- Manuel Esteban Sr.
- Champions of Diversity
- District 12 - Grace Ioannidis
District 12 - Grace Ioannidis
Grace Ioannidis | Legislator Leslie Kennedy's Honoree
Grace Ioannidis is the daughter of immigrants. Her father as a Dominican, fought at the Bay of Pigs to liberate the Cuban people from the scourge of Communism.
She immigrated to this country at the age of eight along with her mother and two (2) older sisters in the mid-1960’s.
Upon arriving in America, her mother taught her to appreciate the gifts of liberty, equal opportunity, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms( not assault weapons), and the unlimited economic possibilities that America offers to those for those who work hard and, as Emma Lazarus famously summarized, “your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
Grace and her family took the American dream to heart and became part of the great “American Melting Pot”, in which our nation was strengthened by the assimilation of millions of people of diverse backgrounds into one glorious nation, united—not divided—by the shared values of freedom, liberty, hard work, free enterprise, and the rule of law. The cultural and ethnic backgrounds of her family and other immigrants enriched American life by introducing new ideas, new traditions, new fashions, new business ideas, new foods, new music, new art, new sports, new celebrations, new sartorial splendor, new culinary cuisine, new dancing, new religious perspectives, and new energy to our daily lives. Amidst this diversity, the American maxim of e pluribus unum “out of many, one”, prevailed.
Grace took advantage of the American Dream and worked hard, earned a degree at FIT, raised a family, became a community activist, ran “Operation Fire Storm” in the Town of Brookhaven, and then came to work at the County in the Office of Women’s Services.
As a community activist, she fought for equal treatment of the people living in Mastic Shirley and equal opportunities for all. As head of “Operation Fire Storm” for the Town of Brookhaven, she made certain that Town resources were deployed and utilized to clean up all neighborhoods in distress, regardless of the economic or ethnic makeup of each such community.
Her work at Women’s Services in the county involves every facet of daily human life, from running a business, to raising a family, to securing day-care, to securing healthcare, to assisting victims of domestic violence, among her various and sundry tasks. She has performed this work in a manner that emphasizes the needs of everyone, without reference to their race, gender, or ethnicity and provides services and solutions that recognize the different backgrounds and experiences of people. She gives a voice to women, who are 54% of the Suffolk County population, including women veterans who are part of the largest group of veterans in the state of New York.
She empowers women, not because they are women, but because they are Americans. For her, the meaning of diversity and inclusion is to bring together all of the people with completely different backgrounds and make them part of the great “American Melting Pot” in which everyone can experience freedom, liberty, safety, economic opportunity, and equal rights under the law, not because they belong to some particular ethnic or racial group, but because they are Americans.
She unites people by linking them together via our shared values, rather than dividing us on the basis of contrasting identities.
Her most recent accomplishments:
- She implemented the first lactation station in the Suffolk County Courthouse(one of the first in the US to be in a County-Owned Building), which provides private, sanitary, and well-ventilated rooms for nursing mothers so they can breastfeed comfortably and store for later use.
- Developed, implemented, and helped draft legislation of the Suffolk County Language Access legislation which County Executive Steve Bellone sponsored.