While politicians, economists and pundits have sat around talking about how to fix the ailing economy, Phyllis Doria, 67, has been on the frontlines of the struggle.
As a longtime member of the Massapequa Chamber of Commerce, Doria takes pride in organizing, promoting and attending nearly every event the chamber hosts. She has become a fixture at community events, to the extent that she has come to know her New York State assemblyman on a first-name basis.
“I see Joe at everything,” Doria said, referring to Assemb. Joseph Saladino (R-Massapequa).
For her contributions to the Massapequa business community, Saladino has selected her as one of six women to be honored at his third Women of Distinction Award Ceremony. The ceremony will be held at the Bar Harbour branch of the Massapequa Public Library at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
“Phyllis Doria, our chamber of commerce president, has positively impacted our business community and has also been responsible for the beautification of our downtowns, the Business Expo and the enormous Massapequa Community Festival at the Long Island Rail Road Station,” Saladino said. “These are but a few illustrations of how Phyllis is improving life here and setting the example for many successful business women in the future."
Doria’s accomplishments have not come without adversity. Just before taking over as chamber president in 2010, she lost Arne Hansen, her boyfriend of 25 years.
While she said she felt devastated after his death, Doria quickly realized she had to put her personal tragedy aside and move forward.
“I had to do what I had to do,” Doria said. “If you keep yourself focused then you know that you’re going to be okay because you have other things in your life.”
For Doria, those other things included taking care of her parents and her work with the chamber.
She initially got involved with the Massapequa Chamber nearly 20 years ago. She was elected president in 2010, and just stepped down after finishing her second consecutive one-year term, which is the limit. Doria subsequently took over as treasurer, the only position on the board that she had not previously occupied.
Besides her work with the chamber, she is also involved in significant community outreach such as holiday toy and food drives, giving out scholarships, and presenting Eagle Scout Awards to Boy Scouts and Gold Awards to Girl Scouts.
As for her own business, Doria was named Massapequa Small Business Person of the Year in 2009 for her work as an independent sales representative for Avon. Her most unique accolade, however, was earned after 9/11: a merit award from the U.S. Coast Guard for shopping.
As part of a contest, Doria was able to purchase the most supplies for the least amount of money. Items included hygiene products that officers would need while at sea. It was a cinch for Doria, who says she is a natural bargain hunter.
“We had to go out and buy all kinds of supplies for the Coast Guard, who was guarding our shores,” Doria said. “I beat the other guy so they gave me a merit award; it was so weird, so funny.”
The other five women who will be honored are Barbara Maertz, a chemistry lab manager at Farmingdale State College who wrote several science textbooks; Jane Ryan, an accountant whose Wantagh firm provides services to special education schools and agencies; Sister Loyola Curtin, who has done significant work with the Parish Outreach Ministry at St. Rose Church in Massapequa; Margaret Minnick, a nurse who has become the vice president of patient services at St. Joseph Hospital in Bethpage; and Roseann Vainder, who has worked organizing programs for seniors throughout the Town of Oyster Bay and Village of Massapequa Park.
Above: Phyllis Doria, center, received a certificate from state Sen. Charles Fuschillo, right, after being named 2009 Small Businessperson of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce of the Massapequas. Also pictured is Patricia Orzano, the chamber's second vice president at that time.