Alumni Excellence Honored at Annual Awards Gala
ALBANY, N.Y. (May 5, 2022)—Thirteen alumni were honored for their achievements and service at the annual Alumni Excellence Awards Gala, held April 30 at Wolferts Roost Country Club. This was the first time since 2019 that gala was in person. Last year the University Alumni honored 2020 and 2021 recipients in a virtual program.
This year’s winners are:
Bonnie Jenkins, MPA ’88, Stoneman Distinguished Alumni Award
Ambassador Jenkins is the undersecretary for arms control and international security at the U.S. Department of State, and the first African American to serve as an undersecretary of state.
Previously, she served as the DOS coordinator for threat reduction programs in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, where she focused on coordinating U.S. efforts and programs in chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological security.
She has served as the U.S. representative to the G7 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction and chaired the Global Partnership in 2012. She also played a key role in the Global Health Security Agenda in 2014.
Jenkins is the founder and president of Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security and Conflict Transformation.
Andrew Berglund, Collins Citizen of the University
Berglund has been a transforming force at UAlbany since joining the University as director of the RNA institute in 2018. His research focuses on neuromuscular diseases including myotonic dystrophy, a form of muscular dystrophy.
Under Berglund’s leadership and advocacy, the RNA Institute has achieved tremendous success, earning local and international recognition.
His leadership in the RNA Institute’s pooled saliva testing program allowed the University to successfully reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to his research work, he is dedicated to training the next generation of RNA scientists while taking the RNA Institute to new heights.
Colin P. Gerner, '14, MS '15, Irvis Outstanding Young Alumni Award
In September 2017, Gerner received the news that his brother, GJ, was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. He did what he always does — looked for ways to help.
Gerner became his brother’s right arm during his two-year fight with the disease, and also made it his mission to fundraise and provide a support system for others affected by glioblastoma.
In 2018, he cofounded Stache Strong, a nonprofit devoted to raising critical funds and awareness for brain cancer research. As president, Gerner has spearheaded several initiatives that have already raised more than $1.5 million dollars and funded six clinical trials.
Jillian K. Pasco, '10, MA '12, Excellence in Alumni Service
Pasco earned her master’s degree just 10 years ago, but her contributions to the University are already substantial. She served on the UAlbany Alumni Association board for seven years. She chaired its GOLD Committee, increasing connections with young alumni through a variety of innovative programs.
Pasco has contributed extensive time to UAlbany’s Science Technology Entry Program, rallying her Bank of America colleagues in support of the STEP Summer Institute for high school students.
She is passionate about mentoring and sharing her expertise with students and has participated in numerous career panels, admissions activities and Educational Opportunity Program events.
D. Colin, MA '12, Excellence in Arts & Letters
D. Colin is a poet, performer, visual artist and educator. A multidisciplinary artist, she aims to inspire, empower and educate by cultivating space for stories, healing and community. She is a Cave Canem fellow and the author of Dreaming in Kreyol and Said the Swing to the Hoop.
Colin has taught workshops for numerous organizations including The New York State Writers Institute. She has performed poetry throughout the United States and abroad. Her one-woman show, Simone, debuted at Capital Repertory Theater in Albany in 2019 and she has been recognized for her reenactments of Sojourner Truth among other theater work.
Colin has been a long-time host of the poetry open mic, Poetic Vibe, and currently is Artist in Residence for the Arts Center of the Capital Region.
Michael F. Poppo, '86, Excellence in Business
Michael Poppo is a managing director at UBS, a multinational financial services company.
He has had a distinguished career in the Wealth Management arena, with a focus on advising ultra-high net worth individuals, qualified retirement plans, foundations, endowments and corporations, such as the Recording Academy. He has been recognized by Forbes and Barron’s as a top financial advisor in New York State and the country and is an inaugural member of UBS’s Pinnacle Council, which consists of the firm’s top advisors.
Poppo is known for his unparalleled service and dedication to his clients and for building a team with the same passion and commitment. He believes in paying it forward and supports various nonprofits in the New York City area.
Rosemarie V. Rosen, ’68, MS ’73, Excellence in Community Service
Rosen’s impact has been felt across the capital region arts community and beyond for more than 20 years. She has held leadership positions in a variety of community organizations and was a founding board member of the Center for Women in Government and Civil Society. She served as president of Capital Repertory Theatre and the former Senior Services of Albany.
Rosen is a current associate and former vice president of the board of the Albany Institute of History and Art, and is a board member and past president of the Center for Disability Services and Opera Saratoga. Through her efforts, she has helped enhance access to the arts and healthcare in the Capital Region.
Rosa A. Clemente, ’95, Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion
Clemente is an award-winning activist, political commentator and independent journalist. A leading voice of her generation, the Bronx-born Black-Puerto Rican is frequently sought out for her insight on Afro-Latinx identity, Black and Latinx liberation movements, police violence, colonialism in Puerto Rico and more.
After Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico in 2017, Clemente organized a group of young Latinx media-makers to cover the destruction and its political implications. She is the creator of Know Thy Self Productions, through which she’s organized multiple community activism tours.
In 2008, she made history when she became the first Afro-Latina to run for vice president of the United States on the Green Party ticket. Among her many projects, she was associate producer on the Oscar-winning film Judas and the Black Messiah.
Jonathan P. Doh, MA '86, Excellence in Education
Doh wears many hats at Villanova University. He is associate dean of research and global engagement, Rammrath Chair in international cusiness, co-faculty director of the center for global leadership, and professor of management and operations. His teaching and research focus on the intersection of international business, strategic management and corporate responsibility.
Doh is a prolific scholar and author and has been a visiting professor at universities in Europe and Asia. He served as a trade official with the U.S. Department of Commerce and as senior Associate at the Center for Strategic & International Studies.
William B. Hedberg, PhD '90, Excellence in Education
Hedberg, who recently retired as senior vice provost and associate vice president for academic affairs at UAlbany, joined the University in 1974 as a grants coordinator in the Office for Research. Rising through successive positions over 48 years, he has been instrumental in the University’s growth as a modern research university.
Hedberg has influenced every aspect of the academic enterprise, including personnel, budgeting, programming, support services and academic facilities. He has been integral in forging the University’s reputation in public affairs and policy, and has been a champion of the University’s signature Educational Opportunity Programs as well as its literary and visual arts.
Jamal Rasoully, ’11, Excellence in Entrepreneurship
Rasoully’s entrepreneurship story began at UAlbany. As an undergrad, he created and began selling a condiment called Spin Sauce, developed from a family recipe. A few years after graduating, he opened the Halal Shack in UAlbany’s Campus Center, a food venue that combines Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors with a classic American spin.
Five years later, Rasoully has more than a dozen restaurants on college campuses across the country, with more on the way. He continues to explore new options and has branched out with Baba’s Pizza and most recently Jamal’s Chicken.
Throughout, his mission remains the same: to unite cultures and peoples through food.
Mark Quandt, MSW ’83, Excellence in Public Service
Quandt retired in 2021 as executive director of the Northeast Regional Food, after 38 years with the organization.
When he joined, the food bank was serving 60 agencies and distributing about 400,000 pounds of food annually. Under his leadership, the organization has grown to serve nearly 1,000 agencies distributing over 55 million pounds of food that help serve the hungry and disadvantaged throughout the region.
Quandt’s vision, creativity and passion led to many innovative programs that expanded the Food Bank’s reach to underserved communities with emphasis on serving children and seniors. His tireless leadership has given hope and inspiration to thousands of people in the Capital Region community.
Alice Chiappinelli O'Neill, MS '88, Bertha Brimmer Medal
O’Neill is an exceptional educator who is committed to creating inclusive education settings that meet the needs of all children. She’s collaborated on UAlbany research and projects targeting excellence in classroom practice.
O’Neill spent 36 years as a classroom teacher, reading specialist and literacy coach, mostly in the South Colonie Central School District. She has made mindfulness a regular part of her classrooms, using creative activities to set the foundation for kindness, respect and patience.
O’Neill has shared her expertise by designing and leading professional development programs locally and presenting nationally and internationally. She also taught as an adjunct instructor at the Junior College of Albany and the College of St. Rose.