Ten millennial Long Islanders were highlighted for their contributions to the community last week when honored at the Millennial Awards at the Holiday Inn in Stony Brook.
“I think a lot of people think we’re [millennials] lazy and like to take the easy way out,” said Long Islander, millennial and attendee Jillian Habersaat. “I definitely think that stereotype isn’t correct for most.”
Habersaat was there to support her former boss Chris Murray, who was being honored for his work as the Director of Athletic Marketing at Stony Brook University. He was able to increase the department’s ticket revenue by 500 percent.
Habersaat made it clear the work they did at the university to achieve this and more was anything but relaxed and required long hours and hard work.
John Tsunis, the CEO of Gold Coast Bank and owner of the Holiday Inn., donated the space for the event. He wanted to help highlight hardworking millennials like Murray. Tsunis said he wanted to encourage millennials and bring them together because when he was younger, he didn’t get many chances to network with people his age.
“This is an opportunity for people to interact with each, exchange business cards and shine a little bit,” said Tsunis. “It’s a resume builder, and it’s nice to get a pat on the back.”
One of the honorees who received a pat on the back was Courtney Bynoe who rose up the ranks to become the associate executive director of the Huntington Chamber of Commerce. She’s worked with several non-profits and encourages young professionals to connect and generate business.
“We realize that these young professionals are the future of our chamber,” said Bynoe. “It’s an honor to be able to cheer on our young professionals and watch them conquer their polls.”
Joshua Lafazan, who has conquered the political landscape on the other side of the ballot, was also honored. He became the youngest Nassau County legislator and was one of the youngest legislators in the state at 23. He also has two Ivy Leagues, Cornell and Harvard, under his belt.
“My simple message is if you see a young person who is articulate, energetic and cares about their peers, tell them that they should step up and run for office,” said Lafazan. “This will be a better place when millennials take control of our government.”
Other politicians in attendance included Legislator DuWayne Gregory and he came out to support his employee Luann Dallojacono.
Luann Dallojacono grew up in Selden and went on to become an award-winning writer and editor and has over a decade of experience covering local news. The Georgetown graduate then decided to go the political route and is now the special assistant to the residing officer at Suffolk County legislature, DuWayne Gregory. She also runs the Next Generation Advisory Council, a group that represents millennials in county government.
She said she was taken aback when she found out she was being honored and it was nice to see millennials on Long Island being considered. She does believe that is something that happens often on the island.
“I think millennials are actually an important topic of conversation frequently, and the conversation is about how do we keep them here,” said Dallojacono.
There are millennials who are leaving Long Island and one reason is that the island’s price tag is too high. Honoree Dan Lloyd encouraged his fellow millennials to stay on Long Island because there are a lot of opportunities to grow and become problem-solvers.
Lloyd is the associate director of L.I. Citizens For Community Values and works in the community to protect children and families from negative influences in the digital age.
He’s also the founder of Minority Millennials Inc., an organization that works to implement solutions to the social, cultural and economic problems minorities and the younger generation face on Long Island.
“I was born and raised here and at Stony Brook we had a lot of folks from other states and countries say that we’re kind of a different breed here on Long Island,” joked Murray. “We’re certainly a little rough around the edges sometimes. But one thing I see time and time again is when one of us is down, the community will always rally together to take care of each other.”
All honorees seem optimistic about the future of Long Island and are doing work to ensure this through their activism, outreach
Look below for the full list of honorees:
Jennifer O’Brien – State Farm Agency Owner
Michael Scarola – SVP, Information Systems Officer at Gold Coast BankDan Lloyd – Founder of Minority Millennials Inc. and Associate Director at L.I. Citizens For Community Values
Courtney Bynoe – Associate Executive Director at Huntington Chamber of Commerce
Doug Smith – NYS Assemblyman Member
Charlie Ziegler – Director of Operations at Holiday Inn Express, Stony Brook
Joshua Lafazan – Nassau County Legislator
Luann Dallojacono – Leader of the Suffolk County Next Generation Advisory Council
Chris Murray – General Manager at Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment (former Director of