Cultural Affairs Coordinator at SUNY Orange Hailed by Orange County Citizens Foundation for Arts Advocacy

PHOTO: Dorothy SzefcMIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – Dorothy Szefc, the Cultural Affairs coordinator at SUNY Orange and a longtime advocate for the arts throughout the Hudson Valley, has been selected to receive the 2008 Seligmann Award, presented by the Orange County Citizens Foundation in recognition of her outstanding commitment to arts and culture in Orange County.

Szefc, who becomes the fifth individual or organization to receive the Seligmann Award, will be honored during the Citizens Foundation’s annual meeting on Sept. 10. Past winners of the award include Chris Farlekas, the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra, Richard Logothetis (Lycian Centre) and Pacem in Terris. The Citizens Foundation is headquartered at the former 55-acre estate of Kurt and Arlette Seligmann in Sugar Loaf. Kurt Seligmann, an artist, is credited with creating some of the most distinctive work within the Surrealism movement prior to his death in 1962.

“I am flabbergasted. It took me totally by surprise when Nancy Proyect (Citizens Foundation president) called to inform me that I would be the recipient of the 2008 Seligmann Award. To be put in the same category as the four previous honorees is an honor in itself,” Szefc said. “It is, indeed, humbling to be recognized by the Orange County Citizens Foundation, an organization which stands for building a strong community and improving the quality of life in our county. Orange County is near and dear to my heart as I have lived here my entire life.

“The arts and culture are vital for sustaining strong community-building. Advocating for artists–visual, performing and literary–seems a natural. Being recognized for my efforts is a joy,” Szefc added.

A lifelong resident of Orange County and a SUNY Orange alumna, Szefc has championed the development of arts and cultural events for decades and has been a fixture at numerous charitable and cultural events over the years. She is well-known within the arts community and has used her knowledge and appreciation of the arts to build a vibrant Cultural Affairs program at SUNY Orange.

Having just completed her eighth year as Cultural Affairs coordinator at the College, Szefc is responsible for bringing to the College a broad schedule of lectures; master classes; concerts; presentations of dance performances, poetry, theatre, children’s theatre and films; and exhibits with receptions. These events, which comprise the College’s Lyceum Series of Events, are among the most-attended at the College and provide diverse cultural opportunities for faculty, staff, students and the community-at-large.

“I can think of no one more deserving of the Seligmann Award than Dorothy Szefc,” said Dr. William Richards, SUNY Orange president. “We are fortunate to have Dorothy as one of our own. She is one of the hardest-working people at the College, and her passion for the arts and commitment to the College are evident in all that she does.

“Dorothy is not only an advocate for the arts, she is a fan of the arts. That fact is evident each year when she unveils the College’s Cultural Affairs lineup. She brings all sorts of interesting, exciting, engaging and stimulating events to SUNY Orange, and has helped develop a loyal following of folks who attend our concerts, join us for lectures and stroll through our Orange Hall Gallery,” Richards added.

In 2002, Szefc was also honored for her arts and communications efforts, having received the Tribute to Women of Achievement in Orange County citation. She was an American Heart Association Golden Heart Ball honoree in 1998 for her work with the AHA of Orange, Sullivan and Rockland counties and she received the SUNY Orange Colleague Appreciation Award in 2006.

Among her most notable achievements, Szefc joined her husband John as co-originator/organizer, from 1992 through 1995, of “A Star Spangled Spectacular”, a day-long regional, patriotic, family event of music, art, children’s performances, fireworks and local foods. During the same time period, she also was director/originator of the Orange Classic Festival Art Show in Middletown. In addition, she chaired the Heart Balls for the American Heart Association (1996 and 1997) and she organized, with Howard Garrett, “Orange County Day” (1997-2005), a day to promote an appreciation of the county’s natural and historic surroundings, as well as talented artists of all ages.

She has curated and organized numerous fine and folk art, historical, and timely exhibits in Orange and Sullivan counties.

Included among the many boards she has served are: Executive Council, Music in the Mountains, SUNY New Paltz (1989-1998); Board of Trustees, Hudson Valley Philharmonic (1991-1994); Board of Directors, Orange Orchestral Society (1990-1993); and Middletown Art Center Gallery Committee (1993-1995). Presently, she is a member of the Board of Directors, Orange County NY Arts Council, Orange County Citizens Foundation Gallery Committee, and the Hudson River Valley Arts Consortium.

Szefc was also the first female president of the Middletown Babe Ruth League and served on its Board of Directors in various capacities from 1985 to 1999. She continues to give help and encouragement to individuals and groups, particularly in the arts.

Szefc is a graduate of Middletown High School who earned an associate’s degree from SUNY Orange and a bachelor’s degree in communications from Ramapo College of New Jersey.

She and her husband John, also a lifelong resident of Orange County, have been married 41 years. They are the proud parents of two sons, John and Matthew, and have two grandchildren. John is currently the top assistant baseball coach at the University of Kansas while Matthew is a baseball editor for

Established in 1971, the Orange County Citizens Foundation is a private, non-profit corporation that unites the public and private sectors to ensure the sustainability of the Orange County community. Engaged citizens who are interested in the preservation of Orange County as a wonderful place to live and work come together through the Citizens Foundation to voice their priorities and develop policy for the community. The Foundation’s mission is to preserve and enhance the quality of life in Orange County. It focuses on the interdependence of economic and environmental issues and acts as a catalyst to promote balanced county planning.

For more information on the Seligmann Award or the awards presentation, contact the Citizens Foundation at (845) 469-9459. For information on upcoming Cultural Affairs events at SUNY Orange, visit the College web site at or call (845) 341-4891.

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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940