Three leaders come from one New York Kiwanis club

Vicki Hermansen | Oct 13, 2021

East Meadow Leaders

EAST MEADOW, NY – The East Meadow Kiwanis Club has produced three organizational leaders this year, one of whom will helm the international level and two of whom will serve the New York District.  

Peter Mancuso, of North Bellmore, began his one-year term as president of Kiwanis International on October 1. He was elected to the role during the organization's Education and Leadership Conference in Salt Lake City earlier this year.  

His brother, James (Jim) Mancuso, of Huntington, will serve as the New York District governor during the 2021-22 year, and Elizabeth Fries, of East Meadow, will serve the district as lieutenant governor. Their terms also began October 1; they were elected at the New York District Convention held last month in Binghampton, New York.  

All three are longtime members of the Kiwanis Club of East Meadow, founded in 1952. Kiwanis is a global service organization with clubs in 80 nations. Local clubs sponsor adult and youth leadership programs, participate in nearly 150,000 service projects every year and volunteer for fundraisers and service projects designed to improve the lives of children in their communities and around the world. The East Meadow club boasts more than 150 members; the New York District of Kiwanis is the seventh-largest district in the world.  

“Peter, Jim and Liz are true leaders who lift our club and members with respect, honor, grace and guidance to accomplish the goals we set to help the children, schools and community,” said Lisa Hallett, 2020-21 East Meadow Kiwanis Club president. “I am lucky to have them as friends and mentors.”

Peter Mancuso is a former president of the Kiwanis Children’s Fund and has been a member of the East Meadow club for 34 years. He was first elected to the Kiwanis International Board of Trustees in 2016. He’s served in multiple New York District roles, including governor and lieutenant governor, and also was president of the East Meadow club. He was honored as Kiwanian of the Year by his club and division and has chaired numerous club, district and international committees on outreach, growth, finance and leadership.  

He holds many honors with Kiwanis, including a Diamond-level George F. Hixson Fellow and Diamond-level Walter Zeller Fellow. He is also a recipient of the Centennial Award and a member of the Tablet of Honor. He holds life member status and is a member of the Kiwanis Children’s Fund Heritage Society and Kiwanis Leadership Society.

Volunteer service is important to the Mancuso family. “Many years ago, when our children Stephen and Cathy were young, I used to bring them with me every year as part of a Kiwanis contingent helping out at our local games for the physically challenged,” Mancuso said.  

“One time, Cathy brought a friend — a friend who was clearly uncomfortable at being around people with disabilities. But to Cathy, who was part of a Kiwanis family, it was all perfectly normal. That was when I first realized that Kiwanis was not only fun for me and good for the people whom we serve, but it was good for my family as well; that it could help make us more understanding, tolerant and charitable,” Peter Mancuso said. “From that time on, I saw Kiwanis in an entirely different light, and Cathy went on to become a two-term Key Club high school president. Kiwanis became our second family.”

The incoming international president noted the Kiwanis Club of East Meadow has a long and active record of service and leadership.  

“Our club is the largest and one of the most active in our district,” Mancuso said. “We have been blessed with many great leaders who have gone on to significant service in our division, district and district foundation. My own Kiwanis journey involved six years of service as a club officer before I became our lieutenant governor, similar to the pathways of Jim (Mancuso) and Liz (Fries).”

Peter Mancuso is a retired New York assistant district attorney, formerly working in the investigation and prosecution of financial crimes. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a law degree from Cornell University Law School.  

Outside of Kiwanis, he is a past president of the Nassau County, New York, Bar Association; past president of the East Meadow, New York, Chamber of Commerce; and past president of the MIT Club of Long Island. He is also a past dean of the Nassau Academy of Law.  

Peter Mancuso and his wife, Karen, have two adult children, Stephen and Cathy, and two grandchildren. In his free time, Peter likes to exercise, read, watch movies and sports and listen to old-time radio.

Jim Mancuso, a member of the East Meadow club since 2002, has served as a lieutenant governor in the Long Island South Central Division of the New York Kiwanis District and as president of the East Meadow club. He has chaired committees on International Leadership, Youth Protection and the Kiwanis International Children’s Fund for the New York District.

He is the recipient of several Kiwanis honors, including the Anton J. Kaiser Award from the New York Kiwanis District Foundation and an award from the district’s Pediatric Lyme Disease Foundation. At the international level, Jim holds a George F. Hixson Fellow and a Walter Zeller Fellow. He received an IBM Volunteers Gold Award Level for Volunteerism and Community Service for 500-plus hours.  

“We positively impact lives through our charitable programs and in some cases save lives in very common ways,” Jim Mancuso said. “For example, the Kiwanis Club of East Meadow built a Garden of Hope in Eisenhower Park in partnership with MADD and Nassau County as a reminder to not drink and drive. Or, by holding a simple pancake breakfast, we raise funds to support Kiwanis worldwide service projects to vaccinate babies in developing nations, so they do not die of a horrible disease known as maternal neonatal tetanus. The realities we create gives me great passion to serve on.”

Outside of Kiwanis, Jim Mancuso and his wife, Susie, have two children, Jessica and Nicholas. He is a technology industry veteran who currently works for IBM and has served in multiple sales and corporate management capacities for different companies. He is a graduate of Fordham University.

In his free time, Jim Mancuso enjoys golfing and working on a variety of projects at his family home in Huntington.   

For Fries, attending meetings grew into a love of community service with the Kiwanis club and the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce. Her first role in the club was newsletter editor.   

“I soon began to enjoy all the great things the Kiwanis Club of East Meadow had to offer, and helping children became part of my everyday life,” Fries said.   

She credits longtime members Sal Napolitano and Sonny Coviello with shepherding her club membership. “Sal’s encouragement made me want to learn more and do more in Kiwanis and in our community, and Sonny taught me that one of the most important things about Kiwanis was the fellowship, camaraderie and fun,” she said.  

Fries was the second female president of the club, serving in that role in 2007. She also chaired multiple club committees. She is currently the East Meadow Kiwanis school liaison and chair of the holiday food basket assembly and delivery effort. She chairs the East Meadow Kiwanis/Borrelli’s annual holiday luncheon for families, providing a meal and gifts for children in need. She also is chair of the annual East Meadow Community Pride Day.    

At the New York District level, Fries has served as Long Island South Central secretary and treasurer and has served on hospitality, fundraising and special projects committees.   

“I hope to continue to grow, learn and hopefully inspire others to continue all the good work that we do,” Fries said. “Kiwanis has helped me to grow, be more patient, become a stronger woman and to learn every day that it is a special blessing to serve my community and to help children one day at a time."  

Fries holds a paralegal certificate from Adelphi University. She worked in the Nassau County Legislature for more than 20 years as a legislative assistant and was the executive director to Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves. She currently is the chief of staff for Assemblyman John K. Mikulin.

Her significant other is George B. Reimers. She has two children, James and Elizabeth, and two grandchildren. Outside of Kiwanis, she enjoys community service, reading, gardening, cooking and playing the piano. 


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