2013 Honorees

Donna Dellomo


Donna Dellomo is Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Perfumania Holdings, Inc., a vertically integrated designer fragrance retailer and wholesaler with more than 350 independent retail store locations throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. She is also a Certified Public Accountant in New York State.

For more than ten years, Dellomo served as the Chief Financial Officer of Model Reorg., Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Quality King Distributors, Inc.,

which in August 2008 merged with Perfumania. Prior to joining Model Reorg., she was the Corporate Controller of Cybex International, Inc. Throughout her 26 year career, Dellomo has had extensive dealings with investor relations, financing institutions, public company filings, SEC integration and consolidation of business resulting from mergers and acquisitions. In her role as CFO, she has completed the merger and acquisition of multiple fragrance companies, and the reverse merger with Perfumania, including the securitization of the financing for the merger of Perfumania and Model Reorg.

In September 2011, Donna was awarded Long Island Business News CFO of the Year for a Public Company with revenue above of $50MM. In May of 2012 and 2009, Donna was recognized as one of Long Island Business News Top 50 Most Influential Women in Business. She has been nominated and selected four times to attend General Electric’s prestigious Women in Leadership training programs. She is a past trustee and chairperson and current member of the finance committee at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Ronkonkoma. Donna was also on the Board of Directors of the Women’s Fund of Long Island which funds programs that improve the lives of women and girls, highlights and addresses women’s issues and develops women’s philanthropy. She enjoys spending time with her family who enable her to provide a healthy balance to her busy work and community involvement schedule. She credits her success to her husband Todd’s continued support and encouragement, her parents instilled values and hard work, her siblings and nieces and nephews who make her laugh and smile and to mentors throughout her career.

Gail L. Trugman-Nikol


Gail L. Trugman-Nikol is the President of Unique Business Solutions, a Long Island, New York based Business Consulting Company established in 2005. Unique Business Solutions was established to provide business executives with the tools to protect their companies as the significant demographic shifts due to aging workers. According to Gail, the cost of losing a key employee is measured not just monetarily, but by the disruption it represents to the business workflow. Unique Business Solutions has enjoyed success ever since.

Gail Trugman-Nikol started her career in broadcast advertising, where she had multiple positions and responsibilities, including buying radio and television time for Fortune 500 companies, managing buying staff, selling programming to TV stations, and becoming the General Sales Manager for a TV station in Memphis, Tennessee. In the mid 1980s, Gail turned her career focus to the computer industry, then in its infancy. She founded GLTN Computer Consultants on Long Island, growing the company over a nine-year period to two offices and a staff of twenty. She successfully sold the company in October 1997 and stayed in the industry until 2002.

Gail is a board member of the Institute of Management Accountants and the Journal Chairwomen for the American Heart Association Go Red for Women’s Luncheon.

Gail has spoken at the Institute of Management Accountant’s Annual Global Conferences (2010, 2011), to rave reviews from the participants. She has lectured nationally and locally, to groups including Vistage International (local), The Alternative Board (local), the National Association of Women Business Owners, the New York State Society of CPAs (NYSSCPA), and the Government Finance Officers Association (local, regional and state). Gail also is a published writer, with articles in The Journal of Corporate Accounting and Finance, The New York Enterprise Report, Moore Stephens N.A. Newsletter and other publications.

Gail lives in Hicksville, Long Island, New York with her husband and best friend Peter and her (7) seven cats. Gail’s favorite saying is, “Cats are like potato chips, you can’t just have one!”

Karen Brannen


Karen is the CEO of Jefferson’s Ferry, Long Island’s first Lifecare Retirement Community, which opened its doors in 2001 and is now home to almost 400 residents in Independent Living, Enriched Housing, and Skilled Nursing. Karen’s leadership has created one of the most successful single-site lifecare retirement communities in the country. Jefferson’s Ferry’s reputation is above reproach. It has a highly-regarded corporate sponsor in Mather Hospital; professional, dedicated, and influential Board members;

a strong leadership team; and first-rate staff with a high commitment to the mission. Jefferson’s Ferry maintains a five-star quality rating in the health center and receives exceptional survey results by the New York Department of Health. Jefferson’s Ferry has strong ties to the community and expands its social accountability program each year. In 2012, Jefferson’s Ferry was honored as a Health Care Hero by the Long Island Business News.

Jefferson’s Ferry employs approximately 300 Long Islanders and has been named one of the top 10 employers in New York State by the Society for Human Resource Management. Karen is passionate about developing talented people within her organization and has implemented programs to fund the education of staff members who desire to obtain degrees, certifications, and/or licenses. She has also developed a family-friendly organization that supports employees’ needs. Examples include flexible schedules, job-sharing, an exceptional benefits package, and others. The organization accommodates individual needs as well, such as bringing children to work, providing loans and grants for unforeseen emergencies, a home-purchasing program, and many others.

Karen successfully advocates for positive changes to local, state, and federal regulations and laws that benefit senior citizens.

Originally a country girl, Karen moved from a pig farm in Missouri to the big city of Springfield, Oregon when she was ten years old. There, she saw her first drive-through bank, Chinese and fast-food restaurants, public parks, drive-in movies, and neighborhood sidewalks.

As a child, her parents told Karen and her three sisters that they could do anything their four brothers could do. Among countless other instructions, her father told her to play football rather than stand on the sideline cheering for boys. She was raised to believe there were no differences in the capabilities of males versus females.

Karen worked in many traditional female jobs until she graduated high school and joined the U.S. Army in 1974. The Army had recently opened the Military Police Corps to women and Karen was assigned there. The Military Police school was co-ed and Karen graduated on the Commandant’s list (top 10% of her class). She was assigned to Taegu, Korea and served most of her two-year enlistment there. At eighteen years old, she guarded a military installation, broke up bar fights, and performed all other responsibilities of a Military Policeman. She participated in war games as one of six women in a company of more than two hundred men.

Karen went to college on the GI Bill and majored in Accounting, a degree that was being promoted to women entering college in 1976.   Shortly after graduating, she married an Army Officer and began working as a civilian for the Department of Defense. Throughout the years, she received professional mentoring from men and women, and received honors for her accomplishments. She was the first civilian to be selected to attend graduate school at the Army-Baylor program in San Antonio, Texas and graduated at the top of her class as the Distinguished Honor Graduate. Her success led to the admission of two civilians the following year.

Karen has mentored many men and women during her career and currently mentors two senior staff members at Jefferson’s Ferry.

Professional Organizations:

  • President, CCRC Committee of the LeadingAge New York Board of Directors.
  • Member, Leadership Forum, LeadingAge New York
  • Member, Board of Directors, LeadingAge New York
  • Former Evaluator with the national Continuing Care Accreditation Commission
  • Lifetime Member and Former Board Member, Stony Brook University Medical Center Auxiliary
  • Former Board Member Stony Brook Rotary Club
  • Advisor Herstory Board of Directors
  • Member Long Island Center for Business & Professional Women

Susan Gruen Helsinger


By the time Susan Gruen Helsinger was twenty five, she was a founding partner of Gruen Optika Corporation of New York City. With a newborn son, she and her husband went on to build the business into the premier optical company of the metropolitan area. She traveled the world to find the most stylish of products. At thirty five, Susan and her friend, Heidi Grijnsztein, went on to open Hi-D and Su-Z Toys of Great Neck. It all came to an abrupt halt when her son, Jason, died suddenly of I.H.S.S. and Cardiomyopathy and her husband left two months later. She negotiated a buy out of both companies and started on a new journey.

Susan, a former nurse, went back to school. She received a degree as a paralegal from Adelphi University and became licensed as a Notary Public and a Real Estate Broker. Susan and her late husband, Jay Helsinger, founded the Custom Real Estate Group and JSC Building Corporation. In 2004, Susan took over sole ownership. Recently the Custom Real Estate Group was acquired by Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

Susan Gruen Helsinger is the Founder and CEO of The Jason Gruen Foundation.org, a not-for-profit organization named for her late son. The foundation is instrumental in building the Children™s Heart Centers at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and Cohen Children™s Hospital at NSUH/LIJ Health Systems. The foundation contributes equipment on an ongoing basis to many hospitals and facilities in need. The foundation made history six years ago when it started offering cardiac screenings to eighth grade students in school systems on Long Island.

Ms. Helsinger was installed on January 1, 2013, as Vice President of the Long Island Board of Realtors, the third largest board in the United States. She serves on the Board of Directors of the New York State Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors. Susan serves on the Board of Directors of the L.I.B.O.R. Federal Credit Union and is the Parliamentarian for the Women’s Council of Realtors. Susan has served as a guest lecturer at Molloy College speaking about marketing in business. She has been chosen to be recognized as a member of the NYSAR Realtors Honor Society for the past six years.

Ms. Helsinger was named Merrick’s Woman of the Year” in 2000. In 2001, she was nominated by Senator Charles Fuschillo and bestowed the great honor of Woman of Distinction by the New York State Senate at a ceremony in Albany. In 2004, Susan was chosen as Small Business Person of the Year by the Nassau Chambers of Commerce from Merrick. In 2006, Ms. Helsinger was honored with the Woman of the Year award from United Cerebral Palsy of Nassau County, and the Humanitarian of the Year award from the Long Island Board of Realtors, as well as the 2008 Spirit Award. In March 2012, Susan and her best buddy Mary Hauptman, were bestowed the Humanitarian Award from Best Buddies of America, an organization founded by the Kennedy/Shriver families.

Susan was brought up by parents who believed that giving to others is an important part of life. Her parents, Cornelius and Jeanette Schneider were active in the Jewish War Veterans and her mother, Jeanette Schneider was a Past National President of J.W.V.A. Carrying on that tradition, Susan served as President of the State of New York J.W.V.A. Susan is a Past President of the Kiwanis Club of Merrick and serves as Chairperson of their largest fundraiser Holiday Gift Wrapping for Charity program which has raised over $350,000 for community and children’s charities. She sits on the board of the Merrick Chamber of Commerce, the Foundation Board of UCPN and the Advisory Board of the Department of New York J.W.V.A. She is a proud member of the Long Island Center for Business & Professional Women, the Women’s Presidents Organization, and serves as a Trustee of Temple Emanuel of Great Neck.

Susan is thankful to have her son Connor Helsinger, sister Edna Schneider, and niece Jacie to be there to help give her strength to look forward into the future.

Kathy Munsch


Kathy Munsch began her tenure at the American Heart Association in 2000 as a Senior Regional Director and was later promoted to Regional Vice President. She manages the Long Island office, the Long Island Board of Directors, a development staff, and is responsible for the integration of her development staff with other departments in the Founder Affiliate such as Communications, Quality Improvement Initiatives and Professional Education. Prior to joining the American Heart Association, she was Executive Director for a grass roots breast cancer organization raising money for education and awareness for Long Island women.

She began her career with not-for-profits working for ten years at the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence starting as their Supervising Paralegal and then becoming their Events Manager.

Through her leadership, more than 2,000 companies on Long Island have participated in National Wear Red Day, a component of the Go Red For Women Movement, which educates women by raising their awareness of cardiovascular disease.

Her professional memberships and affiliations include past Executive Vice President on the Board of Directors for the Long Island Women’s Agenda, and past board member for The Long Island Fund for Women and Girls, and a past committee member of the LI Fund’s Annual Achievers Breakfast committee. Kathy serves on the Board of Directors, Long Island Chapter for the Association of Fundraising Professionals and serves on its program committee. She is a member of Action Long Island and serves on their Healthcare Task Force bringing My START at work and providing wellness opportunities to companies across Long Island. She received the Community Outreach Healthcare Heroes Award presented by Long Island Business News in recognition of exceptional dedication, commitment and contributions to the quality of health care on Long Island and received the Women Making a Difference Award from the Soroptomist Society of Nassau County. Kathy was also honored and received the Long Island Women of Distinction Award from the Long Island Press – Fortune 52. She also was named one of Long Island’s Top 50 Women awarded by Long Island Business News.

She graduated from Adelphi University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Management and from Nassau Community College with an Associate’s Degree in Paralegal. She lives in East Meadow with her husband Paul and has two grown children. Kathy loves spending time with her two grandchildren.

Mary M. Lai


LIU Treasurer Emerita Mary M. Lai Named Inaugural Recipient of NACUBO’s Pathfinder Award LIU’s first CFO and one of the first women in the country to rise to that rank, Lai is likely the longest-serving academic business officer in America
Brookville, N.Y. A living legend in higher education finance, Mary M. Lai is the inaugural recipient of the National Association of College and University Business Officers’ Pathfinder Award. The new award, which recognizes individuals who have made longstanding contributions to the business officer profession, was presented July 27 at NACUBO’s 50th anniversary gala at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

“Mary Lai has been a guiding light for higher education business officers for over six decades, and is the perfect inaugural recipient of the NACUBO Pathfinder Award. Her career is replete with examples of innovative business practices, of transformational leadership and of value-centered decisions that are inspiring,” says John Walda, president and CEO of NACUBO.

“We are proud and grateful that Mary Lai helped build the foundation for the success of our association, and for the advancement of the business officer profession.”

According to NACUBO, Mrs. Lai is likely the longest-serving academic business officer in the United States. Now in her 67th year of full-time employment at Long Island University, she was LIU’s first CFO and one of the first women in the country to rise to that rank. Today, Mrs. Lai remains an integral part of the University administration, serving as treasurer emerita and senior adviser.

“This is no honorific retirement title. Mary is at the University every day and continues to play a vital role in moving us forward,” notes David J. Steinberg, president of Long Island University. “There have been times in the past when Mary’s skill and passion for the institution literally made the difference between survival and disaster.”

Mrs. Lai earned a B.S. in accounting and economics from the University’s Brooklyn Campus, graduating magna cum laude in 1942. A year later, she married her college sweetheart, William T. “Buck” Lai, class of 1941. When Mr. Lai enlisted in the U.S. Naval Air Corps, Mrs. Lai followed him around the country doing accounting, tax returns and bookkeeping for the Navy. When the war ended in 1946, the couple returned to New York, and Mrs. Lai joined Arthur Young as a public accountant.

That same year, Tristram Walker Metcalfe, then president of Long Island University, asked Mrs. Lai to return to her alma mater to serve as bursar. She agreed to do so, on a temporary basis. The job was much more permanent than she ever dreamed. Mrs. Lai served as the University’s chief financial officer for nearly 58 years, becoming vice president for finance and treasurer, and guiding the institution through times of tremendous growth and fiscal turmoil. During her tenure as CFO, Mrs. Lai saw enrollment grow from 800 students to more than 30,000. In December 2003, she assumed her current role as treasurer emerita.

“I love what I do. I love it with a passion,” Mrs. Lai said. “There’s nothing better than helping students to earn an education and seeing the difference it makes in their lives.”

A former treasurer and former board member of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Mrs. Lai has served on more than 50 Middle States accreditation teams. She also was the first female president of both the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) and the Eastern Association of College and University Business Officers (EACUBO), and served on the boards of both organizations

Mrs. Lai currently is a trustee of St. Joseph’s College and has been a member of the boards of LeMoyne College and Boston College. In addition, she has served on the boards of the Educational & Institutional Cooperative Service, East New York Savings Bank, M&T Bank and Empire State Bank, and on the advisory board of Chemical Bank. In most cases, Mrs. Lai broke gender barriers to become the first woman to serve on these institutions’ boards.

Her years of hard work and dedication have earned her the respect of colleagues across the University and throughout the metropolitan area.
Mrs. Lai’s achievements and service have been acknowledged through numerous awards and honors including the NACUBO Distinguished Business Officer Award; the Peat Marwick/EACUBO Distinguished Service Award; the Soroptimist Woman of Distinction Award; the Accounting Executive of the Year award from the Institute of Management Accountants; an honorary doctorate from Fordham University, where she earned a master’s degree; and many Long Island University-bestowed honors including a Trustee Award, a Distinguished Alumna Award and an honorary doctorate. In 1996, in recognition of her 50th anniversary with the institution, the structure that houses the University’s financial operation was named the Mary M. Lai Finance Building. More recently, she was honored by the American Association of University Women.