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Gala Graphic for Newsletter

Meet the Honorees

john witterschein   eileen magri   Bill Steedle 2   rena varghese   daniela figueroa

An Evening to Honor

The Ram’s Horn Award for Corporate Leadership 
Bethpage Federal Credit Union, John Witterschein

The President’s Award for Alumni Leadership
Dr. Eileen Magri ’78, PhD, RN NEA-BC

The President’s Award for Academic Leadership
Professor Bill Steedle 81

The President’s Award for Professional Leadership
Rena Varghese, Esq.

The President’s Award for Student Leadership
Daniela Figueroa ’24



Kara Cannon

Enzo Biochem, Inc

The Ram's Horn Award for Corporate Leadership

Accepting for Enzo Biochem, Inc., Kara Cannon - Chief Operating Officer

Kara Cannon is a P&L leader with deep marketing, sales, and operations skills. She has over 30 years of experience in the life sciences industry at Enzo Biochem, Inc., Pall Corporation, and Dynal Biotech. Ms. Cannon’s technical expertise combined with her ability to connect international teams has delivered powerful results throughout her career.

Currently, Ms. Cannon is the Chief Operating Officer of Enzo Biochem (NYSE: ENZ), a publicly traded life sciences company with global operations (2022 to present). Previously, she was the Chief Commercial Officer of Enzo Biochem (2017-2022) and joined Enzo Biochem in 2010 as the Head of Global Commercial Operations for the Life Sciences Division (2010-2017).

After earning a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Franklin and Marshall College, Ms. Cannon started her career at Dynal Biotech (1990-2000), joining this start-up business as it launched operations in the US. This foundational experience exposed her to myriad corporate disciplines, including marketing, sales, operations, product development, and technical support.

She held progressive commercial roles at Pall Corporation (2000-2010), where she led global marketing, as well as the diagnostics and biotechnology segments.

Ms. Cannon is passionate about fostering talent for the future and serves of the Board of Directors for Farmingdale State College and acts as an advisor to the School of Health Professionals at New York Institute of Technology.

Enzo Biochem, Inc

Global Life Science Company Servicing the Community for over 45 Years

Enzo Biochem has been a leader in innovation and product development to support a diverse range of needs in biomedical research and healthcare for over 45 years. With a comprehensive portfolio of 20,000 high-quality products including antibodies, genomic probes, assays, biochemicals, and proteins, Enzo supports the work of academic research centers and industry partners who are shaping the future of healthcare around the world. The company’s proprietary products and technologies play central roles in all areas of translational research and drug development, including genomic analysis, protein analysis, cellular analysis, tissue analysis, and small molecule chemistry. Enzo has a broad and deep intellectual property portfolio, with patent coverage across a number of key enabling technologies. During the pandemic, executed under Enzo’s School and Institution Testing (“SIT”) Program, Enzo provided the necessary level of safety for students, staff, and faculty to return to campus, with Farmingdale State College being the first academic institution to leverage Enzo’s expertise.



Joseph Rothenberg ’64

The President's Award for Alumni Leadership

Fr. NASA Associate Administrator for Space Flight & Goddard Space Flight Center Director

Joe is semi-retired, and serves on the Board of Directors for several corporations and as a member of National Academy of Science – National Research Council Committees.  

Graduating from Farmingdale in 1964, Joe was hired by Grumman as a result of Senior day career fair. During his tenure at Grumman, he held engineering and program management positions on a number of NASA programs. Joe subsequently joined NASA in 1983 where he served in Human and Scientific Space Flight engineering, Institutional and Program leadership positions. Post NASA he held several executive and consultant positions in the commercial “new” space industry. Joe also served on the Board of several nonprofit and privately held corporations, and as a consultant to the Environmental Defense Fund overseeing the development of a Methane detection satellite system.

Joe retired from Google in 2016 where he served as an Engineering Director for the successful development and deployment of the first MicroSat based high-resolution Earth remote sensing satellite constellation. From 2002 - 2011 initially held the position of President and a member of the Board of Directors of Universal Space Network and later Senior Vice President for international development for the Swedish Space Corporation.

Joe retired from NASA in 2021 as the Associate Administrator for Space Flight. Prior to serving as Associate Administrator for Space Flight,  he was Director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. During his tenure as the Associate Administrator, he was responsible for 17 Space Shuttle Missions, and the development and deployment of the International Space Station. As director of the Goddard Joe was responsible for NASA Space and Earth Science Mission development, operations, and science programs.  Joe joined the Goddard Space Flight Center in 1983 to lead the development of Mission Operations for Hubble Space Telescope. After discovery of the flawed optics was selected to lead development and execution of the highly successful first HST on-orbit servicing mission which corrected the telescope’s optics. 

Joe earned an MS degree in Engineering Management and a BS degree in Engineering Science, from CW Post College of the Long Island University, an AAS degree from the State University of New York Agricultural and Technical Institute at Farmingdale and was awarded Honorary Doctorates from Stevens Institute of Technology and CW Post College. He received numerous NASA awards including Distinguished Service and Outstanding Leadership Medals, and Senior Executive Service Presidential Rank Distinguished and Meritorious Executive Awards. Received the National Aviation Association’s Collier Trophy, the AIAA Goddard Astronautics Award, the National Space Club’s Nelson P. Jackson Award, was inducted into the Smithsonian’s Aviation Week and Space Technology Hall of Fame and is a lifetime “Associate Member” of the National Academy of Science – National Research Council.

Joe resides in Darnestown, Maryland with his wife Fran. Joe and Fran were married between semesters in his Senior year at Farmingdale and have 3 children and 6 adult grandchildren.


Bill Steedle 2

Professor Bill Steedle '81

The President's Award for Academic Leadership

Assistant Dean, School of Business / Associate Professor of Visual Communications

Professor Bill Steedle is an educator, administrator, photographer, graphic designer, and calligrapher. Bill is a proud Farmingdale alumnus from the class of 1981 with a treasured collection of Farmingdale College memorabilia and historical artifacts.

Bill has been an enthusiastic member of the Farmingdale family for over forty-one years – more than half of that time has been in academic leadership positions. Farmingdale is as much a part of Bill’s own family as he is an integral part of the Farmingdale family. He started as an Instructional Support Technician, then Adjunct Faculty, and eventually as a Full-Time Faculty member. Throughout his long career at Farmingdale, Bill continuously volunteers to support and assist other departments across the campus.

In the early 1980s, Bill began integrating computer graphics into the Advertising Art & Design Department. This new initiative was one of the first in the entire SUNY system. When the College was transitioning from a two-year institution to a four-year college, Bill took on a leadership role in creating the original Visual Communications curriculum. Recently, as the department recreated and updated the curriculum to meet the requirements for national accreditation, Bill also contributed significantly to that effort.

Through the Office of International Education & Programs, and Florence University of the Arts, Bill taught a study abroad photography class in Florence, Italy.

Bill has served as Chair of Visual Communications, University Faculty Senator, and he his currently Assistant Dean of the School of Business, a position he has held for the past seven years.  He is also acting chair of the Computer Systems department.

Bill has been recognized with numerous awards, including Instructor of the Year, the FSC Alumni Association’s Excellence in Service, Outstanding Service to the College, and the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service.

Outside of Farmingdale, Bill has been active in numerous charitable organizations including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and served as a volunteer assisting oncology patients at Huntington Hospital. He is an avid lifelong sailor and is an active volunteer sailing crew member at the Long Island Maritime Museum serving as a First Mate on the Priscilla – the museum’s national landmark 1888 oyster sloop.


rena varghese

Rena Varghese, Esq.

The President's Award for Professional Leadership

Executive Director of Nexus Center for Applied Learning & Career Development

Rena Varghese is the Executive Director of the Nexus Center for Applied Learning & Career Development at Farmingdale State College. Celebrating its 5-year anniversary, the Nexus Center, under the purview of Provost Laura Joseph, was launched to advance President John Nader’s strategic plan for the college to prepare students as highly qualified professionals who are also engaged citizens contributing to the public good. Providing a unified front for employers and other community partners to connect with students and alumni for employment opportunities and applied learning experiences, the Nexus Center has been awarded grants and recognized by SUNY system for innovating student opportunities in partnership with faculty and industry leaders. Rena is particularly enthusiastic about marketing to employers that 100% of our baccalaureate students will have gained practical experience by the time they graduate. During the pandemic, the Nexus Center, working with the Farmingdale College Foundation and the SUNY Research Foundation, distributed more than $145,000 in grant funding and scholarship awards to support over 100 students in community engaged applied learning activities. 

Rena leads a team of dedicated and experienced professionals, including Director of Career Development, Dolores Ciaccio, who has completed over 25 years of service to FSC, Cheryl Stratigos, Inesa Mott, Robin Schulman, and Dr. Yetunde Odugbesan, Director of FSC’s new Office of Community and Civic Engagement.

Rena received her Juris Doctor from Cornell Law School and is an attorney admitted in New York, practicing in a large NYC law firm before joining academia over 15 years ago. She is a first-generation college graduate thanks to the support of her immigrant parents – her father, Chunkathil Varghese, is retired from the U.S. Postal Service and was a math teacher in India, and her mother, Mary, is a retired Registered Nurse.

Rena also teaches for the FSC Center for Criminal Justice and has instructed law school courses at St. John’s University School of Law, including Legal Writing and Externship Seminars corresponding to experiential learning placements. In addition, Rena is an Experiential Education Academy (EEA) Instructor for the National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE) and has led EEA national and regional seminars on Legal Issues in Experiential Education, including at SUNY Applied Learning conferences.

Rena will be playing a World Poker Tour event in Las Vegas in December 2022, and if she wins, will be donating a percentage of her prize to the Farmingdale College Foundation – so wish her luck!


kenia sanchez

Kenia Sanchez '25

The President's Award for Student Leadership

Ram Scholar Class of 2025

In 2020 Kenia took a trip with a friend to the Dominican Republic where she was able to make goodie bags filled with hygiene products, toys, and food for an orphanage. Due to this experience, in 2022, she then proceeded to start her own foundation called “Changing the Altars of the Heart” where with the help of family and friends, she collected funds for families in El Salvador. These families received new beds as well as a monetary offering. 

With hard work and dedication Kenia was chosen as one of two students on the whole campus to participate in SUNY’s SAIL Leadership Academy and received a certification of completion. She was also chosen to be the student intern for Long Island Library Resources Council where she was able to shadow various librarian roles throughout Long Island.

This summer Kenia participated in Brown University’s Summer Research Early Identification Program where she performed experiments for 9 weeks on the effects of fluoxetine on Drosophila melanogaster brains and presented a poster at the Leadership Alliance Symposium in Connecticut. During this, Kenia was given the Newman Civic Fellowship award for the campus.

While Kenia is proud of all her accomplishments, she gives all Glory and Honor to God for being the one to provide her with the strength to give her all  with every task and accomplishment given. She aims to always keep giving back to the community and to grow her foundation into something that inspires others to do the same.

Development & Alumni Engagement

The Office for Development and Alumni Engagement works closely with the Farmingdale College Foundation – raising and managing critical philanthropic dollars for the College, cultivating meaningful relationships with donors, corporate partners and community friends – and the Farmingdale Alumni Association, keeping our 100,000 alumni informed, engaged, proud, and supportive of the College, strengthening their lifelong connection to FSC students and each other.

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