Long Beach women’s group told to follow their passions


Lisa Dawn Romano’s family was so poor when she was growing up in Brooklyn that her mother used an open window in the apartment because they lacked a refrigerator.

Romano grew up poverty-stricken in the poor sections of Flatbush and Canarsie, in Brooklyn, the daughter of a single mom.

She worked her way through high school and St. John’s University, graduating with a degree in finance and later worked for Bell South and IBM.

Romano, now 55 and living in Atlantic Beach with her two sons who are in their early 20s, has always worn many hats. She is a real estate agent with her own firm – LD Romano LLC, and a professional freelance photographer, Lisa Dawn Photography, both in Atlantic Beach.

At the Long Beach Public Library Monday night, Romano told the monthly meeting of the Women’s Empowerment Group that, “If I can do start a business, anyone can.” The meetings are organized by Anissa Moore, a former Long Beach City Council president and now a deputy Nassau County Executive for Social Services.

Moore is also a leader in Long Beach’s Black community.

Moore discussed the importance of women investing in themselves, in their careers and their physical and emotional health.

“It’s important that they move forward with their professional dreams,” Moore said.

Dana Camera, 56, of Long Beach, a functional medicine coach, said she had been diagnosed with Crone’s disease a few years ago and needed t change her diet and lifestyle. She talked to the group about wellness practices and the importance of a work-life balance. But people must be willing to change.

“Change is not easy,” Camera said. “It’s not linear. It’s ups and downs.”

Romano said her parents – Melvyn and Carol Acker – divorced when she was about 5 ½.  She said she and her mother were “cut off from all money.” They lived in five or six different apartments in Brooklyn.

“I always had to work to support myself,” she said. After finishing college, she became a consultant, working for Bell South, the telecommunications giant, and later as a project manager for IBM’s call center.

But when she was 9 years old, she was given a camera as a present. “I don’t know how we afforded it,” Romano said. But it became her best friend, and has been ever since.

About a decade ago, she started her real-estate company because she could make her own hours while raising her children. For years, she also had to care for her mother, who at age 55 had her legs amputated. But Romano could never let go of her camera, and so became a freelance photographer at weddings, Bar Mitzvahs and other occasions.

“I was juggling motherhood, a marriage and caring for my parents” while working, Romano said. She has been married for 25 years to Anthony Romano, who is in the restaurant business.

Her advice for younger women, or simply women who want to start their own business: “Start with what you love,” she said.  “It’s important to have a passion. But you don’t do it for the money. You persevere and you will be successful.

“Whatever happened to you in the past does not dictate what you can be,” she said. “I don’t want to be 80 someday and say, I didn’t do what I wanted to do. So stop with the excuses. Get busy.”