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Health and Welfare Council of Long Island names new leader

Rebecca Sanin is the new president and chief

Rebecca Sanin is the new president and chief executive officer of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island starting May 1, 2017. She is shown in the Melville-based agency's office on April 10, 2017. Credit: Daniel Goodrich

A Suffolk County governmental official who has experience with nonprofit human service agencies and community activism will be the new leader of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island starting May 1, the agency’s officials announced Monday.

Rebecca Sanin, who since 2012 has been an assistant deputy county executive in County Executive Steve Bellone’s administration, is to take over as president and chief executive of the council, a 70-year-old nonprofit organization that advocates for and assists poor and vulnerable people, as well as the agencies that help them.

Sanin, 38, succeeds Gwen O’Shea, who led the Melville-based council for a decade before leaving last month to head the Community Development Corp. of Long Island, a nonprofit housing agency.

Bob Detor, chairman of the Health and Welfare Council’s board of directors, said Sanin, of Huntington Station, was selected from among 50 applicants. Ten candidates were interviewed by a board committee, which chose two finalists.

“I asked the two finalists to meet with senior staff on their own,” Detor said. He described an assignment for the finalists that involved assessing the council’s strengths and weaknesses and presenting their vision for its future to the full board.

Sanin “hit it out of the park,” Detor said, adding, “She had everything we were looking for: education, community experience and the vision, and she was able to articulate it.”

Detor said Sanin also had “some poignant stories of her professional journey and was able to highlight, with some specificity, community needs and where she would take us.”

Sanin, in an interview, cited her career spanning work with nonprofit agencies and education consulting and as an adjunct professor at several Long Island colleges. She said she holds a master’s degree in developmental psychology from Columbia University’s Teachers College and a law degree from Fordham University School of Law.

Before working in the Bellone administration, Sanin was director of alliances for children at the Early Years Institute in Plainview and education director at Harbor Child Care in Hempstead. Her community activism included co-chairing the Huntington Station Action Coalition Civic Engagement Committee and serving as an advisory board member of Coordinating Agency for Spanish Americans.

One of her goals, she said, is to support the next generation of leaders in the nonprofit health and human services arena.

“I’d really like to create a fund around building emerging leaders in the nonprofit sector . . . [and] help them in advocacy in what is an unpredictable time,” Sanin said. Other areas of concern are the needs of immigrants, health-care access and “elevating access to mental health services and reducing the stigma associated with [it],” she said.

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