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2019 Businessperson of the Year: Beth Hanlon

Editor’s Note: The video below was prepared for our 2019 Times Review Media Group People of the Year event in March. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, we were forced to postpone and ultimately cancel this year’s event. Every Sunday through early September we will be sharing the video presentations that would have celebrated each of the honorees that evening along with the original People of the Year features published in January. A special thank you to our event sponsor, People’s United Bank, for helping to make these awards possible each year

She juggles many roles, yet not a single one seems to fully define her. From fundraising and leadership to service and customer satisfaction, her friends and coworkers say she has climbed both the corporate and nonprofit ladders of success, leaving a positive impression on all who meet her.

Beth Hanlon, the Riverhead News-Review’s 2019 Businessperson of the Year, fills a number of roles in the local community, focusing her work on community-based efforts. “Beth is our scholarship committee chairwoman,” said Rosane Cassella of Aquebogue, president of the East End Women’s Network and member of the Rotary Club of Southampton. “I’ve known her for a couple of years. She is a super-ambitious, amazing, committed woman with a dynamic personality.”

Ms. Hanlon, in addition to being an Allstate insurance agent for 32 years, with offices in Riverhead and Wading River, helped EEWN obtain a $500 New York State grant this year. Ms. Cassella explained that Ms. Hanlon is a forward-thinker who “never says ‘no’ ” and is always willing to lend a hand, whether that means getting all hands on deck when the group is making gift baskets for the holiday season, or offering up office space for EEWN staff to house those gift baskets ahead of a gala.

“The brief time that I’ve known Beth on the board of the East End Women’s Network,” said former EEWN president Judy McCleery, “she has been a firecracker, getting done whatever we needed to get done, happy to step up to anything. She is so dedicated to the volunteer efforts that she makes — it’s really impressive.” Ms. McCleery, while no longer president, is still an official network board member.

Like Ms. Cassella, Ms. Hanlon is also a Rotarian, previously having served as president of Riverhead Rotary. Today, she volunteers her time on a number of club committees and as of July, has been working at the district level as the club’s assistant governor.

“[Riverhead] Rotary actually ran a plant sale for Mother’s Day last year and they raised over $130,000,” Ms. Cassella said. “I went there three or four times and every time I went, she was there, working it.”

Preston Schoenfeld, current Riverhead Rotary president, worked on the club’s board of directors with Ms. Hanlon, back when she started off as a secretary, worked her way up to vice president, president, past president and, of course, to her roles today.

“She’s a superstar. She has very high energy,” he said.

Danny Lanieri, 2018-19 Rotary president, said that during Ms. Hanlon’s tenure as Riverhead Rotary president, she invested herself into specific projects and helped catapult them to success.

“Beth, I’m sure everyone tells you, she’s a very charitable person,” Mr. Lanieri said. “That year, when Beth was the president, we took over the garden fest, which is our largest fundraiser, from [Peconic Bay Medical Center], which had been doing the garden fest up by Tanger every year … She made it instantly successful.”

Mr. Lanieri said Ms. Hanlon takes interest in projects and acts as the driving force behind their improvement. This holiday season, she went shopping as part of the Toys for Tots Rotary committee. She kicked off the garden festival committee during her presidency and today, serves as its chair. She also serves as chair of the club’s bulletin committee and one that pertains to the club’s golf outings, which involves the club allocating money for scholarship donations. Between $40,000 and $42,000 worth of scholarship money was raised for Riverhead High School students this year, according to Mr. Lanieri.

“Every week,” Mr. Schoenfeld said, “it seems like she’s always happy about something. Her personality is just — she’s optimistic, endlessly optimistic.”

Ms. Hanlon also works with Riverhead-based Aid to the Developmentally Disabled Inc.

“Her personality is really just a magnet of positive energy and she inspires everyone around her,” Mr. Schoenfeld said.

Ms. Cassella echoed that sentiment, expressing gratitude for Ms. Hanlon’s involvement with EEWN and expressing overall appreciation for the person she is.

Photo caption: Beth Hanlon pictured in 2018. (Credit: Rachel Siford/file)

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2018: Anthony Meras
2017: Irwin Garsten
2016: PeraBell Food Bar East
2015: Jim and Barbara Cromarty
2014: Riverhead’s craft brewers
2013: April Yakaboski
2012: Richard Stabile
2011: Dennis McDermott and Kayleigh & Tahir Baig
2010: Dee Muma
2009: J. Gordon Huszagh
2008: Ray Pickersgill
2007: Ray Maynard
2006: Jack Van de Wetering
2005: Jeff Hallock and Dr. Frank Arena
2004: Massoud Family
2003: Andrew Mitchell
2002: Christine & Peter Loew, EastEnders Coffee House
2001: Jan Burman
2000: Fred Terry
1999: Jim Bissett, Joseph Petrocelli
1998: Swezey’s Department Store
1997: Pat Frankenbach
1996: Chip Cleary
1995: Ed Merz
1994: Bill Talmage
1993: Joe Fischer
1992: Liz Strebel
1991: Barry Barth
1990: Bobby Goodale
1989: Mike Kent
1988: Stan Hagler