Bel Pagdanganan receives distinguished Jefferson Award

By Wendy Ladd

(l-r) Bel’s daughter Missy, Bel and Pat Lafontaine, former Islanders hockey player, at the Jefferson Awards.

Bel Pagdanganan recently received a nationally recognized Jefferson Award in Washington, D.C. for her lifetime of community service. The award was founded by the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and has been called the ‘Nobel Prize’ for public and community service.

“Bel is one of the most dedicated, humble leaders I have met in my 29-year career and she is an outstanding person all around,” says Keith Rooney, Director of Customer Community Management.

Bel is a Principal in Customer and Community Management; she covers Suffolk County, Long Island government relations. Her career at National Grid spans over 25 years. Coworkers welcome her soft-spoken, positive and always smiling presence. And she is so well known that every Suffolk County elected official, from both sides of the aisle, kisses her hello.

Bel’s community service runs deep across an array of interests she has on Long Island. She is a proud captain at the Brentwood Fire Department, where she has served for 20 years. She religiously wears her fire department Maltese cross necklace. She is the fire prevention safety officer, where she leads educational efforts in schools and senior communities.

One of the best organized events of the year is the Asian dragon boat race, which raises money for the Suffolk County Police Department. She serves on the Suffolk County Police Department Jade Society, helps coordinates the event and recruits employees to row on two of the six competing boats. Twenty paddlers per boat row through Port Jefferson harbor to the beat of a drummer, while yelling at and splashing each other for the win. It’s a day of camaraderie and fun. In her fashion, Bel brings people together but avoids the limelight.

She holds the esteemed position on the Governor’s Long Island Regional Economic Development Council for New York State. Bel is the only National Grid employee to serve on the council.

Bel also serves on the boards of the: Suffolk Community College, where she helps secure scholarships for minority and underserved students; YMCA, where she leads a free summer camp program for low-income children; Bay Shore Lions Club, which runs a guide dog program for the blind; and, Asian American Suffolk County Advisory Board, which promotes upward mobility of Asians in the community.

Bel is the second National Grid employee to win this prestigious award. Lynn Falanga is a previous recipient. Congratulations Bel!

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