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Alumni Association to Honor Five Graduates

Alumni Association to Honor Five Graduates


The SUNY Cortland Alumni Association will present its most prestigious honors to five graduates during the Alumni Reunion 2017 luncheon in Corey Union on Saturday, July 8.

The 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are: 

  • Peter Kachris ’56, who transformed his difficult boyhood through a SUNY Cortland education, subsequently became a master at turning failure into success at schools and school districts around New York state and later in Missouri.
  • Carlos N. Medina ’78, a prolific and transformational leader with a growing national and international reputation in the fields of executive leadership, higher education administration and diversity management, currently is vice chancellor and chief diversity officer for the State University of New York.
  • Ret. Lt. Colonel Flossie Bell-Lomax ’86, M ’94, C.A.S. ’96, an almost 30-year Army veteran, was honored for her administrative prowess both during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

The 2017 Distinguished Young Alumnus Award recipient is:

  • Jude Anasta ’09, an innovative digital technology entrepreneur, has founded a number of companies, including the creative social media application Madhat, Inc.

The 2017 Outstanding Alumni Volunteer Award recipient is:

  • Carl Gambitta ’63, M ’66, C.A.S. ’73, has served on the Alumni Association Board for more than 40 years and has been a tireless behind-the-scenes advocate for SUNY Cortland’s graduates.

Since 1968, 126 SUNY Cortland graduates, including this year’s honorees, have received the Distinguished Alumni Award for their career accomplishments and outstanding service to their community and alma mater. In addition, 24 alumni have been recognized with Distinguished Young Alumni awards, reserved for alumni who are younger than 35 years old and have graduated in the last 10 years. Since 1999, 15 alumni have been honored with Outstanding Alumni Volunteer awards.

Here’s a closer look at the five graduates:

Peter Kachris ’56

Kachris throughout his life has embodied the Cortland motto “Let each become what he is capable of being.” Shuffled between foster homes after losing his father at 9, the son of Greek immigrants enrolled in Cortland at 16.

Peter Kachris ’56
Peter Kachris ’56

The many leadership opportunities he experienced at his alma mater, especially as a proud Beta Phi Epsilon (1927-1995) fraternity brother, helped the history major focus on creating opportunities for children like those that had fostered his own successful career.

With a master’s degree from SUNY Albany and Doctorate in Education from Syracuse University, he rose to superintendent of the Auburn (N.Y.) Enlarged City School District. Kachris then oversaw the Orleans-Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services in Medina, N.Y., managing a budget of $65 million and 565 employees. In 2000, he took over as superintendent of the Special School District of St. Louis County, St. Louis, Missouri’s largest district.

Armed with his knowledge of the American education system, Kachris was asked to review and help with the reorganization of the school district in Okinawa, Japan, as a Fulbright scholar.

Kachris never flinches from making big changes that ultimately serve children better. Though retired, he is called upon time and again to fix failing secondary institutions and continues to aid Missouri's school system.

Carlos Medina ’78

Medina has worked to promote and advance underrepresented students, faculty and administrators as SUNY’s vice chancellor and chief diversity officer.

Carlos Medina ’78
Carlos Medina ’78

Since Medina became SUNY’s first CDO in 2014, the state university system has begun to add a diversity officer on each of its 64 campuses. Medina has assisted in that initiative and has made a system-wide push to align campuses with local school communities to help underrepresented students graduate from high school, provide access to h higher educational opportunities and assist them in having a successful college experience.

Medina served as co-chair of the 2015 SUNY Diversity Task Force, providing a framework for finding ways in which SUNY’s diversity can be increased to better reflect the student demographics of New York state. This resulted in a policy adopted by the SUNY Board of Trustees on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

A physical education major at SUNY Cortland, Media worked as a senior youth counselor for a decade after graduation. He earned a master’s degree in human services administration at Cornell University and later a doctorate in executive leadership from St. John Fisher College. Medina worked for the state education department for seven years before taking a position as the director of SUNY’s Bridge Program, a Welfare-to-Work Initiative, in 1998.

Medina was recognized with the Individual Leadership Award from the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education in 2016, the Legislative Recognition Award from the Somos el Futuro Hispanic Legislative Conference in 2015 and the Diversity Visionary Award from Insight Into Diversity Magazine in 2014.

Flossie Bell-Lomax ’86, M ’94, C.A.S. ’96

A retired Lt. colonel in the U.S. Army, Bell-Lomax served with honors in various operations in the Middle East, Horn of Africa and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Flossie Bell-Lomax ’86, M ’94, C.A.S. ’96
Flossie Bell-Lomax ’86, M ’94, C.A.S. ’96

Right after the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001, she was mobilized and served as the base adjutant at a major Army installation in Virginia. Notably, Bell-Lomax was the first black officer to handle personnel sourcing for the coalition forces, which involved more than 50 countries. She oversaw programs to expand training of large populations, interpret regulations and assist leaders working through complex issues, and prepare troops as needed to deploy.

As a teacher and later as assistant principal of middle and high schools, she was acknowledged for working relentlessly to help students prepare for success after high school.

Bell-Lomax has leveraged her military experience and three SUNY Cortland degrees into her current career as an equal opportunity generalist in the Department of Homeland Security/TSA in Washington, D.C.

She volunteers her expertise to veteran’s, civic, social and religious organizations:

“I grew up in poverty,” she said. “And there were so many neighborhood programs and public school teachers who were encouraging and successful in helping to mold me into the person I have become.”

Jude Anasta ’09

Anasta’s interest in technology blossomed when he created websites in his free time while studying international business and French at SUNY Cortland. Less than a decade after graduating, Anasta has founded four separate companies.

Jude Anasta ’09
Jude Anasta ’09

In 2010, Anasta founded L’Express Media, a search engine marketing company that aimed to help other businesses grow their presence online. One year later, Anasta started Mobileikon, which helped businesses create mobile-friendly websites and applications to better serve customers.

Along with co-founder Corey Burr, Anasta began working on the Madhat app in 2015. Madhat allows users to add doodles and animate a photo or video in the camera library on their phone. The resulting short video may then be shared via any popular social media channel. Madhat’s slogan — “Everyone’s a Creative” — inspires its users to add a flourish to their own photos and videos.

Anasta has most recently served as CEO of Cash-Only, a mobile application that supports the needs of cash-only businesses to accept digital payments.

During his time on campus, Anasta served as the treasurer for the Caribbean Student Association, participated in the Economics Club and Habitat for Humanity and played intramural soccer.

Carl Gambitta ’63, M ’66, C.A.S. ’73

Carl Gambitta is dedicated to the College’s alumni, having served on the SUNY Cortland Alumni Association board of directors since 1996.

Carl Gambitta ’63, M ’66, C.A.S. ’73
Carl Gambitta ’63, M ’66, C.A.S. ’73

As the association’s president, he spearheaded early efforts to acquire an alumni house and later, as member and chair of the Alumni House Committee, his work advanced the ultimate purchase of the Lynne Parks ’68 SUNY Cortland Alumni House.

He works tirelessly behind the scenes organizing and promoting the annual Reunion, which draws hundreds of former students back to campus year after year.

Retired from teaching at Groton Central Schools in 2013 after 50 years, he supports his alma mater by attending many social and cultural events and is “always rolling up his sleeves” to get things done. He has often participated in the yearly interview etiquette dinners, formerly called Goofs and Goblets. Before class registration went online, he provided students with coffee and doughnuts as they waited in line during the drop-add period.

In 2013, in the aftermath of the destructive celebration that broke out in Cortland after Cortaca Jug, Gambitta joined a special panel of College and community leaders charged with investigating the incident and developing a plan to prevent its reoccurrence. The resulting recommendations have kept Cortaca safe and positive for three years.

Gambitta inspired the decision to use SUNY Cortland’s dragon logo on the water towers and bus stops around campus.