Alumni Receive Accolades

By IC News staff, October 16, 2019
The 2019 Alumni Awards honored graduates’ professional achievements and volunteer contributions to Ithaca College.

The winners of Ithaca College’s 2019 Alumni Awards include a ground-breaking children’s book author, the head of a national organization for Jewish feminists, the founder of a village, and the CEO of the “Disneyland of Dairy Stores.”

The eight award winners were honored at the annual Alumni Awards Celebration on Saturday, October 12, during the college’s alumni weekend.

“We’ve come together tonight to celebrate eight incredible alumni for their varied accomplishments, and in doing so, we honor our connections to one another, as well as our connections to our alma mater,” IC Alumni Association Board of Directors president Ami Maki ‘94 said at the dinner. “And I cannot stress enough how meaningful these connections are.”

The 2019 Alumni Awards winners are:

Tom Everett ’66, MS ’69

One of two recipients this year of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Tom Everett graduated from the School of Music in 1966 and earned his master’s degree three years later, with both degrees in music education. Everett took his talent and the skills learned at IC to Harvard University in 1971, where he served as director of bands and founded the university’s jazz program.

Along with pioneering the jazz program at Harvard, Everett organized and conducted the Harvard Jazz Bands, Harvard Wind Ensemble, and Harvard Summer Pops Band. After four decades of coordinating and conducting athletic events, commencements, diplomatic greetings, trumpet fanfares, and parades, he stepped down in 2013. He is director emeritus of bands and jazz advisor to the Office for the Arts.

Everett has performed with the Bolshoi Ballet, Boston Pops, Portland Symphony, and the bands of Tommy Dorsey, Dizzy Gillespie, and Ray Charles. He conducted on J.J. Johnson’s The Brass Orchestra, which was nominated for three Grammys.

Anne McClure Furry ’55, MUSB ’56

Another recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Anne McClure Furry has set a standard of excellence in her professional, community and family lives to which others may aspire. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in music education, and later receiving her teaching certification from Syracuse University, Furry was a private music teacher for years while building her family, and in 1973 created a part-time music program at Ithaca’s Fall Creek Elementary School. This launched a 22-year career as a music educator in the Ithaca City School District that included a role as District Coordinator wherein she scheduled and oversaw a music staff that grew to 22 teachers.  

During her career, Furry served as an officer of several music organizations, including the New York State School Music Association, Music Educators National Conference, the Ithaca Music Club, and the Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity for Women. In 1974, Furry worked with a group to form the Village of Lansing, located in the southern part of the Town of Lansing, New York.  Anne served as the village’s Trustee, then Deputy Mayor, and then Mayor until 1986.

Furry has been a lecturer and mentor of practice teachers at Ithaca College, and in 2005 established the Anne McClure Furry ’55 Endowment Fund for the Promotion and Support of Pedagogical Training in Classroom Music Education.

Daniel Haack ’10

The recipient for the Outstanding Young Alumni Award, Daniel Haack is a leading children’s media executive, most recently serving as head of marketing and digital product with StoryBots. Haack oversaw the launch of StoryBots Classroom, a free platform for educators, as well as the premieres of two original StoryBots series on Netflix. As part of the team behind StoryBots’ digital platforms, Haack won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Interactive Media.

Haack is also the author of “Prince & Knight,” an LGBTQ-themed fairy tale picture book published worldwide. “Prince & Knight” was a Goodreads Choice Awards nominee and was named one of the best children’s books of 2018 by Amazon, Kirkus Reviews, and the Chicago Tribune. “Maiden & Princess,” which Haack co-authored with fellow IC alum Isabel Galupo ’14, was named to Book Riot’s list of best books of 2019. A two-time cancer survivor, Haack has also been active in fundraising efforts for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Stupid Cancer.

Sheila Katz '05

Sheila Katz, who received one of two Humanitarian Alumni Awards, has been inspiring others since her days as a politics student at Ithaca College. After graduating, Katz served as Hillel International’s vice president for student engagement and leadership. During her 12 years with Hillel, she engaged Jewish students around the world through programs she created including Ask Big Questions, which inspired over 300,000 students to participate in conversations that helped them to understand themselves and others. Katz’s work with Hillel also included projects designed to reduce rape culture on campuses and increase inclusion for students with disabilities.

In 2014, Katz was appointed by the White House to committees advising President Obama on higher education and women’s rights. Katz is a longtime advocate for equal pay and mentors young women on the issue. In summer 2019, Katz was named CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women, a network of 90,000 feminists across the country who are turning their progressive Jewish values into action by advocating for women, families and children. 

Fred Laub '71

The Edgar "Dusty" Bredbenner Jr. '50 Distinguished Alumni Award winner, Fred Laub graduated from IC in 1971 with a degree in economics and subsequently earned an MBA from Cornell University. Laub launched a successful career in advertising followed by a 30+ year entrepreneurial venture with Utmost Interiors, a design and decorating company in Miami, Florida.

Throughout his career, Laub has made major contributions as a volunteer in both regional activities and fundraising. He established the Laub Family Scholarship and the Beverly Baker ’54 School of Music Travel Ensemble Fund. Laub served as a member of IC’s Alumni Association Board of Directors from 1974 to 1976, and more recently has been an alumni admission volunteer. In addition to his philanthropy that supports the School of Music, Laub has also donated artwork by Dorothy Hoyt Dillingham and supported the Ithaca College Annual Fund and the Friends of Ithaca College Annual Fund.

Stew Leonard ’77

Stew Leonard, the winner of the Professional Achievement Award, has served for nearly 30 years as president and CEO of Stew Leonard’s, the legendary chain of dairy and food stores dubbed the “Disneyland of Dairy Stores” by the New York Times. During his tenure, Leonard has presided over the chain’s expansion to include four food stores in Connecticut and New York, as well as nine wine stores in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. The chain just opened a store in Paramus, New Jersey, this fall.

The company is regularly featured on Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list, and Stew Leonard’s Wines was recognized by Wine Enthusiast Magazine as “Retailer of the Year” in 2011 and 2013. Leonard has fostered the company’s philosophy of promoting from within and providing positive reinforcement that has resulted in its longtime reputation for excellent customer service and team member development. As a result, Leonard is a sought-after public speaker, and was listed as one of the top 25 speakers from the Washington Speakers Bureau.

In addition to leading the family business to acclaim and success, Leonard and his wife, Kim, are actively involved in giving back to the community through philanthropic initiatives that include establishing Stew Leonard III Children’s Charities, which offers swimming lessons to thousands of underprivileged youths each year.

Evan Robbins '87

Another recipient of the Humanitarian Alumni Award, Evan Robbins created a nonprofit organization, Breaking the Chain Through Education (BTCTE), as well as an associated club at Metuchen High School where he teaches. They are dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating victims of child trafficking in Ghana’s fishing industry.

To help promote education and to free 20 trafficked children, BTCTE later founded a school in 2013 in the village of Awate Tornu (the school was completed in exchange for the children’s release — a deal that BTCTE negotiated with the village in 2011).

Since its founding in 2006, BTCTE has shifted its mission to providing long-term care to survivors of trafficking rather than focusing on rescuing more children, based on the children’s demonstrated need for ongoing support. In addition to Robbins spending time with each child every summer to assess their needs, BTCTE social workers visit the children regularly to monitor their continued progress toward academic or career goals and check on their mental and physical well-being.

Kimberly Zeoli ’89

Kimberly Zeoli, this year’s Volunteer Service Award winner, has supported IC students in their professional endeavors since her own days as a student, when she worked as a resident assistant and tutor and participated in academic clubs relating to her accounting major. Zeoli is currently based in Boston, Massachusetts, as a senior partner at Deloitte & Touche. 

Zeoli has demonstrated her commitment to the School of Business and its students through annual speaking engagements at the school, as well as though her participation in many professional networking events. She is a member of the Business School Advisory Council and has been a Career Services volunteer, Network Nights panelist, and IC Women’s Network host.

She understands the crucial importance of placing qualified alumni in real-world jobs in order to enhance the prestige and visibility of Ithaca College. Despite her demanding schedule, Zeoli strives to visit campus every year, mentor students who reach out to her, and respond to members of the IC community who contact her for guidance.

Make a Nomination

Anyone can nominate an alumnus/a for for an Alumni Award! Just fill out this form. 

The deadline for nominations is January 31, 2020