15 Jun ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO HOSTS 2015 ESSEX COUNTY PORTUGUESE HERITAGE CELEBRATION Phil Neto and the Neto Family Presented with 2015 Star of Essex County Award  and Recognized as Portuguese Family of the Year

Newark, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. hosted the 2015 Essex County Portuguese Heritage Celebration on Monday, June 15th. During the program, DiVincenzo presented the Star of Essex Award to Phil Neto and the Neto family. The honorees were recognized for their many positive contributions to New Jersey – especially in Essex County.

“Essex County has been shaped and developed by the various cultures and ethnicities of the people who have lived and worked here. Celebrating the heritage of our neighbors will help us understand and embrace our diversity,” DiVincenzo said. “Phil Neto and his family have made many positive contributions to the cultural, civic and educational history in Essex,” he added.

“I am delighted to be here to represent the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. Our County Executive does an excellent job recognizing the diversity within our County. I’d like to pay tribute to Phil Neto and the Neto Family for being here today. Portuguese Heritage means a lot to me, I often think about where we would be if we didn’t have Portuguese Americans in leadership roles throughout the State,” said Freeholder Patricia Sebold.

Phil Neto, a native of Portugal, is the second oldest of six siblings: two sisters, Maria and Rosa, and three brothers, Lee, Tony and Avelino. He met his wife, Aida, at a Portuguese Dance at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Newark and on December 28, 1968, they were married. They have three children, Regina, Christopher and Cynthia; and two grandchildren, Gabby and Emily. He adores his family and worked extremely hard throughout the years to provide them with the best life possible all while instilling his strong work ethic.

“Thank you very much, County Executive DiVincenzo, for this recognition. It is an honor to be here amongst my family, friends, elected officials and colleagues. I will never forget this moment and I will continue to do anything I can to help in any way,” said Phil Neto.

Phil Neto left Portugal in May 1966 and relocated to Paris, France, in search of a better life. In Paris, he worked as a mason and part-time in a barber shop. After two years, he immigrated to the United States and worked for MN Almeida Construction for 14 years. He became a U.S. citizen in March 1983 and, in April 1983, established Phil Neto Construction, specializing in masonry and concrete, which steadily grew throughout the years.

Mr. Neto has dedicated much of his time and efforts to several organizations, including Our Lady of Fatima in Newark, the Portuguese Sport Club in Newark, St. James Hospital in Newark, Portuguese American Police Association (PAPA), Portuguese Soccer Club for Children (Lar dos Leos), New Jersey Performing Arts Center by sponsoring Fado singers, and Habitat for Humanity. He also gives back to the youth of his community by sponsoring several sports teams and supports his own parish, St. Rose of Lima R.C. Church in East Hanover and St. Christopher R.C. Church in Parsippany.

Aida Neto joined AT&T in 1967 as a secretary and worked her way up the ranks eventually retiring in 2002 as a Human Resources Manager. During that time, she raised their three children.

Christopher has always been a go-getter just like his father. He had his first job by age 14 and worked in the family business since he was 17 years old. In 2004, Christopher graduated from Montclair State University with a degree in Finance. Upon graduating, he put his young fresh spin on the business and now, Phil Neto Construction is considered one of the top site work and concrete subcontractors in New Jersey.

Neto’s daughter, Cynthia, graduated from New York University in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Dance Education. Currently, she works as a fitness coach and Pilate’s trainer, and is a National Competitor in Powerlifting.

Neto’s daughter, Regina, followed in her father’s footsteps and became a business owner. In 1992, she opened Geneva Salon. In 1998, Regina worked at Phil Neto Construction, where she gained valuable experience, which led her to establish CNC Construction, a woman-owned business enterprise in New Jersey and New York, also specializing in site work.

In 1997, Phil and Aida welcomed their first granddaughter, Gabby, into the family. Gabby will be graduating next year from Morris Catholic High School and will be studying Occupational Therapy in college. In 1999, they were blessed with another granddaughter, Emily, who will be a junior in September at Hanover Park High School where she excels at basketball and soccer.

Several elected and law enforcement officials honored the Neto family and presented Phil Neto with various commendations, awards and gifts. Those who recognized him were NJ State Senator and Essex County Deputy Chief of Staff Teresa Ruiz, Essex County Administrator Ralph Ciallella, Newark Fire Chief John Centanni, State Director Mo Butler from Senator Cory Booker’s Office, Bloomfield Police Department Director Sam DeMaio, Essex Fells Police Chief and President of the Essex County Police Chiefs Association Vincent Kulik, Chief of Investigators Anthony Ambrose from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray, Newark East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador, Newark North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos and Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura.

The Essex County Portuguese Heritage Month Celebration is the part of a year-long cultural series created by County Executive DiVincenzo to highlight Essex County’s diversity. Other cultural heritage celebrations include African American History Month, Irish Heritage Month, Women’s History Month, Italian Heritage Month, Jewish Heritage, Latino Heritage and Pride Month to highlight the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgendered and Questioning community.

Contact:  Anthony Puglisi
Lauren Shears