The Binghamton University Alumni Association presented its 2022 Special Recognition Awards in a ceremony Thursday, May 5, at City Winery in Manhattan. We are very proud of this year's class of honorees.
See a photo gallery on the Alumni Association Facebook page. The embedded player below will display a video of the entire ceremony.
Michael Kerner ’86
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.
Michael Kerner earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics from Harpur
College of Arts and Sciences in 1986.
Kerner is the president and chief executive officer of Munich Re Specialty Insurance, a division of the Munich Re Group, a leading international insurance and reinsurance organization, ranking amongst the largest two reinsurers in the world. In this role, he leads an organization targeting specialty commercial insurance business in North America.
Prior to joining Munich Re, Kerner was executive vice president and head of risk management and strategy at Everest Reinsurance Company. Before his time at Everest, Kerner was with Zurich Insurance Group as a member of Zurich’s Group Executive Committee and CEO - General Insurance. He joined Zurich in 1992 and held a number of senior executive positions including global head of group reinsurance, global chief underwriting officer for General Insurance, head of group strategy and chief executive officer for Zurich Global Corporate in North America. Prior to Zurich, he was with the Continental Insurance Company.
Kerner is a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society and a member of the American Academy of Actuaries.
Kerner along with his wife, Dr. Karen Fuhrman Kerner ’86, are longtime volunteers and supporters of Harpur College and Binghamton University. He has served as a keynote speaker and returns to campus to mentor students and has served as a guest lecturer. He is co-chair of the Harpur College Advocacy Council.
Ralph Gonzalez ’00
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.
Retired New York Police Department (NYPD) Detective Ralph Gonzalez is president of Atlas Unmanned Solutions Inc. Atlas is an unmanned solutions company serving military, first responders and private security around the globe. Atlas provides Counter Unmanned Aircraft/Drones Systems (C-UAS) training and technology in addition to drone solutions and technology training.
Gonzalez served in the NYPD for 20 years. He was assigned to the Counterterrorism Bureau as a member of the Counterterrorism Division’s Special Projects team. His duties included research and development for mitigation technology against Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high yield Explosives (CBRNE) threats and delivery methods. He developed and introduced the department's C-UAS initiative, a first of its kind which served as a model for agencies across the globe.
Gonzalez has served as an instructor for the Counterterrorism Bureau teaching a wide range of terrorism-related topics to a diverse group of students, ranging from the Citizen Police Academy, outside agencies and seasoned NYPD officers looking to learn about new threats and tactics posed by different terrorist groups.
Gonzalez has previously served as part of the adjunct faculty at the Metropolitan College of New York’s emergency and disaster management master’s degree program and the Monroe College criminal justice program. He has served as a guest speaker at the Central Intelligence Agency’s Sherman Kent Center for Intelligence Analysis, the National Counter Terrorism Center and the Defense Intelligence Agency. In 2017, Gonzalez was part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Unmanned Aircraft System Identification and Tracking Aviation Rulemaking Committee.
As an adjunct instructor, Gonzalez has traveled the globe as a representative of his program learning and exchanging ideas with similar higher education programs and professionals in the field of emergency management.
Gonzalez also served as a liaison to the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology’s National Urban Security Technology Laboratory. There, he was tasked with assisting in the development, evaluation and transitioning of homeland security technologies into field for use by law enforcement, fire fighters and other emergency response agencies.
Gonzalez received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Binghamton University and master’s degree in emergency and disaster management from Metropolitan College of New York. He has attended the Israeli Military Industries Academy for Advanced Security and Anti-Terror Training (Ramat Hasharon). He has numerous certifications from the Department of Homeland Security specific to terrorism, security and emergency management.
Susan Marenoff-Zausner ’87
Alumni Achievement Award
Susan Marenoff-Zausner was named president of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in 2011, making her the first woman in the history of the institution to hold the position. She joined the museum in 2003, serving as chief marketing officer and executive vice president for business development and then its executive director.
Marenoff-Zausner has led the museum through a period of remarkable growth, transforming it from a niche tourist attraction into an internationally recognized cultural and educational institution. During her tenure, annual attendance has doubled to more than one million visitors, and the museum has ranked among the top 10 cultural attractions in New York City for the past decade.
Marenoff-Zausner has overseen a more than 400-percent gain in marketing revenue and 160-percent increase in corporate, foundation and individual giving, enabling the museum to continually update exhibits and educational programs. Indicative of that effort, she directed a $115 million project to renovate the museum’s infrastructure and completely rebuild its pier on the Hudson River. The renovation included restoring historical spaces never before available to the public, refurbishing 16 aircraft and installing new interactive exhibits to highlight the humanity, bravery and ingenuity behind the ship’s hardware.
Under Marenoff-Zausner’s stewardship, the Museum’s award-winning school and afterschool programs have become an integral part of the city education department’s efforts. In addition to serving the local community, the museum’s programming has also extended to impact audiences nationally and internationally. Its robust STEAM programs directly reach more than 40,000 young people each year, and its professional development opportunities for teachers indirectly benefit another 15,000 students. The museum has also become one of the most accessible institutions in New York, providing programs and content for individuals with physical, cognitive and sensory disabilities, including autism and dementia.
Its efforts have been recognized by prestigious funders such as the National Endowment for the Humanities. Always looking to move the Museum forward, Marenoff-Zausner was instrumental in bringing NASA’s space shuttle Enterprise to the Museum in 2012 — a monumental success for the institution and New York City. When Hurricane Sandy devastated the region and heavily damaged the Museum later that year, she led the Intrepid’s recovery, enabling it to rebuild and reopen in only eight weeks.
Marenoff-Zausner has raised the museum’s profile as a venue and destination by encouraging events with worldwide audiences to utilize the ship, including Bud Light for Super Bowl XLVIII and the inaugural NBC News Commander-in-Chief Forum. The Intrepid has also been a location for numerous movies, television shows, concerts, festivals and major product launches. Most recently, she successfully navigated the museum through two COVID-related closures. During this challenging period, the institution pivoted its programming from in-person to virtual, enabling it to reach millions of people globally. Marenoff-Zausner instituted new and enhanced safety measures, prioritized staff retention despite the economic challenges, and worked to safeguard the long-term financial viability of the institution. She also negotiated a new and mutually-beneficial 30-year lease agreement with Hudson River Park Trust, ensuring that the Intrepid Museum will remain a vital part of New York’s cultural landscape for decades to come.
Marenoff-Zausner was general manager of the New York Power of the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA). Under her leadership, WUSA launched New York’s first professional women’s soccer team in less than four months and brought the finest professional talent to the region.
Marenoff-Zausner also served as director of global marketing at the Women’s Tennis Association Tour. She developed high-impact branding campaigns and negotiated one of the largest sponsorships in the history of women’s sports at that time to increase the tour’s credibility and strengthen player loyalty.
As the New York/New Jersey venue director for the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Marenoff-Zausner headed the entire operation of the largest women’s team sporting event in history.
Early in her career, she was a top revenue producer at Madison Square Garden and became at the time the youngest woman to be named vice president of “the world’s most famous arena.” Marenoff-Zausner is on the board and executive committee of NYC & Company, the official tourism, marketing and partnership organization of New York City. She also serves on the board of her synagogue Temple Emanu-El in Closter, N.J., as well as on the board and committees of the Englewood Health Foundation. She previously served as a founding board member of Women in Sports and Events and on the board of SCI, an initiative to provide underserved children with scholarships to attend sleepaway camp.
Marenoff-Zausner lives in New Jersey with her husband and two sons.
Michael S. Weingarten ’70
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.
Michael S. Weingarten has had a notable career as a vascular surgeon and is currently professor of surgery at Drexel University College of Medicine (DUCOM). Weingarten graduated from Binghamton University summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in biological sciences then attended medical school at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, where he was selected for the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. As a fourth-year medical student, he met his wife, Carol, who is currently associate professor of nursing at Villanova University. He then completed a five-year general surgery residency at NYU-Bellevue Medical Center and a vascular fellowship at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Weingarten received an MBA from Villanova University in 1996.
Since high school, Weingarten knew he would pursue a career in medicine. During his time at Binghamton, he developed a lifelong bond with his mentor, chemistry Professor Gilbert Janauer and his family. This is a relationship he and Carol cherish to this day.
As Weingarten became an accomplished surgeon, he continued to serve his profession, community, country and the world in many ways. From 2009-14, Weingarten served his country during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. For six years, as part of the U.S. Military Combat Casualty Program, he volunteered two weeks each summer as a civilian visiting senior vascular surgeon at Landstuhl U.S. Army Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany. This program is credited with reducing patient mortality and morbidity resulting from injuries sustained during war. Weingarten was part of a surgical mission to Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. Under very challenging operating conditions, he triaged hundreds of patients and performed surgery for those most in need.
At DUCOM, he is responsible for the medical school’s surgery curriculum. He has been co-principal investigator and a grant recipient on numerous research projects with colleagues from Drexel’s School of Biomedical Engineering, focusing on the management of diabetic wounds.
Weingarten is actively involved on the DUCOM Admissions Committee, the Drexel University Senate and the Student Promotion Committee. He is assistant dean of the Scholars Program, promoting research in the medical school. He also teaches Business of Health Care at DUCOM. Drexel is one of the few medical schools in the country to have this content taught throughout the curriculum. A leader in the profession of surgery, Weingarten is president-elect of the Philadelphia Academy of Surgery, the oldest continuous surgical society in the United States. He was an item writer for the National Board of Medical Examiners. Weingarten has been the recipient of multiple awards given by the medical school including five Golden Apple awards for teaching and the Lindback Award from Drexel University. He has been recognized as a Top Doc in Philadelphia multiple times in his career.
Weingarten’s volunteerism extends to his beloved alma mater, Binghamton University. In October 2021, he returned to Binghamton to speak to pre-health students at Harpur Edge regarding his academic and career journey, with future speaking opportunities highly anticipated. To support students, he established the Dr. Michael S. Weingarten and Dr. Carol Toussie Weingarten Scholarship for a Harpur undergraduate student enrolled in pre-health.
Robert Cohen ’12, MPA ’14
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 include 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.
Robert Cohen is director, Emergency Operations Center for NYC Emergency Management, where he leads program management, professional development and response policy development for the city's Emergency Operations Center. He has been with NYC Emergency Management since 2014, and works with diverse teams of emergency management personnel from numerous partner agencies and organizations to improve the city's readiness to respond to large-scale emergencies. Cohen has responded to emergencies in New York and beyond, including COVID-19, hurricanes, flash floods, heat waves, blizzards, building collapses and major utility outages.
While at Binghamton, Cohen worked in public health emergency management, and worked and volunteered in emergency medical services. He was an active member and leader of Harpur's Ferry Student Volunteer Ambulance Service, including serving as its director during the 2011 Tropical Storm Lee floods where he led a team of roughly 100 fellow emergency medical services personnel in coordinating emergency medical response on campus and at a shelter established in the Events Center. Cohen was the 2012 recipient of Binghamton University's Mary V. Faughnan Memorial Award.
On campus, Cohen lived in Hinman College and enjoyed working with the Center for Civic Engagement, Student Health Advisory Committee, Master of Public Administration Graduate Student Organization and College of Community and Public Affairs Dean's Advisory Committee. A proud Binghamton alumnus, Cohen is active with the Binghamton University Alumni Association's Metro New York Chapter. He has hosted many students interested in emergency management or local government through Harpur College's Liberal Arts to Careers Externships (LACE) program, consistently volunteers at Metro Connections Night and frequently attends Alumni Association events. He volunteers as a member of the Harpur's Ferry Board of Directors, and routinely presents as an alumnus at Binghamton University student conferences.