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‘Tough acts to follow’

Recognizing suffrage movement, Malverne honors six women


From former mayors to village trustees, the Village of Malverne honored six women who have served the village board at its Sept. 2 meeting, in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

“We want to honor those suffragettes by recognizing women in [our] community for their sacrifices and contributions,” said Malverne Mayor Keith Corbett.

The village board had planned to hold a celebration with Malverne’s Girl Scouts, but the pandemic forced the event’s cancellation. Instead, the Girl Scouts viewed the ceremony on Malverne TV as each honoree was awarded with a citation.

Catherine Hunt

In 1987, in a decade when many residents were concerned about high taxes and few services, Catherine Hunt, 72, helped found the Hometown Pride Party. Hunt would go on to become the first woman elected to the village board when she served as mayor from 1987 to 1991. She was also a village trustee under Mayor Joseph Canzoneri from 1995 to 1999.

“If you look back at the history of our village, there was a time where a lot of residents rose up to really take control of their own community,” Corbett said. “She was really a leader of that effort.”

Patti Ann McDonald

Patti Ann McDonald’s career with the village board began in 1996, when she succeeded her father, John F. Norris, who died that year. During her tenure as mayor from 2007 to 2019, McDonald, 58, helped the village attract over $1 million in federal and state grants, and oversaw the construction of a headquarters for the Malverne Volunteer Ambulance Corps, renovations of the downtown area and the Long Island Rail Road stations, upgrades of village infrastructure and the expansion and modernization of Malverne’s parks.

“As many know, Patti brought a level of dignity and compassion to this office that I think will remain unrivaled for many, many years to come,” Corbett said.

Lorraine Bracher

Lorraine Bracher became Malverne’s first female deputy mayor when she served under Mayor Joseph Hennessey from 1991 to 1995. During her years on the village board, Bracher, 76, served as commissioner of the Fire Department and was a liaison to the Malverne Public Library.

Her son, Todd Bracher, said he was inspired by his mother’s willingness to serve her community. “She poured her heart into this town, and we saw the changes,” he said. “My brother and I, while we’re not women, we learned from her leadership. I think we can all continue to learn how we can contribute to our community.”

Gail Wakefield

As deputy mayor from 1995 to 1999, Gail Wakefield, 65, belonged to several committees. She was a liaison to the Malverne Volunteer Ambulance Corps, the Library and the Youth Board, and served as commissioner of the Fire Department. The village also recognized Wakefield for her more than 20 years as chairwoman of the celebrations committee, directing village-wide events such as the annual Holiday Tree Lighting and Groundhog Day with Malverne Mel.

“As a former Girl Scout, I’d like to tell today’s scouts that the ideas they have today mean something,” Wakefield said. “Just go out and do it.”

Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick

Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick served alongside McDonald as deputy mayor from 2011 to 2018, during which she was the fire and Police Department commissioner, Youth Board liaison and budget director. Now challenging State Assemblywoman Judy Griffin for her 21st district seat in November’s election, Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick, 54, said she was humbled to be a part of this group.

“When my dad was the mayor, we had three women on this board,” she recalled, referring to Hunt, Wakefield and McDonald. “I never thought anything about it, and I always thought that women should be treated equally. My dad was the person who showed that to me.”

Lauren Touchard

One of the village’s newer trustees, Lauren Touchard, 39, began her tenure in 2018. In a relatively short time, however, she has immersed herself in the community as commissioner of the Police Department, the Department of Public Works and the Building Department. She also serves as liaison to the Youth Board and the Celebrations and the Tree and Beautification committees. A former village prosecutor, Touchard attributed her interest in local government to her father, Ed Mahoney, who encouraged her to get involved at an early age.

“It’s an honor to be among such experienced, inspiring, educated, strong and powerful females,” Touchard said. “They all inspired me to be the trustee that I am today, and [they] are tough acts to follow.”