GSE Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients
Grand Island School District
Teresa Lawrence, PhD, has been in the educational arena in Western New York for 26 years, having held teaching and leadership positions with the Catholic Diocese, Erie 1 BOCES, Ken-Ton, Williamsville, Clarence and Grand Island school districts. She also served as an educational consultant for LEGO Dacta®, the educational division of LEGO Systems®. Lawrence has worked as an adjunct assistant professor in educational administration and leadership at the University at Buffalo, Stony Brook University and Canisius College.
Educated overseas, Lawrence was initially enrolled in the Department of Defense Dependents Schools system until grade four and, thereafter, in the German school system, learning in that country’s native language. Her college degrees were awarded from the University of Maryland–Munich Campus, Germany; Ruprecht-Karls Universität, Heidelberg, Germany; and the University at Buffalo. In addition to earning her PhD at the University at Buffalo Graduate School of Education, Lawrence completed her undergraduate degree, a master’s degree, administrative certificates and an advanced certificate in educational technology at UB.
Currently, Lawrence is a board trustee at Trocaire College and a board member for Teaching and Restoring Youth. She also serves on the Scholastic Administr@tor Editorial Advisory Board, the CoSN’s (Consortium for School Networking) Leadership for Mobile Learning Initiative Advisory Panel, and on the Opiate Epidemic Task Force Community Education and Prevention Committee.
Her leadership in education includes the successful completion of a $51 million capital project, the development of the Williamsville Information Tracking System, as well as the establishment of multiple educational programs, initiatives and collaboratives across school districts, agencies, businesses and institutions of higher education to increase opportunities for student success.
In 2015, Lawrence was identified by Business First as one of Western New York’s Women of Influence. Additionally, she was recognized by the Western New York Women in Educational Leadership as the 2010 Outstanding Educational Mentor and honored by the School Administrators Association of New York State as the 2004 Outstanding Educator of the Year.
Keith M. Fiels
American Library Association
Keith Michael Fiels, MLS, has served as the executive director of the American Library Association (ALA) since 2002. ALA is the largest and oldest library association in the world, and one of the largest professional associations in the country, with a membership of 56,000. Under his leadership, ALA established a new Office for Library Advocacy, dramatically expanded the Association’s professional publishing and professional development program, brought thousands of Friends of Library Groups into the association, worked on a major community engagement initiative for libraries, and established a new ALA Center for the Future of Libraries.
Prior to joining ALA, Fiels served as the director of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, where he was in charge of state and federal programs for libraries. In Massachusetts, he led efforts to secure over $500 million in state funds for public library reconstruction and universal access to shared automated networks.
Fiels also served as the president of the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, as the founding director of a library consortium in New Jersey, and as a planning consultant for the New York and New Jersey State Libraries. He has worked as a public and school librarian and as an independent library consultant.
He earned a BA in philosophy (1970) and an MLS in library and information studies (1971), both from the University at Buffalo, and completed an advanced studies program in library and information science at the University of Denver. Fiels is the recipient of the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies Leadership Achievement Award and a Library Public Relations Council Award. He was named to the ALA Association for Library Trustees and Advocates National Advocacy Honor Roll in 2002, and the Massachusetts Library Association Hall of Fame in 2004.
Fiels, a regular columnist for American Libraries since 2002, is the co-author or co-editor of a number of books on planning and technology, has authored multiple journal articles, and has spoken about libraries at hundreds of conferences, workshops and other public events.
John E. McKenna
Tonawanda City School District
John McKenna, EdD, has been a principal in the Tonawanda City School District since 1995 and is known and respected for his innovative ideas, dedication to education and his passion to ensure that students receive the best possible educational experiences. McKenna’s commitment to education has resulted in numerous awards and honors.
In 2012, he received the New York State Outstanding Educator of the Year Award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). McKenna also serves as the Western New York chairman for SAANYS and sits on their New York State executive board, which is responsible for developing programs and policies that affect statewide educational practices.
McKenna has served as the educational and legislative chairman for the Niagara Region Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), and has been recognized as an honorary lifetime member for his contributions. He was honored in 2013 with the Special Service Award in Memory of Walter Potocki for his leadership, dedication and support of the PTA across the region.
In 2013, McKenna also received the Presidential Award as a distinguished elementary principal from the Buffalo/Niagara Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa (PDK). He is a past president of PDK at Buffalo State College and a recipient of the Howard K. Soule Fellowship Award from PDK International for his doctoral dissertation.
He is a national presenter for the HOPE Foundation and has presented the “Failure is Not an Option” program across the country. This past year, McKenna was also invited to speak at the annual conferences of the Association of Teacher Educators and the International Society of Educational Planners to discuss the implementation of current educational policies and practices.
McKenna currently serves as the president of the Committee for Identifying and Developing Educational Leadership. This committee is affiliated with the Western New York Educational Service Council and works with all colleges and universities across the region to plan programs and activities to foster educational leadership.
He was also the 2010 recipient of the “Shooting Star Award” presented by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Western New York for his work supporting children with life threatening illnesses. McKenna believes strongly in community service and has made this a cornerstone of his work.
Walter S. Polka
Walter Polka, EdD, is a professor of professional programs and the PhD program coordinator at Niagara University. Polka has held several professional leadership positions during his 45 years as an educator, including: high school social studies teacher, curriculum planner and interscholastic coach at Lewiston-Porter High School (1968–1973); Williamsville Central School District social studies and science curriculum coordinator K–12 (1973–1986); assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction (1986–1990); and superintendent of schools of the Lewiston-Porter School District (1990–2003). His curriculum leadership at Williamsville and Lewiston-Porter resulted in exemplary programs for students and faculty. Lewiston-Porter High School has been identified by the national media as one of the top 100 high schools in the U.S. as a result of the open-access Advanced Placement program he instituted.
In addition to his public school teaching and administration experiences, Polka has taught graduate and undergraduate courses since 1970 as an adjunct professor at several Western New York institutions of higher education, including: Buffalo State College, Medaille College, Niagara University and the University at Buffalo.
After retiring from New York state public education, Polka was appointed as an associate professor of educational administration and the doctoral program coordinator at Georgia Southern University (2003–2008). He was the major adviser for 25 doctoral candidates who successfully completed their doctoral degrees under his guidance. Polka returned to Niagara University in January 2008 to teach and facilitate the development of a new PhD program in leadership and policy studies. He also teaches administrative preparation summer courses at Loyola University in Baltimore, MD.
Polka has authored over two dozen peer-reviewed research articles and eight book chapters. He has presented his research about leadership, curriculum development, diversity and technology in 40 states and 24 countries, and his curriculum research work has been published internationally. His co-authored 2008 book, The Dark Side of Educational Leadership: Superintendents and the Professional Victim Syndrome, continues to be used as a key reference for current and aspiring superintendents throughout the U.S.
Douglas H. Clements
SUNY Distinguished Professor
University at Buffalo
Douglas Clements, PhD, has published over 125 refereed research studies, 18 books, 70 chapters and 275 additional publications in math education, educational technology and early childhood education. Clements, who earned his doctorate in elementary education from the University at Buffalo, joined the UB faculty in 1988 and since then has secured more than $23 million in grant funding for the university.
Clements and colleague Julie Sarama are currently conducting seven research projects funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Institute of Education Sciences (IES, U.S. Department of Education). In the first NSF-funded project, they are developing an interdisciplinary preschool curriculum, including math, science, literacy/language and social-emotional development. In the second, they are developing a state-of-the-art assessment of early math, using advanced statistical techniques and computer-aided testing to measure students’ development along research-based learning trajectories. In the third NSF-funded project, they are developing and refining learning trajectories for geometric measurement.
Clements and Sarama’s IES-funded projects involve large-scale experimental evaluations of curricula. In one, they are evaluating whether self-regulation and math instruction can be combined synergistically. In another suite of projects, they are studying models for scaling up successful interventions. Their TRIAD (Technology-enhanced, Research-based, Instruction, Assessment, and professional Development) model, developed in an earlier funded project, provides research-based guidelines for taking curricula to scale. Their evaluations of the TRIAD model have implemented their early childhood math curriculum, Building Blocks, which itself was developed, tested and refined with NSF funding. All of the projects are concerned with underrepresented children, whose potential for learning math is often not realized. Results have been positive, and the TRIAD model is receiving increasing national attention.
Clements was a member of former President Bush’s National Math Advisory Panel, charged to advise the president and the secretary of education on means to implement effective math education, including the evaluation and effective use of the research related to proven-effective and evidence-based math education. He co-authored the panel’s report, Foundations for Success: The Final Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel.
Eunice A. Lewin
State University of New York
Eunice Lewin, EdM, is a member of the board of trustees of the State University of New York, serving on the Communications and External Affairs; Education, College Readiness and Success; and Audit committees. Lewin has a distinguished 35-year career of service to the Western New York community. She is also currently serving on the board of directors for the Buffalo Urban League and Independent Health, and is the board commissioner for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.
Her past affiliations include founding member, Roswell Park Alliance; board of regents, Canisius College; commissioner, Erie County Commission on the Status of Women; steering committee, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, University at Buffalo; member, Erie County Cultural Resource Advisory Board; vice-chair, Buffalo Prep Board of Directors; Arts Advisory Council, University at Buffalo; vestry, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church; board of trustees, Buffalo Seminary and Western New York Public Broadcasting; and board of directors, American Red Cross-Greater Buffalo Chapter, Buffalo Zoological Gardens, and Hispanic United of Buffalo. Lewin has also been actively involved with the Erie County Chapter of The Links and the Hispanic Women’s League.
Lewin has been recognized for her outstanding service to the Western New York community. She has received the Buffalo Latino Lions Club Hispanic Community Award, 2010; Buffalo State College President’s Distinguished Service Award, 2008; Bethel AME Church Excellence Award, 2006; Marcus Garvey Community Service Award, 2004; National Conference for Community and Justice of Western New York 50th Annual Citation Award, 2003; Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education, 2002; Western New York’s Women Hall of Fame, 2002; and the Ebony and Ivory Civic Award, 1994.
She earned an EdM in educational administration and an MA in American and Puerto Rican studies, both from the University at Buffalo, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Marymount Manhattan College. Lewin was previously employed as a bilingual school social worker for the Buffalo Board of Education; a bilingual senior child protection worker for the Erie County Department of Social Service; and a bilingual social worker for the Catholic Charities West Side Counseling Center.
Erie Community College
Jack Quinn, EdM, joined Erie Community College (ECC) as its 10th president in April 2008. Prior to coming to ECC, Quinn was the president of Cassidy & Associates, a leading government relations firm located in Washington, DC. He previously served as a congressman for the 27th District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993–2004, representing a majority of the Western New York area, including Chautauqua County. He was also the supervisor of the Town of Hamburg from 1984–1992. Quinn taught English at Orchard Park Middle School from 1973–1983.
Quinn graduated from Bishop Timon High School in South Buffalo, NY in 1969. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English education from Siena College and a master’s degree in English education from the University at Buffalo, as well as a New York State school superintendent license from the State University College at Fredonia.
Quinn has served as a director of the Science in the Public Interest program at Georgetown University; a director of fundraising of the American Ireland Fund; a corporate advisory board member of the So Others May Eat program; and was a board director of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation.
Currently, Quinn is a trustee for the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust; a member of the board of directors of the Kaiser Aluminum Corporation, headquartered in Foothill Ranch, CA; a member of the board of directors of the Catholic Health System Network of Western New York; and is a member of the Rare Books Commission at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library.
He also serves on the board of directors at the ECC Foundation and is a member of the Western New York College Connection Executive Committee. Quinn is a member of the executive committee for the New York Community College Association of Presidents and serves as the chair of its legislative subcommittee.
In 2010, he served as co-chair of New York’s Empire State Summer Games. Also in 2010, Quinn was invited by President Barack Obama and Dr. Jill Biden to participate in the White House Summit on Community Colleges.
Jean M. Alberti
Dr. Jean M. Alberti Center for the Prevention of Bullying Abuse and School Violence
Jean Alberti, PhD, has had a multi-faceted career but always with an education component. Like many women of her generation, she began her career as a teacher. Alberti taught 5th and 6th grade in the Maryvale and Sweet Home school districts before deciding to pursue a doctoral degree in educational psychology at the University at Buffalo.
While pursuing her doctorate, Alberti worked as a graduate assistant and then was named director of the Office of University Research in the Student Affairs Division. Her career goal was to “teach teachers how to teach,” but her career took a detour into medical education. After earning her degree, Alberti accepted the position of assistant professor at the University of Illinois School of Medicine, where she was “teaching physicians and allied health professionals how to teach and evaluate.” She later became an associate professor and department chair at the Chicago Medical School, and a grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health.
Alberti’s experience as a grant reviewer led to another career detour into the field of health education. In 1980, she was named the director of evaluation for two National Institutes of Health grants; the first grant was for the Chicago Heart Association and the second for Northwestern University’s Multipurpose Arthritis Center. During this time, Alberti was completing a second master’s degree, in counseling psychology, which set the stage for her next career detour.
For the past 29 years, Alberti has been in private practice as a licensed clinical psychologist doing cognitive-behavioral therapy. This is a continuation of her education roots, doing “as much teaching and coaching as counseling.” Alberti is a nationally known expert on child psychology and behavior and her groundbreaking theories on bullying have led to the establishment at UB of the Dr. Jean M. Alberti Center for the Prevention of Bullying Abuse and School Violence.
Alberti has been recognized for her numerous accomplishments throughout her distinguished career. Among these honors are listings in Who’s Who of American Women and the International Dictionary of Distinguished Leadership, and awards such as Outstanding Young Women of America and Chicago Woman of Leadership. Alberti has also served as the international president of Pi Lambda Theta, the international honor society and professional association in education.
Outreach Projects and Partnerships Officer
Library of Congress
Roberta Stevens, MLS, is the outreach projects and partnerships officer at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC, and the project manager of the National Book Festival. She has had a 35-year career in a wide range of libraries. Previously, she was the resource center coordinator for the Genesee-Wyoming Board of Cooperative Services, she oversaw media services for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and was the director of technical operations for the Fairfax County Public Library.
For the past 24 years, Stevens has assumed a variety of responsibilities at the Library of Congress, including high-profile positions working with members of Congress and their staff, individuals at the highest levels of government, and top donors to the library. She managed the three-year Library of Congress Bicentennial Program, which included commemorative coins, a commemorative stamp, exhibitions, publications, symposia, concerts and the Gifts to the Nation program that resulted in $80 million raised for library collections, projects, and a scholarly center.
Most recently, Stevens has been the project manager for the National Book Festival, a collaborative effort of the Library of Congress and the Office of the First Lady, which began in 2001. Funded by donations, this complex enterprise annually features 70 popular and diverse authors and attracts an audience of 120,000. Over the festival’s eight years, 440 of America’s best known and most celebrated authors have participated in the event.
Stevens has served two terms on the ALA (American Library Association) Council, which is the governing body of ALA. She is currently on ALA’s Executive Board and has just completed her candidacy for ALA President. She was a member of ALA’s Committee on Legislation for six years and chaired its Privacy Subcommittee during the critical time following passage of the USA Patriot Act.
June Justice Crawford
June Crawford, EdM, is a private consultant who moved back to Western New York after a long career in literacy education.
She began her academic career as a non-traditional student in Millard Fillmore College at UB and continued her studies in the Graduate School of Education while teaching classes as a graduate assistant in the Learning Center. This led to a lifelong interest in developmental education for college students and the evaluation of education programs. Crawford spent 20 years at Niagara University, where she was the founding director of the University Learning Center, receiving recognition from the National Center for Developmental Education for an outstanding program in the United States. She is a founding member and the first president (1979) of the New York College Learning Skills Association.
Crawford is retired from the National Institute for Literacy, U.S. Department of Education in Washington, DC. At the federal level, she directed the Bridges to Practice teacher training program for teachers of adults, and developed a certification program that is currently being utilized by 46 States for teachers in adult literacy programs.
Other federal work included the supervision of the contract for the Adult Literacy Research Working Group, working with reading and writing researchers from many universities across the United States in reviewing research in adult literacy, and determining guidelines for the literacy field. This work has produced several publications; forms the basis for the latest in reading training programs for adult educators, sponsored by the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education; and has spawned the development of new pre- and post-tests of teacher knowledge of reading.
Crawford has presented at most of the major reading and/or learning disabilities conferences in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and has published a text for college students, and several articles on literacy education, the latest in a monograph recently published by the International Dyslexia Association.
Public Service Institute
University of Oklahoma
Arthur Cole, PhD, recently retired from the federal government after more that thirty years of service. Cole's positions included director of the Department of Education's training and development office that served 5,000 staff; deputy director of the White House Initiative for Historically Black Colleges and Universities; service in the United States Peace Corps as director for the Kingdom of Lesotho, an independent nation inside South Africa, where he led over 100 volunteers who assisted some of the lowest income residents on the continent in education, agriculture and health projects; and he was responsible for overseeing more than twenty federal programs in the areas of technical assistance, public school choice, teacher education and educational equity, as director of School Improvement Programs.
In 2003, Cole joined the University of Oklahoma as senior advisor in the Public Service Institute. There he continues to address the challenges of education, poverty and communication for the most impoverished citizens of the world through the institute's partnership with the Observatory for Cultural and Audiovisual Communication, a non-government organization accredited by the United Nations, and based in Milan, Italy.
Board of Elections and Ethics
District of Columbia
Lenora Cole, PhD, has dedicated her life and professional career to help eradicate racial inequalities and stereotypical gender roles. Her accomplishments include developing curricula and programs to educate economically, culturally and mentally challenged youth in school districts in Buffalo and Chicago, and serving as vice president for student affairs at the American University and the University of the District of Columbia. At both institutions, she strengthened and created student development programs to recognize the needs of all students.
During the height of the women's movement, President Ronald Reagan appointed her director of the Women's Bureau of the Department of Labor, to create standards and policies for women in the workforce. In this position, she was the chief government spokesperson for employed women, and directed the Washington office and 10 regional units.
Cole has traveled extensively, both nationally and internationally, advocating for working women and advising them of their rights, opportunities and responsibilities. She has also served her community as a board member for numerous non-profit and professional organizations, and is currently one of three commissioners of the Board of Elections and Ethics of the District of Columbia.
David S. Spence
Southern Regional Education Board (SREB)
David Spence, PhD, became president of SREB in 2005. As president, Spence oversees the nation's largest school improvement network, the nation's largest educational technology collaborative of state K-12 and postsecondary agencies, and many other initiatives designed to help the organization's 16 member states lead the nation in educational progress.
From 1998 to 2005, Spence was executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer of the California State University System, which includes 23 campuses, over 400,000 students and 20,000 faculty. During that time, he implemented the system's strategic plan, the development of a systemwide initiative to increase graduation rates and the establishment of a system accountability process. Most notably, he initiated and coordinated California's Early Assessment Program, in which the college readiness of high school juniors is evaluated, and the results used to further prepare senior year students and adjust high school standards to focus on college readiness.
Spence received his doctoral degree in higher education from UB in 1975.
J. Donald Schumacher
President and CEO
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO)
J. Donald Schumacher, PsyD, has been the president and CEO of NHPCO since October 2002, and president of the National Hospice Foundation since June 2003. He also serves as the president of the Foundation for Hospices in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Schumacher received his doctorate from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (MSPP) in 1986. Prior to attending MSPP, Schumacher graduated from UB with his master's degree in rehabilitation counseling in 1977. From 1978–1989 he was the CEO of Hospice West in Waltham, MA. He served as the president and chief executive officer of the Center for Hospice & Palliative Care in Buffalo from 1989–2002. Schumacher currently serves on the board of the National Health Council. He has lectured nationally on the psychological care of the terminally ill patient and the expansion of hospice care both nationally and internationally.
Schumacher is licensed as a clinical psychologist in Massachusetts and New York State.