MAY 2016

Alumni awards ceremony is showcase for achievements and pride

By Steve Seepersaud

Binghamton inspired me to do great things. As you'll see in the embedded video players below, the sentiment repeatedly came to the surface when the recipients of the Alumni Association Special Recognition Awards were on stage April 30 at the University Union's Mandela Room. The ceremony, attended by more than 200 people, was the grand finale to an Alumni Leaders Conference weekend filled with moments that evoked #BingPride among graduates who have maintained close connections to the University. 


Vincent Daniel '94Vincent Daniel '94 was the featured speaker at the awards ceremony. He is general partner of Seawolf Capital in Manhattan, a hedge fund he co-founded. If his name sounds familiar, that's because his contrarian approach to investing was highlighted in the motion picture The Big Short (based on the Michael Lewis book with the same title). Daniel is the investment guru who foresaw the 2008 implosion of the financial industry.

Since graduating from Binghamton, he has remained connected to the School of Management providing mentoring and summer internship opportunities for students, serving as a judge for the Finance Society’s stock-pitch competition, and teaching an arbitrage and capital-markets research class on campus.

"I feel incredibly fortunate to have part of my life told by my favorite author, and shown in a movie," Daniel said at the ceremony. "I'll never forget being on a plane watching someone right next to me watching the movie of myself. It was surreal, and none of this would have happened if it wasn't for this school. That is why I've continued to give back."


Barry A. Goodman '79 received the Glenn G. Bartle Distinguished Alumnus/a Award in recognition of his outstanding voluntary service to the Binghamton University community and excellence in his career. He is co-CEO and executive director of trading of Millburn Ridgefield Corporation and The Millburn Corporation. He is a member of Millburn Ridgefield Corporation’s Investment Committee. He has been a featured speaker at industry events in the United States, Europe and Asia. Goodman generously provided the founding gift for the University's entrepreneurship program; he also chaired the program's board of advisors and served as a mentor and judge. In addition, he provided funding to create a program that assists School of Management students in developing professional and job search skills.


Deborah Tannen '66, LHD '93, received the Alumni Achievement Award. She has been a member of the linguistics faculty at Georgetown University since 1979; she is one of six in the College of Arts and Sciences who hold the distinguished rank of University Professor. She has published 23 books and more than 100 articles. Her book You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation was on the New York Times best-seller list for nearly four years, including eight months as No. 1, and has been translated into 31 languages. This is the book that brought gender differences in communication style to the forefront of public awareness. Tannen is a frequent guest on television and radio news and information shows, including The Colbert Report, 20/20, Good Morning America, TODAY, PBS NewsHour, Oprah, Hardball, Nightline and many shows on CNN and NPR. Earlier in the conference, she gave a presentation titled, "Can We Talk? How women's and men's ways of talking affect relationships."


Amy J. Hyatt '78 received the Edward Weisband Distinguished Alumnus/a Award for Public Service or Contribution to Public Affairs, which recognizes a graduate whose life, work, career and contributions exemplify the highest standards of service and deepest dedication to the sustenance of the common good. Hyatt is U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Palau, and is a career foreign service officer of more than 30 years, with the personal rank of minister counselor. She has had eight previous overseas postings, serving as deputy chief of mission in Helsinki, consul general in Melbourne, and management counselor in Cairo. Other overseas postings were in Seoul, Bangkok, Manila, Prague and Oslo. Hyatt says Professor Weisband, the award's namesake, inspired her to pursue a career in government service.


Gregory B. Reynolds '08 was presented with the Lois B. DeFleur Distinguished Young Alumnus/a Award. He is very active with Binghamton University, mentoring students, recruiting for Amex and serving as co-chair of the School of Management Young Alumni Board. He began his career at Rolls-Royce, consulting with executive teams on change management and leadership strategies. That work led him back to New York to accept a role with Accenture as a change management consultant. Aligned to the top financial services companies, one of his clients was American Express, which ultimately brought him internal to the company. Over about five years with Amex, he has held various roles including portfolio manager, senior product manager and senior customer experience strategy manager, and he now serves as director of strategy and planning for all small business products. 



MEDALS OF DISTINGUISHED SERVICE (presentation of all 10 medals can be seen in the player above)

In recognition of alumni contributions to specific areas on campus, we presented medals to the following alumni, who have been tireless volunteers to the University while excelling in their respective career endeavors.


Shareema Gadson-Shaw Abel '96Shareema Gadson-Shaw Abel '96 – Gadson-Shaw Abel was appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as special counsel to the Commissioner for Ethics, Risk and Compliance for Homes and Community Renewal. She served as litigation attorney in the Teacher Performance Unit of the New York City Department of Education, where she was lead counsel on disciplinary hearings of tenured pedagogues. Since 2012, she has served as a steering committee member of the Harpur Law Council. She is a volunteer at all levels of council activities, including her participation as a lecturer for the annual winter session course, Current Issues in Legal Practice.  

Felipe AyalaFelipe Ayala, Jr. '97 – Ayala has more than 16 years of experience in coaching and college guidance in an urban setting. He is college access assistant manager for the Children’s Aid Society Adolescence Division in New York City. He was college coordinator for the organization (2000-15). As a student, he was a peer counselor and staff assistant for the EOP Summer Program. In his role with the Children’s Aid Society, he has tirelessly recruited students to apply to EOP. He is an elder at Life Changers Church and Ministries International, Inc.; he recruits Binghamton University alumni to be involved with the church’s community service projects. As a student, Ayala was involved in the Black Student Union and Latin American Student Union. He is chairman of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization The College Access Consortium of New York, Inc.

Marc S. Dieli '89Marc S. Dieli '89 – Dieli is an Ernst & Young (EY) assurance partner based in Manhattan with extensive experience serving clients in media and entertainment. In addition, he is the Northeast area coordinating partner in charge of campus recruiting for Binghamton University. He hosts events at EY for current and admitted Binghamton students. Dieli is a mentor in EY's Diversity Mentoring Program, established to build the firm's ethnic minority professionals' networks and personal excellence skills, provide leadership opportunities and strengthen the connection to the firm. He is treasurer of the board of United Neighborhood Houses of New York, a non-profit organization that promotes and strengthens the neighborhood-based, multi-service approach to improving the lives of New Yorkers in need. He lives in West Islip, N.Y., with his wife, Missy and children, Emily and Jake.

Matthew C. DeSaro '09, MPA '11Matthew C. DeSaro '09, MPA '11 – DeSaro is an assistant district attorney at the Office of the Bronx District Attorney. While a double-degree student, earning a BS in management and a BA in political science, he was highly involved in student life as a resident assistant in College-in-the-Woods, University tour guide, executive director of the Escape Bus Company, member of the University Judicial Board and three-time chair of Casino-in-the-Woods. DeSaro continued his education at Binghamton, earning a master's degree in public administration. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from Brooklyn Law School. He is a founding member of the Binghamton University Alumni Association's Metro New York Chapter and is an active volunteer for Metro Connections Night and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Dr. Geoffrey C. Epstein '89Dr. Geoffrey C. Epstein '89 – Geoff, or Gerrry, as Epstein is known within the University community, began volunteering with the University and Foundation as a lead Phone-a-thon caller in the 1980s. In the nearly 30 years since, he has maintained strong ties as a volunteer with the Alumni Association and the Athletics Department, working on the Alumni Leaders Conference organizing committee and being a panelist discussing volunteering and alumni involvement. He is also involved with the TAU Alumni Society, which he has co-chaired for the past eight years. He has led fundraisers for the University and the Athletics Department and brought back more than 250 alumni to Binghamton for TAU's 50th and 55th anniversary reunions. Epstein and his wife, Rachel Lapsker Epstein '89, have three daughters; Stephanie and Debbie are current students at Binghamton University, and Ashley is a junior in high school.

Lynda M. Markoe '88Lynda M. Markoe '88 – Markoe has been the executive vice president, head of human resources and charitable partnerships at J.Crew since 2007 and was previously senior vice president and then vice president of human resources since 2003. Before joining J.Crew, Markoe worked at The Gap, Inc., where she held a variety of positions over 15 years. She was a political science major at Binghamton. She has been an advocate and mentor for our undergraduates through the Liberal Arts to Careers Externship (LACE) program. This has afforded the students firsthand experience and the opportunity to learn and understand the talent components of driving a business. 

Suzanne Meyer, MSW '07Suzanne Meyer, MSW '07 – Meyer is assistant director of social services for the Montefiore Medical Center, Wakefield Campus in New York City. She supervises social workers, participates in performance improvement initiatives, develops standards of excellence for care coordination and leads meetings on reducing patients’ length of stay. She has supervised several Binghamton MSW students and is a member of the College of Community and Public Affairs Board of Visitors. As a student at Binghamton, she was president of the MSW Student Organization, helping to develop the organization's first constitution and creating a student mentoring program. 

Robert W. Ostrow '76, MS '79Robert W. Ostrow '76, MS '79 – Ostrow grew up in Queens and attended New York City public schools. He earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry and a master's degree in computer science (CS) from Binghamton. As an undergraduate student, he was a co-author of two papers in the Journal of Organic Chemistry, but CS was more intriguing to him. He has worked for several firms in his 35+ year career and was involved in the manufacture and testing of the Hubble Space Telescope. Most of his career has been at Bloomberg LP where he is still employed. At Bloomberg, he has been instrumental in the design and coding of the system and application software used worldwide by more than 325,000 financial professionals every day. He actively serves as a liaison between Bloomberg and the Watson School. Ostrow met Susan, his wife of 36 years, while at Binghamton. They have two grown boys and make their home in Westchester County and Martha's Vineyard.

Polly Peterson, MAT '91Polly Taft Peterson, MAT '91 - For 23 years, Peterson has been an educator at Union-Endicott Central School District, teaching middle-school life science. She has been a cooperating teacher for Binghamton University student interns. This interaction has allowed her to "pay it forward" to the next generation of educators. She has been a member of the Science Teachers' Association of NYS (STANYS) since 1990, has served in leadership roles for 17 years and received the organization's highest honor, STANYS Fellow. She has presented numerous workshops, at times co-presenting with student interns.

Blenda Smith PhD, MS, FNP '84Blenda Smith, MS, FNP '83 - Smith is professor emeritus in the Decker School of Nursing. Though she is retired, she is a nurse practitioner in STD clinics at the Broome County Health Department. She has served the Decker School in many capacities over the years, most recently leading a committee of former alumni and faculty to honor one of our own, Elizabeth (Lisa) Reese, through an endowed scholarship. In less than a year, the scholarship became a reality and, each year, supports a nursing student in her or his last year of the program.


Homecoming 2016

Join us on campus Sept. 23-25 for a celebration of #BingPride for all alumni. We are thrilled that alumnus Bill T. Jones will give a dance performance. Plus, we'll have a stimulating TIER Talks™ speaker event and special reunions for WHRW, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, LGBTQ alumni, and Alumni of Color.
Learn more.


B-CONNECTED with other graduates! B-connected is a secure virtual community only for Binghamton University alumni. Update your personal profile, search for alumni, and submit and read Class Notes. 


SHARE YOUR EXPERTISE WITH US! The Alumni Relations office is asked to recommend alumni who are expert speakers. If you are well-versed in subjects including national security, politics, technology, career networking, environmental studies or etiquette, please contact Melinda Holicky, associate director for alumni volunteer engagement. Include your name, class year and a brief biography. Supporting material could include a c.v. or link to your website.


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Last Updated: 9/26/16