center Hosts Family Magic Show

Roslyn Heights, NY, March 22, 2021 — Who couldn’t use a little magic in their lives? North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center is happy to announce their first-ever “Night of Magic: A Family FUNraiser,” which will be held via Zoom on April 8th at 6 p.m.

The show, perfect for kids and adults alike, will feature the talents of magician and mentalist Jason Silberman, who has amazed audiences worldwide with his virtual magic and mind-reading show. 

“We’re really excited about hosting an evening of fun for the whole family,” said Guidance Center Board Member Jeffrey Greenblatt, Assistant Counsel Regulatory at PSEG Long Island and co-chair of the night’s festivities. “My wife Jaclyn and our three daughters Hayley, Harper and Taylor are all set for the special night, which is needed now more than ever with the pandemic creating such challenges for everyone.”

The event’s other co-chair, Josh Brookstein, Partner at Sahn Ward PLLC, will be watching with his wife Rebecca, son Jack and daughter Mia. “My kids love magic, and this will be a great way for us to have some fun together as a family. I know a lot of my colleagues will also be taking part, because they know how important the work of the Guidance Center is. I hope you can join us!”

 Tickets for “Night of Magic: A Family FUNraiser” are $30 and can be purchased at www.northshorechildguidance.org/events or by calling (516) 626-1971, ext. 309. Sponsorship packages are also available.

All proceeds will go to support the work of the Guidance Center, Long Island’s preeminent not-for-profit children’s mental health agency, which never turns anyone away for inability to pay. To learn more about their work, visit their website.

About Us:

As the preeminent not-for-profit children’s mental health agency on Long Island, North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center is dedicated to restoring and strengthening the emotional well-being of children (from birth – age 24) and their families. Our highly trained staff of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, vocational rehabilitation counselors and other mental health professionals lead the way in diagnosis, treatment, prevention, training, parent education, research and advocacy. The Guidance Center helps children and families address issues such as depression and anxiety; developmental delays; bullying; teen pregnancy; sexual abuse; teen drug and alcohol abuse; and family crises stemming from illness, death, trauma and divorce. For more than 65 years, the Guidance Center has been a place of hope and healing, providing innovative and compassionate 

treatment to all who enter our doors, regardless of their ability to pay. For more information about the Guidance Center, visit www.northshorechildguidance.org or call (516) 626-1971.

The Back Road: The Recurring Nightmare of Anti-Asian Bias. By Andrew Malekoff, Published in Blank Slate Media/The Island Now, March 15, 2021

The Back Road: The Recurring Nightmare of Anti-Asian Bias. By Andrew Malekoff, Published in Blank Slate Media/The Island Now, March 15, 2021

Note: The Guidance Center received permission from Andrew Malekoff to post this commentary which he authored independently.

“We have seen this terrible nightmare before.”

So said Chinese-American activist Helen Zia during a forum on anti-Asian racism hosted by the Washington Post on March 8th. What she was referring to is the disturbing uptick in verbal and physical assault against Asian-Americans of all ages ever since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zia and historian Erika Lee, reviewed some of the historical markers in this recurrent nightmare, beginning with the establishment of Japanese internment camps from 1942 to 1945, in reaction to Japan’s 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into WWII. The interning of Japanese-Americans has long been considered one of the most dreadful violations of American civil rights in the 20th century.

Some 70 years earlier on October 24, 1871, in what some have labelled the largest mass lynching in American history, up to 20 innocent Chinese immigrants were beaten, murdered and hanged by an enraged mob after a police officer and rancher had been killed, supposedly as the result of a conflict between two rival Chinese gangs.

Ten assailants were prosecuted and eight were convicted of manslaughter. The convictions were later overturned on appeal due to technicalities.

Eleven years following the Chinese Massacre of 1871, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 became law. It was aimed at curtailing the influx of Chinese immigrant laborers into the United States.

This marks the only time in American history that a specific law was passed that prohibited all members of a particular ethnic or national group from settling in the United States.

One hundred years later, in 1982, Vincent Chin, a Chinese-American draftsman was beaten to death in Detroit by two white men – a Chrysler plant supervisor and a laid-off autoworker.

Asian-Americans of all backgrounds became prime targets, as automakers from Japan who were producing more fuel-efficient cars were blamed for layoffs at “The Big Three” – Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. Chin’s murderers got off on probation.

Looking back, “people knew from personal experience that we were lumped together,” said Helen Zia. “But in terms of identifying as pan-Asian, the key thing was that a man was killed because they thought he looked like a different ethnicity.”

In her latest book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents Pulitzer-prize winning author Isabel Wilkerson cites anthropologists Audrey and Brian Smedley who explain, “We think we ‘see’ race when we encounter certain physical difference among people such as skin color, eye shape and hair texture.

What we actually ‘see’ are the learned social meanings, the stereotypes that have been linked to those physical features by the ideology of race and the historical legacy it has left us.” Indeed, most of the attacks against people of Asian descent in American are not against Chinese but anyone who looks East Asian.

Fast forward to 2021. The public health crisis we have been facing for a full year now has put a bullseye squarely on all people of Asian descent living in the U.S. According to reports by the Anti-Defamation League, “Go back to China” has become a familiar taunt against anyone who looks to be Asian and thought to be a source of contagion and disease.

Historically, immigrant communities have been singled out in times of public health crises. Their passage to the U.S. has been given pejorative labels such as plague and invasion, objectifying them as if they are riddled with infection or akin to swarms of insects carrying disease.

Here we are in the opening decades of the 21st century and the nightmare is back with a vengeance. In recent months it was brought to my attention that a 5-year-old Asian-American child was on the receiving end of a coronavirus-driven tirade while playing in a park in Nassau County. The verbal assault left him shaken and stunned that someone would yell such things at him.

On February 10th, USA Today reported that “in one week in February, a 91-year-old man in Oakland Chinatown was brutally assaulted, a Thai man was attacked and killed in San Francisco and a Vietnamese woman was assaulted and robbed of $1,000 in San Jose.”

Law enforcement can and should help, but nothing less than empathy will ultimately make the difference – “radical empathy” as Isabel Wilkerson advised, “the kindred connection from a place of deep knowing that opens your spirit to the pain of another as they perceive it.”

We all – all of us, bear the moral responsibility to stand up, as opposed to sitting by silently when we witness this terrible nightmare come to life.

Guidance Center CEO Announces Retirement, Leadership search underway

Roslyn Heights, NY, February 23, 2021 — After 45 years of dedicated service, Andrew Malekoff has announced his retirement from North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, Long Island’s premiere children’s mental health agency.

Malekoff, who joined the Guidance Center as an intern in 1977, has been the organization’s Executive Director/CEO for 15 years. He has a distinguished record of leadership and innovation, creating many of the agency’s most successful programs.

Malekoff provided administrative leadership in the development of the Guidance Center’s substance use treatment and prevention program, which made it the first organization on Long Island to be awarded an Outpatient Chemical Dependency for Youth License to treat adolescents.

As a leading voice in advocating for parity, Malekoff has testified in Albany calling for timely and affordable access to mental health and substance use care. His dedication led to a partnership with Long Island University on a research study called Project Access, which revealed massive inequities and roadblocks inherent in accessing mental health care. The study has been cited as an important tool in advocating for essential systemic change.

Malekoff is a prolific and highly respected author whose articles have appeared in local and national outlets. He is a renowned expert in group therapy and wrote the definitive book on the subject: Group Work with Adolescents: Principles and Practice, which has been published internationally. 

In partnership with Nassau B.O.C.E.S., Malekoff developed the Guidance Center’s Intensive Support Program (ISP), a school-based mental health program serving children from ages 5 to 21 years of age from all 56 Nassau districts. The program, now in its 25th year, provides students who are experiencing serious emotional problems an alternative to institutional or more restrictive settings. 

During his tenure as Executive Director/CEO, Malekoff spearheaded the Guidance Center’s efforts in childhood mental health research in partnership with major research institutions including the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University, NYU Child Study Center and Northwell Health.

“Under Andy’s tenure, the Guidance Center has been there for families on Long Island during many crises, including the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Sandy and the pandemic,” said Paul Vitale, Board President. “His leadership has been steady, strong and innovative.”

Nancy Lane, former Board President who has worked with Malekoff for three decades, said, “Over his many years at the Guidance Center, Andy has provided compassionate, expert care to children and 

families experiencing issues such as depression, anxiety, bullying and other serious challenges. His advocacy work and dedication to ending the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness is 

unmatched. While I have no doubts that the agency will continue to thrive, Andy will be sorely missed.”

The Guidance Center is working with the recruitment firm The Strategy Group to fill Malekoff’s role. The organization is in search of a leader who can guide the Guidance Center to its next level of development. The ideal candidate will be someone who can build and maintain strong relationships with funders and other community leaders and who has excellent management experience. The candidate should have expertise in mental health and substance use treatment and supervision. Interested candidates can learn more about the position by visiting: www.thestrategygroupllc.org/gcleadershipsearch/.

About Us:

As the preeminent not-for-profit children’s mental health agency on Long Island, North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center is dedicated to restoring and strengthening the emotional well-being of children (from birth – age 24) and their families. Our highly trained staff of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, vocational rehabilitation counselors and other mental health professionals lead the way in diagnosis, treatment, prevention, training, parent education, research and advocacy. The Guidance Center helps children and families address issues such as depression and anxiety; developmental delays; bullying; teen pregnancy; sexual abuse; teen drug and alcohol abuse; and family crises stemming from illness, death, trauma and divorce. For more than 65 years, the Guidance Center has been a place of hope and healing, providing innovative and compassionate treatment to all who enter our doors, regardless of their ability to pay. For more information about the Guidance Center, visit www.northshorechildguidance.org or call (516) 626-1971.

Guidance Center CEO Announces Retirement, Blank Slate, April 14, 20201

Guidance Center CEO Retiring, LIBN, February 24, 2021

Andrew Malekoff, the long-time CEO of North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, headquartered in Roslyn Heights has announced his retirement.  A search is underway for the center’s next leader.

Malekoff joined the center as an intern in 1977, and served as its executive director and CEO for 15 years. He will retire from the organization in July.

He led the center’s substance use treatment and prevention program, which earned the agency an Outpatient Chemical Dependency for Youth License to treat adolescents.

A long-time advocate for parity, Malekoff testified in Albany calling for timely and affordable access to mental health and substance use care. His dedication led to a partnership with Long Island University on a research study called Project Access, which revealed massive inequities and roadblocks inherent in accessing mental health care. The study serves as a tool in advocating for essential systemic change.

An expert in group therapy, Malekoff wrote “ Group Work with Adolescents: Principles and Practice,” which has been published internationally.

In partnership with Nassau B.O.C.E.S., Malekoff developed the Guidance Center’s Intensive Support Program (ISP), a school-based mental health program serving children from ages 5 to 21 years of age from all 56 Nassau districts. The program, now in its 25th year, provides students who are experiencing serious emotional problems an alternative to institutional or more restrictive settings.

In leading the organization, Malekoff spearheaded center’s efforts in childhood mental health research in partnership with major research institutions including the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University, NYU Child Study Center and Northwell Health.

“Under Andy’s tenure, the Guidance Center has been there for families on Long Island during many crises, including the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Sandy and the pandemic,” Paul Vitale, Board President, said in a statement. “His leadership has been steady, strong and innovative.”

“Over his many years at the Guidance Center, Andy has provided compassionate, expert care to children and families experiencing issues such as depression, anxiety, bullying and other serious challenges,”  Nancy Lane, the former board president who worked with Malekoff for three decades, said in a statement.

“His advocacy work and dedication to ending the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness is unmatched,” she added. “While I have no doubts that the agency will continue to thrive, Andy will be sorely missed.”

The Guidance Center is working with the recruitment firm The Strategy Group to fill Malekoff’s role. The organization is in search of a leader who can guide the Guidance Center to its next level of development. The ideal candidate will be someone who can build and maintain strong relationships with funders and other community leaders and who has excellent management experience. The candidate should have expertise in mental health and substance use treatment and supervision. 

Interested candidates can learn more about the here.

Guidance Center CEO Announces Retirement, Blank Slate, April 14, 20201

Back Road: A Teenager’s Journey Through Mental Illness, by Andrew Malekoff, Blank Slate Media, February 23, 2021

In 2018 I released the results of a research study that I organized on the barriers people face finding timely access to quality mental health care. The study entailed soliciting Long Islanders’ experiences regarding their difficulty or success in accessing care.

One of the findings was that as the result of health insurers paying substandard rates of reimbursement for mental health care as compared to physical health care, many providers were driven away from accepting consumers’ private health insurance. The consequence is that someone seeking help has to either pay unaffordable rates out of pocket or keep looking when the volume of providers accepting insurance is shrinking.

The study led to press coverage, which prompted an unexpected phone call from a young woman in her early 20s who introduced herself as Nicole Nagy.  She told me that she saw a clip about the project on News 12 Long Island and that she could relate to what we found in the study. She went on to tell me a little bit about herself – that she had been living with mental illness since her early teen years and that she had written a book about it. She said she called me because, “I want to get involved in some way.”

I asked Nicole if she would be open to meeting with me to have a longer conversation to which she agreed. I said, “But before we meet I would really love to read your book.” I asked her for the title and where I could buy a copy. We set a date to get together and I ordered her book.

It was a distinct privilege to read Nicole’s “Creative Mind.” Although the subtitle of her extraordinary book is “A Diary of Teenage Mental Illness,” it could have been more aptly subtitled, “A Diary of Teenage Innocence, Angst, Courage, Resilience, Humor, Heart, Tenacity, Mental Illness and Much More.”

I sailed through Nicole’s moving memoir. which was in equal parts heartbreaking and uplifting. She tells the story of living with an illness of the brain, while navigating the worlds of peers, family, school, work and therapy. The memories and reflections she shares are presented with transparency, uncompromising honesty and a healthy helping of good humor given the grueling  subject matter.

On Page 31 Nicole writes about when she first came to grips with what was going on with her. “The doctors told me that anxiety is a part of depression or it had developed into it. People always say that with depression there is anxiety and vice versa. To know I finally had a reason to be feeling this way was comforting and taking medication could help me feel less depressed. I felt better knowing  that I wasn’t some crazy kamikaze pilot flying off course and actually had some illness.”

It is so important when one is living with an illness of any kind to have a proper assessment and diagnosis. It is the uncertainty, the not-knowing what’s wrong that compounds one’s stress. And the strain for people living with mental illness is intensified as the result of the associated stigma and discrimination that most people with physical illnesses do not have to contend with at the same time they are working toward recovery.

More than a memoir, Nicole’s story is a declaration that we can all join the fight against stigma and discrimination. As she said, “I believe that if people share their own personal testimony of dealing with mental illness, or any type of struggles, then the world will be smarter about this stuff and do a better job of fixing it.”

Nicole is a role model – a caring young woman who has been through a lot, yet she walks the walk with her head high when it comes to advocating for change. After our initial get together  she became an ombudsman for timely access to care and met with a number of local New York state legislators in the process, urging them to support the enforcement of federal mental health parity laws that were designed to improve access to care.

In the last paragraph of “Creative Mind,” Nicole celebrates her exhausting journey that led her to graduate school to study social work. She concludes her diary with this  line, “This is not the end of me, this is just the beginning.”

I highly recommend “Creative Mind” to teens, young adults, college students, parents, teachers, pediatricians, counselors and anyone else who cares about young people. This is a memoir that is filled with honesty, humanity and hope; and, which will leave a lasting impression.

Andrew Malekoff is a New York State licensed clinical social worker.

Andrew Malekoff Featured in Rutgers University Newsletter, January 2021

Andrew Malekoff Featured in Rutgers University Newsletter, January 2021

VarsityR Alumni Making a Difference: Andrew Malekoff

An accomplished alumnus and a remarkable athlete during his time On The Banks, Andrew Malekoff graduated from Rutgers University in 1973. He was the definition of a hard working and committed student-athlete during his time at Rutgers. During his 4 years at the university, Andrew played 4 different sports including football, wrestling, lacrosse, and rugby. Football was the sport he stayed with for all 4 years, becoming the defensive captain in 1972 during his senior year when he was honored with the Frank Burns Award for his mental and physical toughness.

Andrew thrived in the competitive environment of intercollegiate athletics and he made lifelong friendships. When asked about a highlight of his time at Rutgers, he mentioned a period of time during his freshman year (1969-1970) when the Vietnam War had reached its peak and massive protests had started to take place around campus. During this time, he describes this political and social awakening as enlightening and powerful. As a student, he found an opportunity to listen and gain understanding of the important events happening around him. The unity and passion that emerged from this experience helped shape Andrew’s view and experience at Rutgers.

After graduating, Andrew attended free agent tryouts with the New York Jets, Eagles, and Giants and continued to play Rugby. He worked at different jobs and was not quite sure about the direction he wanted to go for his post-graduate life. In 1974, Andrew joined the AmeriCORPS VISTA and worked in Nebraska in a Mexican-American community. He helped to renovate an old church into a community center that was used to promote emotional well being and prevent drug and alcohol abuse. He then moved on to work at the Mid-Nebraska Community Mental Health Center. Here, he worked as a drug-counselor coordinator and youth educator. His work with VISTA and the mental health center helped guide him towards a field of work he was truly passionate and excited about. With this, Andrew went back to school to earn his master’s in social work and began building his career.

Today, Andrew Malekoff is a licensed Clinical Social Worker and Alcohol & Substance Abuse Counselor. He is the Executive Director and CEO of North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center and Editor-in-Chief of Social Work With Groups. He has written and edited 12 books, including the third edition textbook Group Work with Adolescents: Principles and Practice. The Guidance Center is a non-profit mental health agency that works with children from birth up to 24 years old and their families. The organization prioritizes its patients and will never turn away someone in need. Andrew works tirelessly to ensure that everyone who comes to the Guidance Center gets the help they need and deserve.

For a long time, mental health has been stigmatized and pushed aside. It is not a priority when it comes to health and well-being and to some, mental illness is seen as a weakness or “fake.” Not only do people struggle to reach out for the help they need for fear of being judged, but for many there is limited access to resources, making it nearly impossible to get help they need. Andrew is a strong advocate for timely and affordable access to mental health care.  Insurance companies pay substandard rates to mental health providers making it difficult for providers to accept and still be able to survive. Without insurance coverage, mental health services can be unaffordable. It is important and it should not be something pushed aside or stigmatized. Everyone deserves the opportunity to get the help they need when it comes to mental health, and Andrew Malekoff is helping to make that happen.

VarsityR members like Andrew dedicate their lives to make a difference by having a positive impact in their communities. His dedication, tireless efforts, and leadership has helped countless people and continues to make a difference in how the world views mental health. Today at Rutgers, the athletic department has made major strides in taking mental health more seriously and providing our athletes with the resources to get the help and care they need. With graduates like Andrew Malekoff, Rutgers will be able to continue to reach this goal.

Celebrating the Holidays During the pandemic, Anton Media, Dec. 28 2020

Celebrating the Holidays During the pandemic, Anton Media, Dec. 28 2020

The holiday season is fully upon us, but this year’s celebrations will be unlike any we’ve ever experienced. Typically, our calendars are full of events, whether they are parties with colleagues or friends, visits with the kids to meet Santa, festive holiday concerts or a variety of other joyous occasions. But with the pandemic surging, many of these well-loved traditions have been canceled.

It’s been a very difficult and unprecedented time in our history. People are tired of being cooped up at home; they’re exhausted from feeling afraid. They miss being with friends and family. Bottom line: We all want our “normal” lives back—a perfectly understandable desire, especially this time of year.

While the pandemic and all the uncertainty has been extremely taxing on all of us, it’s even harder on our children. No birthday parties, graduations, proms, playdates or vacations. Worries about the health of their loved ones. Difficulty adapting to remote schooling. Financial insecurity. And around the holidays, the loss of family gatherings. It’s a lot of trauma for youngsters to handle.

The good news is, as a parent or caregiver, you can take some concrete steps to help your kids cope with the losses and changes we face this season.
First, be sure to plan ahead for the holidays as a family so that you don’t have a sense of anxiety looming. Give everyone the chance to have input into the agenda, so they can become comfortable with the plans and work out their feelings. In a world that seems so unpredictable, let them know what they can count on.

Each family has its own comfort level in terms of what they deem safe and acceptable. When you, as the adult, have made those decisions, convey that plan to your children—for example, we can visit outdoors with Grandma and Grandpa, but only if we wear our masks and stay six feet apart. Knowing the rules is important, especially since other families may have rules that are different from your own.

Recognize that your kids are likely to feel sad, angry and disappointed, and let them express those emotions. If they tell you some form of “This isn’t fair!” or “This stinks!” acknowledge that those feelings are normal and even healthy.

Also, while your parental instinct may be to focus on “fixing” the problem, that often isn’t what your children need. Instead, focus on listening, validating and empathizing with them. This is also a good opportunity for you to model appropriate expression of feelings and healthy coping skills.

Schedule some Zoom time with the relatives and friends you cannot be with in person this year. Of course, it’s not a replacement for a real hug, but it does allow for a genuine connection with the people your children love.
While many of our family traditions are on hold, this is a great time to create some new ones. Ask your kids for suggestions on new activities so they’ll feel a sense of ownership of the day. Some possibilities: A family hike, new board game or a classic like charades, holiday crafts, photo albums, karaoke or baking for neighbors.

Final thought: While your children are experiencing a sense of loss, it may help them feel better to do something that helps others. Perhaps they can choose a charity to give their loose change to or make handmade thank you lawn signs or cards for frontline responders.

Wishing you and yours a happy, safe and healthy holiday season.

Dr. Sue Cohen is the Director of Early Childhood and Psychological Services at North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, the leading children’s mental health agency on Long Island. The Guidance Center is seeing new and existing clients via telephone and video during the COVID-19 crisis or in person when deemed necessary. Call 516-626-1971 to make an appointment.

Looking Ahead to 2021, Long Island Business News, January 4, 2021

Looking Ahead to 2021, Long Island Business News, January 4, 2021

Malekoff

Andrew Malekoff, executive director/CEO, North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center
A paradox awaits the mental health field in 2021. With the pandemic has come the near universal use of telehealth and its fiscal benefits but also the loss of intimate in-person connection.

From the moment of the transition to telehealth, I knew we would have a captive audience. Human contact with someone trained to listen, if only through a screen, became a premium in a time of uncertainty and fear.

The broken and cancelled appointment rate fell precipitously, and revenues increased. Nationally, for some organizations the missed appointment rate is as high as 50% as the result of a combination of motivation, forgetfulness, employment conflicts, child-care arrangements, after-school activities and transportation, to name just a few.

Despite the benefits of telehealth during the pandemic, what remains is the hunger for the intimacy of in-person human contact. For example, group counseling for addressing many issues and populations is essential. No Hollywood Squares virtual Zoom arrangement can substitute for sitting in a circle within arms-length of others with whom you share common ground and mutual support.

The challenge ahead is to develop a hybrid model that uses technology to maximize accessibility and participation and restore sustained in-person encounters. Although tempting, fiscal consideration cannot be the sole driver of the new model. Consumer need first!

Seiden

Neil Seiden, president, Asset Enhancement Solutions 
During 2020, all Americans faced challenges related to the pandemic. The economic damage has been severe and many businesses were not able to survive. However, we did see the resilience of the private sector. At Asset Enhancement Solutions, we worked with over 800 businesses on PPP loans that allowed them to stay afloat. COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed across the nation in 2021. This is what will fuel optimism in the private sector: some light at the end of the tunnel. With new leadership in Washington, different economic policies will be introduced and new strategies for managing the pandemic will come. In the next few months, there will be challenges that the business sector will have to endure. We should expect to see government-mandated shutdowns and operating restrictions. One or more economic stimulus packages will be passed. For those in the retail, hospitality, travel, food service and catering sectors, this winter will be a dark period. The banking, lending and financial services sector will assist businesses as well. Our regional economy should begin to see a rebound by the fall or the latter part of the year.

Dresner

Randi Shubin Dresner, CEO, Island Harvest Food Bank
Long Island’s nonprofit sector is at a crossroads. An increasing number of people will seek assistance in 2021, many of whom have never asked for help before, primarily due to the pandemic’s economic calamity and compounded by the region’s high cost of living. The challenge nonprofits of all sizes face is how to keep up with the increase in demand in light of a limited pool of contributions by individuals, foundations, corporations, and government support. Cutting back on service is not the answer. None of my colleagues want to tell the next person in line, “sorry, we have no more food,” or “we are no longer taking new clients.”

Nonprofits have made pivotal changes to adapt to an economy impacted by the pandemic while still providing the services their clients depend upon. Although I’m confident that generous Long Islanders, the business community, and government support will continue to provide much-needed help through 2021, I’m wary that smaller not-for-profits may not survive, forcing more people to seek assistance through an already stressed network of providers.

I also express renewed hope Washington will expand upon government-funded programs to help community-based nonprofits provide essential human services like food and shelter to the most vulnerable among us.

Dowling

Michael Dowling, CEO, Northwell Health
Next year will unquestionably be a year of transition for many, including healthcare. COVID-19’s foundational and economic impact on virtually every field and profession will last well beyond 2021.

Our overall goal is to return to some sense of normalcy. But we need to be realistic about our expectations. The first part of next year will assuredly be managing the pandemic and any spikes in cases. While we hope to emerge from this uncertainty in early spring a more accurate forecast would be in six months. As always, compliance in wearing masks and social distancing will help slow the spread.

We will also be managing the delivery of the vaccine. Yes, the vaccine’s approval and delivery are historic moments in this pandemic, but it will require patience as it is rolled out and made available to the public.

Healthcare — like many other industries — will switch to recovery mode once we get a handle on COVID-19. We have already started this transition at Northwell Health, where we have continued to pursue new services, delivery models and innovation, even amid the crisis.

As a whole, healthcare could benefit from the many lessons we learned in 2020. There were many, actually:
We can partner with our competitors for the greater good.
We can remove siloes and collaborate cross-sector to accelerate progress.
Humility and human decency influence outcomes.
No one is immune to new illnesses.
Partnerships drive progress.

Healthcare in 2021 will be uncomfortable, especially in the first part of the year. We will need to go upstream to navigate the many challenges ahead. Those include continuously expanding technology via telehealth, AI and other deliver models that improve patient experiences. We also need to pay attention to our most vulnerable to address what is truly ailing them and their health.

Basso

Rob Basso, CEO, Associated Human Capital Management
The outsourced HR sector is predicted to see strong growth for the next several years. There are massive changes taking place in the private sector, many of which began before the pandemic. Remote work has exploded and will continue to grow in 2021. Changes are creating both challenges and opportunities in the HR sector. In 2021, companies on Long Island will look to HR and payroll providers and the technology we provide for solutions. In the short term, as we saw during 2020, the payroll sector, including Associated Human Capital Management, played an important role in helping businesses secure PPP loans. We will be supporting clients when new stimulus programs are approved.

It is likely that many workers will not return to offices in the short term and many may never go back into the office at 100 percent capacity, especially in New York City. We know that businesses will be leveraging technology to enhance the productivity of remote workers. This will be done with remote time clock tools, screen time tracking and geofencing technology. With a COVID-19 vaccine and a stimulus package, I expect the regional economy to recover in the late spring.

Bonner

James Bonner, president, New York & Atlantic Railway 
New York & Atlantic Railway anticipates a stable market for moving freight by rail across Long Island in 2021 with some growth potential. We have seen a slight shift in consumption-based products, such as food and cooking oil, and construction commodities, including lumber and aggregates from New York City to Long Island. This increase is due, in part, to the recent population shift eastward, and we expect it to continue over the next twelve months. A strong domestic market for recyclables, which was a needle mover for us in 2019, is a trend that we believe will carry forward into the new year, too.

Our overall view for 2021 and beyond is that we continue to see a heightened interest in rail freight service on Long Island because of its ability to reduce truck traffic on our roads and lessen harmful emissions. We believe rail freight will play an increasingly vital role in helping the local economy rebound in a post-COVID world by providing more efficient means of getting products on and off Long Island. Our highly-skilled, well-trained team and state-of-the-art equipment positions New York & Atlantic Railway to field these new opportunities while ensuring consistent and reliable service.

Tarascio

Nick Tarascio, CEO, Ventura Air Services 
The private aviation sector was hit hard by the pandemic in the spring of 2020. However, unlike the commercial airlines, the sector has rebounded faster and is now in a strong position as we enter 2021. Since the summer, we have seen a significant rise in interest in charter aviation from a large group of individuals who have never flown private before. These individuals want to travel safely and they are looking to reduce exposure to COVID-19 that they could encounter on commercial flights or at large airports. With private charter flights, individuals travel with small groups of people they know. I am confident that we will see growth in the private aviation sector in 2021 and beyond. At Ventura, we purchased new aircraft in 2020 and will be expanding our jet fleet even more in 2021. We are also hiring to prepare for growth. From a business perspective, I see the New York and Long Island economy recovering when a large percentage of the population is vaccinated. Economic stimulus packages will also help the aviation, restaurant, hospitality and travel sectors. This is good for the regional and national economy and will allow people to feel comfortable traveling again.

Blumenfeld

Ed Blumenfeld, president and founder, Blumenfeld Development Group
The year 2021 will see Long Island at the center of a political fulcrum as New York City progressives in Albany seek to tilt the state to the left while centrist Democrats hope to pull the party to the middle to avoid losing Long Island. The bi-county’s business community will be more than wary as it watches how this plays out for it may well impact our economic climate for generations.

The governor and the Legislature’s progressives will find 2021 to be a year of strategic choices.
There is a projected $8 to $12 billion dollar shortfall in the state budget, which means, depending on what help Washington may send us, the state may either spike taxes to historic highs, severely cut services, or both. While the progressives have demanded new and higher taxes, the governor has firmly opposed those increases but his ability to sustain a veto evaporated this past November. In 2021, the question will be whether political ideology destroys the roadmap to post COVID recovery. More to the point, the actions of the progressive left could unleash an exodus of taxpayers, businesses, development, and investment dollars that leaves New York an economic wasteland long after the rest of the nation has reclaimed its future.

Haughton

Wayne Haughton, executive director, Academy Charter School
Regardless of whether you are teaching pre-K or a Masters course, every educator is facing the unprecedented challenge of how best to impart knowledge to students in an era of COVID and enforced virtual learning. For charter schools committed to assisting underserved communities, the challenge is even greater, requiring far more resources to be made available to the educator and the student.
The Academy Charter School was founded in 1998, with just 175 students. Today the school serves 2,250 students in five schools on two campuses, in Hempstead and Uniondale. In 2020, we quickly discovered the challenges of virtual learning and swiftly upgraded our platforms to create a far more effective virtual “classroom.” We also recognized that children with special needs required far more engagement, while other students needed assistance to ensure they had the hardware required to stay connected to the curriculum. In 2021, as the pandemic evolves, these efforts will be sustained and expanded.

Academy Charter not only addresses the academic requirements of our students but addresses the societal issues that our students and their families face. Even when forced to teach virtually, we have kept our kitchens open so that students who rely on school meal programs would receive vital nutrition, and we also have arranged for grocery and meal delivery to any family in need of that assistance.

Academy Charter is the crucial portal to the future for many young people. In 2021, we will not permit COVID to close that door.

Fierstein

Dr. Kerry Fierstein, CEO, Allied Physician Group & Adjuvant.Health 
Pandemic uncertainty and tax issues related to the CARES Act make planning difficult. Regardless, I am very optimistic about the pediatric sector in the New York market in 2021.

Over the past year, we have seen healthcare issues impact all areas of our lives.

A trusted relationship with a pediatrician is critical for parents who benefit from accurate information, timely advice, empathy and perspective as they make important family decisions.

The role of doctors is evolving beyond episodic care. Pediatricians are well-versed in this type of family-centered care that focuses on wellness, prevention, mental health and control of chronic disease. Telehealth, which is now widely accepted, will allow families to receive ongoing care more easily. Pediatricians are vaccine experts and our support is crucial to vaccine acceptance in society.

To ensure quality care, keeping pediatric practices independent will continue to be in focus during 2021. This year we expect to see more independent and group pediatric practices partner with back office administration organizations like Adjuvant.Health. The pandemic has shown that doctors benefit from handing off the administrative burdens and saving their energies for the clinical side of medicine.

Mazzenga

Carolyn Mazzenga, Melville office managing partner, Marcum LLP
Global pandemic on the mind notwithstanding, the issues we are confronting on the cusp of 2021 are many of the same issues we were confronting at this time last year. But issues such as technology in our schools, alternative work arrangements, New York State budget deficits, and endangered access to good quality healthcare were issues that, we collectively, were confronting.

What a difference 12 months makes. Coronavirus has inexorably linked the ways we are addressing these issues in our personal lives and our businesses, and this is unlikely to change any time soon. Marcum recently made the painful but necessary decision to re-close our offices as the second COVID spike took hold, and we are once again back to a remote workforce, at least through mid-January. I am certain we are not alone in this, and having been tested and proven under the most extreme conditions, remote workforce will be a lasting legacy of the pandemic into 2021 and well beyond. I foresee it will be a solution for both employee recruitment and retention, as it helps businesses expand their networks of qualified workers who cannot, or choose not, to work exclusively in the office. Each one of those topics became even more relevant and critical as a result of the pandemic, in addition to all of the other issues we are all facing.

In this environment, My forecast and my sincere hope is that we get back to some normalcy in 2021. Though I don’t believe we will be completely back to normal in 2021. One thing I am fairly certain is that the way we do business will forever change as a result of the last nine months of pandemic. I think the use of video virtual meetings, though already fairly commonplace now, will become a standard part of our daily regular business interactions with people. Certainly video conferencing will never completely replace face-to-face, in-person meetings by any means, but it will continue to grow as a platform for how we connect and conduct business. The ability for workers, especially office workers, to work remotely will be more widely acceptable in the future, because of how successfully we adapted in 2020.

This will help businesses expand the network of qualified workers that cannot, or choose to not, to work exclusively in the office.

Unfortunately, certain businesses inevitably will close down, but the resilience and entrepreneurship exhibited by many Long Island companies, especially our manufacturers, during this time in 2020 has been a testament to what Long Island is all about. Though we are not an area of Fortune 500 companies, we are predominantly a middle-market business community, established by determined people who have vision. I think those businesses will come out of this stronger than ever. The companies that have survived the pandemic are the ones that were very proactive in looking at their businesses strategically.

It will continue to be essential to keep a close watch on cash, monitor expenditures, and make sure receivables don’t get out of hand. Stay close to your customers and extend credit very carefully in case the economy takes a turn for the worse. And look at your business processes to see where efficiencies can be improved, costs can be reduced or eliminated, and new opportunities can be capitalized. The manufacturers who pivoted to producing PPE are a model for us all. These are the things that will not only help businesses survive but become more profitable. And isn’t that what Strong Island is all about?

Strober

Kyle Strober, executive director, Association for a Better Long Island 
Long Island’s 2021 will be about the economic recovery from COVID-19 and depend on the strength and confidence of the development community.

Whether it was 9/11 or Hurricane Sandy, crises often allow our region to come through a traumatizing event even stronger than before. This should be our goal as COVID-19 is disposed of.

Local municipalities, many of whom faced fiscal issues before the pandemic, will look to spur economic development to increase their revenues. They will seek to repurpose or revitalize parcels that are abandoned, vacant or underutilized. Town initiatives, such as those undertaken by Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine that create “floating” zones, will achieve economically and socially welcomed redevelopment of existing commercial properties. These efforts need to become a model for others. Similarly, Smithtown’s efforts to create the LI Innovation Park at Hauppauge could be mirrored by its neighbor, Huntington, by resurrecting the Melville Employment Center Plan.

Counties, towns, and villages will use this pandemic to amend and modernize their application, inspection, permit, and approval procedures in order to reduce public health risks while encouraging economic development. Embracing technology will be critical, with innovations such as electronic submissions, virtual inspections and public hearings.

Just like the New Deal after the Great Depression and ARRA after the Great Recession, our federal government may seek to pass an infrastructure stimulus bill. Projects like the Oakdale Merge, expansion of Suffolk sewers and the electrification of the LIRR further east may finally come to fruition. New York State will continue to drive forward downtown revitalization initiatives in Islip, Westbury, Hicksville and Baldwin as well as push for transformative projects like Heritage Village at the former Hicksville Sears site.

2021 will hopefully be a year of silver linings after a horrific 2020.

Kaufman

Andrew Kaufman, principal, Brookhaven Rail Terminal
The role of rail in 2021 will help create a far greener Long Island as we begin to emerge from COVID.
Brookhaven Rail Terminal is anticipating a noticeable increase in the demand for rail as an alternative to the conga line of heavy trucks that brings goods and supplies onto the Island as the economy begins to recover from the shock of the pandemic. Interestingly, rail freight did not experience a significant drop during the region’s initial shutdown during the spring of 2020, as the home repair industry saw sheltering homeowners turn to their own residences with unprecedented inspiration. BRT’s intermodal rail yard became stocked with plywood, sheetrock, asphalt roofing and more, significantly reducing the wait time for material to get to market. Post-COVID, one anticipates a significant increase in additional products that reflect a return to “normal.”

Strategically, the new administration in Washington is expected to turn its attention to the nation’s rail infrastructure. A key element of that system is the proposed Cross-Harbor Rail Tunnel (also known as the Cross Harbor Rail Freight Tunnel) that would tunnel under Upper New York Bay and connect New Jersey with Brooklyn. It would have an exponential impact on our ability to reduce truck emissions throughout the region and harness the power of rail to strengthen our economy and our environment.

Kadish

Lawrence Kadish, president and founder, Museum of American Armor
For those of us entrusted with telling America’s story of courage and valor in the defense of freedom, 2021 will become even more important as we seek to recapture the year lost to social isolation, quarantine, and the inability of many museums to open their doors. There is a shared appreciation that even the modest amount of time assigned to teach history in the classroom has been further reduced.

While technology can fill part of the gap, it is our museums with powerful displays and exhibits that ensure the history lesson becomes an indelible part of a young student’s learning experience.

The year 2021 will also see the nation and the world observe the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks on our country, one that shocked America, saw Long Island conduct countless funerals, but also saw a nation rallied in a way unseen since World War II. We need to use the upcoming milestone anniversary during 2021 as a means to better appreciate the strategic threat democracies continue to face from terrorist nations and civilization destroyers now armed with nuclear weapons. That shared awareness is the collective debt we continue to owe our veterans.

Chandler

Kevin Chandler, v.p. and general manager, Suez Long Island 
While COVID will continue to impact every aspect of our society in 2021, the critical assignment of protecting our environment through the efficient operation of Nassau County’s wastewater treatment system remains – in every sense of the word – essential. During 2020, SUEZ and Nassau County placed on line a state-of-the art biological process that is part of a $19.6 million project to the Bay Park plant that will remove nitrogen in wastewater that is discharged into Reynolds Channel, north of Long Beach. In 2021, a second phase of the project will be completed, further reducing nitrogen, that, in turn, will help our fragile ecosystems regenerate and will aid in bringing back fishing and shellfishing. In addition, it will strengthen south shore marshlands, which further helps protect our shorelines during severe storms. COVID has served to remind everyone that public health requires constant vigilance. That includes embracing County Executive Curran’s mandate to operate `cleaner, smarter, and better,’ wastewater treatment facilities.

Kubrick

Andrew Kubrick, partner-in-charge, Marks Paneth Long Island office
As the curtain closes on 2020, a year marked by the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, we begin a new year and another audit and tax season. Modern technology has made the idea of working remotely a reality, and the future of the accounting profession has changed forever. Microsoft Teams and Zoom calls were foreign to most of us until this year. Now, you can work from home and share and exchange information as if you are in the office. But beyond that, three advances in modern technology—artificial intelligence, data analytics and cloud-based accounting software—will have an even more profound effect on the accounting profession and how public accountants conduct their business. Artificial intelligence will help to reduce financial fraud and decrease human error. Data analytics will continue to be used in audit planning to identify risk areas. Cloud-based accounting software has allowed outside accountants to access a client’s information more easily and work on tax returns remotely. Among many other things, this pandemic has taught the accounting profession that technology will lead the way in properly servicing your clients and your staff.

Kyle

Elissa Kyle, placemaking director, Vision Long Island
2020 was, well, transformative to say the least. While many businesses are struggling as we head into winter, there are signs that there may be light at the end of this long tunnel. January and February are going to be challenging for downtown businesses with COVID cases increasing and cold weather making many of the outdoor solutions unfeasible. However businesses are better prepared for the spring and won’t have to deal with the steep learning curve that many faced this year. Restaurants will be ready to transition to outdoor dining as soon as the weather starts to warm up even a little- those outdoor heaters will come in handy in March and April. Local governments are more prepared to streamline permitting processes to get this in motion. Hopefully the roll out of the vaccine will help numbers drop more quickly when the weather warms and not go back up again in the fall. Multifamily residential projects are still moving forward in many downtowns providing more feet on the street for businesses. Continued creativity will help our Main Street businesses connect with customers and increasing distribution of a vaccine will help improve the comfort and confidence of customers supporting our businesses.

Lugo

Linda Lugo, chairperson of the Board of Managers, OneKey MLS
Our local housing market has proven to be resilient, as realtors have found new and creative ways of doing business safely and successfully throughout the year while working through the various phases of the pandemic and I expect that same ingenuity to be a positive factor throughout 2021. Real estate transactions have, and will continue to happen.

As the law of supply and demand has been at play for most of 2020, home prices across the OneKey MLS area have reported significant year-over-year increases in the second half of this year. The influx of buyers moving to the suburbs from the city, coupled with the pent-up demand of buyers that was already in place, has created a very strong sellers’ market on Long Island. We expect sellers to continue to have the upper hand in 2021, but more reasonably than what the market experienced this year.

With the good news of the vaccine, more inventory should come on the market by the second half of 2021, as would-be sellers feel more comfortable with listing their home. This will result in a more balanced market and modest price gains. Other good news for buyers is that experts predict mortgage rates will remain low, somewhere around 3%, for at least the first half of 2021.

Vazquez

Luis Vazquez, president, Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
The Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has been around for over 30 years, advocating and supporting small businesses on Long Island and throughout the metropolitan area. This past year it has been a challenge for all small businesses, especially Hispanic and minority-owned small businesses. The COVID-19 pandemic has left our community with little, and in some cases no options. Many have closed their businesses for good, and others are barely making it to stay open, fearing more lockdowns in the future. However, this pandemic has opened new ways of supporting our small businesses.

Technology has helped us in communicating with our small businesses, keeping them informed on local, state, and national government programs and regulations to be able to conduct business in a safe and responsible manner. We feel technology is a catalyst for advancing business practices and adapting to new norms, those who are educated in best technology practices for their business will continue running their business in an innovative manner.

Our chamber has had to work with national, state, and local authorities to advocate for our member’s businesses, and keep our members updated on programs, regulations, and best technology practices to keep small Hispanic and minority businesses informed. We look forward to continuing to educate our community and commend the SBA, local chambers and organizations, Long Island Main Street Alliance, Vision Long Island, and local governments for their great efforts and continued support.

Custodio

Elizabeth Custodio, community development officer, People’s United Bank
Everyone knows that Long Island businesses have had quite a turbulent ride this year. For those that have survived and even thrived in this environment the focus today is on the future. While we still don’t know the full impact of COVID-19, the long-term repercussions are still unfolding. Nevertheless, insightful leaders are planning for 2021 using lessons learned and developing new strategies for success.

The time to begin to plan is now. In order to develop a comprehensive plan, gather input from your employees and customers and reflect on the challenges of 2020 to devise plans for next year.

Setting up a digital platform will be essential for any business to survive. How well you connect to customers about your products and services is essential. Simplifying how customers discover and access your business will be crucial especially with the popularity of online sales.

The key to success this year has been how a business adapts. Change is inevitable so a flexible plan should be about protecting its people and assets from unforeseen events such as the effects of the pandemic. Following current market trends is a must, especially when thinking about increasing your defenses against inevitable changes in 2021.

Strategic planning may seem overwhelming at first, but with 2021 at hand, now is the time to begin. Know that you are not alone. Reach out to all your chambers, business organizations and financial institutions whose leaders are currently developing plans that offer the resources you will need for success.

Lentini

James Lentini, president, Molloy College
It became clear during the pandemic that most undergraduate students yearn for the in-person experience on college campuses, though everyone has adapted well to alternative teaching and learning models as a necessity. While aiming to get back to normal, colleges will still need to emphasize the health and safety of their communities, something that Molloy has always focused on, but has become even more of a priority as a result of the virus. While the beginning of the spring semester may look similar to the fall semester in terms of classes being a combination of in-person, hybrid and online, we are hopeful that the vaccines will enable all of us to return to the full on-campus experience later in the year and into the fall.

Murphy

Richard Murphy, president and CEO, Mount Sinai South Nassau
With the emergency authorization of a vaccine, we now have a compelling weapon to prevent further spread of the pandemic and help put an end to the loss of life it has caused. But this will depend entirely upon the public’s willingness to get vaccinated.

The FDA approved emergency use of the vaccine because it proved to be safe and effective during rigorous clinical trials. A COVID-19 vaccination will help keep you from getting seriously ill while reducing risk for others.

Unfortunately, a number of public surveys, including Mount Sinai South Nassau’s Truth in Medicine poll, has shown that as much as 50 percent of the population is either unwilling or uncertain about whether to get vaccinated. We need at least 70 percent of the population to get vaccinated in 2021 in order for us to even consider a return to normal. Only if we work together – including getting vaccinated and maintaining social distancing and hygiene guidelines – can we beat the virus. This is one of the greatest challenges our nation has faced since WWII. Like Long Islanders who came before us, we can unite and defeat this invisible enemy if we listen to our public health leaders and get the vaccine.

Boomgaarden

Donald Boomgaarden, president, St. Joseph’s College
Higher education is a rather vast canvas – it includes large public and private colleges, mid-sized comprehensive universities, and small liberal arts colleges. Although we remain true to our liberal arts origins, St. Joseph’s falls more into the ‘comprehensive university’ category due to our strong focus on professional areas (business, nursing, healthcare administration, education) and size (over 5,000 students on two campuses). I believe 2021 will be a challenging year for many in our industry, particularly those who depend on student residence hall and dining service fees to balance their annual budgets. Luckily, St. Joseph’s is primarily a non-residential college, and also one which had – even previous to the pandemic – strong programs in all online and remote modalities. For this reason we have done well so far, and should do well in the coming year. Despite the tragic impact of the pandemic on all of us, the fact is that young people still need an education. Furthermore, students and families are seeing that professionals with college degrees have been the least impacted by the economic uncertainties created by the pandemic. For that reason, despite the current crisis, the longer term outlook for our industry may be stronger than ever.

McInnis

Maurie McInnis, president, Stony Brook University
The significant impact COVID-19 will have had on higher education in 2021 and beyond cannot be understated. Universities that persevere through this time will thrive within a mix of residential, traditional, remote and hybrid models of learning.

The past year has shown us in concrete and practical terms how technology can be used to promote accessibility and help us rethink our traditional model of education. At the same time, it has become abundantly clear that there are elements of the academic mission that need in-person instruction.
I think this is an opportunity for all of us—as universities that serve rapidly evolving student populations with different needs—to think about which experiences must be in person and work toward strengthening them. It is clear that if higher education is going to meet the changing needs of students in 2021 and beyond, while driving the social and economic mobility of our community, our academics need to do it all—they need to be accessible, rigorous and just as intellectually engaging as they always have been.

I am confident that we can use our experience during this pandemic to spark positive change for future generations of students, faculty and community members.

Bernard

David Bernard, music director, Massapequa Philharmonic Orchestra and the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony in NYC
While New York State’s ban on live concerts with live audiences may very well be lifted after the vaccine rolls out in 2021, it will take time for performing arts organizations to return to their regular seasons. Audiences will need to experience a period of normalcy before making the commitment to purchase tickets and attend a live event. Also, Long Island concert venues and auditoriums, which are mostly run through public schools and universities, will need to unwind their COVID contingency plans that excluded groups not affiliated with university, which also takes time.

The challenge confronting Long Island’s orchestras, bands, choruses and theater companies is how to survive for most of 2021 being deprived of the ticket revenue, donor opportunities and community engagement that typical seasons bring. For many groups, the choice is to either lay dormant until full normalcy returns, or to pivot to an online/digital/video/livestream existence, which is difficult to inspire support given the huge inventory of video content on YouTube.

The answer is for Long Island’s performing arts organizations to innovate and find ways to deliver meaningful cultural experiences to their constituencies beyond video or digital content through live music, and to develop a staged plan to re-emerge as restrictions are lifted. The Massapequa Philharmonic has established a partnership with the Nassau County Museum of Art as the museum’s orchestra in residence, where we provide incidental music while distanced in various locations in and round the museum. No audience members are permitted in the same location as the musicians, but visitors to the museum experience these live performances while viewing exhibits as the music floats throughout the property. In partnership with the museum, we developed a longer-term plan to gradually expand access to these performances safely as restrictions are lifted, culminating in a full season of indoor and outdoor performances across the grounds at the end of the pandemic.

Ruzenski

Sue Ruzenski, acting CEO, Helen Keller Services
The turn of events due to the pandemic has in many ways strengthened us and as the mother of invention would have it, fostered “outside the box” thinking. Throughout 2020 we have continued to offer face-to-face services in New York and virtual services nationwide through virtual platforms and adaptive technology. We remain engaged as collaborative partners with state and local service providers through our National Community of Practice and through webinars, webcasts and other focused interagency efforts.

From March 2020 through September 30, Helen Keller National Center offered 2,565 on-line courses to professionals at no cost. The development of on-line professional learning courses and webinars will continue this year.

Despite the challenges faced by the deaf-blind community, we have witnessed time and again the tenacity and talents of individuals as they work to achieve their goals for employment and independence in their community of choice. The skill and versatility of the staff, the flexibility and resilience of consumers and the wealth of information and know-how that HKNC can offer has successfully transformed our vocational rehabilitation program. Remote learning has created new synergies among our staff and given us greater flexibility and utilization of resources to create innovative and effective services. That’s our silver lining amidst the disruption of 2020.

Del Lima

Steven Del Lima, owner and executive chef, Hooks & Chops
As we all know, 2020 was one of the hardest years for the service industry. I think the same is to be said for the beginning of 2021, as consumers are willing to use restaurant services, but are still and will be reluctant to dine inside. I truly believe that COVID is the wild card here and has a lot to do with the success of this industry. I do believe mid 2021 will be the beginning of the “turn around” though. People will feel safer to dine out with the arrival of the Vaccine and I feel that we will start to make a comeback in the beginning of the spring.

Rabinowitz

Stuart Rabinowitz, president, Hofstra University
The past year has proven higher education institutions like Hofstra can adapt amid extraordinary uncertainty. We are proud that we were able to maintain the in-person experience for many of our students, while ensuring their health and safety. COVID-19 forced colleges and universities to be nimbler than ever before and that flexibility will be critical for higher education as the nation, thanks to the development and distribution of vaccines, emerges from the pandemic in 2021.

While the classroom and the faculty-student relationship remain the heart of learning, especially for undergraduates, the short-term pivot to virtual instruction necessitated by the pandemic will lead to long-term structural changes that will ultimately improve the student experience, both on-campus and online.

We expect to see growth in graduate education, along with continued expansion of the trends that were shaping the industry prior to the pandemic: students gravitating towards majors like engineering, the sciences, technology and healthcare – sectors with strong job opportunities regardless of the current economic challenges. At Hofstra, we also continue to emphasize and expand experiential learning, entrepreneurship training, internships and industry partnerships across all majors, leveraging technology to provide these opportunities online and in person. The combination of using technology for convenience and experiential learning and expanded in-person opportunities in all academic disciplines will ultimately make higher education stronger and better for students.

Clement

Jaci Clement, CEO and executive director, Fair Media Council
This next year will be a defining one for news in many ways: You’ll see the use of much more technology to tell stories, and you can expect to find news outlets’ narrowing scope of coverage – choosing their sweet spots to put out fewer stories but providing more depth and perspective. That’s something news consumers have been wanting, especially after the last few years, which have been about news organizations’ providing lots of continuous content, but not a lot of information. What this also means is the public will need to incorporate more news outlets into their daily routines, in order to get a wide spectrum of news. They’ll need to look for news that hits on four levels: local, regional, national and international, in addition to specialty sources for news, such as business and health.

Link

Hillary Link, associate, Harris Beach
I expect to see the continuing effects of COVID-19 on the food and beverage industry going into 2021 in the form of shortages of raw materials and delays in manufacturing, creating longer lead times for brands. I additionally expect that food and beverage brands may place an greater emphasis on claims in order to help drive sales.

While I am not overly optimistic that 2021 will bring drastic federal decision-making with respect to CBD policy and legislation, I expect to see states continue to lead the charge. CBD brands should be prepared to take swift action in response to rapidly changing state legislation.

On the regulatory side, as CBD brands continue to be exposed for including levels of CBD in their products which grossly fall short of the label claim and in some cases do not include CBD in the product at all, I expect that the FDA may focus increasingly on Good Manufacturing Practices in its 2021 enforcement actions against dietary supplement brands, and also expect to see an increase in new class action lawsuits related to false labeling. Therefore, going into 2021 it is critical that dietary supplement brands implement proper product testing procedures to ensure quality.

Reiter

Dr. Kevin Reiter, associate medical director, Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care
The urgent care industry, like many other industries, has gone through significant change in 2020. As we continue to serve on the front line of this pandemic I think the outlook is very positive for those who can continually pivot to serve the ever changing needs of the patient. As an entry point to healthcare, urgent care centers must continue to educate, guide, test appropriately and direct our patients to the safest and latest therapies available for COVID-19. As the therapeutic options change, from vaccination availability to monoclonal antibody infusions to more proven inpatient therapeutics, we must stay current and be able to risk stratify the patient and their severity of illness towards the optimal treatment. Unfortunately there were many solo independent primary care practices that could not stay afloat in 2020. This will inevitably create gaps in care that urgent care is positioned to help meet.

Providing accessible care in a safe and effective manor for both COVID as well as non-COVID related illness in the face of uncertainty will continue to define the urgent care industry in 2021.

Nader

John Nader, president, Farmingdale State College
The COVID emergency has altered the altered the college selection process. It seems many students are applying to colleges later, and are delaying their decisions. Some of this is driven by uncertainty about the extent to which remote course delivery will continue. Some students and families may even delay college until they see a vaccine used widely and effectively.

Beyond the next few months, colleges will re-examine their use of space. Campuses are finding that a number of employees can work remotely. Colleges will make better use of technology to support flexible and innovative teaching even after a vaccine is available. The costs of COVID, along with demographic changes, pose challenges for public institutions which may see less state support and mid-tier private colleges that will face pressures to contain tuition.

Students are increasingly career and cost conscious. My hope is that colleges and universities will work to reverse the far too common idea that higher education is not really a good value. Students and parents need to be discerning, but this region is filled with colleges yielding tremendous returns to their graduates. We need to do a better job of telling our stories.

Krinick

Evan Krinick, managing partner, Rivkin Radler
The legal marketplace in 2021 will continue to be focused on flexibility, innovation and technology. The pandemic will continue to dictate a largely remote work environment, and will demand increased investment in mobile technologies. Physical office space needs will lessen, but law firms will not be quick to abandon their professional homes. Instead, they will look to make their environments more efficient. A new administration in Washington, DC, will push to change the regulatory landscape, and litigation in the increasing conservative federal courts challenging authority of the regulators should be expected. More attention will be paid to state and local governments, especially in Albany, where the Democratic Party has ascended to new heights of influence. Among many issues, cannabis and sports betting will be the subject of legalization efforts. Cyber and data security will continue to be major concerns, and the aging of the baby boomer generation will increase the focus on estate planning and elder law issues. The pandemic will continue to drive labor, real estate and business issues to the forefront as the economy tries to avoid a tailspin. Diversity and inclusion initiatives will grow in importance both from the perspective of clients and from the work force.

Jarnagin

Kristen Jarnagin, president and CEO, Discover Long Island
Tourism has been the hardest hit industry on Long Island with devastating economic impacts, closures and job losses related to COVID-19. While there is hope on the horizon that 2021 will be a year of recovery, all indications point to that recovery being slow and cautionary where travel is concerned. With the right tools and resources, Long Island is poised to capitalize on the pent-up demand of leisure travel, but the return of businesses and international visitors will take years to reach the 2019 peak when we enjoyed a record breaking $6.3 billion in tourism spending. Success in 2021 will depend on innovation and communication to encourage our local residents and regional visitors to support Long Island’s tourism-related businesses and struggling downtowns. Full recovery will require investment in targeted marketing campaigns to remind national and international visitors of Long Island’s attractions and appeal. There is going to be tremendous global competition to lure back these lucrative visitors, who generated more than $760 million in local and state tax revenues in 2019, and Long Island has tremendous opportunities to recapture those resources with new and private funding initiatives such as the Tourism Recovery Improvement District legislation supported by the local tourism industry. Recovery is possible and imminent, but the rate and speed of that recovery will depend on the support and investment of this critical regional industry.

Meinberg

Mark Meinberg, Long Island partner-in-charge, Eisner Amper
Our thoughts are with the people most directly affected by COVID-19 – those who were afflicted with the virus, and those whose livelihoods have been damaged. That said, and with a vaccine on the near horizon: I’m very optimistic for 2021. First and foremost, we’ve been able to transition and work safely – both for our people and our clients – in the time of COVID-19. In fact, some of what we perceived as restrictions are now actually favorable adjustments such as the enhanced ability to get people together for a meeting. Team meetings, prospect meetings, all can be held seamlessly and instantly in a virtual format; this has created tremendous efficiency. Scales of economy have been re-calibrated to fit the ‘new normal.’ Significant cost savings that have come out of the COVID-19 changes are now being either retained by the firms or re-invested back into further and emerging technologies. Most critically, there have been many changes due to government-subsidized loan programs as well as anticipated tax changes. These create client planning opportunities – our clients want and need to know how they will continue to operate in and out of the COVID-19 environment.

Griffin

Dr. Daniel Griffin, infectious disease chief, ProHEALTH 
After a really challenging year, 2021 looks to be much better year for physicians and those involved in healthcare. Massive vaccination programs will be moving forward in the first two quarters of 2021 followed by significant progress in returning our economy and our deliver care to a more predictable state. There should be a robust increase in the demand for medical care as many have postponed physician visits during the pandemic. Healthcare providers have also rapidly shifted their delivery of care to allow for more efficient and flexible access including embracing telehealth and more efficient scheduling to avoid patient waits. Many of the lessons and necessary changes that were forced on physicians and their organizations have transformed our industry and practices in ways that will remain a part of the practice of medicine for years to come.

Giudice

Pat Guidice, business manager, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1049
The global pandemic of 2020 has crystalized the importance of the most significant issues facing the 4,200 hardworking members of Local 1049 – the need for affordable and comprehensive healthcare, and the ability to provide for and care for their families with continued, safe employment and long-term retirement security.

Our members, who are employees of National Grid and PSEG, are a part of the fabric of the Long Island community. Some are young family men, providing for their families while battling increased healthcare costs, while others are planning for their retirement who deserve to retire with dignity. These dedicated men and women are called on during times of crisis, emergencies and storms to serve Long Island residents and businesses, and handle the urgent needs of their neighbors. Tropical Storm Isaias this summer resulted in more than 1,400 of our members logging more than 320,000 long and arduous hours in the field to restore service, and illustrates the need to increase staffing of trained, local utility workers moving forward.

As we move into 2021, it has never been more important to have a strong voice in legislative and regulatory decisions that will be made by federal, state and local jurisdictions in order to protect not only the interests of our members but the consumers and communities we serve. With a change in administration coming shortly, the labor community will be keeping a close eye on the future and fate of Obamacare — and its many costly provisions — in the courts, in Congress and in the White House.

Reynolds

Jeffrey Reynolds, president and CEO, Family & Children’s Association
The pandemic further exposed and exacerbated Long Island’s tale of two cities where historically disadvantaged families and communities are suffering the highest COVID death rates, and tens of thousands of our neighbors are grappling with staggering levels of homelessness, hunger, violence, substance use and mental health disorders, and chronic poverty. There’s no vaccine to ameliorate those conditions, but our region does have a strong core of committed people and nonprofit organizations providing affordable housing, food, job training, counseling, health care and the countless other essential services. Long Island’s nonprofits have risen to the challenge and though most organizations are struggling a bit, 2021 will likely be the year where our value becomes even clearer to government, philanthropy, corporations and communities. If renewed investments in time and money follow, we’ll end 2021 healthier and stronger as a sector and as a region.

Newcomb

Lisa Newcomb, executive director, Empire State Association of Assisted Living 
The COVID pandemic has clearly upended the assisted living business and the COVID-vulnerable seniors that we serve. As opposed to nursing homes, assisted living communities are deeply rooted in a social model of senior living and the pandemic has forced residents to lock down for ten long months and counting, significantly disrupting the active lifestyle that they are accustomed to. With the vaccine near, we are hopeful that residents can return to that lifestyle.

So often during this pandemic we heard the term “Long Term Care” being used by government and the media. Assisted living and nursing homes are not the same. However, a big issue for us at the start of the pandemic was when the NYS Department of Health was lumping the two models together and setting assisted living policy based on nursing home outcomes. ESAAL advocated fervently, and with significant success, that assisted living decisions be made based on our own data. Moving into 2021, we will continue the education process about the differences between the two models.

COVID’s financial impact on the assisted living/adult care industry has meant huge, unplanned financial losses due to the required weekly testing of all staff at $100 each, PPE and infection control supplies, and wage increases. Looking ahead, we know that the vaccines will be phased in to target our resident population and staff first. This is key to protect our most vulnerable seniors who live in congregate settings. It will also serve as a catalyst to return to some normalcy in operations, including resuming new admissions, which many communities chose to pause during the pandemic resulting in increased industrywide vacancies and lost revenue.

Sterling

David Sterling, CEO, SterlingRisk 
The winter months ahead will be a difficult time for Long Islanders as we wait for the COVID-19 vaccine to be deployed. Local health systems along with the hospitality sector will be particularly hard hit. However, come May and June, with restrictions finally lifted, it is likely we will see the kind of pent-up demand for services that comes along once or twice in a century — similar to when millions of GIs returned from World War II and triggered the boom years that followed.

In regards to insurance, we continue to experience one of the most challenging cycles of the past 50 years. Businesses were seeing increased premiums even before COVID appeared. Higher awards for verdicts and other shifts in society have driven prices up, all of which could be significantly compounded should even a portion of COVID-related claims be allowed to stand.

At SterlingRisk, our hope is that premiums will stabilize in the second half of 2021 along with an improved economy. Until then, we continue to provide value by offering exceptional risk management guidance and advising clients on the best coverage options for their specific needs.

Narendran

Jothy Narendran, co-managing partner, Jaspan Schlesinger
We at Jaspan Schlesinger will continue to help our clients confront the challenges of COVID-19 that will undoubtedly persist in the coming year and in the aftermath of the pandemic. Businesses small and large will be maneuvering through a new series of stimulus and assistance programs — hopefully in early 2021. Whether these packages will closely mirror the first set of financial aid programs, such as the Paycheck Protection Program and CARES Act, or whether they will come with new regulations and requirements, businesses will need to react quickly to ensure their eligibility.

With a new administration coming into the White House, employers also need to keep a close eye on potential changes in healthcare requirements and other labor laws, including those pertaining to equality in the workplace.

Public and private schools will continue to be challenged to provide the greatest degree of in-school learning and activities such as team athletics, while maintaining a safe and healthy environment for students and faculty and fulfilling their mandated educational requirements.

With many court systems transitioning to remote sessions, alternative dispute resolution, mediation and private judging should continue to grow as an attractive, private and safe means to resolving commercial disputes, marriage dissolution and trust and estate matters.

Jaspan Schlesinger created a COVID-19 Resource Center to provide individuals, businesses, local governments, libraries and school districts with information on the topics that matter most to them during this crisis. We will continue to make this an available resource as legislation and guidance evolve in the coming year.

Heaviside

Katherine Heaviside, president, Epoch 5
One of the lessons learned from 2020 is that crisis planning is a small investment which can pay major dividends in protecting your reputation and your livelihood.

When first hit by a crisis, the public will often see you as a victim; but if you don’t move quickly and decisively to do the right thing — and effectively communicate those steps with your important stakeholders — you can easily become the villain. Even during a pandemic, we continue to calls from companies, schools, and associations to prepare a plan for them to move through the next crisis and emerge intact.

Moving into 2021, most businesses remain in a re-building mode, seeking to gain back market share, attract new customers and discover new avenues for their products and services. The move has already been underway for public relations to play a more active role, beyond generating press and publicity, in supporting companies’ sales efforts and enhance the fundraising efforts of not-for-profits. That movement will only get stronger as organizations work with tighter budgets as the result of the pandemic, and recognize the return on investment of fully integrating public relations into their comprehensive marketing goals.

Stein

Howard Stein, partner-in-charge, Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman
Although the outlook for the Long Island legal industry is challenging, it is rife with opportunity.
In this new business environment, firms need to embrace new technologies and evolving ways to market their services and maintain the “personal touch.” That has always been so important to a successful law practice. Interacting regularly with clients, whether through Zoom or Skype or other technologies, is crucial.

In this COVID-19 climate, new areas of the law are emerging. Firms that expand with the new legal issues of the day will see a growth in their business. To hope that traditional ways of doing business, as well as practices that have slowed, will someday come back is not a good strategy for the path to success.

We also see this time as an opportunity to enhance our talent pool for new attorneys. We are seeing an increase in young attorneys who are choosing the successful mid-sized suburban law firm over the “big law” experience.

While there continues to be obstacles in our everyday working experiences, we are optimistic that there is continued room for change, growth and success.

Andrews

Phil Andrews, president, Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce
The outlook of our chamber of commerce in 2021 is very promising. The Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce has seen an increase in the number of corporations supporting diversity during this downturn in the market.

Many African American business owners in the chamber have been experiencing hardship during this time, but the uptick in support from various sectors of society will help our industry rise above the challenges we currently see in the marketplace. As the New York District Office of the United States SBA 2019 Small Business Champion, our past work has prepared us to support businesses in a variety of capacities such as accessing resources including SCORE, SBA, Small Business Development Centers and EAP Centers.

Our chamber follows the national mandate of our national affiliate US Black Chamber, Inc.’s focus on access to capital, contracting, chamber development, entrepreneurial training and advocacy. As a business organization we recognize that businesses often have cycles of ups and downs in the economy, and as a business organization comprised of small, medium and large-sized businesses we must continually adapt to change. Our industry is composed of champions, and we fully embrace the entrepreneurial challenges that we face today.

Law

Kevin Law, president and CEO, Long Island Association
As the entire country looks forward to putting 2020 in the rear-view mirror, it is likely that the beginning of 2021 will still be a difficult time. We will continue to grapple with the public health implications and economic fallout from Covid-19. A bad start to 2021 may be unavoidable at this point, however, we do see light at the end of the tunnel.

We are optimistic that the second half of the year should be stronger as vaccines are more widely distributed to and accepted by the general population by the summer that should help unleash the pent-up demand from which we are all suffering.

This past year, the Long Island Association has helped guide our region through the devastating impact of Covid-19 and assist with our economic recovery. We were and will remain relentless in advocating for more federal assistance for small businesses.

As Washington contemplates additional measures to respond to Covid-19, it is imperative that a relief package includes funding for small businesses; state and local governments and transit systems like the MTA and LIRR; a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program; extended Unemployment Insurance; and the continuation of aid programs that expire at the end of this year.

Additionally, as Albany becomes more progressive and seeks to close its projected multi-billion deficit, we must oppose any new taxes or fees on businesses or income surcharges that would disproportionately impact Long Island while also ensuring that businesses and the real estate community are not unduly burdened by unnecessarily restrictive laws and regulations on its operations.

The LIA will also continue to support efforts to make Long Island the offshore wind capital of our country, move forward with transformational projects at the Nassau and Ronkonkoma Hubs, as well as in our downtowns, and construct more affordable housing to retain our young professionals. Together, we can rebuild our economy better than ever. After the 1918 flu pandemic, we had the Roaring Twenties. Let’s have another Roaring Twenties!

Caulfield

Bob Caulfield, president and CEO, Jefferson’s Ferry Life Plan Community
While the battle against COVID-19 continues, the senior services industry has accomplished much in adding stringent new protocols to the extensive measures already in place to safeguard the health of residents and staff. At Jefferson’s Ferry, we discovered a silver lining during 2020; a resounding affirmation and appreciation of the value of a committed, caring community.

As we move forward, COVID-19 will continue to influence our lifestyle but the demand for senior living accommodations that provide for an active lifestyle will continue to be robust. Jefferson’s Ferry is expanding its campus to include 60 additional independent living apartments and specialized memory care, as well as other services and amenities. Additional senior communities of all types continue to be built on Long Island, giving older adults many choices to suit their individual needs. On the flip side, we’ve seen the toll social isolation has taken on those alone at home forced to rely on a patchwork of services during pandemic conditions.

Last year confirmed the value of senior living communities’ safe socialization opportunities, easy access to meals and other staples delivered by a network of trusted, tested, and familiar people. We are well prepared to continue to serve our residents in 2021.

Komisarjevsky

Chris Komisarjevsky, retired CEO, Burson-Marsteller
The year 2021 will see opportunities and also challenges.

Among the opportunities is the issue of diversity and inclusion. No single issue affecting the public and private sector will be as vocal and transforming as D&I. Just witness the effort by NASDAQ to mandate D&I programs and threaten to delist companies that don’t comply. The opportunity is two-fold: participate in building meaningful D&I programs and then speak passionately to their importance.

Another opportunity is environment/social/governance, or ESG. The call for private and public companies to implement meaningful ESG programs will escalate, stakeholders will get more vocal and CEO leadership will be tested. After all, effective governance starts with the CEO. The opportunity is to help the C-suite to implement internal and external communications to solidify support.

As for challenges, crisis preparedness may be the biggest test for the business community. Private and public sector organizations will face questions and concerns from employees and the media as COVID vaccine plans move into high gear. The challenge is to anticipate the issues and plan effective internal and external communications well beforehand.

And the Zoom culture will continue to impact the business community. As remote working and digital offices extend well into the year, organizations face critical culture challenges, especially as they work to ensure common goals, excite the creative spirit and foster shared learning.

Scheinman

Martin Scheinman, founder Scheinman Arbitration and Mediation Services; Arden Claims Service
Even in the height of pandemic, the need for mediation and arbitration continued, and like other firms, our team quickly retooled to serve the market. We pivoted to online virtual hearings to resolve and decide labor/management, employment, business, consumer and commercial disputes. And through technology, our team performed the full aspect of alternative dispute resolution services, including through fact-finding and investigation.

Moving forward, virtual hearings will continue to be an integral part of our practice. Out of the anguish of Covid-19, we have become more nimble and responsive to the parties we serve. In 2021, based upon client requests, we will add divorce mediation as a core service.

Arden Claims Service, our claims administration business, approaches 2021 with growth agenda. With the court system either re-opening for in-person matters, or incorporating more virtual hearings, cases that stalled during the pandemic will be decided and released for administration. In turn, ACS is ready to insure professional, accountable and reliable implementation of court directives so deserving claimants receive monies to which they are entitled. We will be increasing our capacity by adding team members, full and part-time, and remain dedicated to increasing the diversity of our workforce and continuing to hire from our community.

Kalikow

Greg Kalikow, vice president, Kalikow Group
In 2021, COVID-19 will continue to have a deep impact on the residential real estate market and the pace at which the American people take the vaccine will play a big role. Whether it’s New York City, or burgeoning areas in markets such as the southeast, the residential market is primed for a rebound.

While the medical community expects “herd immunity” from COVID-19 at the end of 2021, it is not the benchmark for recovery in the residential real estate market. As Americans hopefully get vaccinated, they will begin to re-explore looking at apartments in various markets.

Major metropolitan cities with traditionally higher rents like New York City and Long Island will take longer to fully rebound in comparison to smaller and growing markets, such as Raleigh-Durham, Charleston, and Huntsville. The supply of residential properties in major cities is currently much higher than the smaller markets and the competition for renters will be even tougher, which will slow the rebound as well.

I am hopeful that we will steadily increase toward a sense of normalcy as 2021 moves along and make 2022 the year where we can both physically and emotionally put this once in a generation pandemic behind us for good.

Heymann

David Heymann, managing partner, Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone
Assuming that the Republicans keep a majority of the Senate and we do not have any further pandemic shutdowns, I don’t expect the sweeping changes to the tax code that some have predicted. New York, on the hand, may be different which may negatively impact business in New York. I am optimistic that the increase in transactions that we are seeing in these last couple of months of 2020 will continue into 2021 as those investors who were sitting on the sidelines waiting for the election results will be desirous of placing their “dry powder” in accretive assets.

I foresee robust activity in mergers and acquisitions, with stronger companies looking to acquire competitors and suppliers who have not fared as well during 2020. I also expect to see the sale and purchase of real estate secured debt to be a frothy area as there will likely be a plethora of distressed debt opportunities.

I also expect that corporate restructuring and estate planning will continue to be busy areas as companies and individuals seek to get their “houses” in order in the event of substantial tax code changes that will likely occur if Democrats gain control of the Senate in 2022.

Greco

Dr. Joseph Greco, chief of hospital operations, NYU Langone Hospital Long Island
While Covid brought unprecedented challenges, it also ushered in a new era of healthcare delivery—telemedicine. We expect telemedicine to grow by leaps and bounds in 2021 as it continues to become a”normalized” patient experience, offering convenient medical screenings and assessments remotely. For telemedicine to continue to proliferate, we will need insurers fully on board, recognizing this service as a valuable alternative to many in-person office visits.

In the meantime, COVID-19 vaccines will continue to dominate the healthcare landscape in 2021 as we progress from vaccinating frontline workers and vulnerable populations, to the entire population.

On the non-Covid front: We’ve made significant advancements in total joint replacements, and patients are now able to go home the same day as surgery. This is a game-changer as patients benefit from improved mobility in their home setting and less post-operative complications. Anyone that’s put off a joint replacement should view 2021 as the year to do it.

Kulka

Devin Kulka, CEO, Kulka Group
In 2021 we will see a big push in the multi-family and industrial sectors, with hungry lenders looking to do business and developers and investors seeking value in suburban markets like Long Island. This past year has not been friendly to big-city real estate, with the commercial and residential markets taking an economic punch to the jaw and vacancies rising to all-time highs. Other factors like the new NYS rent stabilization laws have further eroded value in holdings and a turnaround will not be swift. Meanwhile, on Long Island, we have seen a shift from NIMBY (not in my backyard) to YIMBY (yes in my backyard) with transit-oriented districts becoming more growth-friendly. Projects that have been years in the making are finally getting the green light, which is good for local communities and their economies.

Lewi

Gary Lewi, managing director, Rubenstein
Strategic insight, digital positioning, message relevance, and protecting the integrity of the clients’ brand will be among the challenges facing the public relations community in the year to come. Even before the economic train wreck of COVID, the massive contraction in the media market severely altered the landscape that reporters and PR colleagues share. Professional communicators need to appreciate that COVID has permanently realigned media even further, where far fewer journalists working remotely are being asked to, essentially, “drink from a fire hose” of information in order to publish or get on the air. While content creation has been one of the legacy pillars of our industry, the myriad of social platforms now striving for dominance has only made it more so but is vulnerable to abuse. How PR professionals leverage these tools while preserving their own integrity and that of their clients’ will ultimately define their professional legacy. When the pandemic recedes, it will leave permanent scars on the communications sector, requiring recognition by the PR industry that it will need to place far more sophisticated strategies before its clients to ensure value and relevance.

Creighton

Robert Creighton, managing partner, Farrell Fritz
As we navigate the close of a challenging year, our business outlook for 2021 is shifting positive. As we move closer to a COVID vaccine and restoring some level of normalcy to our world, our lives—both personal and business—will likely be transformed forever. Businesses have adapted policies and strategies that will likely remain in place for 2021 and beyond, including creating new efficiencies and integrating new technologies.

Family-owned and closely-held businesses continue to evaluate their options for the future. A significant amount of business exits have occurred this year, and we expect to see this accelerate in 2021. Healthcare organizations have had to focus on being our frontline defense against COVID; we expect to see continued growth of partnerships and affiliations to strengthen their businesses.

Many businesses have transformed their operations to support virtual working, learning and sharing; we feel this operational flexibility will help drive future growth, attract human capital and retain key employees.

Continuing to move our businesses forward, while helping to drive overall economic growth and expansion on Long Island is essential. As we all chart the course into this “new normal” together, there will certainly be challenges along the way, but standing together as a Long Island business community will help us all survive and thrive in 2021 and beyond.

O’Connell

Deirdre O’Connell, CEO, Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty
The real estate market is heading into 2021 in very good shape with a significant number of listings under contract, a continuation of historically low mortgage rates, and large numbers of millennials actively looking to buy. Our challenge is to satisfy customers in a marketplace with low inventory.
Prices have appreciated considerably, but if sellers get too aspirational in their asking prices, that will be a barrier to the market.

With Covid still in the picture, the virtual showings that have dominated the marketplace during 2020 will continue, and become firmly established as an important selling tool moving forward. Virtual showings have proved particularly useful for out of area buyers—offers have been presented and homes gone into contract on the strength of a virtual tour alone, with the perspective homeowner not seeing the actual house until right before closing. While this is in some ways a game changer for how real estate is bought and sold, it underscores the importance of a trusted realtor who can provide a more complete picture of the home and its environs, present competitive offers, and negotiate the terms of the contract to help the buyer move forward with confidence.

Luckman

Gerard Luckman, partner, Forchelli Deegan Terrana
The need for the legal system to deal with the financial distress to the business sector caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will rise in 2021.

Relief provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act, coupled with federal and state executive orders affecting evictions and foreclosures, have delayed but not fully abated businesses’ need to face economic realities.

While many businesses will survive, others will need to reorganize, whether through bankruptcy, liquidation or sale to preserve value. Surviving companies will reimagine how they operate as they learned to manage during the pandemic.

Business owners are considering the amount of space needed as staff work remotely. Restructuring professionals assist these businesses in renegotiating leases and negotiating lease terminations.
We also expect that small business owners wanting to restructure and retain their businesses will file for bankruptcy under Subchapter V of Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. The CARES Act temporarily increased the debt limits to qualify as a small business debtor under Subchapter V from $2.75 million to $7.5 million. Business owners need to be mindful that, unless extended, the temporary increase will expire in March of 2021.

Buran

John R. Buran, president and CEO, Flushing Financial Corporation
Small- and medium-sized businesses, crucial to Long Island’s economy and local employment, have been one of the hardest-hit sectors. Local business owners will continue to need the support of their community banker in 2021 as they position themselves for recovery from the economic challenges posed by the COVID pandemic. Flushing Bank and our recently acquired Empire National Bank were two such community banks that rose to the support of local businesses on Long Island during the pandemic.

When businesses suddenly found themselves struggling because of the economic downturn resulting from the pandemic, community bankers like us were there to lend a helping hand. We partnered with them through the process to successfully secure access to government financing and grant programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program.

As we enter 2021, there is optimism that these challenges will ease as the year progresses and the vaccine is further deployed. Throughout the coming year, Long Island businesses will continue to need access to flexible programs to address their unique challenges and opportunities, including investment to not merely survive—but to grow.

Founded in 1929, Flushing Bank knows the power of community banking throughout periods of economic downturns and booms. As a community bank with branches throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Flushing Bank is uniquely positioned to develop customized financial options to help these businesses manage through this challenging period.

Kaushansky

Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, senior vice president for health sciences and dean of the Renaissance School of Medicine, Stony Brook University
Healthcare is the lifeblood of our society. While serving as senior vice president for Health Sciences at Stony Brook University I am not fully objective, but let me ask: What do you have, if you are not healthy? Academic medical centers (AMC) nationwide like Stony Brook Medicine have several missions: pushing innovative biomedical research forward, training the next generation of healthcare providers and providing outstanding patient care. Perhaps the only silver lining to the dark cloud of COVID-19 is the realization that we must be better prepared for all healthcare disasters. To paraphrase hockey great Wayne Gretzky, we must skate to where the (healthcare) puck is going to be. We must be creative when preparing for the next dangerous infection and train those who will tackle such healthcare challenges over the next decade. We must devise new approaches to the foes of infection, inflammation, malnutrition, trauma, behavioral health, and social determinants such as systemic racism, that create hurdles to a healthy life.

Once healthcare is successful in putting COVID-19 in our rearview mirror, we must not forget the lessons learned so painfully in 2020/2021. Should AMCs and the biotech industry not invest in creating a vaccine against all coronaviruses? Stony Brook and other AMCs must increase training of outstanding students and healthcare professionals and future-minded biomedical scientists. If its society’s goal to live in a world well-prepared to address all future healthcare needs, including those brought about by global warming, novel infectious agents, and the scourge of cancer, then our healthcare industry will continue to thrive, so society can thrive.

LaMere

Eva LaMere, president, Austin Williams
Within the marketing and advertising industry we will need to continue to focus on and monitor data and insights more and more frequently. As our economy and consumer behavior continues to twist and turn we need to be flexible to predict and react to the continued changing landscape. The ability to be nimble and pivot, along with more frequent analyzing of consumer behavior data will be critical to ensure successful marketing programs.