07/23/14 1:07pm
07/23/2014 1:07 PM
TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Regina Calcaterra of New Suffolk opening her State Senate campaign in the summer of 2009.

Regina Calcaterra of New Suffolk opening her State Senate campaign in the summer of 2009. (Credit: Tim Kelly, file)

In mid-September, the three co-chairs of a high-powered commission aimed at rooting out corruption in state politics arranged for a meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who set up the commission last summer. In the governor’s mid-town office, William Fitzpatrick, a district attorney from Syracuse, raised concerns he felt were hampering the commission’s effort, the New York Times reported today .

At the center of those concerns were alleged roadblocks  planted by Regina Calcaterra, a New Suffolk attorney who had been appointed the commission’s executive director. The commissioners threatened to quit, alleging that Ms. Calcaterra was running interference on investigations that pointed back to the governor’s office.

Lawrence Schwartz, the secretary to the governor, responded by saying of Ms. Calcaterra: “She is not going anywhere.”

These bombshell revelations were detailed by a three-month New York Times investigation published today.  (more…)

10/20/13 5:20pm
10/20/2013 5:20 PM
TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Regina Calcaterra of New Suffolk opening her State Senate campaign in the summer of 2009.

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Regina Calcaterra of New Suffolk opening her State Senate campaign in the summer of 2009.

New Suffolk attorney Regina Calcaterra was one of several subjects featured in a CBS Sunday Morning cover story on human resiliency and the “science of survival,” which first aired this morning.

Ms. Calcaterra, an aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo, was interviewed by CBS news correspondent Susan Spencer about how she overcame a difficult childhood with an abusive mother and years spent living in foster homes. Her childhood is the subject of Ms. Calcaterra’s recently released memoir “Etched in Sand.” (She sat down with The Suffolk Times for an interview on the day the book was released.)

Asked if she believes she’s resilient, Ms. Calcaterra said, ”Yes, absolutely, I do. If I’m pinged or knocked down, I get up very quickly and just move forward, and I always have.”

“Do you get annoyed at people when they get all upset about life’s little issues?” Spencer asks later in the interview.

“Absolutely, I do,” laughed Calcaterra. “I actually think that it’s good that they get upset about the small things, because then they didn’t experience such pain and suffering. So then they’ve had a good life, if the little things set them off.”

Editor’s Note: Ms. Calcaterra first appears at the 3:54 mark of the video.

08/06/13 12:18pm
08/06/2013 12:18 PM
COURTESY PHOTO  |  Regina M. Calcaterra wrote a memoir detailing her life in foster care on Long Island.

COURTESY PHOTO | Regina M. Calcaterra wrote a memoir detailing her life in foster care on Long Island.

You may know Regina Calcaterra from her run in the 2010 election for New York State Senate. Or maybe you recall her tenure as the chief of staff for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

Now you can read about the New Suffolk attorney’s life before she was in the public spotlight in a memoir detailing her childhood growing up as the middle of five siblings in foster care and on the streets of Long Island.

Ms. Calcaterra’s memoir, “Etched in Sand,” was released by a division of HarperCollins Tuesday. She’ll be attending a book signing and reception at Clovis Point Vineyards on Main Road in Jamesport on Saturday, Aug. 10.

Ms. Calcaterra, 46, now working for Governor Andrew Cuomo as executive director of a state commission investigating public corruption, said she worked on the book for several years and even took memoir-writing classes in New York City.

She took a few minutes from her busy schedule to discuss the book on the day of its release.

Q: Did you keep a journal growing up, or was most of the book reconstructed from memory?

A: The book was reconstructed from my memory and my siblings’ memories as well. I was working on the first four chapters for years, because, in my mind, those are the most pivotal chapters of my life. It’s only five months of my life, but it’s four chapters, and the irony is the rest of the book covers 45 years of my life.

I also worked with a co-writer [Krissy Gasbare], who I would submit a chapter to, and because she had written her own memoir in the past, she would go through it and tell me what it is that I wasn’t sharing with the reader. She had a remarkable talent for pulling things out of me.

My siblings also added a lot to the book. Sometimes it was humorous and sometimes it was not.

Q: What did you learn about yourself from writing the book?

A: I learned so much, and it also brought back some memories that I had buried and hadn’t had to think about for a long time. One of those memories was when I was sexually abused in a foster home by two boys. That was disturbing.

But writing made me relive these memories that have been with me for some time and it enabled me to shed them.

What I loved about it was that, looking at myself now and my drive and intensity, and my protectiveness of my coworkers, family and friends, it allowed me to reflect and learn where that all comes from. I never had reflected on how my character was built because I’ve always been focused on trying to succeed.

Q: You’re so open with your past in the book. How might that impact your career in public service?

A: I’m not going to worry about how it is going to affect my career. If I were worried about that I wouldn’t have written the book. If anything, I think it enhances [my career] because I talk so much about the role of public servants and the role government plays in our lives — good and bad.

I provide many different scenarios in there where I had good teachers and bad teachers and good social workers and bad social workers, and I am basically saying that everything they do matters. When they touch a person a certain way, they do not realize the ripple effect that’s going to have.

The book highlights to those in government how important everything they do is and how they have to take it seriously.

Q: A major part of the book is when, as an adult, you took your father to court in an unprecedented move to force him to take a paternity test. Did it ever seem to you that lengthy battle might not work out in the end?

A: My concern with that litigation was that, because there’s no other case in the U.S. where an adult brought a DNA paternity test against an adult, it might have an adverse impact on all future adults seeking paternity tests. As an attorney I understood the [negative] effect that could have had on future cases.

Q: Did that process bring personal closure to you?

A: It did, tremendously. The abuse that I received from my mother far exceeded the abuse that my siblings had because we had five different dads, and my father broke my mother’s heart. He hurt her the most, so in turn she would hurt me the most and did not even want me existing. She did what she could to isolate me, and the abuse I received was extreme.

It gave me closure because it ultimately gave me the answer to a question I asked my mother many times in my life, which is how it was that he hurt her so badly. I wanted to know if he beat her or he raped her, if I was conceived that way. I needed to know what about my very existence hurt her so much. But she said he didn’t, she said that he was very loving.

But I got my answer in the brief when his lawyer wrote that [I was] a 34-year-old New York attorney who was successful and doesn’t need a father. Then in the next sentence, he wrote about [my father’s] wife of 34 years. When I put the math together, I realized that when my mother was pregnant with me, he married another woman.

I finally had my answer of how he broke my mother’s heart.

Q: You talk in the book about your love for your siblings’ children. Did you ever want children of your own?

A: I’ve always wanted children of my own. Now that I’m 46, the time when I can have children of my own has passed. I have always wanted to adopt a foster child , so that can be done at any time. That option is always open, but that’s something [ my partner] Todd [Ciaravino] and I would have to work through. One day that may happen.

Q: The beauty of memoirs is that readers can learn from the author’s experience. How might your story help others in a situation similar to yours and what they can take away from this book?

A: That they control their own destiny. Regardless of what hand they’re dealt, they can change it. Everyone’s born into different situations, but be grateful you were born in the United States because there are enough resources here to pull anyone up and out.

You may feel powerless in your situation, but it’s up to you to change that, and that’s what my book chronicles. It was a long, hard journey that was sometimes dark, but I knew I was the only one who was going to change it and make my life worthwhile.

gparpan@timesreview.com

04/07/12 10:08am
04/07/2012 10:08 AM

COURTESY PHOTO | Regina M. Calcaterra has been named Woman of the Year by the East End Women's Network.

The East End Women’s Network (EEWN) has named New Suffolk resident Regina M. Calcaterra, an attorney and rising star in the county Democratic Party who is chief deputy Suffolk County executive, as the 2012 Woman of the Year.

She will be honored at a dinner celebration on Wednesday, April 25 at Giorgio’s in Baiting Hollow.

Now in its 30th year, EEWN every year honors an East End woman who has “exhibited solid leadership responsibilities, commitment to her goals, and achievements in her professional life as well as personal character and service to her community and her colleagues,” according to an EEWN announcement.

“Not only did Regina Calcaterra meet all the criteria for our Woman of the Year award,” said EEWN board member Ceil Carpenter, “but it was the combination of her career success, overcoming great adversity in childhood and dedication to giving back to her community through volunteer activities including her work with foster care children, that is what sparked our interest and set her nomination apart.”

Ms. Calcaterra was named chief deputy county executive by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. She is the first woman to hold this position. She formerly was the founding and managing partner of the New York law office of Barrack, Rodos & Bacine, where she represented public and labor pension funds seeking to recoup billions of dollars from those who committed corporate fraud on Wall Street.

Her resume  includes work as an advocate for disabled veterans, a frequent commentator on politics and public policy for national and local media outlets and volunteer work as a foster care advocate with You Gotta Believe. Her’s work with foster children was inspired by her own youth. Growing up, she and her siblings spent a substantial amount of time in the foster care system.

She sought the Democratic nomination to run for State Senate in 2010 but her residency status was successfully challenged in court by a potential opponent. She had formerly maintained a residence by Pennsylvania because of frequent visits there required by her legal work.

EEWN member Melanie McEvoy nominated Ms. Calcaterra for the Woman of the Year Award.

“Regina is a natural mentor to other women and someone I greatly respect for all that she does,” she said. “I’ve known Regina for nearly 15 years as a friend and colleague in the women’s political activist realm. She has always amazed me with her energy at getting things done in all aspects of life.  She is a true leader in every sense of the word. Regina is a model and an inspiration for what we all can achieve.”

The East End Women’s Network was founded in 1981. The purpose of the organization “is to bring together women of diverse accomplishment and
experience, directing women into policy-making positions through the dissemination and sharing of career opportunities; to educate members and
the public on issues affecting women on the East End; and to promote the interests, conditions and positions of women in science, business,
industry, labor, government, the arts, education and public service,” according to the EEWN announcement.

The Woman of the Year event starts with networking at 5:30 p.m., dinner and program at 6 p.m. The price for the dinner is $55 for EEWN members
($80 at the door), $70 for non‐members ($80 at the door).

For more information and to make reservations visit EEWN website www.eewn.org or contact Ceil Carpenter, (631) 727-3777.

12/06/11 6:21pm
12/06/2011 6:21 PM

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Regina Calcaterra announcing her candidacy for State Senator in 2009.

County Comptroller Joe Sawicki is about to give up his status as the North Fork’s lone representative in the upper levels of county government.

In January the Southold resident will share that distinction with New Suffolk’s Regina Calcaterra, recently tapped by County Executive-elect Steve Ballone, Babylon’s Democratic supervisor, to be his chief deputy county executive.

Mr. Bellone is succeeding Mr. Levy, a Democrat turned Republican who decided against seeking reelection in the wake of the Suffolk district attorney’s investigation into his campaign fund-raising. Mr. Bellone defeated County Treasurer Angie Carpenter in November.

Ms. Calcaterra, who grew up homeless but rose to became a corporate fraud attorney, said she’s thrilled at the opportunity to serve in the Bellone administration.

That means putting her legal career on hold.

“I have a great admiration for government and the integral role is plays in our lives, especially because I was on the receiving side of government services as a child.”

She said her job will be to “implement Steve Bellone’s agenda, which is doing more with less. Right now my task is to do the best for Suffolk County residents, and that can be done quickly. It will take time to transform government, which will be my primary focus for the next two years.”