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Mashantucket — Maria Miranda may be best known for her founding of the successful marketing firm Miranda Creative Inc. in Norwich, but friends remembered her Friday for the way she pitched in at pancake breakfasts as well as the opportunities she has opened up for countless people.
Miranda was recognized Friday at Foxwoods Resort Casino as the 64th Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut Citizen of the Year.
"I think she is unable to resist someone who needs help," said Ruth Radin, art director for Miranda Creative, who spoke during a phone interview a few hours before the event.
"I don't think she does it because it's helpful for her business; she does it because it's the right thing to do," said Michael O'Farrell, director of public relations at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital and emcee for Friday's event.
O'Farrell said he met Miranda 3½ years ago, when he moved from a public relations position at Mystic Seaport to the hospital. Miranda helped the hospital get its social media efforts off the ground in 2011, he said, reminding O'Farrell that he needed to find a voice that would resonate with the public.
"She told me that you don't necessarily need to follow the book in terms of what works for a widget maker isn't necessarily going to work for a hospital," he said in an interview before the event. "It's been fun to find a nonclinical voice - to put a human voice on the hospital."
O'Farrell said Miranda approaches her job with seriousness, but she does it in a light-hearted manner consistent with her penchant for leopard-skin shoes. The business relationship has turned into a friendship, he said.
"She's industrious, works hard but at the same time she supports the community," said East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica, who got to know Miranda about 25 years ago when she did some marketing work for Flanders Fish House, which he owns. "She always seems to give a little bit more than she asks for."
Formica, in prepared remarks, noted Miranda's keen wit, infectious laugh and entrepreneurial spirit.
"She is the marketer's marketer - an entrepreneur for whom creating her own business success simply wasn't enough," Formica said. "So she has helped to create dozens and dozens more successful businesses for dozens and dozens of very grateful clients."
Radin, given the opportunity to join Miranda's then three-person shop 15 years ago, said her boss transmits that spirit of giving to her staff, which uses office equipment after hours to produce pro-bono work for a wide variety of religious, social and cultural institutions.
"We're always surprised what we are asked to help out in," Radin said.
People can give in three major ways - through financial means, time and talent - and Miranda contributes all three, she said.
"She's a unique, giving personality," Radin said. "She gives people the opportunity to create and the opportunity to thrive and to grow."