2013 Alumni Award Recipients
- Jill Holler Durovsik ‘78
- Shep Murray ‘93
- Joan Layng Dayton ‘63
- Elizabeth “Tibby” VanNess Reid ‘48
- Natalie “Til” Jones Neri ‘53
- Meg Reitman Jacobs ‘63
- Carrie VanKloberg ‘68
- Barbara Kahn-Moller ‘78
- Jonathan R. Brestoff Parker ‘08
- Patrick McEvoy ‘03
Recognizes an alumna/us, at least five years out from graduation, who has made a demonstrated contribution through innovation and/or creation of a fresh approach that inspires or enlightens the lives of others and contributes to the greater good. This contribution may have been made in the scope of the award winner’s career, community work, government or volunteer service. Throughout Skidmore’s history, the College has challenged itself to make no small plans — to make no ordinary choices — and this award recognizes an alumna/us who purposely demonstrates this belief in his or her life and work.
Jill Holler Durovsik ’78
A government major at Skidmore, Jill Holler Durovsik ’78 is a talented entrepreneur. Jill built a career as a corporate executive at Merrill Lynch and soon founded her own firm, Corporate Concierge, Inc., in 1988, which went on to become among the largest commercial real estate services firms in the industry. All the while, she faced a far greater personal challenge. In 1986, Jill was struggling with the pain of watching her mother die of cancer and the realization of how isolating the disease can be. She recalls that her mother “didn’t have a place to talk about her feelings with others going through the same thing. I could be there for her and listen, but I couldn’t truly get what she was experiencing emotionally. It’s really hard to understand someone else’s fear of dying.” At that time, support groups for cancer patients and their families were rare. The comedienne Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer at age 42, provided Jill with inspiration. Reading Radner’s book It’s Always Something, she learned about The Wellness Community of Santa Monica and how its services had eased the emotional burdens of cancer patients. Encouraged by the work she saw being done there, Jill mustered her considerable leadership skills and passion for helping others and began planning, along with Connie Masciale Carino ’58, chair of Mental Health Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, to establish a Wellness Community in Philadelphia that she was founding. Over the years, the Philadelphia Wellness Community was replicated at centers nationwide and recently merged with Gilda’s Club to become the Cancer Support Community (CSC), the largest nonprofit employer of psychosocial oncology mental health professionals in the United States. Jill, who now serves on the organization’s national board, is slated to become CSC board chair in 2014.
CSC’s mission is to “ensure that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action, and sustained by community.” To that end, the organization augments offering educational tools about the diagnosis and treatment of all types of cancers with something that far too many cancer patients do not receive: holistic, research-based support for the depression, anxiety, and other types of emotional and social disruption that cancer leaves in its wake.
At each of CSC’s network of professionally led community-based centers, patients and their families are offered a comprehensive menu of personalized services, including medical seminars, professionally supervised therapy meetings, yoga, tai chi, art classes, and writing workshops, as well as social activities for the entire family—all free of charge. In 2011, the organization provided $40 million in free services to patients and their families. “It’s such a relief for people to come here and to receive support for the emotional aspect of their cancer journey,” says Jill.
That support is available to patients and their families anytime and anyplace. Individuals can access the organization’s seminal education series, Frankly Speaking About Cancer® via print, in-person programs, Internet radio, or online at www.cancersupportcommunity.org. The site allows patients to explore professionally facilitated online support groups, follow clinical trials, research specific cancer-related topics, and learn how to join advocacy efforts.
The work she’s most proud of, Jill says, is that of CSC’s Research and Training Institute, which she currently serves as chair. The institute, the first research body of its kind in the world, has developed a screening tool for hospital social workers and other mental health professionals to better recognize and deal with the emotional needs of cancer patients and survivors. It’s cutting-edge research into psychosocial, behavioral, and survivorship issues is channeled into training that is offered to CSC staff and other oncology healthcare professionals around the country. Patient quality of life, doctor-patient communication, treatment decision making, and adherence to lifestyle recommendations are some of the areas explored by the institute’s research. Most recently, CSC is recruiting cancer patients and survivors to answer questions about their social and emotional experiences and needs in The Cancer Experience Registrysm. The research project aims to raise awareness among the research community, healthcare providers, patient advocates, and policy makers about the social and emotional challenges of people impacted by cancer and identify gaps in care.
Through research, Jill observes, “we will uncover new evidence about what people impacted by cancer need in order to live better lives. And through training, we will disseminate these findings to the cancer community at large. This is how we will make our biggest impact.”
Jill’s work as an advocate for cancer patients takes her to Capitol Hill to work with legislators to support continued improvements in cancer care. “Government can be a positive force in creating change, and I have seen it work in the area of cancer care. And yes, my early studies at Skidmore did spark my interest and provide a strong foundation in creating change for the greater good.”
CSC’s ultimate goal, she says, is to “elevate psychosocial wellness and survivorship as the national gold standard in cancer care. We have sites around the country and a front-row seat to the positive impact this type of support has on patients. If we can prove to an insurance company that psychosocial support equates to reduced medical needs and benefits, we can get more money for cancer patients and, ultimately, better services.” Her hard work towards enhancing the quality of care is paying off: Starting in 2014, the American College of Surgeons will make it mandatory for oncologists to include an assessment of their patients’ psychological health needs when planning treatment.
For Jill, working to build and lead CSC and its groundbreaking research institute over the past 25 years has demanded hard work, personal sacrifice, and a great deal of creative thinking. Her thirst for creativity extends to other facets of her life. She collects works of art by accomplished Skidmore graduates and is a member of the Tang National Advisory Council. In addition to studying at the prestigious Barnes Foundation (a Pennsylvania-based educational art and horticultural institution), Jill has created and chaired notable family oriented events at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Likewise, her volunteerism doesn’t end there. Jill is a former Journey Campaign volunteer and class fund chair. In 2010 she served her community as part of a group supporting a $90 million building campaign for the Episcopal Academy in Newton Square, PA, from which her three children, Taylor, Paige, and John, graduated.
She credits her Skidmore experience as an important influence on the person she is
today. “I look back at my years at Skidmore as some of the most fulfilling times of
my life. It was a vital building block in my appreciation of family, friends, and
career. At Skidmore it was as cool to be smart and creative as I’m sure it is today.”
Jill is gratified to have been selected for this award. “My first reaction is that I am so thrilled to spread the word about what I do and continue to get out the message that when you have cancer, you are not alone—there is a community waiting to embrace you.”
Honors one alumna/us graduated at least ten years who has translated her or his Skidmore experience into distinguished achievement through professional work and/or community service.
Shep Murray ’93
The Vineyard Vines catalog says it all. Two young men dive off a sail boat into sun-splashed waters off Martha’s Vineyard wearing swim trunks emblazoned with the company’s island-centric designs. Images of vacation-themed preppy apparel and accessories for men, women, and children are interspersed with photos of customers sporting their favorite Vineyard Vines gear and sharing their personal stories of living the good life, embodying the promise of the company’s tagline, “Every day should feel this good.” By any measure, the company’s co-founder and CEO Shep Murray ’93, has achieved the American dream. Taking in more than $100 million in retail store and online sales last year and boasting licensing agreements with the likes of Major League Baseball and a huge cadre of devoted customers nationwide (over 432,000 Facebook likes at last count), Vineyard Vines was named the “official style” of the Kentucky Derby in 2011. No wonder Shep and his brother Ian, the company’s co-founder, were profiled as part of Entrepreneur magazine’s “Hot 500” list of America’s fastest growing businesses in 2007. The accolades haven’t stopped since. But the Connecticut natives did not always enjoy the limelight. They’ve come a long way from the day they started the business in 1998 selling handmade silk ties out of the back of a jeep on Martha’s Vineyard.
The story of how their entrepreneurial journey began is firmly entrenched in company lore and is a case study in how hard work, staying true to what you love, and thinking outside the box can transform the most fledgling and unlikely enterprise into a major American success story. One important stop on that journey for Shep Murray was his time at Skidmore College.
A talented singer and guitar player, Shep arrived on campus planning on majoring in music, but found that he loved literature courses, and considered switching his major to English before finally settling on management and business. He recalls the introductory course BU107 as a seminal experience. “It gave students the chance to work together as a team and come up with a solution for a real company. That’s exactly what you do in the business world. It gave me the opportunity to roll up my sleeves and think outside the box.”
That opportunity would bear fruit a few years later. In 1997, both Shep and Ian were working for Manhattan advertising agencies and hating it, particularly having to wear the dull corporate uniform of suit and tie—most especially, the tie. The brothers, who had summered on Martha’s Vineyard since childhood, also dreamed of spending more time there. That summer, they conceived a solution to their dilemma: creating and selling handmade silk ties that signified the “good life” they enjoyed on the Vineyard; ties that young professionals would find fashionable and fun. The novelty insignias, including the signature Vineyard Vines pink whale and other island-themed images were meant to be conversation pieces that would bring people together. The following year, the brothers quit their jobs on the same day, and starting with an $8,000 cash advance from a credit card, began selling their ties on beaches and in boatyards and bars, employing the motto “Don’t be just another suit. Tie on a Vineyard Vine.” They were soon able to move themselves and several hundred ties out of their parents’ house and into their first apartment, which doubled as their company headquarters. In 1998, they launched their first catalog, and started upon an astounding upward trajectory.
The company has grown from a dozen whimsical men’s ties sold on the Vineyard (the brothers opened their first store there in 2005) and the Cape to a full range of shirts, sweaters, jackets, caps, skirts, pants, belts, flip-flops, and totes for men, women, and children sold across the county. The vacation-themed gear is currently available in 32 Vineyard Vines stores nationwide, as well as online and in some 600 specialty, boutique, and department stores, including Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Part of the brother’s creative brand building includes developing unique partnerships with sports organizations and colleges and universities, cultivating legions of loyal team fans and alumni. Its products hang in hundreds of golf and tennis pro shops. As of 2011, Vineyard Vines has licensing agreements with Major League Baseball, the National Football League, and the National Hockey League to produce custom ties and totes for all teams. That year, it also renewed its partnership with the New York Giants, and in the fall of 2010, one seat in the Giants’ home MetLife Stadium was painted pink and embellished with the Vineyard Vines whale. In addition to the Golf Collection’s presence in pro golf shops, custom products have been made for every major PGA championship event. The company has also produced custom ties for some 150 schools and colleges, including Skidmore.
The Murray brothers collaborated with Teresa Heinz Kerry to create an exclusive red, white, and blue tie and scarf design for Kerry’s campaign in 2004. Former President George H. Bush, President George W. Bush, Robert Kennedy, Jr., Rudy Giuliani, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Steve Forbes, among other high profile CEOs and television personalities, also don the “good life” ties.
Their marketing strategy has always revolved around developing grassroots customer loyalty, treating business partners fairly, and giving back to the community—values that Shep says were imparted by former F. William Harder Chair and Department of Management and Business Professor James Settel. Shep reflects, “He stressed the importance of being ethical and honest. And that’s the way we’ve done it from the start. We were never out there just to make money. Being ethical, treating our employees well, treating our customers well, valuing partnerships, and giving back is a huge part of what we’ve accomplished.”
Other Skidmore faculty members were important mentors for Shep. “Management and business professor John Holmes taught me the importance of creating “win-win-win” situations in marketing and in life. English professor Peter Griffin, an expert on Hemingway, introduced me to great short story writers and the importance of writing stories that came from the heart. His idea of giving almost everyone an “A” if they just wrote the best they could was really unconventional, but empowered us to explore and do what we wanted rather than doing it to get a good grade. Management and business professor Martin Canavan’s passion for entrepreneurship was incredible. If you put together the lessons learned from these four faculty members—telling a great story, creating a win-win-win situation, doing it in an honest, passionate way, and entrepreneurialism—you have a great foundation for life. It has led me to success, both personally and professionally.”
The Vineyard Vines catalog and Web site, both of which feature customer wedding photos and colorful personal profiles, trumpet the playful customer storytelling Shep and Ian have used to build their brand.
Equally important to the Murray brothers, the company’s longtime commitment to community service and philanthropy is evidenced by the Vineyard Vines Tied to a Cause program, which provides custom ties, tote bags, and other items for their favorite charities and donates all proceeds from the sales of the items to those organizations. The program’s first partnership was formed with Waterkeeper Alliance, the advocacy organization founded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., to protect water from polluters.
The extraordinary growth of Vineyard Vines has garnered the company a roster of honors from the business community. Named Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2005 for the metro New York region, it was ranked 217 among the 500 fastest growing companies in the country by Inc. magazine the following year. In 2006, the company was also the recipient of the Men’s Dress Furnishing Association Achievement Award and in 2007 Shep and Ian were inducted into Quinnipiac University’s Business Leaders Hall of Fame. Vineyard Vines was also selected 2007 Brand of the Year by trendy fashion company DNR. In 2008, they were featured in Fortune magazine and more recently, in such publications as the New York Times, Newsweek, People, InStyle, and Cosmopolitan. The brothers and their merchandise have also appeared on television, including CNBC, the Today Show, and The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch. Shep and Ian have also been popular guest lecturers at Yale, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Lafayette College, and Boston College. Shep was particularly gratified to deliver a lecture and speak to business classes at Skidmore in 2010.
Their remarkable success hasn’t altered Shep’s original vision for Vineyard Vines. “We went out there to start our own company and be masters of our own destiny—to live the American dream. That’s exactly what we’ve done, but we’ve picked up a lot of people along the way. That’s because of giving back and getting involved in communities.” He adds, “It has been very rewarding. I get to wake up every morning and drive my kids to school, create a product people love, and go to bed at night happy. I work with great people, we have great customers, and it’s awesome to be able to make people happy.”
He adds, “It is an honor to be recognized with this award. I’m greatly appreciative of the experience I had at Skidmore; it shaped the framework of my life, both personally and professionally.”
Shep currently lives in Riverside, Conn., with his wife and three children. The family summers on Martha’s Vineyard and is in Florida as much as possible during the colder months.
Honors one member of the 50th Reunion Class (Class of 1963) who has demonstrated outstanding service to the College. Joan Layng Dayton ’63
Few individuals have helped shape the arch of recent Skidmore history as powerfully as trustee emerita Joan Layng Dayton ’63, known to the College community as “Joanie.” Her continuous leadership, starting as a trustee in 1986, then as chair of the College’s Journey Campaign from 1993 to 1998, chair of the Presidential Search Committee in 1997-98, and chair of the College’s Board of Trustees from 1998 to 2002, helped guide Skidmore along its upward trajectory to become the preeminent liberal arts institution it is today. Key to its remarkable growth was the creation of the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, an interdisciplinary hub that would elevate Skidmore to national prominence in the academic and art worlds, which Joanie was instrumental in bringing to life. Together with her husband, Bob, she established the museum’s Dayton Director Chair to ensure its continued growth and programmatic rigor. As chair of the Tang’s National Advisory Committee, she is still working to keep the museum at the forefront of pedagogical innovation in the liberal arts. Along the way, she has logged countless hours as a volunteer, collected many memories and accolades, and earned the enduring gratitude of the Skidmore community. She’ll tell you there’s a thread that runs through her personal Skidmore journey, one that connects her student days to the decades of intense volunteerism on behalf of her alma mater. “There is one word that keeps surfacing—‘passion.’”
The art major recalls being taught by faculty members who were passionate about their subjects and students. Earl Pardon’s (art professor and jewelry designer) passion, beyond his own creations, was to making his students see and appreciate the beauty of a perfect shape or of a perfect seam in sterling silver and just maybe inspire them to create one themselves.” Working in studio art courses was “challenging and energizing.” She observes that Pardon would give “rare but meaningful praise” and remembers vividly returning from lunch one afternoon to find her enamel work being demonstrated as an example of how not to approach the task. She credits art professor Arthur Anderson for teaching her how to understand a painting, and art history professor James Kettlewell for instilling an appreciation of that discipline. These experiences gave Joanie an aesthetic eye that would serve her well professionally. She went on to run a gallery featuring fine crafts of American artists at Harold, Inc., a women’s specialty store, retiring in 1990 as gallery director and vice president.
As she built her career, Joanie’s devotion to Skidmore never diminished. She signed on as president of the Alumni Club of Minneapolis in the mid-1970s and worked as a Wide Horizons Campaign volunteer in the 1980s. She joined Skidmore’s Board of Trustees in 1986, making her mark as a consummate leader with business savvy, heart, and boundless energy. For her efforts, she received an Alumni Association Outstanding Service Award in 1993. That year, she stepped into the role of chair of the $86.5 million comprehensive campaign, The Skidmore Journey: A Campaign for Our Second Century, beginning a five-year marathon of fundraising that would test her mettle and change Skidmore forever. Joanie traveled the country with then President David Porter and Skidmore’s a capella singing group, the Bandersnatchers, “spreading the College’s message far and wide.” The experience is among her fondest memories. On the occasion of the Dayton family’s induction into the College’s Parnassus Society in 1998, it was proclaimed, “No one logged more miles on the Skidmore Journey than Joan Layng Dayton ’63, the peripatetic campaign chair who traveled tirelessly for five years promoting the Journey Campaign to thousands of Skidmore’s alumni, parents, and friends from coast to coast.” Highly successful, the campaign raised more than all other previous fundraising campaigns in Skidmore history combined. Among its chief goals was the creation of an interdisciplinary teaching museum, “a museum of ideas, not objects,” first envisioned by liberal studies professor Charles Stainback and others. Joanie became the driving force behind making that vision a reality, bringing together College trustees, President Porter, faculty, students, alumni, donors, and renowned architect Antoine Predock to design and build the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery. Opened in 2000, the pioneering facility, which features exhibits co-curated by Skidmore faculty and students, is informed by the principle that art can be used to advance knowledge across all disciplines. The Tang quickly became known as one of the top teaching museums in the country and a unique resource that is a model for other teaching museums. Joanie joined with husband, Bob, to endow the directorship of the museum in 1997. In 1998, she was elected to a four-year term as chair of the board of trustees; she would lead its efforts to search for and inaugurate the College’s first female President, Jamienne S. Studley, renovate Case Center, and ensure Skidmore’s continued financial and academic vitality. Her extraordinary contributions to Skidmore were lauded in 2001, when the College trustees passed a resolution thanking her for her “dedicated and focused, reasoned and wise, balanced and sensitive leadership,” adding that her legacy “will be a source of strength as the College moves ahead in the twenty-first century.” She was once again honored by her peers in 2002 with the Denis B. Kemball-Cook Trustee Award, for having “given sacrificially of wisdom, time, and talent.” In 2003, Joanie was presented with an honorary doctor of humane letters degree by the late Tad Kuroda, history professor and then dean of the faculty, who said of her leadership, “Systemic dignity, poise, zest, and style framed your every action, and our successes have been your principal reward.”
Looking back on those years, Joanie recalls, “I saw what passion can do. Never mind his passion for Homer or John Cage or the perfect pun—when it came to getting a teaching museum funded and built, David Porter’s passion saw no bounds. Antoine Predock’s passion for his building and what the program could do for Skidmore had to be seen to be believed. I still see that energy and enthusiasm at the Tang.”
Joanie continued helping Skidmore flourish as a member of the Campaign Executive Committee for the Creative Thought Bold Promise Campaign from 2004 to 2010. The largest in Skidmore history, the campaign raised more than $216.5 million, exceeding its $200 million goal. In addition to growing Skidmore’s endowment, it enhanced academic programs, elevated the study of the sciences, ensured the ability of the Tang to offer cutting-edge exhibits and programs, and provided wider access to a Skidmore education through increased financial aid. The campaign also transformed the College’s physical environment with the construction of the Arthur Zankel Music Center, the creation of the Northwoods Apartments, the renovation of the Murray-Aikins Dining Hall and the Williamson Sports Center, and more.
A founding member of the Tang’s National Advisory Committee and chair since 2009, Joanie is also a member of its Governance Committee. She works closely with current Dayton Director Ian Berry, who observes, “Joanie has made a great and lasting impact on Skidmore and in particular at the Tang Teaching Museum. Among her many contributions to the museum, she has been a steadfast chair of the National Advisory Council, an inspiring Tang ambassador with her classmates and friends in the Minneapolis community, and a founding financial supporter. I greatly value her advice and friendship, great sense of how to best run a volunteer board, generous philanthropy, and always upbeat energy and enthusiasm! I am proud to be the Tang’s Dayton Director.”
Joanie is also serving as class agent and gift planning chair for her 50th reunion this year.
As busy as she has been working for Skidmore, the College is not the only beneficiary of her time and treasure. A longtime civic volunteer in her home city of Minneapolis, MN, she was a board member of the Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota for over 20 years, and served as board chair and chair of its capital campaign from 1989 to 1993. Joanie chaired the Colleagues Advisory Board of the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota and served as co-chair of its 2002-08 capital campaign. She is a former board member of Minneapolis’s Guthrie Theater and Planned Parenthood of Minnesota.
Joanie’s Skidmore family connections run deep. Her mother-in-law, Lucy Jackson Dayton, was a member of the Class of 1938 and two of her three sons are Skidmore graduates: Tobin ’90 (who is married to Mae Doykos Dayton ’90) and Scott ’93. Son James is a Yale graduate.
Joanie’s passion for serving Skidmore has been transformative, and encompasses both physical manifestations in the Tang Museum (and on Dayton Drive in the Northwoods Apartments) but also a singular legacy of volunteerism and philanthropy. All the while, she has been happy to serve.
“I am so honored by this award but really humbled by it. Skidmore has given me so much, beginning more than 50 years ago, but most of all it’s given me reasons to give back—it’s easy to give to programs and people who in turn continue to give so much to so many. Skidmore is made of passionate people, whether they are teaching or raising money or building the alumni base or feeding the students. It is so much a part of what makes the College great.”
Honors up to five members of the Skidmore community who have demonstrated outstanding service to the College. Each recipient must have served Skidmore for at least ten years as an alumna/alumnus, trustee, faculty member, administrator, staff member, parent or friend. Alumni recipients must be members of a celebrating reunion class (classes that end in 3 and 8).
Elizabeth “Tibby” VanNess Reid ’48
Elizabeth “Tibby” VanNess Reid ’48 still remembers the first time she led her classmates in song. She was asked to direct them in the College’s annual song contest, a much anticipated festival in which all classes penned and arranged an original pop song that they would perform, along with a Skidmore song, before the faculty in Saratoga’s Congress Park. Tibby, a freshman math major, had no previous experience directing a chorus but had sung in every campus musical production mounted that year. “I was hesitant at first but I just started waving my arms and they followed me,” she recalls. The Class of ’48 easily delivered the winning performance. She vividly recollects music professor and department chair Hoyt Irwin congratulating her on the victory. “He said to me, ‘Tibby, don’t ever give this up.’ At that moment, I knew if I was asked to stand up in front of a chorus to direct, I would always say ‘yes.’” The longtime alumna volunteer has been leading her classmates in song—and other pursuits on behalf of Skidmore— ever since.
It was Irwin who encouraged Tibby to follow her passion for music. A talented vocalist and pianist, she had been volunteering as a voice and piano coach in the Music Department since she was a freshman; her abilities didn’t go unnoticed by Irwin, from whom she started taking classes. “Every time a musical opportunity came up on campus,” she recalls, “he would say to me, ‘Tibby, you’ve got time for that, don’t you? Naturally, I would say ‘sure.’ I absolutely loved being involved with music. And I simply adored the way Professor Irwin taught. If he wanted an orchestra full of piccolos, I would have learned to play the piccolo just to be part of it.” By sophomore year, she had switched her major to music.
Tibby went on to direct her class in the annual song contest for the next three years, much to the delight of her classmates. Zilpha “Dotsie” Slosson Erskine ’48 reflects, “Tibby was so enthusiastic—she was an absolutely terrific leader of the song contest. We all so looked forward to it. She always had us moving and shaking.” The Class of ’48 won the song contest every year except for their senior year, when the song they composed was deemed “too sad.” Tibby says, “I knew while we were rehearsing it that it was extremely sentimental, but there were good reasons for that. We had spent part of World War II together and celebrated its end together—emotions ran high. Most of us had a father, brother, or a boyfriend who was in the war and we never knew when one of us would be notified of a tragedy.” Tibby’s brother, Nick, was a bombardier who flew a B-29 over Japan during the war. “Also, we all realized it would be the last time we would sing together in the contest, so many of us were in tears. We were an extremely close, sentimental bunch.”
Beyond her musical gifts, says Nancy “Leggie” D’Wolf ’48, Tibby showed a remarkable ability to connect with everyone she met. “Tibby made a point to acquaint herself with everyone in each of the dorms on Union Avenue and so everyone knew her.” Leggie recalls that Tibby took a special interest in two Chinese-American students from Hawaii, Aileen Kwock Char ’48 and Leola Ah Nin Woo ’48, and helped them feel at home on campus. They remained close friends over the years. Sadly, Leola died in 2003, but Tibby and Aileen continue to stay in touch today. Leggie adds, “that’s the way it’s always been and continues to be: Tibby knows everyone and everyone knows Tibby.”
After graduation, Tibby pursued her love of music and launched a 40-year career teaching that subject in her hometown of Framingham, MA. She was a beloved teacher who took a personal interest in each of her students, often persuading the most resistant among them to try out for chorus. Early on in her career, she convinced one young man, who believed that singing was a feminine pursuit, to give it a try by introducing him to the music of Frank Sinatra. “I just tried to pass on what I knew and loved,” she reflects.
Although she was busy teaching and raising a family, Tibby cherished her Skidmore connections and continued to nurture them as both a loyal classmate and an energetic alumna volunteer. She was a faithful attendee of all class reunions and played a lead role in planning her 40th and 45th , drumming up attendance as well as participation in the class reunion gifts. In 1994, she signed on as class president and served in that role until 2003. Concerned that ’48ers might lose touch between reunions, she conceived and implemented the Class of 1948 Directory project, working with College staff to create a purse-size class directory with contact information that classmates could carry with them where ever they went. She served a stint as a member of the Reunion Giving Leadership Committee in 1998, helping rally classmates to sign on as fundraising volunteers for their 50th. “Her determination and enthusiasm were contagious,” notes Suzy Menzel Snyder ’48, who attended fundraising sessions at Tibby’s home. Tibby’s efforts, along with those of other dedicated class officers, helped the Class of ’48 to shatter its previous reunion gift totals and top all other classes that year. In 2003, Tibby served as class historian for her 55th reunion, creating a memorable history that honored classmates’ lives, past and present. She has also been a frequent participant in Alumni Leadership Council weekends, and a planner of regional alumni events in the Boston area.
But what her classmates remember most about Tibby as an alumna volunteer harkens back to their days on Union Avenue. At each reunion or mini reunion of the Class of 1948, Tibby reprises her role as song leader. Suzanne Snyder ’48 recalls, “Anytime a group got together and wanted to sing, you could always count on Tibby to lead them. She knew exactly what to do to get everyone singing and having a good time.” When Suzanne organized a mini reunion of ’48ers in 2002, she called upon Tibby to serve as musical director. “As always, she shared her talent and made it fun for everyone.”
Tibby shared her time and talent as choral director of the Framingham Sweet Adelines and Men’s Barbershop Chorus for over 30 years. She traveled the country with the Sweet Adelines, placing in the top tier at one national competition held in Indianapolis, IN, that the audience of 8,000 would never forget: Tibby’s gals sang dressed as cavewomen. In 1999, she led the Adelines and the Barbershoppers in competition during a two-week tour of the British Isles, where they performed for the mayor of Worcester, England, at a private luncheon held in their honor.
She continues leading choruses that visit nursing homes around her Framingham home and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
Tibby observes, “I’m afraid I’m known for never being able to say no to the question, ‘Will you come and direct us?’ I always say yes. I love it so much and I always will.”
When informed that she was receiving this award, she says she “was shocked to death because I thought it should go to others who I feel have done much more.” Tibby adds, “I am just lucky I developed the habit of saying yes to whatever I was asked to do for our class. This award is very meaningful because I am so appreciative of my Skidmore education. Skidmore gave me so much—a solid foundation for my profession, close friendships, and so many memories. I am happy to give back.”
Natalie “Til” Jones Neri ’53 grew up hearing stories about Skidmore College from her mother, Edith Loomis Jones, a 1921 graduate of what was then Skidmore School of Arts. “Her dedication to all things Skidmore was so contagious,” Til recalls, “that I never even considered going to college anywhere else.” A dedicated alumna, Til’s mother also passed along an important lesson that her daughter would take to heart—that working on behalf of people and places you care about was something to be highly valued. For over four decades, Til has been doing just that and Skidmore has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of her time and talents.
She has happy memories of “the big, beautiful Victorian houses on the old campus with all their nooks and crannies.” Although they may have been drafty in the winter, those buildings provided dorm life that Til says was always decidedly warm and friendly. Classmates were housed together for all four years at Skidmore. “This arrangement caused us to become very close, like sisters, and those friendships, as well as the love and fun we share, continue to this day.”
At Skidmore, Til also discovered “a wonderfully diverse” curriculum that expanded her horizons far beyond her home economics major. She engaged with classmates who were involved in very different majors, interests, and endeavors from her own. “All of us learned to accept and appreciate people studying in other disciplines and were exposed to the content and challenges of their varied coursework.” This strong foundation in the liberal arts would later serve her well both personally and professionally. After staying home to raise her five children, Til forged a successful career as a regional manager at Business Counselors, Inc., a Boston advertising firm. “I worked with small businesses of every type and had no problem relating to each client and their particular area of interest because of my experience at Skidmore.”
As she built her career, Til’s devotion to Skidmore never waivered. A class agent since graduation, she signed on as a lead volunteer for her 30th reunion, returning to serve as a member of the Planning Committee for her 35th. For her 40th reunion in 1993, she stepped up to serve as fund chair, rallying her classmates to make a record-breaking class gift. That year, she says, was also one of her most successful in terms of bringing classmates into the volunteer fold. Using her considerable powers of persuasion, Til enlisted close friend Kathryn Wiecking ’53 “against her will” to serve as class Friends of the Presidents chair. “I wanted to run my ideas by Kathy,” she recalls. Kathryn, who had not been previously involved in fundraising, was inspired by the experience. She later established a scholarship fund for Skidmore students hailing from her home state of Minnesota. Til reflects, “It was very satisfying to see the enjoyment that Kathy’s involvement with the College brought her.” When Kathryn died in 2000, she left Skidmore what was then one of the largest bequests in its history. Today, Wiecking Hall stands as testament to her generosity. In 2003, Til served as chair of her 50th reunion, galvanizing classmates to return to campus in unprecedented numbers. She is currently class president, a position she has held and loved since 2008. She enjoys helping classmates stay connected. “When alumni stay in touch with one another everyone benefits; class friends stay close, and all of us enjoy the feeling of being part of a community.”
That community is never far from Til’s thoughts. Over the years, in addition to her volunteer duties, Til has also remained involved with the College as a participant in numerous Skidmore regional events near her home in Connecticut, as well as on campus, where she attended the College’s Summer Exploration program with one of her daughters in the 1990s. She says the week of academic, cultural, and recreational offerings, which included lectures and a concert by the Philadelphia Philharmonic at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, “gave us our cultural and educational enrichment for the year.”
Til is extremely proud of her Skidmore legacy family, which includes not only her mother, Edith Jones ’21, but also a sister, Constance Jone Peck ’54, and granddaughter Kate Neri ’11. To honor the family’s multigenerational Skidmore bond, Til donated her mother’s graduation gown and scrapbook to the Scribner Library archives the year Kate graduated. “Receiving this award is indeed an honor,” Til reflects, “and I would like to dedicate it to my mother and my granddaughter, Kate.” After reading American studies professor Mary Lynn’s history of the College, Make No Small Plans, Til considers her mother to be one of the pioneers of Skidmore’s early years. She adds, “Many aspects of Skidmore life have changed since that time. As I read about the College’s new academic programs, collaborative faculty/student research, self-directed majors, and studies abroad, I realize that Skidmore today has progressed much farther than either my mother or founder Lucy Skidmore Scribner could have imagined. Yet, it’s clear that the vibrant and creative learning environment that Lucy first envisioned continues to flourish and grow.”
Til remembers being thrilled when, in 1981, she and her sisters accompanied their mother to her 60th Skidmore reunion. “We so enjoyed watching her and the other ‘little old ladies’ having a grand time together. It’s hard to believe that I am now the ‘little old lady’ here to enjoy my 60th reunion!”
More than 50 years ago, a Skidmore math professor told Meg Reitman Jacobs ’63 that computers were “the up-and-coming thing” and she should look for a job in that field. She took the message to heart and after graduation worked as a computer programmer for New Jersey Bell. She recalls, “This was when the programs were still on punch cards and the computers themselves were located in huge, air-controlled rooms.”
Being a math major taught her how to problem-solve, Meg says, which has proven useful in her life in general and in the design field, which became her second profession. Meg minored in art at Skidmore and earned a master’s in interior design from Pratt Institute. For 30 years she has owned MRJ Design Group Inc., located in Cedar Knolls, NJ. The firm specializes in residential interiors and has also done commercial projects and corporate lobby designs.
Between 1995 and 2000, the New Jersey chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers honored Meg with four awards for excellence in residential design. Her work has been featured in New Jersey Monthly, Garden State Home & Garden, New Jersey newspapers the Record and The Star-Ledger newspapers, and Elegance by Design.
Now semi-retired and working part-time from her home office in West Orange, NJ, Meg devotes much time to volunteering and serves on several boards. She says, “I enjoy helping others and seeing the fruits of my labors empower and improve their lives.” Her Skidmore service includes being Friends of the Presidents class chair since 2002. She has also been a member of the Alumni Association’s Nominating Committee, Class Fund Committee, Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery Advisory Committee, and the Tang’s Sonnabend Gala Committee, plus a reunion volunteer. Volunteering, she notes, is “a great way to stay connected to my alma mater, and I’ve met wonderful people along the way.” She adds, “I am constantly meeting Skidmore alums through business, travels, or elsewhere, and there is always an immediate connection.”
Her fondness for Skidmore was no doubt made stronger by one of her first college experiences—being wait-listed. That was a “major disappointment,” she admits, but she finally received notice of acceptance on the very day in September when all the incoming freshmen arrived on campus. By the time she got to Saratoga Springs, placement exams had been given, and students had registered for classes. Nonetheless, Meg found some peace of mind in being assigned to an older student who proved to be “the most amazing ‘bib sister,’” (referring to the bibs first-year students were required to wear) who walked her through the registration process and made sure she felt at home. Meg recalls the bibs, which bore their names and hometowns as “a wonderful way to easily make new friends and get to know who your fellow classmates were.”
Meg was very happy to be at Skidmore and says that sentiment never changed throughout her four years there. She adds, “I loved my math and art classes, but the professor who stands out the most to me was one who taught American literature: Dr. Alan McGill.” He taught Meg, the math major, how to write a research paper—a skill she’s never forgotten.
She also has fond memories of skating on the frozen, flooded tennis courts on Union Avenue in downtown Saratoga Springs. She often had the ice to herself and says it helped relieve the pressure of studying for exams. “It was exhilarating and allowed me to go back to the library with a clear head.” Wintertime “Happy Pappy” weekends were another joyful time for Meg. She says, “My dad and I became very close then, skiing together and enjoying being with other girls and their dads. It was always a fabulous and memorable time.”
Not insignificantly, Meg notes that her two best friends date back to her undergraduate years—her college roommate and her Skidmore “little sister.” Meg, mother of Kristy Jacobs Maslin ’91, has an extended legacy family that includes sister Kit Reitman ’72, niece Dana Lowenstein Siegel ’93 and cousins Margaret Weill Wolf ’63, Gretchen Eisner Rachlin ’48, Susan Berla ’59, and Joan Eisner Garb ’50, who passed away in 2009.
Skidmore has always meant a lot to Meg, who is grateful she was accepted in the first place and thrilled now to receive the Outstanding Service Award.
Recalling her student years at Skidmore, Carrie Van Kloberg ’68 counts among her most vivid memories “the academic challenge and mentoring by professors” and “the feeling of family and encouragement in the Government Department, chaired by Henry Galant”; extracurricular fun with friends—including bridge with dorm mates, tennis on the clay courts, and swimming in the old pool; and some key historic moments, including the Vietnam War and the Ice Storm of 1964.
A resident of Saratoga Springs, she has had the good fortune of being able to continue her relationship with the College in close proximity. “I love being an alumna and all the benefits that entails,” she says, adding, “I also enjoy volunteering and am motivated to give back to the institution that continues to give me so much.”
Carrie says the combination of a solid liberal arts education and the experiences she’s had in a variety of volunteer roles has given her the tools and confidence to change careers several times throughout the years. Gaining leadership skills, she adds, has enhanced her ability to “listen to and respect others’ viewpoints, mentor, take risks, value change, and challenge myself.”
A government major, she worked for many years with Children and Family Services, first in direct service and then in management and administration. She was engaged at the local, state, and national level, and found that consulting with peers in other states was especially rewarding.
Currently a realtor with Roohan Realty in Saratoga Springs, Carrie makes it a point to highlight Skidmore’s presence in the community to people who are new to the area. (On a side note, in 1991 she received an award from the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation for the renovation of her former home, which was part of the “old campus,” on Union Avenue.)
For the last ten years, Carrie has taught aquatic fitness, both privately and on the Skidmore campus. Decades after graduation, she returned to the classroom for two exercise science classes, where she enjoyed the fun and challenge of learning with Skidmore undergraduates and gained “firsthand experience of the continued excellence of the faculty and students.” She earned certification and a referral from her professor to teach as part of Skidmore’s wellness program. She says she has enjoyed sharing her love of water and all its benefits with others, and values the opportunity to connect regularly with staff, faculty, and students.
On the volunteer front, Carrie has worked with numerous community organizations but
notes that her “work with Skidmore has been the best experience!” She has served as
class president since 2003. As chair of Class Council on the Alumni Association Board
of Directors from 2007 to 2010, she played a key role in helping alumni affairs staff
develop an online volunteer resource center, which supplies support and materials
to help class officers do their jobs more easily and efficiently. She has also served
as a class agent and member of the board’s Nominating Committee, as well as a member
of several committees related to the Palamountain Scholarship Benefit and Polo Match.
In addition, she has been a reunion volunteer, reunion chair, and fund chair.
Connecting with classmates for Reunion efforts, fund-raising, and serving as class president has been rewarding and energizing, she says. “We have a great leadership group, and it has been a privilege to work with them over the years.” The additional volunteer roles have broadened her perspective of Skidmore. Carrie notes that she has “had great role models and gained so many new friends along the way.”
Receiving the Outstanding Service Award means “more than I can put into words,” Carrie says, and she is grateful to all who have helped her to this point: “It is a great honor to be recognized by your peers for what you have loved doing, knowing how many others have done so much outstanding work for the College.”
Up until a few months into her senior year, Barbara Kahn Moller ’78, a government major, believed she was “heading to law school directly from Skidmore.” But over Thanksgiving break, she changed her mind. She recalls, “As soon as I got back to school, I went crying to Erwin Levine, who was my advisor, frantic about what I was going to do. He calmly said, ‘Take it easy—you are smart, you have a lot of energy, so just go to Washington, D.C., find a job, and get started. In five years you will be doing something you have never even heard of.’”
He was right: Barbara did go to Washington and worked for two years before going to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania to earn an MBA and becoming an equity research analyst on Wall Street—a job she says she “had no idea existed,” even when she started business school. She worked with the U.S. House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee and the U.S. International Trade Commission, and was a longtime employee of Kidder Peabody as an equity analyst. She also worked in high-yield research for Lehman Brothers before moving abroad in 1991 and shifting her focus to family and volunteer activities.
Besides her fond memory of Erwin Levine, Barbara also recalls “watching professor Tad Kuroda manipulate students into taking the side of the ‘losers’ in a particular historical event, staying up late writing papers, having long serious conversations, listening to music, drinking cheap white wine, and living in Scribner Village. Junior-year abroad at the London School of Economics was an important time too.” She admits there were also “lots of laughs and stupidity.”
But once she joined the working world, the only Skidmore connections Barbara maintained were with a handful of friends and her two favorite professors. Until her 25th reunion, she says, “I was ‘missing in action’ as far as the school was concerned and would not have come to Reunion without some serious “arm-twisting” by several classmates.
She says a simple conversation with Jill Holler Durovsik ’78 set the wheels in motion for reconnecting with Skidmore, and not long after, she became a member of the Tang National Advisory Council. She was living in London at the time, and was unaware of the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery—“but as a volunteer with the Education Department at the Royal Academy, I was interested in museum education,” she says. That simple conversation with a classmate began Barbara’s reengagement with Skidmore.
Now also a class agent, member of the Board of Trustees, and the mother of recent graduates Beatrice ’13 and Alexander ’11, she says she’s learned a few things in getting reacquainted with her alma mater: “The value of a Skidmore education becomes more apparent over time; the College faces challenges in staying connected with students who tend to be independent, creative, and interdisciplinary; and the financial requirements necessary to stay competitive are tremendous.”
Barbara feels privileged to serve on the Board of Trustees and has enjoyed the opportunity to work with and be inspired by other board members. She says, “The same holds true for being on the Tang National Advisory Council. The Tang has added a very exciting and intellectually important dimension to Skidmore, and I am honored to be something of an insider.”
Barbara and her husband, Karsten, are in the process of relocating to Connecticut after 23 years living abroad. She remains committed to her efforts for the College and says she is flattered to be receiving this award.
The Joseph C. Palamountain Award for Young Alumni Achievement
Honors one alumna/us graduated one to ten years who has utilized her or his Skidmore education in a quest for excellence demonstrated by personal achievement. The recipient must have a continuing concern for the Skidmore community.
Just five years out of college, Jonathan Brestoff Parker ’08 has already garnered an impressive roster of achievements. A joint M.D.-Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, he holds a master’s in public health and has co-written a textbook on clinical research, published 31 scientific articles and book chapters and discovered a patent-pending anti-obesity compound.
A recipient of the national Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, he double-majored in chemistry and exercise science and received a number of academic accolades at Skidmore such as the Margaret Paulding Award in Exercise Science for excellence in research. The work leading to this award involved the discovery of an anti-obesity compound in collaboration with Professor T. H. Reynolds. “We treated obese, diabetic mice with or without an antioxidant to test whether antioxidants improve diabetes,” says Jon about the discovery. “Not only did the mice receiving the antioxidant have less severe diabetes, but also they had 40% less fat! That’s the equivalent of a 400-pound person losing 160 pounds.”
If the patent is approved, Jon says that it would be a “game changer,” for him and Reynolds and perhaps for millions of obese people. The duo aims to raise enough capital for their own biotech start-up to develop the potential drug or to team up with a pharmaceutical company to the same end. “There is real potential here,” he asserts, “and I am hopeful that we will find a path to bring this drug further along the development pipeline.”
Jon realized during his studies at Skidmore that taking any discovery like this from the lab bench to the patient’s bedside required training in epidemiology, the basis of all clinical research. In 2009, he was awarded a prestigious George J. Mitchell Scholarship to study epidemiology at the School of Medicine at University College Cork, Ireland, where he earned a master’s in public health concentrating in advanced epidemiology and biostatistics. During his year on the emerald isle, Jon met Professor Jan Van den Broeck, with whom he recently published Epidemiology: Principles and Practical Guidelines. Their textbook comprehensively describes in one place the practical steps needed to develop, implement, analyze, and publish studies on human health. It was released worldwide in May, 2013, by Springer Science+Business Media.
Jon’s academic interests stem from his struggle with obesity as a child and high-school athlete. This experience sparked a strong interest in nutrition and a desire to help others learn about and practice proper dietary habits. He arrived at Skidmore driven, motivated and ready to take full advantage of its resources. While at Skidmore, he founded the Skidmore Nutrition Action Council (SNAC) and served as the Student Government Association president. He had instrumental roles in changing the College’s writing curriculum and establishing the Student Employee Program Handbook, a set of policies that supports students who are employed at the College.
“When I arrived at Skidmore, I needed to explore my interests to figure out what I was most passionate about and interested in,” he says about his time as a Skidmore student. “As soon as I discovered that, my education became more directed and personalized, and I got so much more out of my academic and extracurricular experiences.”
Currently, Jon is pursuing his dual degrees in medicine (M.D.) and cell and molecular biology (Ph.D.) to advance his career goal of directing a biomedical research laboratory where he can use his scientific and medical expertise to develop novel therapeutic and preventive strategies against metabolic diseases. He will spend much of the next three to four years in the lab working on his Ph.D. dissertation and in the hospital taking care of patients. Jon’s current lab work centers on immune cells present in fat tissue and how they regulate the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Jon has been Skidmore’s Agnes Gelinas Young Alumni Trustee since 2012, serving on the board’s Strategic Planning, Academic Affairs, Student Life, and Advancement committees. Of the College’s plans to build a large, innovative new science facility, he says, “I am very excited to see Skidmore investing in the sciences. This building will represent the interdisciplinary, collaborative, and innovative nature of science at Skidmore, and it will greatly enhance the top-notch scientific education and training that takes place on our campus.” Jon lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Allison Parker.
Honors one alumna/us graduated one to ten years and who has demonstrated outstanding service to the College. Service may be evidenced through a variety of forms.
Patrick McEvoy ’03
Mark Twain’s adage, “a life not lived for others is a life not worth living,” has always carried special meaning for Patrick McEvoy ’03. At 32, the Cape Cod, MA, native and managing director of the International Equities Group for Canaccord Genuity has already established an impressive resume as a civic volunteer and philanthropist for both national and international organizations, including the American Cancer Society and the American Ireland Fund. Skidmore has also been a primary beneficiary of his passion for volunteerism. Signing on as a class agent and Friends of the Presidents donor immediately after graduation, he continues bringing boundless energy and dedication to leadership roles that are helping to build and energize a new generation of alumni volunteers and philanthropists.
Patrick arrived at Skidmore in a serendipitous way; his mother, Nancy, was passing through Saratoga Springs when she decided to tour campus—falling in love with the College and the city—before returning home to talk up Skidmore to Patrick and his sister, Ashley ’09. A subsequent trip to campus by Patrick “sealed the deal.” Once enrolled, he jumped into academics and athletics with both feet.
The liberal arts breadth at Skidmore, he says, gave him just the opportunity to quench “an insatiable desire to learn across many disciplines.” He recalls French professor Marc-André Wiesmann, with whom he took a Liberal Studies I class, as a “brilliant” mentor who pushed him to pursue his study of the French language. “He was so completely enamored of the study of the humanities, yet so firmly rooted in the real world,” Patrick recalls. Patrick went on to study abroad in the South of France, and then returned to volunteer as a French tutor for the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. He cites Bernie Kastory, then F. William Harder professor of business administration, as “the most influential” among many strong academic figures he encountered at Skidmore. “Not only was he one of the nicest human beings I have ever met, he also approached teaching in such a patient, humble manner for someone of his stature in the international business community. He imparted real world wisdom and even brought in CEOs of global firms to speak to us.” All the while, Patrick was able to stay in touch with his affinity for science. “I was lucky to have extremely smart, patient, and selfless classmates who would coax me through difficult biology and psychology labs.” As a senior, he also served as the Student Government Association’s Financial Oversight Committee.
His fellow students were just as “amazing and inspiring” as the faculty. One of his friends, an All American lacrosse player and honors student studying business and economics, was also a gifted ceramist. Another was a field hockey captain, English major, and talented writer who sang beautifully in her spare time. “Skidmore was never about producing cookie cutter students; it is about cultivating talented, complex, and well-rounded people.” Patrick credits the robust interdisciplinary foundation he received at Skidmore as the reason that “I almost never approach my work in finance with a strictly ‘business’ mentality’; I like to think I exercise my creative mind in this way, which is fairly uncommon in my field.” He is delighted to report that he continues to observe a “broad shift” in the type of academic backgrounds financial institutions are seeking in their employees, one that is leaning increasingly towards liberal arts graduates.
Patrick was equally engaged in athletics. After playing hockey his freshman year, he was recruited by exercise science professor and men’s tennis coach Paul Arciero to join the men’s tennis team, where he flourished both personally and athletically. Patrick, who captained the team and was named MVP during his senior year, helped the Thoroughbreds win two consecutive Upstate Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament championships. “The times I shared with my tennis teammates were some of the happiest and most demanding I have ever known in my life.” He says that participating in athletics taught him how to “really listen” to others. “It’s one of the most essential skills that I rely upon today.” Arciero continues to be a mentor and close friend; he and his family were part of a Skidmore network that included then athletic director Jeff Segrave and countless students and faculty who were there to support Patrick and sister Ashley when their mother, Nancy, was diagnosed and later passed away from breast cancer in 2007. Patrick reflects, “It was one of the most amazing displays of compassion I have ever experienced. I will feel forever indebted to the Skidmore community for helping me, my sister, and my father during an agonizing period.” A memorial bench dedicated to Nancy by Patrick and his extended family was placed near the tennis courts, where she so often sat to watch both Patrick and Ashley (who captained the women’s tennis team) play.
Patrick’s drive to give back to the College propelled him to join the Friends of Skidmore Athletics in 2003, when he helped to raise funds to reinstate Men’s Hockey and establish FOSA as an ongoing, vigorous supporter of the College’s athletics program. He has continued championing FOSA efforts as a Hall of Fame Committee member and Men’s Tennis representative. He is particularly proud of how FOSA has helped elevate the stature of the student-athlete and the quality of athletic programs and facilities at the College.
In preparation for his fifth reunion, Patrick moved from class agent to co-fund chair in 2006, coming up with creative new initiatives to get classmates giving at the Friends of the Presidents level. He partnered with Siret Unsal ’03 to provide funds for a challenge that matched all Annual Fund gifts a few weeks prior to Reunion. His talent for easy-going but focused networking didn’t go unnoticed, and in 2007 he accepted an invitation to join the National FOP Committee. Drawing upon his close connections among members of FOSA and the Skidmore Business Network, he has helped deepen the pool of FOPs, especially among young alumni, strongly supporting new giving levels that have made it easier for them to join. Stepping up to become chair of young alumni giving on Skidmore’s Alumni Association Board of Directors in 2010, he has frequently hosted young alumni class agents and fund chairs at gatherings he arranges on his own. In 2011, he encouraged students to begin the practice of philanthropy by providing funds to match that year’s Senior Gift donations and hosted a luncheon following an Alumni Affairs Real World professional networking event. Patrick signed on as a member of the National Annual Fund Advisory Committee in 2012. “My main goal in each of these leadership positions (all of which he continues to hold today) is to bring young alumni into the donor fold and show them how important their dollars are to the College. I lead by putting my money where my mouth is and engage them by trying to reignite their passion for what Skidmore has meant to them.” A firm believer in the power of networking (he got his first job through the father of a Skidmore friend), Patrick also partners with the College’s Career Development Center to serve as a mentor at its Transition and Transformation networking events.
Patrick’s passion for giving to others ranges beyond his alma mater and to include organizations close to his heart. He and his family created “Nancy’s Team,” which raised over $250,000 in four years for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, breaking the record for a single team in Massachusetts. Patrick and his extended family also support Tufts New England Medical Center, where his mother received her cancer treatment, as well as Hope Lodges, a nonprofit that provides free accommodations in Boston for patients seeking treatment there who could not otherwise afford it.
He is also one of the directors of the December Dream Foundation, an organization he cofounded with a former Marine Corps officer and good friend, which partners with the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program to provide underprivileged children in the Boston area with Christmas gifts. Vineyard vines, the apparel company owned by fellow award winner Shep Murray ’93, has been a strong supporter of the foundation.
A proud son of a large Irish American family, Patrick serves on the board of directors of the Young Leaders Society of the American Ireland Fund. Supporting initiatives throughout the Irish diaspora, the fund aids such Irish homeland initiatives as singer Bono’s efforts to keep the teaching of traditional Irish music in school curricula, providing home visits from healthcare professionals to the single elderly, and a program that brings together Protestant and Catholic youth on the basketball court. Both the singer and former president Bill Clinton have accepted awards from the AIF. Closer to home, the organization has aided victims of Hurricane Sandy and the Boston Marathon bombings.
On the professional front, Patrick is a member of the Security Traders of New York, an association of financial services professionals which, in addition to lobbying on behalf of the industry, creates networking opportunities to help the unemployed find jobs.
Patrick credits Skidmore as the place where, among other things, “I really grew up.” He adds, “I made awesome friends with such varied interests and talents. What I love about Skidmore is that it was never about pigeon-holing students. Skidmore is about exploration, pushing the limits of academic disciplines, thriving on the court or playing field or on the stage, and it always will be. Skidmore has meant so much to me, my sister, and my entire family—the very least I could do is give back as a volunteer.”
He is gratified to be chosen to receive the David H. Porter Award. “It’s an incredible honor and very humbling. I just represent the many volunteers who want to help provide the opportunity for a Skidmore education to as many deserving students as possible. I look forward to staying intimately involved with the College in the years ahead.”