2017 ALUMNI ASSOCIATION
SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARDS
On Thursday, March 30, we will celebrate the stellar accomplishments of 14 Binghamton University graduates at the Alumni Association Special Recognition Awards reception and ceremony, which will be held at the Edison Ballroom at 240 W. 47 St., in Manhattan. This will be the first Alumni Association awards ceremony held off campus.
We will present the association's four signature awards (Bartle, Alumni Achievement, Weisband and DeFleur) and recognize 10 graduates with Medals of Distinguished Service. The cocktail reception will begin at 6 p.m., with the awards ceremony to follow immediately afterward.
This event has reached its registration capacity. If you would like to be added to the wait list, please fill out this form. If more tickets become available, alumni will be taken from the wait list on a first-come,
FEATURING THE MUSICAL TALENTS OF...
Neil Berg '86
Neil is currently the composer/co-lyricist, along with Pulitzer Prize/TONY-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan, of the award-winning new rock musical The Twelve. It opened at the Denver Center in the spring of 2015 to unanimous rave reviews, and won the 2015 HENRY Award for best new play or musical. The Twelve is targeted for a Broadway run in fall of 2017 led by Producer Jonny Reinis (Pippin, Grinch, Dame Edna), Joe Grano (Jersey Boys) and Sneaky Pete Productions. Neil is also the composer/lyricist of the hit Off-Broadway musical The Prince and the Pauper, which ran for two years at the Lambs Theater in New York.
Actress and Soprano
Rita performed on Broadway in the role of Hodel in the latest revival of Fiddler on the Roof, starring Rosie O'Donnell, Harvey Fierstein and Alfred Molina. She made her Broadway debut performing the lead role of Christine Daee in The Phantom of the Opera, after more than two years performing the role with the second national tour. Rita created the role of Lady Edith in the off-Broadway hit musical The Prince and the Pauper. At the Irish Repertory Theatre, she played the role of Ethel Chichester in Peg O' My Heart.
Joanne Borts ’82
Actress and Director
Joanne appeared in the original Broadway cast of Once, R&H’s Cinderella with Eartha Kitt and Fiddler on the Roof with Topol, Harvey Fierstein and Theodore Bikel. Off-Broadway credits include Hello Muddah Hello Fadduh, On Second Avenue, The Golden Land, Kids & Yiddish and Showboat at Carnegie Hall. She has performed in concerts, cabarets and festivals across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Europe. Summers spent performing at the Cider Mill Playhouse in Endicott are still among her favorites! Joanne is a proud union activist and serves on the Council of Actors’ Equity Association. For Lovette and David.
SIGNATURE AWARD RECIPIENTS
Gary Kunis ’73, LHD ’02
Glenn G. Bartle Distinguished Alumnus/a Award
The Bartle Award recognizes and honors graduates who have rendered outstanding voluntary service to the Binghamton University community, while also serving their communities, their careers and their country.
Gary is one of the Internet Pioneers. While at Boeing in the 80s, Gary was tasked by the NSF and WICHE to create and 'roll out' the largest of the original six NSF Regional Networks that formed the initial Internet environment. While at Boeing, Gary was responsible for designing the NASA Program Support Network and numerous computer networks for the Department of Defense, and for developing data communications software and hardware products for commercial and defense applications. Gary left Boeing to work for a small startup - Cisco Systems. Gary helped build Cisco into the world's largest networking technology company. Over his career at Cisco, Gary was responsible for managing engineering design, development, marketing, sales, and service activities and organizations across the globe. Gary retired from Cisco as Vice President/Chief Science Officer in 2002. Today, Gary pursues entrepreneurial and philanthropic activities in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
Gary is Binghamton University's first significant alumni donor. His gifts have established the Seymour Kunis Media Core in the Engineering and Science Building, and the Kunis Networking and Computer Systems Laboratory in Engineering Building at the center of campus. He also supports students directly with the Kunis Scholarships for Computing Excellence. The University has benefited from gifts of equipment to broaden campus-wide networking enhancements. Last fall, the Binghamton University Art Museum’s exhibition, “Baseball in Cuba: A Photographic Essay by Ira Block" was made possible through the generous support of the Kunis Foundation.
Gary is also very generous in sharing his time and talents with Binghamton University. He is a valued advisor to the Watson School, guest speaker and member of the boards of the Small Scale Systems Integration and Packaging Center (S³IP) and Center for Advanced Microelectronic Manufacturing (CAMM) at Binghamton.
Marjorie S. Cohn '78
Alumni Achievement Award
This award honors a highly distinguished alumnus or alumna who, over the course of a decade or more, has exemplified outstanding, significant professional achievement.
Margie is head of television for the combined DreamWorks Animation Television and Universal television animation business, overseeing all television development and production, including the content for DWA TV’s groundbreaking multi-year deal with Netflix. Cohn and her team are tasked with creating more than 1,600 episodes of original animated programming inspired by characters from DreamWorks Animation’s iconic franchises and upcoming feature films, as well as the vast IP from the Classic Media library and UFEG properties. Among the many series Cohn oversees at DreamWorks Animation are the Emmy Award®-winning All Hail King Julien, The Adventures of Puss In Boots, Dragons: Race to the Edge, Dawn of the Croods, The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show, Home Adventures with Tip & Oh, Dinotrux, the reimagining of pop culture phenomenon Voltron Legendary Defender and the upcoming Guillermo Del Toro fantasy series Trollhunters. Cohn previously spent 26 years at Nickelodeon where, in various development and production roles, she helped make the network No. 1 in cable television for 18 consecutive years. Some of the series under her guidance that went on to become beloved hits include Double Dare, Clarissa Explains It All, All That, The Fairly Odd Parents, Spongebob Squarepants, Avatar: The Last Airbender, iCarly, Nick News with Linda Ellerbee and the Kids Choice Awards. She splits her time between Los Angeles and New York, where she lives with her husband, producer Peter Tarshis, and their sons, Jack and Will. Marjorie has returned to campus and participated as a panelist with alumni in the television industry. She shared career advice with students and also spoke in several classes during her visit. She has been a volunteer for Metro Connections Night events and arranged a site visit to Nickelodeon during an Employer Visit Week offered during winter recess.
Barry Chaffkin ’86
Edward Weisband Distinguished Alumnus/a Award for Public Service or Contribution to Public Affairs
The Weisband Award recognizes one alumnus or alumna each year whose life, work, career and contributions exemplify the highest standards of service and deepest dedication to the sustenance of the common good.
Barry has worked in child welfare for over 27 years, directly supervising the reunification of over 900 children with their families as well as finalizing the adoption of over 900 children from the New York foster care system. He is the CEO and co-founder of Fostering Change for Children, a NYC-based nonprofit which helps children, families, and professionals involved with child welfare systems. He is a nationally recognized speaker, with expertise in “Talking to Kids About Tough Stuff” and “Older Youth Adoption and Permanent Options”. He is an adjunct lecturer and field advisor at the Columbia School of Social Work in NYC, and sits on the Advisory Council of the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) and the Treehouse Foundation.
Additionally, Barry has served as the Tau Alpha Upsilon Alumni Society's co-chairman; this Binghamton alumni network is dedicated to the University as a whole in many different aspects of its continued development.
Laura J. Vollmer ’10
Lois B. DeFleur Distinguished Young Alumnus/a Award
The DeFleur Award recognizes alumni who graduated within the last 10 years or are 35 years of age or under, and who are established or demonstrate potential to become future leaders. Criteria includes demonstrated leadership capability, substantial commitment to service of others, demonstration of potential for leadership in the long term, and substantial commitment to the University and Alumni Association.
Laura, who grew up on Long Island, was a very active student. She was the executive vice president of Alpha Kappa Psi (a professional business fraternity), a teaching assistant for Accounting 211, a finance and accounting tutor at the Center for Learning and Teaching, and an executive board member of the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Scholars Program. In 2010, Laura graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting (concentration in finance) before taking her studies to Baruch College. After earning her master’s in taxation and completing the CPA exam, she began her career at PwC, providing consulting, tax compliance and assurance support services to technology clients. Using skills and relationships developed in this role, Laura moved to a business development position at PwC, where she focuses on driving revenue growth and marketing efforts for PwC’s financial services specialty group focused on consumer lending products. Since graduating from Binghamton University, Laura continues to be very active, serving as co-chair of the School of Management Young Alumni Board, mentoring students, recruiting for PwC and judging on-campus case competitions. She lives in Midtown Manhattan with her fiancé, Evan Roth '10, MS '11.
MEDALS OF DISTINGUISHED SERVICE
In recognition of alumni contributions to specific areas on campus (e.g., schools, Admissions, Fleishman Center), we are pleased to present Medals of Distinguished Service to the following alumni, who have been tireless volunteers to the University while excelling in their respective career endeavors.
George B. Cummings II ’07 – As a non-traditional student, George enrolled in the School of Human Development
in the Fall of 2003 and graduated Magna Cum Laude. This experience left him with a
desire to be engaged at his alma mater and led to his first opportunity to volunteer
later that year at Fall Commencement. Since then, he has supported the Office of Undergraduate
Admissions, volunteered at every Commencement, and served as a liaison for the University's
Rotary arm called Rotaract and served on the Stephen David Ross University and Community
Projects Fund Committee. He wrapped up a 34-year career with Emerson in 2010 and has
been in Client Investment Services with SEED Planning Group, LLC since 2011.
Doris Diaz-Kelly ’94, MA ’97 – Doris has been at SUNY Dutchess Community College for the past 17 years. As assistant
dean of students and director of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), she provides
leadership to the College's Center for College Access & Educational Opportunities,
which houses the Educational Opportunity Program, TRiO: Student Support Services and
the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program. Her 22 years of experience in
higher education have been student-centered; she has dedicated her career to working
with youth, who like her, are mostly first-generation college students eager to achieve
and to make an impact in their communities. Doris is an invaluable recruiter and mentor
for EOP at Binghamton University. She lives in Red Hook, N.Y., with her husband John
Kelly Jr. '90, MA '97; they have three daughters.
Bruce David Klein ’85 – As president and executive producer of Atlas Media Corp., Bruce has been a recognized
pioneer, industry leader, and creative force behind hundreds of hours of high-profile,
award-winning unscripted series, specials and theatrical documentaries. He has created,
written, produced and/or executive produced series and specials such as Hotel Impossible (Travel Channel), Epic Win (MTV), Brainwashed (Discovery Channel), Behind the Bash with Giada De Laurentiis (Food Network), and It Can Happen Tomorrow (The Weather Channel). Most recently, he produced the acclaimed theatrical documentary
Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened about the legendary Stephen Sondheim/Hal Prince Broadway show Merrily We Roll Along, which premiered to rave reviews at the New York Film Festival. He has come back
to Binghamton University to talk to students about his career and his start at the
University's own TV channel, BTV.
Robert D. Kump ’83 – Robert is Chief Executive Officer AVANGRID Networks, a position he has held since
2009. He oversees eight regulated utilities in New England and New York that serve
3.1 million electric and natural gas customers, and employ approximately 5,000 people.
Assets of the utilities are about $18.5 billion. The holding company has 100% ownership
of operating subsidiaries that include New York State Electric & Gas Corporation and
Rochester Gas and Electric Corporation. With 30 years of experience in the utility
industry, Robert has held executive positions of increasing responsibility in finance,
treasury and investor relations. He is a Certified Public Accountant in New York state.
He is actively engaged with the University, serving on the Advisory Board for the
Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Nelson Mar ’94 – Nelson is a senior staff attorney and education law specialist at Bronx Legal Services.
His practice includes education law and Social Security disability law with prior
experience in labor/employment and community economic development. Nelson is also
coordinator for the Legal Services citywide Education Law Task Force and past chair
of the Education Law Committee with the New York County Lawyer’s Association. Nelson
was a member of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s School Climate Leadership Team which produced
significant recommendations on improving the public school climate across the city.
He has dedicated countless hours assisting Harpur College students and alumni, particularly
with career exploration, through hosting an internship, participating in Harpur-sponsored
programs and networking events, and through his work with the Asian and Asian American
Chelsea Reome ’13, MPA ’16 – Chelsea graduated from Binghamton University in 2013 with bachelor's degrees in
human development and psychology, and in 2016 with a Master of Public Administration.
While at Binghamton, she was involved with Student United Way, was a tutor in the
Educational Opportunity Program, conducted research and worked as a tour guide. She
later served as an AmeriCorps member, working to reduce childhood obesity and engage
the community on Binghamton's North Side. Since graduation, Chelsea has made valuable
contributions to the University by serving on the College of Community and Public
Affairs Board of Visitors and the college's Local Alumni Committee. She's a public
health representative at the Broome County Health Department.
Patricia Saunders ’65 – Pat was inaugurated to the SUNY 2001 Alumni Honor Roll for her longstanding support and volunteer service, and she was honored with the Binghamton University Distinguished Alumni Award in 2010. She was a member of the Foundation Board of Directors and the Development and Nominating Committees of the board. She has hosted numerous events for the University at her home in New York City. In 2005 Pat’s husband, Paul, and her two sons made a gift to name the West Gym pool the Patricia A. Saunders ’65 Aquatics Center. She is a former committee chair of The Buick Classic, the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship. In 2009, she received the Digger Smith Award from the American Junior Golf Association for "twenty years of service and dedication." She is the sister of Francis X. Newman, a retired associate professor in Binghamton's English department.
Matthew Singer ’96 – Matt is an experienced partner in the Financial Services practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). He's a recognized leader in the Alternative Asset Management industry with a 20-year track record serving many of the firm’s most complex financial services clients. Matt is the partner responsible for leading PwC's Management Company/Corporate Investment Advisor practice and is a market team leader within the Asset Management practice in the PwC New York office. He has administrative and human resource-related responsibilities for more than 120 staff, managers and partners on his team. Matt is PwC’s firm relationship partner at Binghamton University, responsible for maintaining and developing PwC’s relationship with the students, PwC Scholars Program (top 10 percent of School of Management students), faculty and administration. Matt is a CPA and resides in Manhattan with his wife Cristin Singer '96.
Edwin A. Torres ’10, MS ’14 – Edwin Torres R.N., CHNP, FNP-C is living proof that the American Dream is possible
to achieve. He migrated to this country at the age of 13 without a basic knowledge
of the English language, and attended a New York City high school with a low graduation
rate. He's a nurse practitioner, in the Department of Endocrinology at Montefiore
Health System in New York City, and is currently completing his Ph.D. on job insecurity
and incidence of diabetes, and complications of diabetes, at the Decker School of
Nursing. Throughout his academic career at Binghamton, Edwin has mentored, and continues
to mentor, countless students who were struggling with some of his same experiences.
He plays an active role in the Latino community in Washington Heights and The Bronx,
by advocating for better living conditions for vulnerable populations.