Written by Maryann Sinclair Slutsky, firstname.lastname@example.org Thursday, 23 January 2014 00:00
As executive director of Long Island Wins, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting immigrants from all backgrounds, each with a personal immigration story. One of our goals is to use those stories to highlight the contributions that immigrants make to our Long Island communities.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Michael Dowling, an Irish immigrant and the president and chief executive officer of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, the largest system in New York State and one of the largest in the country.
North Shore-LIJ has a service area that includes over seven million residents in downstate New York, and it’s the largest employer of immigrants on Long Island, from entry-level workers all the way up to the highest reaches of leadership.
Like all immigrants, including those he employs, Dowling has a very personal story of why he chose to come to the United States, and he agreed to share many details of his story for the first time with us.
Dowling first came to the U.S. in the 1960s, which was a time of great poverty in Ireland. He came from a very modest home, describing it as an “old-fashioned thatched house with mud floors and mud walls, no running water, no heat, no anything.”
His father suffered from arthritis, and by his early 40s, he was nearly incapacitated. As the oldest of his siblings, Dowling took on the responsibility of taking care of his family. But to find work, he knew that he would need to leave Ireland.
“Family circumstance determines an awful lot of what you do,” said Dowling. “It was very common back in the 1960s for a lot of people to emigrate from Ireland. The economy was poor.”
After a short time in England working in steel factories, he made the life-changing decision to cross the Atlantic. “New York was probably a better place if you wanted to get a job and make some money,” Dowling told me.
Upon arriving, he took on any job that needed doing. Whether it was in the docks, in construction, plumbing or as a janitor, he did what he needed to do to take care of his family.
“I worked all the time; I worked seven days a week,” Dowling said. “I had no social life. I didn’t know much about New York, other than how to go to work and come home seven days a week. And I was very happy then. I made enough money here to help out at home, and I made enough money to pay my tuition.”
For several years, he would work in New York and then return to Ireland to attend school at University College Cork. When he received his undergraduate degree, he came back to New York, where he stayed for good.
“It wasn’t planned,” he said. “It wasn’t like I said to myself I’m going to stay in America. For many, many years I thought I was going to go back. But you know what happens: You start here, you meet people, you begin to get different kinds of jobs, your life takes on a new meaning. I was still able to contribute and send money home. So, being able to help out at home was a major motivation.”
Dowling eventually saved up enough to attend Fordham for his master’s degree, and then Columbia for his doctorate. In the early ‘80s, he became a U.S. citizen. “It was about that time that I decided, ‘Well, this is where I’m going to be.’”
From Fordham, where he was teaching, he was recruited to serve under Gov. Mario M. Cuomo. That seemed at the time like a temporary, tentative choice. But it lasted for 12 years, including service as state director of health, education and human services, as deputy secretary to the governor, and as commissioner of the Department of Social Services. He was later a senior vice president at Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
In the mid-’90s, Dowling joined North Shore-LIJ, at a time of transition, overseeing development, planning and operations, following the merger that created the health system. North Shore-LIJ has seen an unprecedented level of success during his tenure.
“I refuse to accept that there is a limit to what you can get done, and I fail to accept the fact that you can’t do something,” Dowling told me. “The word ‘can’t’ shouldn’t be in the vocabulary.”
That determination and work ethic is how an immigrant from a poor village in Ireland became head of the largest employer of immigrants on Long Island.
Next month I’ll share more of Dowling’s thoughts on immigration issues.
Friday, 24 October 2014 00:00
book shops in Hicksville and around the country will hand out free comics on Oct. 25, to celebrate the second biggest free comic book event of the year—Halloween ComicFest. On Saturday, anyone who goes into a participating comic shop can choose from 19 free comics and participate in fun activities comic shops host for their customers to enjoy, while discovering new types of comics and the treasures found in store.
In Hicksville, both Game Master Games (954 S. Broadway) and Amok Time (108C New South Road) will be taking part in the Halloween ComicFest festivities. Game Master Games just recently started carrying comic books and this will be the store’s first comic book-related event. Coincidently, the event runs in the middle of an in-store gaming convention, and store owner Dave VanderWerf is looking forward to the increased exposure for the store.
Thursday, 23 October 2014 00:00
Looking for a place to work on your bedside manner and start a promising new career in the process? Look no farther than your hometown.
The Vocational Education and Extension Board (VEEB), a division of the county that oversees educational facilities such as the Fire Service Academy and EMS Academy, recently transplanted one of its facilities — The School of Practical Nursing — into a new location right in the heart of Hicksville, where they recently held an open house to celebrate their new home.
Thursday, 23 October 2014 08:18
The Hicksville girls volleyball team improved to 7-1 by knocking off Oceanside in three consecutive sets by scores of 25-13, 25-19 and 25-14.
Emily Markakis played terrificly, using a powerful serve to record three aces, seven kills and added nine digs. Nikki Chase added six kills and eight digs. Additionally, Raeann Dong was versatile—recording three aces, seven kills and nine digs.
Thursday, 16 October 2014 08:31
The Girls Varsity soccer team, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, wore pink uniforms and pink socks in their game on Oct. 8 against MacArthur whom they defeated 1-0. The girls and boys soccer programs at Hicksville High School are selling pink ribbon car magnets with a soccer ball and HHS on it with the words “Kick Cancer” on the ribbon. All the money raised will go to the Sarah Grace Foundation, which is a local foundation trying to beat pediatric cancer. The players plan to raise $1,000 for this organization
— From Hicksville High School