2017 Alumni Award Winners


John “Bunny” Barbes ’39 and Lila T. Barbes ’40 Wagner Alumni Laureate

For long and distinguished service to Wagner College

Dr. Jay. Hartig '67 H '09

Jay P. Hartig, former chairman of the Wagner College Board of Trustees, graduated from Wagner in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He relished studying with some of Wagner’s iconic professors like Dr. Charles Kraemer, Dr. Bill Maher, and Dr. Walter Rohrs. After graduation and a brief period of employment with ITT, he entered the U.S. Army, ultimately attaining the rank of staff sergeant during his service as a recon sergeant and artillery forward observer in the Republic of Vietnam, where he received a Bronze Star and an Army Commendation Medal.

In 1970, he began his 37-year accounting and finance career with Price Waterhouse in New York. His wide range of experience included service to some of that firm’s most significant clients, such as IBM, Exxon, Westvaco Corporation, The Anaconda Company, and Western Union. From 1994 until his retirement in 2007, Mr. Hartig was the SEC services leader in the national office of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. In addition, he was a member and immediate past chairman of the SEC Regulations Committee of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, which interacts on a regular basis with SEC staff.

He joined the Wagner College Board of Trustees for the first time in the early 1980s, also serving as chairman. He served on the two presidential search committees that brought Norman Smith and Richard Guarasci to Wagner College. He returned to the board in 2001 and shortly thereafter began his second tenure as chair. He served as chair of the strategic planning committee, which produced the College’s core strategy platform. He is a member of the ODK honor society at Wagner. His lifelong commitment to Wagner has been unswerving, and he and his wife, Marianne, have been generous donors to Wagner’s annual fund, capital campaign, and other causes. Wagner College awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2009.

Dr. Kevin Sheehy '67 M '70 M '92

H '99 Alumni Leadership Medal

For consistent leadership and service to the Wagner College Alumni Association

Henry '71 & Elizabeth Hartung Cruz '71

Individually and as a couple, Henry and Beth Cruz have provided innovative programs and caring support for Wagner students and steadfast leadership to the Wagner College Alumni Association. Just as they titled the mentoring program they founded, they go “Beyond the Bench” on behalf of Wagner students and alumni.

Beth worked for the Bergenfield (N.J.) Board of Education and retired from the Ridgewood (N.J.) Board of Education. She served seven years as a member, including three years as president, of the Alumni Association Board. She is also on the Athletic Hall of Fame committee.

Henry’s career has encompassed a wide range of experiences in lending and secured finance as well as restructuring and board service at major companies in many industries. He shares his knowledge as a mentor through Wagner’s Center for Academic and Career Engagement and a participant in CACE’s Career Conversations annual event.

Not content with those significant contributions, in 2013 the Cruzes underwrote and founded the Beyond the Bench mentoring program for student-athletes, to develop their leadership and career potential. That program was folded into the MOVE program that continues to this day, with the Cruzes’ help. They both mentor and serve as life coaches for men and women student-athletes. They also underwrote scholarships for two student-athletes for the 2017 alternative winter break trip to Ghana, and they plan to underwrite three more for the 2018 trip.

“We have more than half a dozen ‘kids,’ both grads and undergrads, who have come to ‘be part of our family’ and who check in with us periodically with career and life decisions,” says Beth.

Furthermore, they have helped support Wagner’s Mandela Washington Fellows for the past two summers, opening their home to share meals and other American experiences with these young African leaders.

In 2015, Wagner’s Center for Leadership and Community Engagement honored them as “Citizen Alums” for their volunteerism outside of Wagner, and in 2017 they were honored as MLK Agents of Change.

Beth and Henry contribute financially to Wagner College as well. They endowed a scholarship in Beth’s father’s name, the Don Hartung Scholarship, which provides funds for a junior or senior education major. They are 20-year members of the Anchor Society, Inner Circle and Heritage Society members, and Lifetime Giving Leaders.

Certificate of Appreciation

For individuals who have become active in the work of the Alumni Association

Rena Piscopo Ianiello ’48

Rena Piscopo Ianiello is a 1948 graduate of the Wagner nursing program, which was founded in 1943 in cooperation with the U.S. Cadet Nursing Corps to help fill the critical wartime need for nurses at home and abroad. Her most memorable professors were Dr. Adolph Stern and Dr. Natale Colosi.

Always looking to give back to her Staten Island community, she donated seats in Wagner’s Main Hall Theater and a chair lift at St. Roch’s Church in Port Richmond. She made these gifts in memory of her beloved husband Frank Ianiello, who died in 2006. He was a decorated veteran who served in World War II including the battle at Normandy. Her support for Wagner College also includes membership in the Alumni Association, Inner Circle, and DaVinci Society. She volunteered at Staten Island Hospital, was a lifetime benefactor of the Port Richmond Alumni Association, and is an active member of Holy Rosary, where she served as an extraordinary minister for the homebound.

Rena Ianiello’s work history includes the Cadet Nurse Corps in the 1940s; volunteering during the North Carolina polio epidemic in 1948–49; the U.S. Veteran’s Administration at Fort Lyons, Colorado (1949–50), Fort Hamilton (1950–51), and Sunnyside Hospital in Staten Island (1952–69); and Doctor’s Hospital (1963–66).

She enjoys her 10 nieces and nephews and seven great-nieces and great-nephews.

(Barbara- Ann'75 Matthius received the award on behalf of Douglas W. Matthius)

Douglas W. Matthius ’72 M’77

The late Douglas Matthius was an avid supporter of Wagner College Athletics programs, especially basketball. Growing up, he was active in the basketball league, youth group, and scouting at Immanuel Union Church in Staten Island. More recently, he became a dedicated golfer as well.

At Wagner College, he was a member of Kappa Sigma Alpha fraternity. He earned a BS in business administration in 1972 and an MBA in 1977. The professors who had the biggest impact on him were Charlie Kraemer and Walter Rohrs, who was a huge help with his master’s thesis. Douglas came from a Seahawk family, headed by his mother, Barbara D. Matthius, who served as an administrator in the vice president’s office. Several of his siblings joined him at Wagner: Barbara-Ann “Bunny” Matthius ’75, Robert Matthius ’76, and Jo-Ellen Matthius Brannigan ’79.

Douglas Matthius began his career with Refco Partners, and held executive positions with UBS Securities, Prudential Securities, and Advest. From 2006 to 2013, he was senior vice president for fixed income trading with Southwest Securities.

He was living in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, when he unexpectedly passed away on June 28, 2016.



Distinguished Graduate of Wagner

For unique career contributions to his or her community,

state, or the nation, bringing honor to Wagner

Nick Lacey ’69

           Nick Lacey ’69 retired from a 45-year highly successful career in aviation that encompassed the private sector, civilian government service, and the U.S. Air Force.

Mr. Lacey earned his Bachelor of Science in economics at Wagner College. He studied abroad in the Wagner Bregenz program and is a brother of Phi Sigma Kappa. His most memorable professors were Dr. Charles Kraemer, John D. Barbes, and Dr. Gaspard Pinette. He also earned an MBA from the University of Puget Sound.

Mr. Lacey retired from the United States Air Force in 1994 at the rank of colonel. His many accomplishments include serving as program manager of the Department of Defense Air Carrier Survey and Analysis Division, and as a commander of the 89th Operations Group assigned to carry the president, cabinet heads, and members of Congress. He also served as a staff member on the Presidential Airline Commission representing the Department of Defense. He is the recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, and the Air Force Commendation Medal, among others.

In civilian life, Mr. Lacey served as the director of flight and ground operations for Tower Air, an international airline operating 18 Boeing 747 aircraft from New York’s JFK International Airport. For nearly three years, he served as the director, flight standards, for the Federal Aviation Administration. He was instrumental in developing and enforcing operational and safety standards for the commercial aviation industry, as well as providing leadership in national aviation safety enhancement programs. In addition, he served as senior advisor to the FAA Administrator for airspace and airport capacity enhancement planning.

He completed his career as chief operating officer of Morten Beyer & Agnew from 2001 to 2013, overseeing the company’s aviation regulatory and general consulting operations.

He has continued to be involved with the College, organizing the 50th reunion for the Wagner Bregenz class of 1966–67 and hosting and participating in Wagner events in the D.C. area. He is a member of the Heritage Society. He also serves his community as vice president on the Board of Directors of Arundel Lodge, a non-profit mental heath facility in Anne Arundel County.

Wagner Alumni Fellows

For distinguished careers in defined aspects of the College's academic program

Mystica M. Alexander ’87, Economics/Business Law

Mystica Alexander ’87 has distinguished herself in the fields of law and business education.

A member of the Wagner College circle of Omicron Delta Kappa, Alexander says that her most memorable professor was ODK adviser Joseph D. “Joedy” Smith.

After graduating from Wagner in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, she earned her law degree in 1990 from Harvard Law School.

Alexander worked as a tax attorney for two of Boston’s top law firms — Palmer & Dodge, and Hale & Dorr — before joining the faculty of Bentley University, where she won a 2012 Innovation in Teaching Award. A member of the Academy of Legal Studies in Business, Alexander was recently awarded tenure with a promotion to associate professor and will become chair of Bentley’s Department of Law, Taxation, and Financial Planning, effective July 1.

She has authored numerous articles and is co-author of The Legal and Ethical Environment of Business: An Integrated Approach, a textbook used in undergraduate classrooms. Her teaching experience also includes serving as a lecturer and instructor at Babson College, Boston University, Northeastern University, and Harvard Law School.

She is married to Steve Yang, whom she met at Wagner, and they have a son, Michael.


Lawrence Ambrosino ’69, Education

Lawrence “Larry” Ambrosino’s career in public education has spanned five decades. A native Staten Islander, Ambrosino began his career in education in 1967 as a teacher at Vacation Day Camp 44. In 1970, he began teaching at I.S. 51 Edwin Markham; after six years, he was named dean of boys. In 1978, he became assistant principal at I.S. 72 Rocco Laurie. Two years later, at the age of 32, Ambrosino became the youngest principal in New York City when he was selected to head P.S. 57 Hubert H. Humphrey in Park Hill. After 18 years at P.S. 57, he was chosen as superintendent of schools for Shrewsbury, New Jersey, a post he held for 10 years.

His extensive volunteer work shows his commitment to the community of Staten Island. He served on the boards of the Red Cross and Community Television. He was president of the Staten Island Council of Boy Scouts, a founder and chairman of the Staten Island Sports Hall of Fame, and founder and chairman of the Patrolman Rocco Laurie Memorial Scholarship Fund. In addition, he has been an Explorer Post advisor, citywide basketball coach, chairman of the Good Scout Committee, a CYO and PAL coach, and a member of the CYO executive board.

His honors include the 1995 Patrick Daly Award from Borough President Guy Molinari, the International Rotary Paul Harris Fellow designation, Good Scout and Silver Beaver awards from the Boy Scouts of America, Richard Silverstein Award from the Staten Island Mental Health Society, and lifetime achievement and distinguished alumni awards from the Catholic Youth Organization.

He received a Bachelor of Science in education from Wagner College and a master’s in administration and supervision from Kean University. He and his wife Dorothy — also a retired New York City public school principal (P.S. 21) — have three children and five grandchildren.

Kim Linda Joho ’79 M’82, Bacteriology

Kim Linda Joho ’79 M’82 is a leader in the field of microbiology and public health.

She studied music at Wagner before changing to the study of medical technology. She played in Wagner’s community orchestra and band, and continues to play the flute at her church and the New Jersey Workshop for the Arts.

She completed her bachelor’s in medical technology in 1979 and her master’s in bacteriology and public health in 1982. She started her career as a medical technologist at hospitals in New Jersey before joining Merck as a microbiologist and then St. Francis Medical Center, Jersey City, as supervisor of the microbiology laboratory.

In 1988, she joined the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey, as supervisor of the microbiology laboratory. In 2012, she became the hospital’s manager of microbiology and molecular pathology.

She has been an adjunct instructor of microbiology at her alma mater since 2012, earning the 2015 Exceptional Graduate Faculty Award. She also serves as a mentor for Wagner students. In addition, she teaches at Middlesex County College.

She has co-authored several publications in academic journals and has given several invited presentations in New Jersey on topics related to laboratory preparedness and response to bioterrorism and infectious disease outbreaks. She has served on New Jersey Department of Health task forces on biosafety, bioterrorism, and pandemic influenza. She is a member of the American Society of Microbiology and its New York City Branch as well as the American Society for Clinical Pathology.

Susan Nock ’85, Theater

Susan Nock ’85 is an Actors’ Equity Association artist whose career encompasses film, television, national and European tours, and stages in New York City and others nationwide.

Susan Nock was born in New Jersey into an artistic and musical family. Her father was a bluegrass musician, surrounding her with music at a very young age. Rumor has it, she sang before speaking! Currently, she is the lead singer of the ’60s band MOD As Hell, a project created in part by film maker/actor John Gigante ’84.

A theater major at Wagner, she names Randall Alderson as her most memorable professor. Her Wagner College Theatre roles included Lady Macduff in Macbeth and Louise in Gypsy.

Recently, she was seen onstage at TheatreZone in Naples, Florida, in the role of Florence in Chess. Prior to that, she played opposite Gary Sandy in Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati’s Mack and Mabel. Susan was delighted to be part of the ongoing Richie Byrne [’85] Show at Caroline’s Comedy Club on Broadway in NYC. In a night of sketch comedy, Richie’s guest stars included Joey Kola, Jim Gaffigan, Catherine Hickland, Eden Riegel, John Callahan, and American Idol’s Matthew Metzger. Richie can be seen regularly warming up the crowd for Dr. Oz’s television show.

Also in NYC, she was in Wings Theatre’s production of Soap Opera, where she played the role of Vampy Nurse Nolan. Regionally, she played Irene Molloy in Hello Dolly with Ruta Lee at Casa Manana Theatre in Ft. Worth, Texas. On the road, she performed the role of Aldonza in Niko’s Man of La Mancha national tour, and Maria in the European tour of West Side Story. She is also proud of her involvement with the Emmy Award-winning None for the Road, an anti-DUI show for young people.

Wagner Alumni Key

For graduates of the last decade who have made extraordinary achievements in their personal and professional endeavors

Kellie Griffith ’14

Kellie Griffith ’14 has stood out for her civically engaged leadership ever since she arrived at Wagner College as a first-year student from Riverhead, New York.

During her first year at Wagner, Griffith joined the College’s Habitat for Humanity chapter on a five-day service trip to the city of Cuenca, Ecuador. Because of her fluency in Spanish, she served as the chapter’s translator.

A dual major in elementary education and Spanish, she volunteered at El Centro del Inmigrante, an immigrant association located in the Staten Island community of Port Richmond, throughout her four years at Wagner. For two years, she served as the Port Richmond Scholar of Education. Representing Wagner and the Port Richmond Partnership, she oversaw all research and service efforts at four schools in Port Richmond. She also served as an intercultural exchange intern in San Jose, Costa Rica, during the summer of 2013.

Her extensive cross-cultural and teaching experience led her to win a prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Assistant fellowship. As a Fulbright ETA, she spent the year after her Wagner graduation teaching at the public university in Loja, Ecuador.

Since September 2015, she has been a teacher in a first-grade Spanish/English dual language classroom at P.S. 19 in Port Richmond, Staten Island, where she had done research and service while she was still a Wagner student. She also helps with P.S. 19’s Early Morning Reading Intervention Program. In December 2015, NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña cited P.S. 19 for its exemplary program for dual-language learners.

Griffith is working on her Master of Science in bilingual education from the City College of New York. During the summer of 2016, she was chosen to participate in Hunter College’s TESOL Exchange Program, which allowed her to study at a university in San Jose, Costa Rica, and to observe a variety of educational settings.

Kellie Griffith was featured in Wagner’s Citizen Alum video series last year.

Reverend Lyle Guttu Award

For contributions to Wagner, local communities, or the world in a spiritual way

Bishop John J. O’Hara

Bishop O’Hara was ordained to the episcopacy by His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York, on August 4, 2014. Appointed as episcopal vicar of both southern Manhattan and Staten Island, Bishop O’Hara is also serving the archdiocese as vicar for planning.

Bishop O’Hara was raised in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He earned his BA degree in English in 1967 from Seton Hall University. Before entering Saint Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, he worked in the communications field, serving at radio stations WERA in Plainfield, New Jersey, and WMTR/WDHA in Morristown, New Jersey, from 1967 to 1980.

He was ordained to the priesthood in 1984. He served as parochial vicar at Saint Charles Parish in Oakwood Heights, Staten Island, from 1984 until 1992, when he was transferred to the Parish of Saint Teresa of the Infant Jesus in Castleton Corners, Staten Island. He was appointed pastor of Saint Teresa’s in 2000. During his years on Staten Island, Bishop O’Hara was very involved in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, seeking to build bridges of communication and understanding among the island’s very diverse faith communities — an involvement that continues to this day and has expanded to include Manhattan.

Following 12 years as pastor, Bishop O’Hara was appointed the first director of the Office of Strategic Pastoral Planning. In this capacity, he supervised the ongoing reorganization of parishes throughout the archdiocese, a process he continues to guide in his role as vicar for planning.

Bishop O’Hara was appointed to the ecumenical/interfaith Committee of Religious Leaders, which addresses issues of community concern and promotes understanding and dialogue among all peoples of New York City. A chaplain to and member of the Order of Malta and the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, he also serves as a board member of the Greater New York Councils, Boy Scouts of America.

His Holiness, Pope Francis, appointed him auxiliary bishop of New York on June 14, 2014. In April 2015, Bishop O’Hara returned to Staten Island to take up residence in the rectory of Saint Charles Parish, where he began as a newly ordained priest in 1984.