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Compagni honored for community service


Katherine Emerich Compagni ’68, M ’74 has touched the lives of many people, both as an educator and as a volunteer. Much of her impact has been through local, state and national organizations that help support women, girls and families.

On Oct. 11, Compagni was honored with SUNY Cortland’s 2019 College Community Appreciation Award during an invitation-only dinner event in the College’s Corey Union Function Room.

Douglas DeRancy ’75, M ’86, director of alumni affairs emeritus and assistant to the vice president for institutional advancement emeritus, Homer, N.Y., offered remarks with SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum during the evening’s celebration. Thomas Gallagher, chair of SUNY Cortland’s College Council, gave a welcome and co-presented the award with Bitterbaum.

In June, Compagni finished a six-year term on the board of directors of YWCA USA. Its mission is to eliminate racism and empower girls and women through advocacy, programs and services provided by more than 200 local associations in the U.S. She has chaired the organization’s global relations and affiliation status review committees and also served on its finance and governance committees.

Since 2016, Compagni has served on the World Service Council, the philanthropic arm of the World YWCA and its 122 country affiliates that advocate for justice, peace, health, human rights, gender equality and a sustainable environment. She joined the council’s executive committee this year.

Compagni became a member of the YWCA of Cortland board of directors in 2001. She was president from 2006 to 2008, chaired many committees and was named YWCA 2009 Volunteer of the Year.

In 2010, she was appointed by New York Gov. David Paterson to SUNY Cortland’s 10-member College Council and served for eight years. Her duties encompassed reviewing major college property operation plans; evaluating proposed budget requests; fostering the development of advisory citizens' committees; naming buildings and grounds; and making or approving student conduct regulations. She also was a board director for the SUNY Association of Council Members and College Trustees.

Compagni served on the Cortland College Foundation board of directors from 1997 to 2001 and again from 2004 to 2010. She held the offices of vice president and secretary for this not-for-profit corporation comprised of alumni and area leaders who oversee the college’s philanthropy program and financial investment.

In the community, Compagni also has served the Cortland Memorial Foundation of the Guthrie Cortland Medical Center on its development, budget and scholarship committees.

Katherine Emerich Compagni '68, M '74

A member of Zonta Club of Cortland since 1997, she chaired the scholarship committee and was a member of the public relations and senior assistance committees for this global organization of professionals, which empowers women worldwide through service and advocacy. In 2011, the local organization honored Compagni with its Women of Achievement Award.

From 1992 to 2001, she was on the board of directors of Nu Sigma Chi, SUNY Cortland’s longest continuing surviving local sorority. Compagni has served on the Cortland Arts Council and the Cortland County child development subcommittee. She also is a member of the League of Women Voters, the Center for the Arts in Homer, N.Y., the Cortland County Historical Society and the Lime Hollow Nature Center.

An educator for 30 years, Compagni retired in 2001 as an assistant professor in the Writing Department at Ithaca College. She had also taught at SUNY Cortland, Tompkins Cortland Community College and Homer High School.

Compagni earned a doctorate in public communications from Syracuse University’s Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications as well as a Bachelor’s degree in early secondary English and a master’s degree in English from SUNY Cortland.

She and her husband, Joseph, live in Homer, N.Y. They have two grown children, Stephen Compagni and Laura Compagni-Sabella, and four grandchildren.

The College-Community Appreciation Award is sponsored by the College Council. It was created in 1985 as a means of thanking persons who have assisted SUNY Cortland in a significant manner. Compagni is the 39th citizen to receive the honor. Last year’s honoree was Johanna Ames, the president of Ames Linen Service and co-chair of SUNY Cortland’s upcoming capital campaign.

View a complete list of past winners.