Three award winners: John D'Ambrosio, Joan Siegel and Jack McMahon10/13/2006

John D’Ambrosio, Jack McMahon and Joan Siegel Hailed for Leadership in Business, Community and Education

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – The Educational Foundation of Orange County Community College hailed three of the communities’ finest citizens Friday during the group’s inaugural Leadership Awards Luncheon, honoring John A. D’Ambrosio, John J. “Jack” McMahon and Joan I. Siegel for their leadership roles in business, community and education, respectively.

D’Ambrosio, the Leadership in Business honoree, is currently in his third decade as president of the Orange County Chamber of Commerce, while McMahon, the Leadership in Community recipient, has been a long-time contributor to numerous community initiatives and projects, including serving as Chairman of the college’s Board of Trustees. Siegel, an English professor at SUNY Orange who was presented the Leadership in Education medal, is a noted educator and award-winning poet who also received the 2006 President’s Award for Teaching Excellence during Friday’s luncheon. She has been nominated for the 2007 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

More than 100 people filled the Orange Hall Gallery for the first of what Educational Foundation representatives hope will be a long history of Leadership Award luncheons.

The Educational Foundation of SUNY Orange was established as a non-profit corporation in 1987. According to the Educational Foundation by-laws, the objectives for which the foundation exists are to solicit, receive, hold, invest, administer and make expenditures of gifts to or for the benefit of Orange County Community College. In 2005, the Educational Foundation awarded more than $150,000 in scholarships alone to allow deserving students to study at SUNY Orange.

Among the hallmarks of the foundation’s scholarship program is the President’s Scholarship for Academic Achievement, which is awarded to 10 incoming freshmen from Orange County high schools who are in the top 10 percent of their high school class, or hold a cumulative grade point average of 90 or better, and plan to enroll full-time at SUNY Orange. In all, more than 80 scholarships are funded through the efforts of the Educational Foundation.

Additionally, the Educational Foundation has set up a number of funds for contributors to target their gift

Following are the profiles of Friday’s award winners.

John D'Ambrosio with presenter Dave MacFarlandDr. John A. D’Ambrosio
Leadership in Business
Presented by Dave MacFarland

Serving nearly a quarter century as president of the Orange County Chamber of Commerce, Dr. John A. D’Ambrosio has become a fixture within the regional business community and an ardent supporter of Orange County Community College.
He has been involved with SUNY Orange and its Educational Foundation since its inception. He played a significant role in the establishment of the Educational Foundation and remains an active board member. He was at the forefront during the creation of an ad-hoc committee that reviewed and revised the Foundation’s bylaws. He also played a key role in bringing SUNY Orange to Newburgh.

D’Ambrosio served on the college’s presidential search committee that brought current president Dr. William Richards to SUNY Orange. He also was an original partner in the creation of SUNY Orange’s Institute for Nonprofit Leadership and Management.

A 1973 graduate of Hobart College, D’Ambrosio earned his master’s degree and doctorate degree from the State University of New York at Albany’s School of Education in 1974 and 1978, respectively. Prior to matriculating to Hobart, he attended Fulton-Montgomery Community College in Johnstown, N.Y.

While serving as acting registrar at Adirondack Community College during the 1974-75 academic year, D’Ambrosio accepted the role of director of development for the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, in Syracuse, N.Y. He remained in that capacity until September 1976 before returning to Albany to purse his doctorate. Upon completion of his studies, he relocated to the Hudson Valley to become director of development at Newburgh’s Mount Saint Mary College, where he spent almost four academic years before accepting his current post with the Orange County Chamber of Commerce.

D’Ambrosio is a member of the American Chamber of Commerce Executives, Business Council of New York State, Chamber Alliance of New York State and the United States Chamber of Commerce.

He also has served on the boards of directors for the following organizations: Chamber Alliance of New York State, Empire Zone, Hudson Valley International Trade Association, Orange County Business Development Corporation, Orange County United Way and Stewart Regional Alliance. He is currently chairman of the board of Hospice of Orange and Sullivan Counties.

D’Ambrosio has been listed in “Who’s Who in U.S. Executives” while also earning a myriad of awards, including: Outstanding Young Man of America in 1979 and 1983, Mayor’s Award for Distinguished Volunteers in 1987, Chamber Alliance of New York State Chamber Executive of the Year in 2002, Orange County Red Cross Citizen of Distinction in 2002, Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Orange County Luis Gomez Award in 2004 and the Dispute Resolution Center’s Community Leadership Award in 2005.

As president of the Orange County Chamber of Commerce, which boasts more than 2,300 members and lists as the largest business and professional organization in the Hudson Valley, D’Ambrosio has been listed among the county’s “40 Most Powerful People” three times (2003, 2004, 2005), as compiled by the Times Herald-Record.

John J. “Jack” McMahon
Leadership in Community
Presented by Karen Miller

Few names are more synonymous with Orange County Community College than that of John J. “Jack” McMahon.

From his days as a student at the college through his time on the school’s administrative staff to tours with the Alumni

Association and Board of Trustees, McMahon has devoted boundless energy and unwavering commitment to the advancement of the college.

Jack McMahaon with presenter Karen MillerMcMahon earned degrees from Orange County Community College in 1953 and Hamilton College in 1955.

After working as a newspaper reporter-photographer for the Middletown Times Herald and a public relations executive in New York City, he returned to the college in 1965 as its first public information officer. In 1970 he added the duties of assistant to the president and also taught English in the college’s continuing education division. He left the college in 1983 to become assistant to the president of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc., a subsidiary of Dow Jones & Co., Inc. in Campbell Hall. He retired from Ottaway in July 1998.

McMahon was appointed to Orange County Community College’s Board of Trustees in 1984. He subsequently became the first alumnus elected to chair the Board, and served five terms as chairman before retiring as a trustee in 2005. He was co-chair of the college’s highly successful Cornerstone capital campaign from 1992-94 and chaired Orange County Community College’s 50th Anniversary celebration in 2000-01.

A charter member and past president of the college’s Alumni Association, McMahon received the outstanding alumnus award in 1992 and was named to the State University of New York alumni honor roll in 1995.

McMahon also earned distinguished service awards from the SUNY PR Council in 1972, the SUNY Council on University Affairs and Development in 1983, the SUNY Confederation of Alumni Associations in 1987 and the New York Community College Trustees organization in 2005. In 2003, he was named to the SUNY CUAD Hall of Fame.

He is a director of the Orange County Community College Association, Inc. and director emeritus of the college’s Alumni Association. McMahon also served on the Hamilton College Alumni Council from 1975-79.

McMahon’s community service has not been limited to the field of education. Over the years, he has served on the boards of the Boy Scout and Girl Scout councils, the YMCA, Mental Health Association, Middletown University Club, parish council of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, and the Middletown Human Relations Commission (1969-70).

He was a member of the Middletown Elks Lodge, the Middletown Historical Society and the Orange County Golf Club. An active volunteer firefighter in the McQuoid Engine and Ladder Company since 1953, McMahon was secretary of the Middletown Fire Department from 1987-97 and again from 2000-06. He was listed in “Who’s Who in Public Relations.”

McMahon served in the U.S. Army in Korea from 1957-59.

McMahon and the former Virginia Haynes, a Roscoe native, were married for 41 years before her death in November 2005. Their son, John, currently resides in Sterling, Va., while their daughter, Judith, lives in Middletown.

Joan I. Siegel
Leadership in Education
Presented by SUNY Orange President Dr. William Richards

Throughout her career at SUNY Orange, Joan Siegel has demonstrated a tireless devotion to her students’ academic welfare, exhibiting this dedication in the classroom, in counseling and advising sessions, in course development, and through a host of extra-curricular activities on campus and in the community.

Joan Siegel with presentor Dr. William RichardsSiegel has graced the lives of more than 3,500 students who have passed through her classroom over the past 25 years. Throughout her tenure, she has sought to enlighten each student about his capacity for growth and guide him toward the realization of this.

As a teacher and innovator, Siegel has enriched the college offerings. In 1984 she wrote the syllabus and developed the Technical Writing Module for the Physical Therapy Assistant Department. Since then, it has served as a model for other such programs across the country.

In 1988 she introduced her 200-level literature course, Women Writers, which was the first course in women’s studies on campus. It became an instant success and remains one of the most sought-after courses at SUNY Orange. Siegel is just as effective teaching basic writing skills as she is upper-level literature. Always sensitive to the special needs of developmental students, she has helped them to increase not only their writing skills, but self-esteem as well.

Siegel has made considerable contributions to both the college and greater community outside of the classroom. With a long history of participation on departmental and college-wide committees, she also served for 12 years on the Cultural Affairs Committee and was instrumental in bringing to Middletown such notable poets and writers as Bernard Malamud, Stanley Kunitz, Billy Collins, Linda Pastan, Galway Kinnell and William Stafford.

She was co-founder and co-editor with her colleague, Professor Donald Parker, of the much-praised poetry and art journal, Wordsmith, which attracted creative work from SUNY and CUNY faculty and staff during the five years of the publication’s funding.

Among its contributors were former United States Poet Laureate, Billy Collins and elder statesman of American poetry, Stanley Kunitz. Over the years Siegel has participated in a myriad of college events including the “Finding Our Voices” series, countless poetry readings and workshops, academic lectures and most recently Walter Jahn’s faculty talks.

Additionally, she hosted Thrall Library’s “Poetry-Out-Loud” events and presented numerous poetry workshops in libraries in the Hudson Valley.

An award-winning poet and essayist, Siegel is also a former writer for MGM/United Artists and an accomplished classical pianist as well,

She was the recipient of the 1999 New Letters Poetry Prize, and the winner of the 1998 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award. Her poetry, essays and short stories have appeared in many national magazines, journals, anthologies, and even in a college literature text. Some publication credits include The Atlantic Monthly, The American Scholar, The Journal of the American Medical Association, Commonweal, The Gettysburg Review, Prairie Schooner, The Journal of Genocide Research, and many others. Most recently, she was a finalist for the Poetry Foundation’s 2005 Emily Dickinson Poetry Award.

With her husband, Joel Solonche, she is co-author of Peach Girl: Poems For A Chinese Daughter (on sale in the college bookstore).

» Back to Headlines

Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940