Written by Dolores Kazanjian O’Brien Friday, 17 July 2009 00:00The League of Women Voters (LWV) of Port Washington-Manhasset recently honored longtime activist Edna Vincenti. The event was graciously hosted by Angela and Scott Jaggar at their Sands Point home. Officers and members of the local and county LWV, public officials, and community leaders gathered to pay tribute to this woman who has contributed so much to the LWV and to the formulation of public policy.
New York State Assembly member Michelle Schimel, County Legislator Wayne Wink and Town Council member Fred Pollack each presented a citation to Vincenti for her role in legislative initiatives and government reform. Schimel said, “You are extraordinary. Whatever, the issue, you get it.” Wink specifically mentioned her leadership role in studying and developing the league’s position on the new voting machines. All three legislators commended the LWV in general; Schimel commenting, “You are the people who move and shake.” Wink pointed out that the LWV has been involved in most of the reforms in the county legislature. Pollack and others mentioned in particular Vincenti’s outstanding performance over the years in presiding over candidates’ forums. Pollack said, “She was always very crisp and clear and made sure that everyone followed the rules.” This reporter has observed Vincenti in action during some very contentious candidates’ forums, and can verify that this woman of small stature and soft voice wields a very powerful gavel. Pollack went on to point out that Vincenti was a key person in building the local league.
Also singing praises to Vincenti’s leadership were current LWV President Jane Thomas and many other members. Some of the words used to describe her were “dedicated,” “brilliant,” “analytical,” and “hard-working.” In making the presentation, Kay Ullman said, “The League of Women Voters has been stronger and more relevant since she has been involved. She is devoted to the goals of the league.”
A longtime active member of the LWV, Vincenti has filled many roles at the local, state and national levels. Ullman said, “As a state board member, what she does is to make sure that when the state takes a position the local leagues understand it and hopefully support it.” In the Port Washington-Manhasset League she served as secretary, co-president, and four terms as president. One of her most recent accomplishments was the formulation of LWV state policy with respect to voting machines, specifically the organization’s insistence on optical scanning devices that would leave a paper trail. The lobbying efforts of Vincenti’s and other LWV members were instrumental in the State of New York’s enactment of legislation requiring this type of device.
Vincenti joined the LWV many years ago, participating actively during maternity leaves. She became very involved in the League upon her retiring from a 32-year career in the New York City school system as a teacher of drama, speech and English. During her teaching career, she developed and served as coordinator of the Humanities Honor Program at Julia Richman High School. She produced and directed plays and was a member of the Lincoln Center Institute that brought the performing arts to high schools. She also served as assistant principal in charge of Talent Unlimited, a performing arts program that eventually became Talent Unlimited High School.
In accepting the award, Vincenti said of her years with the league, “I have loved every minute of it.” She graciously acknowledged those with whom she has worked, and also thanked her husband (Vito) and sons (John and Paul) “who supported me and forgave me all the cold dinners.” She said that she expects to become more active in the local league, adding, “When you join the league you make a lot of friends.”
Following the presentation was a buffet supper and a raffle of items contributed by local merchants and lovingly wrapped by Marie Bellon and other volunteers. For more information about the LWV, visit www.lwvpwma.org.