Commission on National and Community Serivce Member's Biographies

Susan Stern, Commission Chair

Susan Stern

Susan Stern was appointed as Chair of the New York State Commission on National & Community Service in 2008 and oversees service and civic engagement initiatives for the State on behalf of the Office of the Governor. Susan is a community activist and political advocate locally in New York and nationally. She served as the chairman of the National Council of Civic Leaders for the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. She is the immediate past Chairman of the Board of UJA- Federation of New York the nation’s largest local philanthropy where she also served as Campaign Chair. Nationally Susan is the immediate Past President of National Women’s Philanthropy of United Jewish Communities serving over 155 local federations around the country. She was the secretary of United Jewish Communities and past Chair of the Young Leadership Cabinet of United Jewish Appeal. Additionally, Susan serves on the Executive Committee of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and has served on the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel. She is a Trustee of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and was a member of the Women’s Leadership Forum of the Democratic Party. At the University of Michigan, she serves on the LSA Dean’s Advisory Committee and the Organizational Studies Advisory Group. At Hebrew Union College she serves on the President’s Advisory Board. Susan was selected as a Wexner Heritage Foundation Fellow and currently serves on the Foundation’s Alumni Council. Prior to her involvement in philanthropic causes, Susan served as Director of Quality Assurance at the American Dental Association, where she authored a book on Quality Assurance in Dentistry and lectured extensively on the subject.

Theresa A. Bischoff, Vice Chair

Theresa A. Bischoff

Theresa (Terry) Bischoff was appointed in January 2004 as Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross in Greater New York. It is the largest chapter in the country, covering the five boroughs of New York City as well as Putnam, Rockland, Orange and Sullivan Counties. As a disaster response and preparedness organization providing immediate humanitarian support, it serves more than 9 million people in the Greater New York area. A staff of 150 employees working in partnership with over 6,600 adult and 700 youth volunteers help more than 200,000 New Yorkers annually who have been affected by fires, blizzards, floods, blackouts and other emergencies, responding to 7 to 9 disasters or emergencies a day. The Chapter also trains 130,000 New Yorkers in preparedness and life saving skills each year. In July 2007, Terry was also given oversight responsibilities for the Red Cross Chapters in Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk, Shelter Island and Greenwich, Connecticut.

Previously, she was at NYU Medical Center from 1984 to 2004 where she served as President for the last six years of her tenure. An advocate of healthcare on the national, state and local levels, she has held many other positions including: Chair of the Greater New York Hospital Association and Chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges which represents 125 accredited medical schools and 400 major teaching hospitals.

She serves on the Board of Mutual of America Capital Management Corporation, New York Building Congress, Human Services Council and is Vice Chair of the New York State Commission on National and Community Service.

Ms. Bischoff is a graduate of the University of Connecticut where she earned a B.S. in Accounting. She also holds an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business and is a CPA.

Gay B. Molnar, Secretary

Gay B. Molnar

Gay, along with fellow Commission member, Dr. William Murabito, has served as a member of the NYS Commission on National & Community Service since its inception in 1994. During these years she has served as the vice chair and now holds the position of Secretary. Currently a member of the Orthotic and Prosthetic Assistance Fund’s Board of Directors, she brings to them her expertise in the not-for-profit world and development. Gay is the immediate Past President of the National Rural Education Association which is the leading National organization that maintains the vitality of all rural schools across the country. In 1991, Gay was selected by then First Lady Matilda Cuomo to be the first and only Western Region Coordinator for the New York State Mentoring Program. Gay held this position until the program was dissolved. Gay takes great pride in knowing that she made a difference with at-risk children during this time with the mentoring program and still is aware that the majority of the programs she started are still in existence and growing. For the last twelve years she has held the position of Director of Development along with PR/Marketing for the Aquarium of Niagara in Niagara Falls, New York. Her personal strengths include a positive attitude, strong organizational skills and she is family and people-oriented.

Suzanne Gaba Aisenberg

Suzanne Gaba Aisenberg

Suzanne Aisenberg is a consultant to nonprofit organizations and provides guidance to her clients on a range of organizational issues. Prior to launching her independent practice in 2003, Ms. Aisenberg was a program officer with The Atlantic Philanthropies where she was responsible for grants primarily in the areas of philanthropy, volunteering, civic engagement and nonprofit sector infrastructure. She was a founding board member of the Grantmaker Forum for National and Community Service, now called PACE, and was a national board member of the Hands on Network.

Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess was appointed by former Governor Eliot Spitzer, and confirmed by the New York State Senate, to serve as the Director of the New York State Office for the Aging in February 2007. He was reappointed by Governor David A. Patterson on April 2008. As Director of the State Office for the Aging, Mr. Burgess oversees the administration of federal and state funded programs designed to assist the more than 3.2 million elderly residents in the state, as well as programs that assist family members and others involved with helping elderly residents that are in need of greater levels of assistance. The Office for the Aging assists older New Yorkers to be as independent as possible, for as long as possible, through advocacy, and the development and delivery of programs and services which support and empower the elderly and their families, in partnership with the network of public and private organizations which serve them.

Prior to joining the Office for Aging, Mr. Burgess was the Executive Director of the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans, and for several years prior to that, was the Executive Director of the New York StateWide Senior Action Council. In those positions, he played a major role in the passage of landmark state legislation, including the EPIC prescription drug program and subsequent expansion of the EPIC program. Earlier in his career, Mr. Burgess served as the Executive Director of the Non-Profit Resource Center, an organization which worked to strengthen the capacity of smaller non-profit agencies so that they could better serve their constituents. He also served as the Executive Director for the Statewide Emergency Network for Social and Economic Security.

He is the author of “To the Last Breath,” a book that chronicles the life and times of Rose Kryzak, a leader and role model who was involved in the Senior Action Movement for many years.

Mr. Burgess began his career in Watertown, NY, his childhood home, working for the local anti-poverty community assistance program as Director of the Energy and Weatherization Program.

Mr. Burgess was born in Massena, New York and is a graduate of St. Lawrence University. He resides in Albany, with his wife Kathleen and they have two children.

Dr. Elizabeth Cappella

Dr. Elizabeth Cappella

Dr. Cappella is a Distinguished Service Professor of the Department of Educational Foundations at Buffalo State College as well as Co-Director of Project FLIGHT a family Literacy Program. The Governor has recently reappointed her to a five-year term as a New York State Commissioner for National and Community Service. She has pioneered literacy programs and research in this area through Project FLIGHT locally, statewide and nationally. Former President Clinton, Governor Pataki and former Governor Cuomo have honored her for her work on the behalf of children and their families during the past 18 years, Project FLIGHT has generated over $35,000,000 in money and in-kind donations. Dr Cappella teaches courses in Research, Statistics, Family Literacy, Parenting, Family Violence, and counseling.

Rita DiMartino

Rita DiMartino

As a former Vice President of Congressional Relations for AT&T, Rita DiMartino assisted in AT&T’s relations with the administration, congress and with state governments.

In 1982 President Ronald Reagan appointed DiMartino as U.S. Representative to the UNICEF Executive Board. Her work as U.S. Representative included increasing UNICEF’s financial support and accelerating the program’s assistance in the areas of child health, nutrition, water supply, sanitation and education.

DiMartino was appointed in February 2002 as the Principal U.S. Delegate to the Inter-American Commission of Women, and also, the Principal Representative to the Inter-American Children’s Institute. She was also appointed to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board by President George W. Bush.

In 2005, DiMartino was appointed by Secretary Elaine Chao to the U.S. Department of Labor National Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships, and served as a Commissioner on the Commission on Federal Election reform with former President Jimmy Carter, and former Secretary of State, James Baker. DiMartino has also served on twelve International Electoral Observation Missions.

Active at all levels of Republican politics, DiMartino was elected Delegate/Delegate-at-Large/Alternate Delegate to ten Republican National Conventions, served on the 1992 Platform Committee, and was elected Executive Vice-Chair of the New York Republican State Committee in 1987. DiMartino is Chairman of the Board of Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves on the Board of Trustees of the National Endowment for Democracy; the City University of New York; the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials; the Inter-American Foundation Advisory Board and the Cuban American National Council.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, she received her B.A. from the College of Staten Island and her M.P.A. from Long Island University. She currently holds an Honorary Doctor of Civil Law from Dowling College, and completed Business Leadership Training Programs at Harvard Business School and Executive Management Programs at the University of California at Berkeley.

Stanley S. Hansen, Jr.

Stanley S. Hansen, Jr.

Stanley S. Hansen, Jr. is the Executive Coordinator for the Office of K-16 Initiatives and Access Programs for the New York State Education Department. The Office serves to improve college graduation rates for ethnic, cultural and other underrepresented and or disadvantaged students as well as close the gap for students in need of academic intervention services to meet Regents graduation requirements. Additionally, Mr. Hansen is the New York State At-Risk Youth Coordinator, and has been a mediator and arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association.

Catherine Hedgeman

Catherine Hedgeman

Catherine was born and raised in Albany, New York. Catherine is a magna cum laude graduate of Union College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with Department Honors in 1996. After college Catherine pursued a career in government relations on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, when she decided to return to her hometown to attend law school. Catherine received her Juris Doctorate degree from Albany Law School in 2000 where she was an associate editor of The Albany Law Review and was awarded the Dominick Gabrielli award for excellence in Appellate Moot Court. Since graduation, Catherine has practiced in several of New York’s prestigious law firms.

In 2004, Catherine’s love and passion for her hometown and the Capital Region led her to found GenNEXT, a business council of the Albany-Colonie Chamber of Commerce for business professional ages 23-40. As chair of the council, she focused on preventing the Capital Region’s “brain drain” and on providing meaningful networking and business opportunities for young professionals.

In January of 2007, Ms. Hedgeman started her own law firm, the Law Firm of Catherine M. Hedgeman which is located in Albany. She specializes in Real Estate, Land Use/Development & Zoning, Commercial Law, Corporate Law and Government Relations. In September of 2008 Ms. Hedgeman also founded the Stakeholders. The Mission of Stakeholders is to cultivate an informed and active creative class dedicated to building diverse and sustainable communities throughout New York’s Capital Region through educational, capacity-building and philanthropy programs. The Stakeholders Get On Board program matches volunteers with volunteer opportunities in the Capital Region.

In 2008, Ms. Hedgeman was appointed to the New York State Young Leaders congress to advise the administration and the Empire State Development Corporation on issues pertaining to the attraction and retention of young people in New York, and how to build sustainable communities. Ms. Hedgeman was also featured in the March 2008 edition of Success Magazine, and in November of 2008 Ms. Hedgeman appeared in O Magazine as one of 80 Women who received a Women’s Leadership Award from the White House Project and O Magazine, The Oprah Magazine for her work on economic development issues, philanthropy and volunteerism, Ms. Hedgeman is also the recipient of the 2008 Woman of Distinction Award: Junior Trailblazer from the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York, the 2005 Capital District Business Review 40 Under 40 Award and the 2005 Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce Women of Excellence Award for the Emerging Professional.

Jill Iscol

Jill Iscol

Jill Iscol is the president of the IF Hummingbird Foundation, a family foundation created in 1989 to support domestic and global efforts that strengthen democracy and reduce the social justice, economic and educational inequities that threaten it. Dr. Iscol, a philanthropic leader, formerly served as a trustee of numerous boards, including, Bank Street College of Education and Facing History and Ourselves. She was Founding Co-Chair of City Year New York and currently serves on its Board of Advisors as well as on the President’s Council of Teachers College at Columbia University, the Advisory Boards of the Iscol Family Program for Leadership Development at Cornell University, the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Fine Arts at Cornell University, and the Acumen Fund, a global philanthropic organization. Jill is a Trustee of Vital Voices Global Partnership and is currently chairing its newly launched New York Leadership Council. She has recently joined the Board of Trustees of Horizons National and the Advisory Board of the Center for New American Security in Washington, DC. From 1997-2001, Jill served as the Chairperson of the Annual Family Re-Union Conference which was initiated and moderated by Vice President Al Gore and Tipper Gore and also planned and participated in the White House Conference on Partnerships and Philanthropy in 2000. Jill received her doctorate from Teachers College at Columbia University, and a Master of Philosophy in Sociology from Yale.

Senator Kenneth LaValle

Senator Kenneth LaValle

Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, (R-C-I, Port Jefferson) was first elected to the Senate in 1976. In 1979, he was appointed Chairman of the Senate Committee on Higher Education and, for 30 years, has played a key role in shaping New York State’s higher education policy.

His work with education leaders at the State University of New York, City University of New York, and the independent sector, has earned Senator LaValle the respect of the academic community.

As chairman, he established state policy dealing with the financing of our public institutions, student financial aid issues and capital construction funds. The landmark Truth-in-Testing Law, College Tax Deduction Program, and College Savings Program, are but a few of the key programs the Senator initiated.

Senator LaValle established legislative policy linking higher education and business technology. He wrote the report “Marriage of Higher Education and Business,” which examined the foundation for New York’s public policy in developing high technology industries statewide. Some of the programs he worked to advance include the Centers of Advanced Technology (CAT), the High Technology business Incubator Program, and Jobs 2000 which established the New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR). In developing these programs, Senator LaValle worked with education leaders from both the public and private sectors along with business leaders from across the state.

In 2007, Senator LaValle was appointed to the New York State Commission on Higher Education. The commission was charged with identifying ways of improving the quality of higher education in New York State. In addition, Senator LaValle was asked to serve on the National Council of State Legislatures’ Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education. The goal of the commission was to create awareness among state Legislatures of their roles in providing accessible and affordable public higher education.

In recognition of his outstanding dedication to higher education, Senator LaValle as presented with the Medallion of the University from the State University of New York at Albany and the University Medal from Stony Brook University. Both awards are the highest honor accorded by the universities.

Extremely proud of his Italian heritage, Senator LaValle was privileged to receive the honorary title “Cavaliere al Merito della Repubblica Italiana” from the Italian Government for his work in education and promotion of cultural exchange.

Born on Brooklyn, Senator LaValle graduated from Hempstead High School on Long Island. He earned his undergraduate degree at Adelphia College, a degree in Education at the State University College at New Paltz, and a J.D. Degree at Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center. Senator LaValle has completed extensive graduate study in Government and International Relations at New York University and received an Honorary Doctor of Civil Law Degree from Dowling College. He is a practicing attorney.

Senator LaValle is the father of two grown children, James and Lisa, and the proud grandfather of Jessica Katherine and Elvis William LaValle, and Joshua Eric and Justin David Russ. He resides in Port Jefferson with his wife Penny.

In addition to his standing committee assignments, Senator LaValle is Chairman of the Senate Minority Conference.

Standing Committee Assignments: Higher Education (Ranking Member), Aging, Education, Finance, Insurance, Judiciary, Rules. Senator LaValle also serves as a member of the New York State Commission on National and Community Service.

Visit Senator Kenneth LaValle's website at http://senatorlavalle.com/1/default.aspx

Dr. William Murabito

Dr. William Murabito

Dr. William Murabito has served as a member of the New York State Commission on National Community Service since its establishment in 1994. His volunteer service has spanned over forty years with membership on numerous agencies, including the chair of Albany’s Promise, for which he received the Albany Volunteer of the Year Award. He has long been involved in the field of higher education, in which he has held positions at several SUNY schools. Dr. Murabito is currently the Interim President at Sullivan Community College.

David M. Sable

David M. Sable

With an advertising career spanning more than 30 years, David Sable’s roots are in creativity. As a college student, he wrote copy and designed ads for a local newspaper, and also sold creative to a local ad agency. As his career progressed, he joined Young & Rubicam where he expanded his knowledge of the agency world, and then honed his craft at Wells Rich Greene, handling his first Fortune 500 client: Procter & Gamble.

Today, as vice chairman and chief operating officer of Wunderman, David is responsible for managing the agency’s global marketing services network—among the largest in the world. He oversees operations, is responsible for the successful execution of the agency’s long term vision and strategic plan, and he serves as senior counselor to some of our largest global clients, including Microsoft, Citibank and Nokia. David is a frequent speaker at various industry events and his views are regularly featured in Advertising Age, ADWEEK, Campaign Magazine and his own blog: Weekly Ramble.

In 2009, David was selected as the president of the Cannes Lions Direct jury, the industry’s premier creative competition. He also began a three-year term as Director at-Large of the American Association of Advertising Agencies and continues to serve as chair of the Mail Industry Task Force for the United States Postal Service and chairman of the Independent Mailing Industry CEO Task Force.

In 2005, the Mayor of the City of New York, Michael R. Bloomberg appointed him a member of the Cultural Advisory Committee of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. David is also a Board member of the New York chapter of the United Jewish Federation (UJA) and chairman of its Marketing committee. David is marketing advisor to a number of charitable organizations and universities and is a Board member of a prominent New York City private school.

Mark J.F. Schroeder

Mark J.F. Schroeder

Mark J.F. Schroeder brings 25 years of private sector experience to the City of Buffalo Comptroller’s Office, in addition to a decade as an elected official, a role in which he earned a reputation as an independent, tireless voice for his constituents in the state capitol and county hall. Schroeder, a former state assemblyman and county legislator, also served as vice president of two large corporations before his career in government. Schroeder grew up in South Buffalo, attending St. Thomas Aquinas School before graduating from Public School #72 and Bishop Timon High School. He earned an Associate’s degree from Erie Community College and a Bachelor’s degree from Empire State College. After serving as a top executive in the corporate world, Schroeder left the private sector to serve as a county legislator in 2002. Upon taking office, he immediately founded the South Buffalo Education Center, which offers free G.E.D. classes and computer and vocational training. More than 500 students have earned their G.E.D since the school first opened its doors ten years ago. Throughout his career in government, Schroeder has advocated that more resources and attention be devoted to adult education across the state. The same year he opened the school, Schroeder also created The Greater South Buffalo Chamber of Commerce, which now has more than 300 members and holds several annual community events. Schroeder was elected to the state Assembly in 2004, where he was widely known as an independent voice who would speak out on their behalf of his constituents, no matter what the consequences. During his time in the Assembly, Schroeder wrote “Amanda’s Law,” which requires carbon monoxide detectors in all homes. The law was named after a teen in his district, Amanda Hansen, who died from carbon monoxide poisoning while at a sleepover at a friend’s house. Schroeder also sponsored legislation banning text messaging while driving, a law safeguarding children from sexual predators, and a plan that would take the redistricting process out of the hands of politicians and give it to an independent panel. He also hosted an annual health fair in his district that offers free flu shots, blood pressure screening, wellness tests, and other health care services. Schroeder was also the chairman of the Assembly Subcommittee on Autism, and created an inclusive panel of mental health professionals, autism advocates, and concerned parents with the mission of providing for better care for those afflicted with the disorder. During his time in the county legislature and the Assembly, Schroeder spearheaded major capital projects in his district. He teamed up with the Valley Community Association to construct a spectacular waterfront attraction, the Buffalo Riverfest Park, which opened last year in the city's historical Old First Ward neighborhood. The Seneca Street Redevelopment Project made major physical upgrades, including new street lights, benches, waste receptacles, and paving, to the streetscape on one of Buffalo’s major commercial thoroughfares. He teamed up with the civic organization Can U Dig It to create the Irish Heritage District on Abbott Road, which celebrates the Celtic culture of the South Buffalo neighborhood with Irish language street signs and gateway signage. Since his election to public office, Schroeder has earned a reputation as someone his constituents can turn to when they have a problem, whether it be minor or major. He has also worked to ensure that veterans, young and old, get the care and assistance that they deserve. Schroeder , a lifelong City of Buffalo resident, has three children – Matthew, Michael, and Allison – with his wife Kate Horan Schroeder.

Donna M. Smith

Donna M. Smith

Donna M. Smith is the State Program Director for the Corporation for National and Community Service’s (CNCS) Field Office in Albany. She has worked with CNCS and its predecessor agency ACTION since 1975 primarily with its Senior Corps and VISTA programs. In 1998 she assumed the State Director position with management oversight of all Senior Corps, VISTA and special initiative programs in New York. Donna currently serves as a member of the Hudson Valley Community College Dental Hygiene Advisory Board.

Betty Cotton

Betty Cotton

Betty Cotton serves on the boards of The Westchester Community College Foundation, the America Jewish Committee Board of Governors, Project Interchange and the Jewish Council of Public Affairs. She is a member of the Steering Committee of the Westchester Not-For-Profit Leadership Summit and is chairperson of the Greyston Foundation Wisdom Council.

Betty is a former President of the Westchester American Jewish Committee and is currently Vice President of the New York Region AJC. She was honored by the Women’s Campaign Board in 2005. Betty also served on the National Finance Committee for Hillary Clinton and currently serves on the Finance Committee for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Professionally, Betty has worked as a consultant to not for profit organizations for many years. She received a BA from George Washington University and an MS in Urban Affairs from Hunter College.

Hillarie Logan-Dechene

Hillarie Logan-Dechene

Hillarie Logan-Dechene has made her career working in the not-for-profit sector and primarily in museums. She is the Director of Philanthropy at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, New York. In this position she is responsible for all membership and development activities for the young vibrant science museum. Logan-Dechene has spent her entire professional career strengthening non-profit and educational institutions in the North Country.

After studying at The American College in Paris and earning her BA from the State University of New York at Albany, she joined the Development Department at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake where she worked for over sixteen years. In a period of five years, she progressed from Development Assistant to the Director of Institutional Advancement. Upon leaving the Adirondack Museum in 2006, Logan-Dechene became the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Paul Smith’s College, a private college in the Adirondacks. After nearly four years, Logan-Dechene left the college in 2010 to accept her current position at The Wild Center.

Logan-Dechene is an active board member of the Adirondack Health Foundation, Museumwise (a New York State museum service organization), and the Long Lake Central School District Board of Education. She is finishing a Master’s program in non-profit leadership at Skidmore College. She grew up on the North shore of Long Island and spent her childhood summers at Long Lake where she makes her home with her husband Richard and their two daughters.

Dr. Matthew Johnson

Dr. Matthew Johnson

Dr. Mathew Johnson earned his Ph.D. in sociology from Brandeis University and is a Siena College alumnus. He has been a college/university faculty member and administrator in Maine. Dr. Johnson is a 2009 Campus Compact Emerging Scholar, a member of the 2011 U.S. Department of Education Roundtable on the Civic Mission of Higher Education facilitated by AACU, and is currently the co-director of the AACU and Bonner Foundation national project: The High Impact Initiative. At Siena College Dr. Johnson serves the Office of the President as the Director of Academic Community Engagement in addition to being an Associate Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies at Siena College.

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