Meet the Power in Heels honorees

Fifth annual event

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Power in Heels in Patchogue celebrated their fifth annual event with a luncheon hosted by the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce at Dirty Taco & Tequila on June 14. A total of four remarkable women were honored, including Dana Deshler, Maria Giustizia-Hilton, Dawn Turnbull and Carolyn Villegas. These women were selected for their distinguished dedication in their professions and to the Patchogue Community, by sharing their time and talent in ways that benefit the community and individuals within Patchogue.

Dana Deshler

Suffolk County Police Department

Twenty-two years ago, Officer Dana Deshler started with the Suffolk County Police Department at the 5th Precinct in Patchogue. Her family has resided in the village since 1934. Starting as a candy striper at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital and receiving Long Island’s Red Cross volunteer of the year, Deshler has a long history of volunteering and giving to the Patchogue community. Throughout the years, Deshler has taught English as a second language to Patchogue community members, helped with local nonprofits, and is always there wherever needed. Deshler’s community service efforts grew when she took the position of vice president of the Suffolk County Association of Women Police. As chairperson, Deshler works with fellow officers on various service projects including food, toy, and clothing drives. The organization also gave baskets of thanks to our health care workers throughout the COVID pandemic. Five years ago, Deshler and Officer Eileen Emiddio of the 5th Precinct started Prom Impact, a project that gives formal attire to high school students in need. This event takes many months to collect, organize and promote. To date, the event has helped more than 1500 students. The event not only gives teens free prom attire; it gives them a sense of community, hope, and self-worth as they celebrate a milestone event. “Working as a police officer has been a rewarding career, but being able to serve the community you live in is a privilege,” she said, honored to receive this award and stating she will continue to focus her efforts on helping the Patchogue community.

Maria P. Giustizia-Hilton

Director of Recreation & Parks Department 

Incorporated Village of Patchogue

Maria Giustizia-Hilton is the director of recreation and parks for the Village of Patchogue. She began her career with the village as the summer director of youth programs and the seasonal pool manager. She was promoted to director in 2004 and has never looked back. She has spearheaded many fundraising events and cultivated relationships with the American Heart Association and Kaboom. These pairings, along with the creation of Friends of Shorefront Park, resulted in the creation of the Pirates Cove playground. Giustizia-Hilton has been an integral part in the development of plans for using a $5,000,000 private investment to renovate all of the village’s recreation facilities. She has overseen the reconstruction of the tennis and pickleball courts at Rider Avenue, the rebuild of the municipal pool complex including the soon-to-be-constructed splash pad, and the redevelopments of Belzak and Father Tortora parks.

Giustizia-Hilton believes that family fun and activities are an extremely important part of today’s world. To that effect, she takes pride in the youth programs, snapper derby, old-timers’ game, concert series and senior citizen programs, which she oversees. Giustizia-Hilton is in charge of 120-plus seasonal employees, as well as taking on an active role in every program. Everyone knows Giustizia-Hilton, and you would be hard-pressed to find a single person who wouldn’t agree that this is a well-deserved recognition.

Dawn Turnbull

Vice President, Dime Community Bank

President of the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce

Dawn Turnbull is business banker/branch manager at Dime Community Bank and president of the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce. She said she is passionate about her clients and the work she does.  She is also the wife of an amazing husband and a mother of two beautiful children.

Carolyn Villegas

Community and Physician Relations Manager

Long Island Community Hospital

Carolyn Villegas is the community and physician relations manager of Long Island Community Hospital.

Villegas spent the last 17 years of her 30-year career at Long Island Community Hospital as the community and physician relations manager for the 28 towns which the hospital serves. As such, she is the hospital’s representative for dozens of local community groups and at local community events.  Her career has afforded her the opportunity to be the face of the hospital at a multitude of community events, drives, and health care-related educational classes, including, but not limited to:  blood, food, coat, and toy drives, Narcan trainings, as well as large-scale events such as National Day of Dance and Family Fun and Wellness health fairs.

As the hospital took on an unprecedented two-and-half-year-long pandemic, Villegas’s role pivoted from an in-person force to a vital behind-the-scenes player, facilitating the distribution of hundreds of donations of food, in-kind services and PPE from individuals, organizations, and companies who wanted to help.  Villegas also helped arrange for safe “Tribute Parades” from numerous emergency response agencies, unions, local clubs and organizations, allowing hospital staff to feel the community’s love and gratitude.

During the pandemic, she also continued her health education outreach efforts arranging Zoom classes and lectures, keeping communities informed and updated on what the hospital was doing and what they, as individuals, should know about COVID-19.  As vaccines became accessible, Villegas worked diligently to get the word out to the community on availability, while fielding hundreds of calls about eligibility and where to get the vaccine.

Villegas previously has been recognized for the many accomplishments through her years, both inside and outside the hospital. LI Business News named her as a Healthcare Hero, an award given in recognition of her Spirit of Women Health Education program, and most recently, Villegas was chosen by the Bellport Chamber of Commerce to receive their Member of the Year award. 

Prior to her community relations role, Villegas was the administrative secretary for the chief of cardiology and the manager for a cardiology practice within the hospital. She credits those years with helping her form a sound knowledge base of all the services offered at the hospital, making it easier to share information with the community. 

A lifelong resident of Long Island, Villegas currently resides in Farmingville and is engaged to her fiancé John. She is a proud mom to her daughter Jessica, son-in-law Darren and son James, as well as grandmother to Brianna, Gabriella, Christopher, Thomas and Jackson.

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