She’ll look for donors to keep the theatre vibrant
Susan Daconto, the new PTPA director of development, with executive director Gary Hygom.

ADV/Leuzzi

She’ll look for donors to keep the theatre vibrant

Story By: LINDA LEUZZI
6/6/2019


Susan Daconto is the new PTPA director of development

Only several hours into her first day as director of development at Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, Susan Daconto was already brimming with a passel of ideas. 

“We are so happy to have her,” said PTPA executive director Gary Hygom. “We’ve already been throwing things together, like some sort of large fundraising event. She’s one of the key players we’ve been missing.”

Daconto, who started Monday, exudes enthusiasm and positivity, similar to a steady blue flame, but with happy sparks. Her office is behind the balcony seats with a clear view of the stage.

Her job? Planning events that will lasso in contributors as well as coax private donors. She tossed out an important message in her first sentence for the Advance

“We have to get in the piece that we’re a nonprofit and every dollar counts,” she said. (Done.)

The position isn’t a stretch for the exuberant Daconto, former development manager for Long Island Community Hospital. “I started out in charge of donations,” she said. “And being development manager gave me the opportunity to raise funds, oversee big fundraisers and grand openings. I made a lot of great friends and relationships. I loved the hospital — it was great training — but I needed a change. ”

Her connection to Patchogue includes more than contacts. Daconto once headed Fayve Shoes as store manager and lived on Washington Avenue. (She now lives in Brookhaven hamlet.) She also attended many a performance at PTPA.

“I’ve always been part of the community — that’s why I also worked for the hospital,” she said.

After being interviewed several times by the PTPA board, Daconto was hopeful and threw her intentions out to the universe. She was packing for a trip to Florida when Hygom called. 

Her positivity paid off. It was, “you’ve got the job!”

PTPA board chairman Christopher Capobianco came up to officially welcome Daconto to the team. 

“It was a huge step for us,” he explained. “It’s a brand-new position. It needs to pay for itself and it’s a leap.” A spirited conversation ensued between Capobianco and Daconto about creating a culture of philanthropy and even offering PTPA merchandise.

PTPA board vice chair Mary Pontieri said the board, in its quest to build a professional regional theatre, had been discussing hiring a director of development for a year and a half and used three different employment sites. Eleven candidates were narrowed down ultimately to two strong applicants. “We picked Susan because she was local, and board directors Ken Meyer, Barbara Kane, Chris Searles and myself all worked with her before and knew her energy and commitment. Gary was involved, of course, and the vote was unanimous.”

Husband Len was thrilled. She is mom to grown sons Joe and Christopher.

Daconto volunteers with such organizations as the Boys & Girls Club of the Bellport Area, South Country Education Foundation and Long Island Two Day Breast Cancer Walk. She is also an avid walker.

“I knew how compassionate people are who live here and how beautiful it is to work in this environment,” she said, looking down at the renovated theatre. “I get to peek out at the chandelier and rotunda every day.”

Then, keeping that Fitbit mentality in mind, she added, “And to go up and down the stairs.”