Alumni awards to honor educators, volunteers

Alumni awards to honor educators, volunteers


Three Red Dragon alumni have been recognized for their success as teachers and mentors and will receive the Distinguished Educator Award from the SUNY Cortland Alumni Association during Alumni Reunion 2024. The event will also see the recognition of a new Honorary Alum and an Outstanding Alumni Volunteer.

Distinguished Educators can come from any class year and have set themselves apart through their success in the field of education.

Honorary Alumni is a distinction bestowed on those who have not graduated from SUNY Cortland but have created an invaluable bond with the institution and contributed to the greater university community.

Those named an Outstanding Alumni Volunteer are graduates who have achieved a long record of outstanding service to the SUNY Cortland and campus community. 

This year’s award recipients are:

  • Jay Kimiecik ’80, Distinguished Educator
  • Susan Ryan ’83, Distinguished Educator
  • Brad M. Weiner ’03, M ’04, Distinguished Educator
  • Christine Perry Cecconi ’74, Outstanding Alumni Volunteer
  • Johanna Ames, Honorary Alum


Distinguished Educator Award 

John “Jay” Kimiecik ’80


The college students at Miami University often spotlight John “Jay” Kimiecik, an associate professor of kinesiology, for his teaching prowess. 

Kimiecik, who since 1990 has taught in the Kinesiology, Nutrition and Health Department at this Oxford, Ohio-based “public ivy,” was honored in 2014-15 with the university’s College of Education, Health and Society Richard T. Delp Outstanding Faculty Award. 

His scholarship has positioned him as one of the nation’s foremost experts in the areas of well-being and performance theory and practice, as exemplified by his 2023 co-authored book, Exploring the Concept of Feel for Wellbeing and Performance. 

Kimiecik’s wellness message also travels beyond the walls of academia as his students engage in community hands-on teaching and learning, and he develops public lectures, television programming and personal fitness manuals used in hundreds of YMCAs. 

“I feel that my work as a researcher/scholar, teacher, presenter, writer, radio/TV show host, and director reflects Cortland’s mission and vision to create engaged citizens with a strong social conscience who have the knowledge, integrity, skills and compassion to excel,” he wrote in response to his nomination. 

After he earned a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education at Cortland, Kimiecik received an M.S. in kinesiology concentrating in sport and exercise psychology from Purdue University and a Ph.D. from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he studied children’s perceptions of success and failure in competitive sports. 

At Miami University, he won a $125,000 WellPoint Foundation grant to support a partnership from 2006 to 2009 between his capstone students and a local high school in Oxford Ohio. His class and Talawanda High School teachers collaborated first to introduce his students to an organic, flexible body of knowledge and concepts of well-being that they help construct in their own classroom; and then they, through personal and social action, translate their learning into the high school classrooms. Called the “Well-Being Way,” Kimiecik’s program inspired the “Eye on Partnership” series of more than 20 segments that broadcasted continuously on public access television to strong reviews.

Susan Ryan ’83


Susan Ryan, who helped her Red Dragons’ women’s soccer team capture the United States Women’s National Championship in 1980, hasn’t reclined on her laurels since then. 

Ryan, who was named to the Long Island Soccer Player Hall of Fame in 2014, currently shares her knowledge and skills both inside and outside of the college classroom.  

An assistant professor in the School of Professional Development at Stony Brook University who earned a master’s degree there, she teaches graduate classes in coaching, leadership and higher education administration and assists the coaching program director. 

In her career as a head coach, Ryan led the university women’s soccer program from a Division III program to a perennial contender in Division I in the America East Conference. 

“I have dedicated my professional career as an educator and coach to educating people and improving their lives as human beings,” Ryan wrote. “My purpose is to positively impact the lives of all around me and utilize soccer to bring joy and fulfillment.” 

That includes her volunteer service to countless youth, including future Olympic hopefuls with the Stony Brook Lake Grove-Newfield (LGN) Soccer Club. 

“Sue brings so much knowledge and experience to the club,” wrote nominator Deborah Skartsiaris, administrator of Stony Brook LGN, an organization with a long history of preparing its teams to compete at the highest levels of U.S. youth soccer and enabling 90% of its youth to attain berths on collegiate teams. 

Skartsiaris noted that Ryan has coached both girls’ and boys’ teams there since 2016, most recently as lead coach with the 2006 Girls Courage team, which competes nationally in the Elite Development Program.  

“She is always available to help our younger trainers. Her work ethic and dedication is second to none.” 

Ryan, who holds the U.S. Soccer Federation’s “A,” Grassroots Instructor and Talent Scout licenses, earned the United Soccer Coaches’ Women’s Committee Award of Excellence and the NCAA Coaches Academy Program’s Judith M. Sweet Award, named after the association’s first female president. 

Brad Weiner ’03, M ’04


It’s not often that professionals in the field of adapted physical education look to a secondary school administrator for guidance, but such is the case with Brad Weiner, an educational specialist in the Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia. 

Brad currently recruits, hires, mentors and supervises adapted physical education teachers across Fairfax County, one of the 15 largest school districts in the country, with an exceptionally large cohort of adapted physical educators. He previously taught general and adapted physical education for Montgomery County and Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland.  

Weiner is among a rare group of about 150 adapted physical education teachers in the country who have attained the status of National Board Professional Certified Teacher. 

In only 20 years since graduation, Weiner’s professional education work has earned him many of the highest awards in the profession, including being named the National Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year by the Society of Health and Physical Educators — SHAPE America.  

Assigned to mentor nine educators in three years, Weiner’s influence produced award-winning classroom teachers including one who became a National Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year. 

“He has a reputation of overseeing some of the most effective adapted physical education service delivery systems for students with disabilities in the United States,” said nominator Garth Tymeson ’75, Ph.D., a professor emeritus at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a past-president for the National Consortium on Physical Education for Individuals with Disabilities. “He shares best practices and resources by coordinating a yearly virtual conference that his adapted physical education program offers free nationally.”  

“I am passionate about health and physical education, specifically individuals with disabilities,” Weiner said. “I don’t seek out leadership positions but find myself in leadership positions as a result of my dedication and passion.” 

Weiner earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a master’s degree in adapted physical education from SUNY Cortland. In 2014, he received a Certificate Credential in Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland.


Outstanding Alumni Volunteer Award 

Chris Perry Cecconi ’74


Volunteering for Transformations, SUNY Cortland’s celebration of student scholarship and creative activity, is only part of the story for Chris Perry Cecconi, a founding member of the SUNY Cortland Alumni Association’s Cortland chapter, a group central to campus and local community alumni activities.  

“She has always stepped up to the plate to be there to help me set up and tear down our event,” wrote nominator Meghan VanDeuson, administrative assistant II with the School of Arts and Sciences. 

“She also helps me coordinate other volunteers from year to year, so we have a full set of hands on deck for our students the day of Transformations.” 

“While I have put many hours of volunteer work into supporting SUNY Cortland, I have also benefited by being around the energetic and dynamic students as well as the faculty and staff on campus,” Cecconi wrote in response.  

Cecconi retired in 2011 as the clinical program director/clinical associate professor in Ithaca College’s Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Department, having served 20 years there and receiving its 2008 Faculty Excellence Award for Service. 

From 2017 to 2022, Cecconi coordinated the Cortland Chapter’s communication, taking over a former Alumni Engagement staff role in facilitating chapter meetings and serving as liaison with Alumni Engagement. 

She has participated in the Alumni Speaker Series, served on the annual Reunion Committee, and helped bring off campus events such as Orientation and Open House. 

At the Lynne Parks ’68 SUNY Cortland Alumni House, she lends a hand with major events, helps with event setup and cleanup, and bends her back into spring and fall gardening.  

Cecconi and her husband, Richard Cecconi ’74, M ’89, C.A.S. ’93, the 2019 Outstanding Alumni Volunteer honoree, gladly accommodate out-of-town alumni volunteers at their Homer, N.Y., home.  

She has built town-gown bridges, first as a past three-term board member of Zonta Club of Cortland and presently on the Communications and Development Committee of the Cortland YWCA. 


Honorary Alum Award 

Johanna Ames


A dedicated member of the local community, Johanna Ames is a vital entrepreneur and leader in Cortland and a driving force behind SUNY Cortland’s historic fundraising efforts. 

Ames was president and CEO of Ames Linen Service, a family-owned textile rental company, from 2007 to 2023. She now is an operations executive for ImageFirst Healthcare Linen Services, which bought her family’s business. She is also a director of NBT Bancorp, while serving on the boards of directors for Guthrie Healthcare System, Inc., and the Cortland County Business Development/Industrial Development Agency. 

She is the immediate past chair of the Cortland College Foundation board of directors, the nonprofit organization that manages the school’s endowment and directs all its fundraising efforts. Ames co-chaired the university’s successful five-year “All In” capital campaign, which raised a record-breaking $30.5 million over five years, surpassing expectations.  

In 1993, SUNY Cortland’s College Council honored her father, Donald “Bud” Ames, and her grandfather, Donald F. Ames, for their Cortland College Foundation board service with the College-Community Appreciation Award. In 2018, she accepted the same award. 

At the same time Ames was accepting one of SUNY Cortland’s highest honors, she took the opportunity to announce a new scholarship, The Donald S. Ames and Diane Ames Scholarship, established by Ames and her sister, Tanya Ames, in honor of their parents. 

In addition to her other accomplishments, Ames became the inaugural chair of the Textile Rental Services Association’s Women in Textile Services Committee, a group working to recruit and retain women in the laundry services industry. She chairs the Colgate University Alumni Council’s Nominations Committee and has previously served on the board of directors for the Family Health Network, a nonprofit health clinic for under-served populations in Cortland and surrounding communities.


More information and registration details for Reunion 2024 are available at

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