[Participant Spotlight]
Marianne Dempsey

Non-Profit Supported - Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism (NSSA)

An Oscar-worthy Performance - Marianne Dempsey

Scott E. Mills
May 2019

We caught up with Marianne Dempsey from Smithtown, NY after the inaugural Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism (NSSA) virtual race, where she finished first on the Individual Leaderboard. Her son attends NSSA’s Martin C. Barell School in Commack, NY, one of three state approved autism schools on LI, so supporting this organization is incredibly important to her and her family. We learned how special the school and NSSA’s services are for Marianne’s family and many others.


Scott: Thanks for taking the time today Marianne. Congratulations for nabbing the top spot during NSSA’s inaugural virtual race! We’ll get to your fitness and fundraising goals in a bit, but I’d like to learn a bit more about you. What is your favorite thing to do in Smithtown?

Marianne: Where we’re situated in Long Island, we have beautiful parks and beaches. We also enjoy farmers markets, restaurants, and the East End.

S: What do you do for a living?

M: I’m a commercial real estate broker at Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), specializing in leasing/sale of office/medical/specialty (schools, childcare centers, special needs providers).

S: What are some of your hobbies when you’re not working?

M: Researching, crafting, writing, movies.

S: What book/movie/article/conversation has had the most profound impact on your life?

M: Meeting Temple Grandin at a conference in 2018 after reading her books and other conferences on YouTube.

S: What in life gives you the most joy?

M: Feeling like I’m making a difference and setting goals and achieving them - in my personal and professional life. And spending time and creating new memories with family.

S: What are your top three life highlights?

M: Traveling to Tahiti, the birth of my children, being accepted into NSSA (1500 spots for 1 opening).

S: People would be surprised if they knew what about you?

M: Before I went into real estate, I worked in the entertainment industry for New Line Cinema. I have a photo of myself holding an Academy Award when the studio swept the awards for Lord of the Rings. It was an amazing experience working on LOTR – such an unusual experience, it was hard work, and we laughed a lot. It was a highlight for my career before transitioning out of the industry.

S: That’s so cool! Awesome job. I’d like to transition to your fitness goal. What was your strategy for hitting 128.5 miles?

M: Daily life! Getting my kids ready for school, grocery shopping, building tours, parking further away in the lot, taking the stairs at every opportunity and yes, some regular exercise thrown in there with spin classes.

S: What motivated you to go further?

M: When I saw how much I racked up, I increased my distance goal on the CF platform. Watching the sync from my Fitbit go up and seeing how simple it was, and all the responses from donors was motivating! Doing things virtually makes it a no-brainer for donors to participate. Loved it!

S: Did you have a fitness buddy/workout with other members on your team? Or was this more solo?

M: More of a solo effort. I have a feeling next time that my husband will be looking to run his own!

S: Yes, let’s recruit him! How do you recover? Do you have a go-to recovery drink?

M: Water! Hydrating all the time, changing to loose herbal teas from coffee. (There are so many options with tea!)

S: Do you lead an otherwise healthy lifestyle? Eat healthy?

M: I generally try to eat healthy, but don’t cut out any food groups. Although I’m not a big red meat eater, I’m a big fan of trying different cuisines, cocktails, mocktails, my mother’s cooking (of course). I’m not a fast food eater.

S: What are your favorite athletic brands (shoes, apparel, etc) that you like to workout in?

M: When I look through my workout gear, Under Armor seems to be my go-to brand.

S: I’d like to transition to why giving back is so important to you.

M: Giving back pays it forward. Paying it forward creates opportunity and enables progress.

S: Well said, I may have to borrow that and quote you. What excites you to support NSSA, specifically?

M: NSSA is a continuous force that enables my son to keep reaching for his potential, all while teaching his family how to teach him how he learns. NSSA’s staff and administration create an environment for learning that is conducted with extreme care, compassion and creativity… it’s not only exciting but it is also an honor to fundraise for NSSA.

S: That’s fantastic. For someone that might not know anything about NSSA, what would you want that individual to know about why it is so important to support this cause?

M: The official mission statement is: “Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism offers hope to people with autism and their families by providing high quality life-long support through services which enable people with autism to function better in everyday life. NSSA offers the most advanced treatment and training programs for the benefit of people with autism, and will continue to pioneer, through research, comprehensive treatment models which can be adopted nationally.” For my now 11-year-old son, who has been in the school since 2013, myself, and my family, NSSA is a place that has changed our lives. It has given my son a voice. He’s doing things I never imagined possible, and we are always encouraged to keep going further.

S: That’s amazing to hear. Are there any other non-profits in which you support or volunteer your time?

M: I was the Chairperson for the Harbor Country Day School Parent Association for two (2) terms, head of all social events gathering volunteers and raising money for events for students and families. And most recently, I worked for Habitat for Humanity, building a house here in LI – I absolutely loved it!

S: Fantastic, thanks for joining us today Marianne. It’s clear how special NSSA and your son’s school is to him, your entire family, and the community. We look forward to speaking again soon and let’s definitely recruit your husband to join NSSA’s second virtual race next year!


Marianne is a multitasking beast and we're so inspired by her story. You can donate to Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism (NSSA) and show your support for Marianne!

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