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Meet the Honorees

john witterschein   eileen magri   bill steedle   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 ’23

 


 

john witterschein

Bethpage Federal Credit Union

The Ram's Horn Award for Corporate Leadership

Accepting for BFCU, John Witterschein - Vice President, Consumer Credit

An experienced Consumer Lending leader,  John manages the Home Equity and Consumer Loan portfolio for Bethpage Federal Credit Union.  Bethpage is the 15th largest credit union in the country, and in 2021 was the 10th largest Home Equity lender in the country, exceeding many regional and commercial banks. Under John’s leadership, Bethpage has also significantly grown its auto loan and private student loan portfolio.

While John is proud of Bethpage’s lending accomplishments, he is most proud to be part of an organization that is constantly giving back to the community.  Bethpage invests heavily in local, high-impact community programs that serve with an eye towards creating better communities through diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Bethpage employees volunteer 8,000 hours annually, participating in many community events, such as The Bethpage Turkey Drive (John’s favorite), which feeds 316,000 food-insecure Long Islanders each Thanksgiving, and through our free VITA program, which returns an average of $1.5M to Long Islanders annually.

Bethpage’s commitment to its community and its employees is the reason Best Companies has recognized Bethpage as one of the “Top Ten Best Companies to Work for in New York.”

John serves as Vice President on the Board for the Farmingdale College Foundation. He is an avid runner who enjoys the Long Island Summer Series races in the Long Island State Parks, the Cow Harbor 10K, and, of course, Farmingdale College’s own 5K Ram Run.

John and his wife Andrea love spending time at various Long Island hot spots including Montauk, Northport, and Jones Beach.

Bethpage Federal Credit Union

Bethpage Federal Credit Union’s history of becoming the largest Credit Union of the Northeast begins in 2003 with a unanimously approved community charter application to serve all Long Islanders. With branches across Long Island, they serve individuals, small businesses, and large organizations alike with the same passionate commitment towards fulfilling our vision of enriching lives.

In 2016, their charter was amended to open up membership beyond the borders of Long Island to anyone, anywhere. Just like when they first opened their doors for Grumman employees in 1941, they are still keeping to their promise to always meet our changing needs with extraordinary service and value.

Since 2002, Bethpage Federal Credit Union has been an integral community partner through charitable giving and community development programs. Through these efforts, BFCU believes it will continue to improve the quality of life on Long Island and beyond.


 

eileen magri

Dr. Eileen Magri ’78, PhD, RN NEA-BC

The President's Award for Alumni Leadership

Senior Director of Nursing at NYU Langone Hospital Long Island

Dr. Eileen Magri, the Senior Director of Nursing, Women and Children’s Services at NYU Langone Health-Long Island in Mineola, New York leads operations, projects and planning for multiple inpatient units including Labor and Delivery, Neonatal Intensive Care and various other mother-baby and high-risk antepartum areas. In addition, her oversight includes an active pediatric and pediatric intensive care unit   and several outpatient facilities specializing in treatment for women and children. She was the lead for the Baby-Friendly USA initiative at NYU Langone Health-Long Island which received designation in 2014 and re-designation in 2019 and the Joint Commission Perinatal Care Certification in 2019 and 2021. She facilitates the hospital-wide Research and Evidence Base Practice Council, is a faculty mentor for the NYU Long Island School of Medicine students in Health Systems Science and is a New York Academy of Medicine Fellow. She earned her master’s and PhD in Nursing from Molloy College and her associate’s degree in nursing from Farmingdale State College in 1978.

In addition to her role as Senior Director, she has served on numerous state groups, including the New York State Children’s Hospital Solution for Patient Safety (CHSPS) Leadership Committee. She is on the Board of Directors at Our Lady of Mercy Academy, Syosset, New York and serves as the chair of the Strategic Planning Committee.

Dr. Magri is a certified Nurse Executive, Advanced by the American Nurse Credentialing Center and is Just Culture Certified through Outcomes Ingenuity.  She is also a member of the New York Organization for Nursing Leadership, the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, National Association of Neonatal Nurses, the Eastern Nurses Research Society, Sigma Theta Tau, the International Honor Society of Nursing and American College of Healthcare Executives. 

She supports the nursing staff and encourages their participation in committees and councils because she knows it is vital for nurses to remain up to date with current practices, standards of care and safety standards. Translation of best practices provide the foundation for nurses to understand that quality nursing care results in positive patient outcomes which can transform how healthcare is delivered across the continuum. Dr. Magri is responsible for a variety of multidisciplinary projects, leading teams, using current research findings and data and she has presented her work at national conferences.  She is an innovative leader, whose resourcefulness and strategic thinking helps to guide the nursing staff to excel and succeed.


 

bill steedle

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!


 

daniela figueroa

Daniela Figueroa '23

The President's Award for Student Leadership

Ram Scholar Class of 2023

Daniela Figueroa is a third-year RAM and Sillcox Scholar at Farmingdale State College (FSC), majoring in Applied Psychology with a minor in English. As a focused scholar, Daniela has consistently made the academic Dean’s List or President’s List every semester. Most recently, Daniela was named the Farmingdale Newman Civic Fellow for 2022 for her commitment to civic and social justice and was invited to join the WomenX Fellowship.  Their mission is to educate and empower the next generation of women leaders on campus by curating educational programs from a women’s lens focusing on Title Ⅸ.

Her commitment to social justice began in her sophomore year of high school where she worked closely with organizations such as Planned Parenthood to expand her knowledge and passion for helping others. Concentrating on educating her community about sexual health, she went door to door to community leaders and NYS senators to create policies that ended the cycle of disinformation regarding reproductive health to students of color in her hometown of Hempstead.

More recently, as a member of the FSC Research Aligned Mentorship (RAM) program, Daniela has taken initiatives to mentor and instill a sense of belonging and community to incoming first-year students through the RAM-Torship Program. As a community leader, she has also been an active participant in RAMdom Acts of Service through their Adopt-A-Highway initiative. Most excitingly, Daniela has just returned from a summer away where she spent her time at Brown University in partnership with the Summer Research Alliance Program. While there she researched how Non-Profit funds are a contributing factor to educational inequities in New York. She found that the wealthiest 20% of K-12 public schools raise more than six times per student over the lowest 20%.  Which leads to a hidden source of inequality that hinders the potential for lower income students to experience a fair education.

As an Applied Psychology major, Daniela is dedicated to utilizing her academic and personal experiences to pursue a career in educational leadership and advocacy. Her personal experiences of growing up in Hempstead, an ethnically diverse town, has inspired her to become an educational researcher, who understands and acknowledges the hardships students of color face. Daniela seeks to provide students with the guidance and support they deserve. During her free time, Daniela enjoys scrolling through TikTok, taking night time beach walks, playing with her cats and spending time with her friends and family.

 

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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