Published: April 29, 2013
“As an immigrant, I came to the United States in search of a quality education and rewarding career. At Queensborough I was able to prepare for a path that would lead me to those goals,” said Natalie Roopchand, ʻ06, a student who went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business at Baruch College and was hired by Queensborough Community College as a Freshman Coordinator in the Business Academy. “It is a great privilege to share my knowledge and positive life experiences with other students,” she added.
Natalie’s sentiments were shared by other students as they introduced the evening’s Honorees at Queensborough’s 2013 Partners for Progress Gala on April 25. More than 400 guests convened to salute student success, including corporate and community leaders, legislators, alumni, faculty, staff, students, retirees and other friends.
“I echo Natalie’s sentiments and extend my deep gratitude and thanks to everyone here, who has joined us for an exceptional evening to celebrate, recognize and honor all of our partners,” said Dr. Diane B. Call, President of Queensborough Community College.
“Your investment in our outstanding students and faculty, our treasured cultural centers and research programs is what defines the difference between better and best.”
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Emphasizing the importance of forging strong connections with the community and valued alumni as well as championing its exceptional students, Queensborough honored three Partners of the Year for their distinguished leadership in the areas of finance, business and civic empowerment.
Alumni Partner of the Year
Joseph R. Ficalora, ’67 is the President and Chief Executive Officer of New York Community Bancorp, Inc., the 21st largest bank holding company in the nation, with assets of $43.5 billion. He is also a member of the board of directors of its two primary subsidiaries, New York Community Bank and New York Commercial Bank. Under Mr. Ficalora’s leadership, the Company has evolved from a mutual savings bank with seven branches in Queens and Nassau Counties to a publicly traded multi-bank holding company with 276 branch offices serving consumers and businesses throughout Metro New York, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio, and Arizona.
Community Partner of the Year
Dong Chan Kim is President of Korean American Civic Empowerment (KACE), a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization established in New York City in 1996 and New Jersey in 2000. KACE’s mission is to empower the Korean American community and to help promote human rights issues around the world. In 2010, members of KACE met with Dr. Arthur Flug, the Executive Director of the Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives (KHRCA). KACE and Queensborough partnered together to develop the Asian Social Justice Internship Program in which culturally and ethnically diverse students learn about the history of WWII and then interview survivors from the local community.
Campus Partner of the Year
John Kuitwaard is President of Metropolitan Food Service, Inc. Mr. Kuitwaard believes that businesses are built on robust and mutually beneficial relationships. His company, based in Massapequa, Long Island, has a 25-year history at QCC, and is the sole provider of on-campus dining and catering. A family run business, founded in 1983, Metropolitan is an emerging leader in the food service industry, having been ranked in Food Management magazine’s “Top 50 Management Companies” list for the past several years. At Queensborough, Metropolitan offers a variety of food choices and has three facilities on the campus: the Science Café, the Oakland Café and Tiger Bites Pizzeria. The company was one of the first food service corporations in the nation to open a Starbucks and Jamba Juice on a major college campus.
The Partners for Progress Gala is hosted by the Queensborough Community College Fund, Inc. All funds raised support scholarships for hardworking students to access, attend and earn a college degree; support Queensborough’s commitment to academic excellence by helping its faculty conduct research, develop new teaching techniques and stay abreast of emerging trends in their fields; and support the College’s cultural resources that benefit students and the greater community: Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives, QCC Art Gallery, and Queensborough Performing Arts Center (QPAC).
Each of the three honorees was also recognized with a proclamation signed by New York Assembly member David Weprin, co-signed by Assembly member Nily Rozic and supported by Assembly members Ron Kim and Ed Braunstein.
The 2013 Partners for Progress Gala was chaired by Charlotte Biblow, treasurer of the QCC Fund Board and partner of the law firm Farrell Fritz, P.C.; Mark Kupferberg serves as chair of the QCC Fund Board.
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