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 People in the News


People In The News - March Is Women's History Month Hon. Mary Margaret Werner


Hon. Mary Margaret Werner’s life has been an amazing journey. ‘The mother of seven, she returned to college at the age of forty. After graduating from Dowling College and St. John’s University School of Law, Justice Werner began her legal career as an Assistant District Attomey in Suffolk County. There, she was one of the first women to serve in the District Court, Grand Jury, Rackets and Family Crime Bureaus. As Chief of the Family Crime Bureau, she was an ardent advocate for victims of famity violence.

In 1991. Justice Wemer was appointed to the New York State Supreme Court and was subsequently elected to that position. In 1994, she was appointed District Administrative Judge of Suffolk County, the first woman to hold that position. ln that role, Justice Wemer initiated trial case management reforms. She implemented the first Drug Treatment Courts in both the Suffolk County District Court and Family Court, with the mission of providing treatment and rehabilitation. With the support of the Suffolk County Women in the Courts Committee, Justice Wemer was the driving force behind the establishment of the Children’s Center at the Cohalan Court Complex, Iocated in the District Court. Today, the Center continues to offer a safe, secure and nurturing environment for children whose parents are attending to court business.

‘Justice Wemer is an active member of the Board of the Energeia Partnership, a stewardship program at Molloy College that fosters leadership roles in the business, government and education communities. She also serves on the Board of Advisors ol ERASE Racism, an organization dedicated to exposing racial discrimination and advocating for laws and policies that elin.rinate racial disparity.

A Founding Member and Past President of the Suffolk County Women’s Bar Association, Justice Wemer is a member of the New York State Bar Association, the Suffolk County Bar Association, and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Suffolk County Bar and the Suffolk Academy of Law. Justice Werner is also a former member of the New York State Family Violence Task Force and has served as a member ofthe Boards of the Cleary School for the Deaf and St. John’s University School of Law Alumni Association. She is an active participant in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Stony Brook University.

Justice Werner is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Child Abuse and Family Violence Professional Award, the Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk County Award for Distinguished Service to Victims and their Advocates, the Zonta Community Woman ofthe Year, a Certificate of Merit from NYS Govemor Mario M. Cuomo, the American Red Cross Community Service Award, the Education & Assistance Corporation Humanitarian Award, the Suffolk Region of Hadassah Myrtle Wreath Award and the Suffolk Academy of Law Distinguished Merit Award. She has also been honored by the United States Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration and the Long Island Women’s Coalition, Inc. for her professionalism and humanitarian achievements.

Having retired from the bench in 2006, Justice Wemer’s professional contributions to the legal system have had a tremendous impact on the lives of attorneys, employees, litigants and children in Suffolk County. Her personal legacy stands as an inspiration for future generations of women. 

Justice Werner will be honored by the Suffolk County Women’s Bar Association on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 at the Stonebridge Country Club, Smithtown.


People In The News - March Is Women's History Month Hon. Sandra Sgroi

Hon. Sandra Lynne SgroiRecently retired, Hon. Sandra Lynne Sgroi served as an Associate Justice in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, Second Judicial Department, since 2009.

Justice Sgroi was elected to the Supreme Court for the Tenth Judicial District in 2000 and was appointed to the Appellate Division by then Governor David Paterson in October of 2009. She was re-elected to the Supreme Court in 2014 and re-designated as an Associate Justice in that year by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

In 1996, Justice Sgroi was elected to the Suffolk County District Court for the Fourth District, Town of Smithtown, where she served for four years. During that time, she co-chaired the Women in the Courts Committee.

Justice Sroi served as a Councilwoman for the Town of Smithtown from 1992 to 1996, having been elected to two terms.

From 1986 to 1991, Justice Sgroi served as the Town Attorney for the Town of Smithtown and as an Assistant Town Attorney from 1984 to 1986. 

Justice Sgroi graduate Magna Cum Laude from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1974 with a B.A. in Sociology and from the Hofstra University School of Law in 1978 with a J.D. degree.

From 1979 to 1996 Justice Sgroi engaged in the private practice of law with a concentration in elder law, wills, estates and trusts.

Justice Sgroi served as the first woman President of the Smithtown Rotary Club in the 2000-2001.

Justice Sgroi is a member of the New York State Bar Association, the Women’s Bar Associaton of the State of New York, the Suffolk County Bar Association and the Suffolk County Women’s Bar Association.

Justice Sgroi will be honored by the Suffolk County Women’s Bar Association on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 at the Stonebridge Country Club, Smithtown.


People In The News - March Is Women's History Month Abdel Fattah

Reprint History.com

By Hadley Meares

Abdel FattahIn 2008, Abdel Fattah started a Facebook group in support of a textile workers’ strike in Egypt. Her gutsy activism gained her fame—and a nickname— “the Facebook Girl.” It also landed her in jail. But it was her revolutionary actions in 2011 that would make her a profound symbol of social action—and a target of Egypt’s government—to this very day.

As one of the leaders of 2011’s January Revolution and Arab Spring, Abdel Fattah led a small group of protesters into Tahrir Square, protesting the regime of President Hosni Mubarak. As their numbers swelled to the thousands, she bravely recorded her experiences in the Square on Facebook and Twitter, bringing the Egyptian revolution into the world’s consciousness. “We feared being arrested or killed,” she recalled later that year, “but we were achieving the dream of justice and democracy.” For her actions, which helped lead to the overthrow of the Mubarak government, she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

However, Abdel Fattah has seen her dream of democracy replaced by a repressive regime much like the one she fought to overthrow. She has been persecuted by the government, and in the fall of 2017 was referred to military prosecution and is not allowed to leave Egypt. “I lived through those 18 days in 2011 like a wonderful utopia,” she said in January 2018. “But we were idiots—idiots to believe Morsi’s promises of democracy. Sometimes I think there’s no hope… But if I stopped my activism, I’d feel I was betraying everyone who’s died or gone to prison.”


People In The News - Commack HS Teacher Derek Pope "Distinguished Teacher Of 2019"

Derek Pope, a Town of Smithtown resident and Math teacher at Commack High School, has been named a “Distinguished Teacher of 2019” by the Harvard Club of Long Island.  

“This award honors teachers who transform lives,” explained Dr. Judith Esterquest, Chair of the Distinguished Teacher Selection Committee. “Devoted teachers like Derek Pope offer Long Island students deep expertise, extraordinary talents, and countless hours of attention.  By capturing the minds and imaginations of our children and preparing them for challenges that were unknown even a few decades ago, these teachers shape the future of our country.”    

Derek Pope will be honored at the Harvard Club of Long Island’s annual University Relations Luncheon on March 30, along with eleven other teachers from across Long Island. Harvard Professor Matthew Baum will speak on “The Fourth Estate and the Current Political Climate,” exploring how the media performed in their role as watchdog of democracy, with a focus on the period leading up to and since the 2016 presidential election.

Mr. Pope obtained undergrad and graduate degrees from Seton Hall University and SUNY Stony Brook, respectively. In addition to his dedication to the students at Commack High School, he is an Adjunct Professor for Math Education at SUNY Stony Brook. Outside of the classroom, Mr. Pope is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys skiing, hiking and travel experiences in his free time. 

“Effective teachers are typically very well-versed in their subject matter, or truly enthusiastic about teaching,” commented Matthew Ciurleo, a former Commack High School student who is expected to graduate from Harvard College in 2022. “Mr Pope is exceptional because he excels at both.” 

He added “Mr. Pope’s ability to simplify complex mathematical lessons, and guide students in understanding how challenging math concepts have real-world application, creates a highly engaging and interactive learning experience.”

When Commack Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Donald James, learned of this award, he commented that “Derek is a leader in the math department and on the forefront of instructional strategies to promote student inquiry and engagement. His innovative teaching style promotes true understanding of difficult concepts and motivates his students to succeed.”

Dr. James continued stating “He is an asset to his coworkers and the Commack School District, a NYS Master Teacher, and an excellent mentor who sets the highest example of teaching for all to emulate. We are #CommackProud that his work and dedication are being recognized by the Harvard Club of Long Island.”

At the ceremony on March 30, the Harvard Club of Long Island will announce the Distinguished Teacher of 2019 who will also receive a scholarship for a “Harvard experience” at the Harvard University campus in Cambridge, MA. Past winners of the scholarships have enhanced their teaching by sampling the resources available to Harvard students: meeting with faculty; visiting research laboratories, rare book archives, and specialty museums; and enjoying visual and performance art. The scholarships are funded by contributions from Harvard alumni living on Long Island.

This year’s dozen Distinguished Teacher Award winners were nominated by current Harvard undergraduates and then selected by Harvard Club of Long Island board members. They teach biology, chemistry, earth science, English, government, history, Italian, math, Music, 7th-Grade Science, and coach cross country.  The winners teach in Baldwin, Brentwood, Commack, East Hampton, Garden City, Huntington, Jericho, Manhasset, Port Washington, and Syosset in grades seven to twelve. 

Commack High School teachers have been well represented in recent years by Harvard’s Distinguished Teacher Award program for their excellence both in the classroom and as lifelong mentors to their students. Prior honorees have included Barabra Gerson, Math teacher in 2012, Christina Semple, English teacher in 2011, and Richard Kurz (2009) and Alan Baum (2006), both Science Research Advisers. 



People In The News - March Is Women's History Month - Chien-Shiung Wu

Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-1997) was a Chinese American physicist.

Reprint from Atomic Heritage Foundation

During the Manhattan Project, she worked at Columbia University, helping develop the process for separating uranium metal into U-235 and U-238 isotopes by gaseous diffusion. This process was replicated at a grand scale at the K-25 Plant in Oak Ridge. She also developed improved Geiger counters for measuring nuclear radiation levels. She is believed to have been the only Chinese person to have worked on the Manhattan Project.


Born in a small town near Shanghai, Wu attended a school started by her father, who believed in education for girls, despite it being an uncommon belief at that time. Wu went on to study physics at a university in Shanghai, where one of her professors had worked with Marie Curie. After graduation, she became a research assistant when her supervisor encouraged her to pursue advanced education in America. 

In 1936, Wu arrived in San Francisco, with some financial assistance from an uncle. She enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley where she completed her Ph.D. in 1940. She married Luke Yuan, a fellow physicist, in 1942. 



Unable to find a research position at a university, Wu became a physics instructor at Princeton University and at Smith College. In 1944, she joined the Manhattan Project at the Substitute Alloy Materials (SAM) Lab at Columbia University, focusing on radiation detectors. When the B Reactor at Hanford mysteriously shut down soon after it began operating, Wu helped identify poisoning by xenon-135 as the culprit. 

After the war, Wu was offered a position at Columbia and began investigating beta decay, which occurs when the nucleus of one element changes into another element. She made several significant contributions, including making the first confirmation of Enrico Fermi’s theory of beta decay. 

In 1956, she was approached by theoretical physicists Tsung Dao Lee and Chen Ning Yang who knew about her expertise in beta decay. They asked her to devise an experiment to prove their theory that the law of conservation of parity did not hold true during beta decay. The law of parity states that all objects and their mirror images behave the same way, but with the left hand and right hand reversed. Wu’s experiments, which utilized radioactive cobalt at near absolute zero temperatures, proved that identical nuclear particles do not always act alike. This resulted in Lee and Yang receiving the 1957 Nobel Prize in Physics for their theory, but Wu’s work was not acknowledged.

Wu continued making significant contributions throughout her life and won several awards and honors. In 1958, her research helped answer important biological questions about blood and sickle cell anemia. She was also the first woman to serve as president of the American Physical Society. Her awards include the National Medal of Science, the Comstock Prize, and the first honorary doctorate awarded to a woman at Princeton University. She also won the Wolf Prize in Physics in 1978. Her book Beta Decay, published in 1965, is still a standard reference for nuclear physicists. 

Information contributed by Ronald K. Smeltzer.