By Janee Law
Longtime Dix Hills resident Susan Friedman has been named the 2016 woman of distinction for Suffolk’s 17th legislative district for her efforts to advocate for children and their families within her community, including through the founding of a program that has provided over 600 lunches for residents in emergency housing on Super Bowl Sunday.
“As diverse as her support and interests may be, the common theme in Ms. Friedman’s activities is her passion for helping people,” stated Suffolk Legislator Lou D’Amaro (D-Huntington Station), who selected Friedman for the award. “Her volunteerism has no boundaries and exemplifies a vibrant humanitarian spirit. She is truly a woman of distinction.”
Friedman is currently an attorney with global professional services firm Marsh & McLennan. Within the company, she founded the Marsh Women’s Executive Business to Business Network in 2006. Marsh WEBB boasts over 500 members and is designed to assist women with networking.
“That’s a huge accomplishment. Our members are very connected to us, and socialize in and out of our Marsh WEBB events, and network with each other. They’re very supportive and they too have very strong humanitarian interests,” she said.
In 2003, Friedman launched the “SouperBowl Sunday” program through the South Huntington Jewish Center. The program is now an annual event that has provided over 600 lunches for residents in Suffolk emergency housing on Super Bowl Sunday.
Friedman turned her efforts to the Half Hollow Hills School District in 2004 when she began volunteering as a parent member on its committee for special education. She said her motivation to do this was having close family friends with special needs, along with the large population of special needs students within the district.
As a parent member, she has been assisted families with children with special needs. Friedman was also on the board of directors of AutismNetworks.com, working with well-known Autism expert Jason Reise.
“Everything between being on the committee of special education and autismnetworks.com, the goal was to assist parents as a resource to be able to help them have information readily available so they don’t have to search for it,” Friedman said.
Friedman attended Cornell University and earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics. She continued her education at New York Law School, from which she earned her juris doctor degree.
In addition, Marsh WEBB also partners with other organizations including Dress for Success, which hosts clothing drives and mentoring activities for women in need of support.
Friedman has also volunteered at the Northport VA Hospital, where she provided Big Brothers & Big Sisters mentoring, organized book and toy drives, served as a Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador and spent time with local seniors at assisted living facilities.
Friedman also served a three-year term from 2012-2015 as a member of the Suffolk County Women’s Advisory Commission, and is currently a member of the Suffolk County Youth Board Coordinating Council, which she joined late last year.
“I like to spread the wealth. I have very varied interests and I enjoy touching lives of people from all different backgrounds,” Friedman said.