If there was ever a person who possessed the qualities described above it is Lidia Szczepanowski, Esq., Model Citizen’s 2021 Woman of the Year. She inspires and brings hope to others the way a beacon of light guides ships at night. Lidia exemplifies the real-life embodiment of the words success, independence, entrepreneurship, and glamour and she does so with humility, integrity, and passion. Lidia acquired a plethora of knowledge over the years as a litigation and business development attorney, business strategist, entrepreneur, black belt in karate, and international spokesmodel. More importantly, despite her extraordinarily busy schedule, she has always been most passionate about “giving back” through proactive “hands-on” participation in philanthropy and philanthropic activities.
When I was just a sixth grader and walking home from school for one of the first times on my own, I happened to pass a bicycle that was out for garbage collection. As I walked passed it I saw a modified frame, an engine, and all kinds of cool “gears and mechanisms” I had not seen before. As the super geek I was, I took the beat up and rusty framed “mini-bike” or “motorized-bike” and brought it to my garage where I started with my father’s help, some elbow grease and a bit of Noxon, and started to polish up the frame. When the frame was all polished it looked pretty cool actually. A few can’s of spray paint later the frame looked brand new.
I new nothing about engines but the local lawn mower shop did. They also sold motorcycles and other hand crafted motorbikes and they new exactly what parts I would need to get the thing running. I mean it looked like someone had glued on some parts to a welded and stretched out bike frame with a throttle on the handle bars and of course no brakes.
Once I figured out how to put the thing together my father helped me tune the engine and we took her to the Nassua County Coliseum parking lot and with a few pushes she kicked over and I was off. Not just putting around but by the time it hit about 45 both my father and I knew that this thing was going to vibrate to pieces, so I road her in circles until she putted out of gas and I coasted to a stop.
That was it, I was completely hooked. I mean as they say in the movies I had the need for speed! And with that, I polisher her up again, and this became a weekly ritual. Well weekly until the engine blew up and caught fire and the entire thing melted into one glob. Dad decided we would just leaver her to burn and we got out of there.
I was devastated but dad had a plan, we would get a motorcycle from the lawnmower shop and I would be back in business. Only this new motorcycle was much different, as it was a real motorcycle what they called a Rupp mini motorcycle. This baby had wings and what was 35-40 mph quickly became 45-55mph with the ability to pop wheelies and jump, jump just about anything.
Margreit: Although math was not really a strong subject for me in high school, I was in between opportunities in my early twenties, this was after the car accident I had when I was twenty. I knew some people in my family that I had been through some financial hardship and knowing that made me want to learn more about the industry. Strangely enough, the training for building my financial expertise came at the same time as my brain was recovering from the accident. I think I kind of connect my ability to learn and remember things during the training with my recovery. While I was working with Dreyfus Mutual Funds, I was about 25, and I remember that all of a sudden, I started to really understand everything I was being taught. I was able to remember and retain it all. For lack of a better term, it was as if my brain turned back on again and I guess some of the passion I feel comes from this evidence, in real-time, in real life, that I was actually recovering.
It would be my pleasure. All I ever wanted to do was have my own practice. This probably goes back to when I was two years old. We always had attorneys in the family, most of them work for big law. I knew I wanted to practice law, but that is not the kind of law I wanted to practice. I grew up on watching Perry Mason, so I knew I wanted to be a trial lawyer.
I was fortunate that I got my first choice of job with the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office in 1980. I got that job primarily because I wanted to develop my skills as a trial attorney. My game plan was to stay there for four or five years and then open my own practice. After four and a half, I went into practice with another friend who is also in the DA’s office. I did all the trial work and he did the paperwork and we successfully practiced together for seven to eight years at which point he decided that smaller was better and I thought bigger was better. We had started as two lawyers with no staff and grew to three or four lawyers with a support staff of five or six. In 1992, I took over the practice and continued to expand it and moved from Mineola to Garden City. Now I have practiced for forty years, thirty-five since I left the DA’s office. Two years ago I was selected to become a village judge in Center Island, where I have the privilege of overseeing the lifestyle of the rich and Famous, like Billy Joel and Sean Hannity. Just to summarize my forty years, I have had a unique opportunity to look at criminal matters from not one, or two, but three different perspectives. That of a prosecutor, that of a defense attorney and now that is a judge. However, when I left the DA’s office in 1985, it was apparent to me that if all we did was criminal work, I’d be out of business in a relatively short period of time because I prosecuted the criminals, I didn’t necessarily defend them. We ended up developing a reputation for representing good kids from good families who did something stupid. Now we include their parents as well, especially in the middle of a pandemic, the practice grew into a litigation practice. Even as far back as 1985, where I would go into court for anything, whether be a criminal matter, matrimonial or personal injury because my feeling was once you tried a felony cases In front of 14 person juries everything else is just a matter of money.
We got to the point where we were busy enough and could take on other lawyers who were comfortable handling cases in their areas. I was in criminal. So, now we have a total of twelve lawyers and each of them has a different area of concentration. So, the sweet spots of the practice still remain as criminal defense and range from traffic violations through homicide at the local, state, and federal level. I’ve taught for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy at St. John’s, as well as Hofstra University. I also judge national mock trial competitions with some regularity. All of which has led me to the conclusion that I may never retire because I enjoy what I do too much.
Tony: I was inspired before that because I was already good enough to play professionally at fifteen. I can remember imitating Elvis Presley for show-and-tell when I was a little boy, so I guess perhaps Elvis and maybe the Beatles. Then I got interested in blues. When I got serious, I was studying with a jazz guitarist and started learning Jazz from the get-go. But you have to understand in the sixties. It was a crazy, crazy decade – a kind of a renaissance in a sense. It was a double-edged sword because there was a lot of negativity going on. In the sixties we had the Vietnam War, racial riots, but parallel to that were the Beatles and the British Invasion, and Blues. Older Blues musicians began to resurge due to a guitarist named Mike Bloomfield from the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. He admired the blues and was a great blues player.
So you had a lot of things going on, and what I’m trying to say is that it all caused me to want to play everything I could. I studied with a jazz guitarist, and then I was able to study with probably one of the greatest jazz guitarists of his generation, or even any generation, Jimmy Raney. You may never have heard of him, but Jimmy Raney was Wes Montgomery’s favorite guitarist. Any jazz readers out there would understand how great this man, this player, must have been. I was very lucky because I was part of an R&B group, and the bass player lived right next door to Jimmy Raney, and he introduced me. I was about sixteen when I first met Raney.
The R&B group I was in was called The Notations. We won all kinds of awards on Long Island back then. I was only fifteen when I was in that band. The father of the rhythm guitarist Jeff Rosen, was Arthur Rosen. Arthur was fantastic. He was our manager, and he taught me professionalism at that early age. He gave me a foundation for my professional development and from there on I maintained that professional attitude throughout my life from that initial teaching, tutoring so to speak. I owe a lot to Arthur Rosen. Anyway, Arthur got us with King Broda, which was a big agency back then, and that’s how we started backing up Little Anthony and the Imperials, Lenny Welch, The Shirelles, and a few other people. I can’t quite remember right now. It was too long ago.
Eventually the quality of our society will be judged in history by the care we give to each other, not just on a local basis, but on a “country by country basis”. This is the first generation of the world to be living closer to three quarters of a century to a century. Most or at least at some point in our old age we become just as dependent on our societies as we once were on our own families. Not only when we “return to the cradle” in our older age, but also during the crisis we know we are going to have to face in life. From injury to disease, even world wide pandemics.
We could throw in their global warming, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, poverty, recessions and depressions, but at the end of the day learning that crisis are a part of life, no matter how much you plan or save, one day you can find yourself out of resources. You may even be limited in your ability to work, and have to choose what are the bare necessities you need in order to live. To put my health first and everything else on hold is not in any way easy. It seems that not only are our societies aware of this, but now this has become the most important aspect of politicians and the political system in the united states. How far are we going to go even taking advantage of others to get what we want. Isn’t that supposed to be a better quality of life for all of us? For our families! So how do we get there.
Redesign to stay relevant! Sometimes it takes a horrific tragedy, like COVID -19 in order to really uncover the true meaning of re-design or re-branding in your business. If you are a small business like myself, using the new found “time” in your day to reflect on the current business relationships you have, review your business plan, check the balances on your bank account and determine where you can make the biggest impact is a priority.
For those that know me, my foundation and my mission – they know I love heading to events, ones I produce or where I am a guest and seeing people I know, some friends and some new acquaintance. I truly enjoy hearing about how people are doing in their business and how they create work-life balances, hoping they are thriving and then leave at the end of the night, fulfilled – a night of good networking and relationship building is good for everyone. Until now…
Model Citizens Magazine Stories Model Citizens August issue features some incredible model citizens including cover model and Miss Long Island Madison Argandona. Model citizen Rosario Cassata shares his story about how he […]
Model Citizens Magazine New York City September 2015 Model Citizens Magazine Stories Model Citizens Magazine – Model Citizens recognizing and supporting other model citizens… Model Citizens Magazine is a Long Island Based publishing […]
Model Citizens Magazine Connecticut June 2015 Model Citizens Magazine Stories Model Citizens Magazine – Model Citizens recognizing and supporting other model citizens… Model Citizens Magazine is a Long Island Based publishing company (TradEconomy, […]