Fall 2021 Guidance/COVID-19 Information

Leadership in Civic Engagement Awards and Scholarships

17th Annual Leadership in Civic Engagement Awards

Since April 2005, SUNY Cortland has presented its annual Leadership in Civic Engagement Awards and Scholarships to students, staff and faculty, and community members. These awards recognize the important contributions of individuals and groups both on and off campus to the quality of life at SUNY Cortland and to our shared Cortland community.

Customarily we hold a Leadership in Civic Engagement Awards Reception at the end of April. Award recipients are formally recognized by SUNY Cortland President Erik Bitterbaum and Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin at a celebration hosted by John Suarez, Director of the Institute for Civic Engagement. However, last year the pandemic challenged us to find a new way to celebrate the outstanding work of our awardees and thus our Virtual Awards Recognition was born. Since Covid-19 restrictions and the requirements of social distancing are still in effect, we are again, substituting the annual reception with a virtual awards celebration.

"This change in venue does not diminish the contributions made by these notable awardees. We hope you will join us in celebrating each and every awardee for their contribution to our community."

Congratulations to all our Leadership in Civic Engagement Award Winners

Thank you to all of you who join us in celebrating their service

Ballons and Streamer


Welcome to our celebration. Please take a minute to view our Virtual Leadership Awards Recognition speakers:

John Suarez, Director, Institute for Civic Engagement

Erik Bitterbaum, President of SUNY Cortland

Brian Tobin, Mayor of Cortland

Greg Sharer, Vice President of Student Affairs


2020 Leadership in Civic Engagement Awards

Community Members

  • Susan Dovi, Community Member
  • Evan Geibel, Publisher Cortland Standard Newspaper
  • Melissa Kiser, Leader, Cortland Black Lives Matter Movement
  • Patrick Perfetti, Cortland District Attorney
  • Brian Tobin, Mayor of Cortland
  • Steve Williams, Owner HighKey Science and Black Lives Matter Advocate

 Community Groups

  • Cookies for Caregivers
  • HighKey Science
  • JTM Ruck Club
  • Operation Soup Pot Love
  • Puff and Furry Friends

SUNY Cortland Faculty and Staff (Individuals)

  • Michael Bersani, Assistant Director of Admissions Communications
  • Rebecca Bryan, Associate Professor, Physical Education
  • Carol Costell Corbin, Assistant Director for Transfer Credit and Degree Completion
  • Mark DePaull, Chief of University Police
  • Andrew Fitsz-Gibbon, Professor of Philosophy and Department Chair
  • Jane Fitz-Gibbon, CEPS Visiting Scholar and Project Coordinator
  • Regina Grantham, Associate Professor Communication Disorders and Sciences
  • Eve Mascoli, Assistant Director of Rec Sports for Facilities and Aquatics
  • Emily Quinlan, Student Affairs Case Manager
  • Kyle Reinhardt, Residence Hall Director

SUNY Cortland Groups

  • Covid Testing Team
  • Covid Quarantine Logistics and Support Team


  • Hailie Addison
  • Ardesian Binjakaj
  • Andi Bruce
  • Jessica Falco
  • Madison Garcia
  • Connor Hill
  • Jenna Kratz
  • Jessica Liberty
  • Giovanna Rossi
  • Olivia Thresher
  • Shaneya Simmelkjaer

Cortland Area Chapter of the Alumni Association’s Community Service Award

  • Shaneya Simmelkjaer, SUNY Cortland Student

 Leadership In Civic Engagement Award Winners

Community Members

Susan Dovi

  • Made over 1000 masks and distributed them throughout the community and to healthcare facilities
  • Washed fabric, laid out and cut pattern, sewed mask, attached elastic, ironed final product and managed Covid-safe distribution and delivery
  • Developed a smaller pattern to make masks for children as well
  • Distributed the masks to area agencies in need as well as to individuals
“I felt compelled to help others be safe. These masks were sewn and distributed to anyone in need at no cost. Most in turn donated fabric, supplies or funds to continue the cause. To date, I have sewn and supplied over 1,000 masks. Now that they are readily available, I mostly sew for a few friends and family who want repairs or replacements.”

      Susan Dovi    Susan Dovi Sewing    Sue Dovi - Emily &Micah

       Left to Right: Sue Dovi, her sewing table, her daughter Emily and granddaughter Micah modeling masks.

                    Sue Dovi Masks

                         A selection of Sue Dovi's home-crafted masks

Evan Geibel

  • Served as President of Cortland Rotary Club and continues as an active member often volunteering for projects and events
  • Served on several local non-profit agency boards including president of Access to Independence and Cortland Downtown Partnership
  • As publisher of the Cortland Standard, encourages, supports and contributes to local community service projects and efforts
               Evan Geibel   
"I am honored to receive this award, and humbled to be in such good company. My parents showed me the importance of working to make our community a better place, and I hope I can teach my daughter the same."

Melissa Kiser

  • Leader with Cortland Black Lives Matter movement
  • Organized and managed Black Lives Matter peaceful protests and events and served as a speaker at many community and campus events
  • Established and helps maintain BLM communications and social media
  • Actively promoting and supporting Black Lives Matter in the Cortland Community

           Melissa Kiser  BLMCortland

Patrick Perfetti

  • As Cortland DA has prioritized a multi-faceted approach to combat drugs like heroin and methamphetamine
  • Formalized the beginning of a new program for drug addicts — the Police and Angel Assisted Recovery Initiative; drug users can surrender themselves, their drugs and paraphernalia to city police and ask for treatment
  • Focuses on three key factors; Education & Prevention, Diversion & Treatment, and finally Enforcement & Prosecution
  • An avid supporter of the Child Advocacy Center of Cortland County

       Pat Perfetti

Brian Tobin

  • As Mayor of Cortland has regularly held forums geared toward improving our community and to promote social justice
  • Most recently initiated "Cortland Forward" chairing Monday evening Zoom meetings aimed at addressing racism
  • Helps other organizations and pitches in on projects and events; from Cortland Spring Clean Up, to Pumpkinsfest, to Rotary Breakfasts
  • Works with the college and the Institute to offer meaningful opportunities for students to participate and learn while improving our community as interns with the Mayor’s office or working on community projects

        Brian Tobin n family

         Brian, wife Kelly and daughter Brianna Lynn

Steve Williams

  • Educates kids about STEM; attends agency and community events to inspire youth with the miracles of math and science
  • In addition to expanding kids' minds through STEM activities, Steve also teaches them about respect for themselves and each other and encourages them to give back to our community
  • Serves as an active member of the local Black Lives Matter movement; investing time and heart into local issues regarding racism and injustice
  • Has spoken at events such as the peaceful George Floyd march and protest in Homer in June of 2020


  Steve Williams.Certiciate photo     Steve-teaching

       Steve with his Award Certificate                                  Steve inspiring eager minds

                            Steve Williams Booth  Steve pops up on Main Street

  Steve - BLM speaker   Steve Williams speakingBLM  Stebe W BLM Speaker Steve speaking at BLM event

Community Groups

Cookies for Caregivers

 LOGO -Cookies for Caregivers  Cookies for Caregivers 

  • More than 60 volunteers bake and distribute cookies to thank area caregivers during this challenging time of the pandemic.
  • Volunteers bake and specially package the cookies so that they are "covid-safe", and manage covid-safe" deliveries
  • Delivered thousands of cookies to more than 90 local agencies

   Cookies  Heart Cookies  Cookies galore

Cookies, Cookies, and more Cookies!

          COokie Delivery    Cookies SPCA 

       Delivering cookies to Cedarwood Senior Living, the SPCA, the Homer Fire Department and Crown Park

     Cookies Homer Fire Department  Cookies for CCrown Park

Congratulations to all the Volunteers of Cookies for Caregivers. You all share in this award and the entire community thanks you for your thoughtfulness and dedication to those in our community who have worked with such commitment and selfless devotion throughout the many challenges of the pandemic.


Here is a list of the many agencies who have been blessed with a visit from Cookies for Caregivers so far - and deliveries continue to be made (along with the cookies!)



HighKey Science

High Key Science Certificate   


High Key Science Event

In addition to expanding the minds of local youth with inspirational and fun activities,

High Key Science also teaches them about self respect, empathy and caring, and giving back to the community

  • HighKey Science attends local agency events and assists with community projects offering inspiring and fun STEM activities and lessons
  • HighKey Science pops up around town - at fairs, events, and Main Street to demonstrate the power and appeal of STEM to inspire kids and parents alike

JTM Ruck Club   JTM RUck Logo

  Toys for Tots Ruck   Ruck Club Canned Food Drive

  • As they hike and take on challenges carrying weighted backpacks the JTM Ruck group regularly performs community service 
    • Collecting and delivery Toys for TOTS
    • Conducting a drive for canned goods
    • Raising funds for 9/11 responders
    • Supporting the SPCA
    • Cleaning up trash throughout the community
    • Creating an Easter event for kids during Covid, including the Easter bunny and egg hunt

Dustin Sherman JTM RUck certificate       Ruck Toys for Tots 

  Dustin Sherman, avid Rucker with JTM Ruck Club                          Collecting Toys for TOTS

Ruck Club Cortland Cleanup    Ruck Club 911 Heroes MudRun

      Cleaning up trash throughout Cortland                                           Mud Ruck to raise money for 9/11 heroes

      SPCA Fundraising Ruck

                                                   Ruck to support the Cortland SPCA

Operation Soup Pot Love

Operation Soup Pot Love Logo


  • Operation Soup Pot Love provides a quality soup pot, weekly ingredients to make selected soups, and instructions on how to make them, to food insecure people in the Central New York area
  • A team of volunteers continue to distribute ingredients for new soups every couple of weeks along with recipes and cooking tips
  • More than 50 area families have received soup pots and are participating weekly in making and sharing delicious soup
“The objective of this project is to create a community around reclaiming the lost art of feeding the people we care about yummy food with the simplest ingredients. A lot happens in a soup pot and we are here to celebrate that and make it happen.”

      Soup Ingredients    Pot of Soup Veggies   Soup in containers

                                                                      Soup, Soup, and UMMM More Soup!!

        Soup on Stove    Soup for Cabinents    Matzah Ball Soup 

    Soup with Dumplings    Bowl ofSoup     Yummy bean soup

 Another terrific project born out of Operation Soup Pot Love, was volunteers making aprons
 for all the emerging cooks. The group even created smaller versions so the kids could join in!



Puff and Furry Friends  PuffFurryFriendsLogo

  • Puff and Furry Friends recognizes the innate need for good relationships with our animals and that we should never have to choose between caring for ourselves and our pets
  • The group rallies to acquire donations of dog and cat food and other needed items, and conducts scheduled and promoted pop-up distribution within the community
  • Puff and Furry Friends recognizes that people struggling to make ends meet during Covid, like everyone, need their pets more than ever
"The group joins together collectively to challenge the notion that we need to participate in oppression to feed ourselves and our furry friends."

          Puff n Cabinet        Zepplin kitty n Dawn

        Puff monitors a local food distribution cabinet while Zeppelin shadows Dawn Barrie, whose passion fuels the program!


SUNY Cortland Faculty/Staff

Michael Bersani, Assistant Director of Admissions Communications

  • No matter the day or the time, Mike was willing to jump into action and assist students in need during their quarantine, whether they needed a package delivered, school supplies dropped off or to be picked up for their scheduled departure
  • An active parishioner at St. Margaret’s Church in Homer, and a board member for the O’Heron Newman Catholic Center
  • An advocate for SUNY Cortland’s Live in Cortland Committee

                                         mike Bersani1

 Rebecca Bryan, Associate Professor, Physical Education

  • A tireless advocate for labor and worker rights and issues impacting the Cortland community
  • A trustee for the Mid-State Central Labor Council at the state and local levels for the past four years
  • Planned, co-chaired, facilitated, and participated in multiple educational meetings, candidate forums, and census and redistricting meetings to benefit the Cortland County community
  • Has been an advocate for Public Higher Education for students and faculty of SUNY for the past three years
  • Has participated in Higher Education Action Week (HEAW) with NYPIRG to meet with representatives to support funding for Higher Education needs

                           Dr. Rebecca Bryan

Carol Costell Corbin, Assistant Director for Transfer Credit and Degree Completion

  • Since joining the Cortland Cupboard board a year ago has assisted with operations and marketing
  • Assists with a community Hunger Coalition and thee Homer food pantry
  • Brings new ideas to the table to get the word out about the Cupboard and looks for ways to collaborate with other organizations to help students and community members in need

                     C Costell Corbin

“Food is a basic human need.  Students and individuals in our community cannot reach their full potential if they are struggling with food insecurity. In a society with such abundance, nobody should be hungry. It’s great to work with the Hunger Coalition and others in Cortland County who feel the same.”  

Mark DePaull, Chief of University Police

  • Took on the challenge of developing and managing the Covid testing and Quarantine support in the fall of 2020
  • Coordinated everything from testing to transportation, to deliveries
  • Recruited and managed volunteers to ensure there was an established network to responded to ever-changing challenges
  • Laid the groundwork for the efficient system in place for the spring semester

        Mark DePaull

Andrew Fitsz-Gibbon, Professor of Philosophy and Department Chair & Jane Fitz-Gibbon, CEPS Visiting Scholar/Project Coordinator

  • Together developed "The Welcoming Strangers Project", an initiative of the Center for Ethics, Peace and Social Justice (CEPS) at SUNY Cortland
    • trains foster parents and caseworkers in the principles and practice of intentional nonviolence
    • developed the training drawing from case studies and their own experience with parenting more than 100 teens in their care over three decades
  • Worked with Cortland DSS training foster parents, adopters, care staff, and caseworkers
  • Recently expanded their reach to offer the training in the method of “loving nonviolent re-parenting” online
“Our favorite aspect of the project is trying to make the lives of children and teenagers who have been traumatized by violence a little better.”

Andrew Fitz certificate  Adrew and Jane Fitz-Gibbons  Jane Fitz G-certtificate

Regina Grantham, Associate Professor, Communication Disorders and Sciences

  • Devoted to service on campus and in our community
  • Has served on multiple search committees, as a formidable member of the faculty senate, as chair of her department and as advisor to the Women of Color group on campus
  • Also serves as a dedicated volunteer in our community, serving on boards and volunteering with organizations like Grace Church, the Mayor's office and the YWCA
  • Dedicated to social justice and is currently active with the local Black Lives Matter movement

                                         _Regina 10.2020

Eve Mascoli, Assistant Director of Rec Sports for Facilities and Aquatics

  • Assisted in all aspects of SUNY Cortland’s procedures for securing the safety and well-being of students throughout the pandemic
  • Volunteered at the Covid testing clinic, gave rides to students to and from West Campus quarantine, delivered packages, and picked up and delivered prescriptions for students in quarantine
  • Serves the entire Cortland community as a volunteer Firefighter and EMT with the Cortlandville Fire Department
“My second passion and that of being a volunteer Firefighter and EMT with the Cortlandville Fire Department. This job has allowed me to help others in their time of need. We are a fully volunteer department that shows up no matter what time of the day or night. I am currently the second female captain in the history of the department”

        2021 Firefighter Eve Mascoli   Eve Mascoli and group

            Eve on the firetruck and posing with her awesome team at the Student Life Center

SUNY Cortland Groups

SUNY Cortland Covid Testing and Quarantine/ Isolation Logistics and Support Teams 

QI Volunteers Collage

See anyone you know?

This is just a fraction of the team members that helped SUNY Cortland and its students to stay safe and supported during Covid.

It has been an extraordinary year and you all - we all - deserve credit for adapting to accommodate the many challenges presented by the pandemic, but there was a particularly dedicated group of people who worked hard behind the scenes to ensure that our students had all the support they needed. While a core group managed the system and procedures set up to manage all the requirements and restrictions of Covid, there would have been no way to coordinate and manage testing, contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine support without the hard work of countless volunteers on campus. There were so many faculty and staff devoting many hours to ensure the system ran smoothly, that it is impossible for us to recognize each one individually, however we would like to invite you to join us in acknowledging their service and making this a successful year under the most challenging of circumstances.

Emily Quinlan 2        Kyle and Crew

Photos Left to Right: Emily Quinlan; Front Row:Allison Braun, Megan Quinn, Sean Streb; Back Row: Kyle Reinhardt and Collen Stengel

While Emily Quinlan worked with Covid Testing, Contact Tracing and assisted with Quarantine Support, Kyle Reinhardt led the team at West Campus managing Quarantine and Isolation Logistics and Support.


View the Lists below and join us in honoring the hard work of all these volunteers!

‏A star  after a name indicates that the person volunteered for more than one team






Thank you to all the many volunteers who worked so hard to ensure the safety and well-being of our students!

SUNY Cortland Students

Hailie Addison

  • Created the "BridgeCortland" organization, which helps young people deliberate on current issues of interest to them
  • Organized and conducted The College’s Response to Covid, A Q&A event, “SUNY Cortland Coronavirus Restrictions"
  • Co-designed and conducted the Public Deliberation:  Solving Divisive Issues Together
  • A valued asset to the Institute of Civic Engagement having demonstrated extraordinary and professional journalism skills in composing articles for its monthly newsletter

                                                         Hailie Addison 

"My favorite part about volunteer work is being a voice for others. Being a writer and journalist is not something I originally thought would be considered civic engagement, but after a year of diving into this field, I realized reporting on campus and community activities is a way to spread knowledge and civic engagement opportunities to the campus and the community."

Ardesian Binjakaj

  • As the Vice president of the SGA, helped other clubs to navigate issues of student stress and mental health
  • Advocated for vacancy days where students can take a mental break from school during the added stress of the pandemic
  • Worked as a Peer mentor and as an EOP tutor
  • Helped to create a campus Club named: Students against Alcohol Cancer (SAC)

                             Ardesian Binjakaj

Andi Bruce

  • Extensive leadership in campus organizations - NYPIRG, Cortland Cupboard, LGBTQ, and NAACP
  • Treasurer for the Interfaith Crew and  project leader for the New York Public Interest Research Group’s (NYPIRG) housing and homelessness project
  • President of the Cortland Writer’s Association
          Andi Bruce
"My favorite part of volunteer work is being with people. I always look forward to working with my peers and the greater community to help each other out and make our world a better place."

Jessica Falco

  • Helped develop and promote two “Building Resilience” events with the Cortland County Community Action Program, fall 2020
  • Co-developed, and currently promotes, and conducts the year-‘round PAWS for Relief program, fall 2020-spring 2021
  • Designed and conducts the bi-weekly stress-management word-puzzle project

        Jessica Falco    PAWS for Stress Relief

Madison Garcia

  • Participates in both Education and ASL (American Sign Language) Clubs on campus
  • Has conducted tabling on campus yearly for the American Cancer Society and raised funds and awareness by participating in the Relay for Life
  • Also volunteered with Cortland Cleanup and The Big Event and has assisted with the YWCA and campus Halloween activities for kids

                             Madison Garcia

Connor Hill

  • Active as a student organizer on campus and has participated in a broad range of community service and fund-raising events
  • Helped with the Big Event, to clean up the Cortland community, and has participated in Yards for Yeardley, to raise awareness of domestic violence
  • Marched in the annual Crop Walk to raise funds to end hunger

                         Connor Hill

Jenna Kratz

  • Active in Colleges Against Cancer, Education Club, and APEM
  • Co-designed and -conducted a survey of student stress
  • Used the survey’s results to Co-create and coordinate the Treat Yourself mental health project, which included a 5K race
  • Secured a $700 grant to support the project

                                Jenna Kratz (2)


Jessica Liberty

  • As the president of Young Democrats at SUNY Cortland, Jessica was instrumental in motivating and inspiring SUNY Cortland students to participate in the 2020 election(s)
  • Worked with local and national political offices to match students with letter-writing and calling campaigns to encourage all US citizens to vote
  • In addition to coordinating other students' time and involvement, Jessica served as a role model by participating in the program herself

                              Jessica Liberty

 Giovanna Rossi

  • A member of APEM, Alliance of Physical Education Majors, on campus and as a member of the soccer team participated in a Social Media campaign to raise awareness about mental health and dealing with stress
  • Co-designed and -conducted a survey of student stress             
  • Co-created and -coordinated the "Treat Yourself" mental health project, which included a 5K race
  • Secured a $700 grant to support the project
  • A member of AIC (Actively Involved in the Community) 
  • Further worked to alleviate stress and improve mental health by participating as a Pen Pal to elderly residents of a local nursing home

                                        Giovanna Rossi (2)

Olivia Thresher

  • Involved with the Best Buddies Club chapter on campus since she was a freshman-Best Buddies is a foundation that was created to pair community members with intellectual and/or physical disabilities with a friend or "buddy" on campus.
  • In her 2nd year with the program, Olivia sought to be a supervisor and once promoted, initiated fun games and events for buddies to enjoy together
  • Has both hosted and attended Best Buddy Events like the “Friendship Walk” at SUNY Binghamton

           Olivia Thresher   Olivia Thresher Friendship Walk

                                                                                         Friendship Walk at SUNY Binghamton

 "The greatest reward of being involved on campus in different ways including my volunteer work is that I feel that I have made the most out of the college experience and am continuing to take part in things that I find enjoyable. There is also that sense of satisfaction and happiness that makes it all feel worth it and knowing that I am making a difference even if it’s a small one. These are many of the reasons that I have become involved and dream of becoming a future teacher."

Shaneya Simmelkjaer

  • Winner of the 2019-20 Newman Fellowship, the 14th recipient of the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and 2021 winner of the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence
  • As president of the Black Students' Union, organized events, forums, and workshops to educate and facilitate progress toward social equality
  • Conducted, as an active member of Cortland Forward (community/campus organization started by Mayor Tobin), multiple online anti-racism discussions with faculty, staff, students, and community partners.
  • Created and has been coordinating the Action Team’s Anti-racism Project, through which she
    • Moderated a public deliberation on Opportunities for Youth
    • Hosted an anti-racism panel discussion with campus and community leaders
    • Created an anti=racism workshop for Action Team interns.  It will be mandatory beginning in fall 2021.
  • Partnered with other interns and campus organizations by
    • Registering people to vote
    • Advising on, moderating, and taking notes during Sarah Kelliher’s Cost of Health Care public deliberation
    • Serving on the search committee for the new full-time Africana Studies faculty member
  • Has been a featured speaker at multicultural events, such as “The Forgotten Faces: Discussing the Socio-Political Climate on Campus” and “Black Lives and Liberation Forum: Supporting Women of Color



 Shaneya is also the recipient of the Cortland Area Chapter of the Alumni Association’s Community Service Award

Alumni Award 2021