The SUNY New Paltz School of Business Hall of Fame Selection Committee for 2010 is pleased to announce this year's inductees: Rocco Commisso as Business Person of the Year, Everton Henriques & Jeannie Irvine as Alumni of the Year, Diana Ortiz as Student Leader of the Year and Steve & Shelley Turk will receive the Dean’s Award of Excellence.
Business Person of the Year
Rocco Commisso’s illustrious career in the cable television industry spans three decades. He is the chairman and chief executive officer of Mediacom Communications Corporation, a company he founded in 1995 in the basement of his home to acquire and reinvigorate cable systems in the nation’s underserved smaller communities. Together with his dedicated management team, Mr. Commisso took Mediacom public in 2000 and engineered its dramatic growth into the nation’s 8th largest cable operator with annual revenues exceeding $1.4 billion. With its corporate offices in Middletown, NY and 4,500 employees in 22 states, Mediacom is the leading provider of advanced broadband services to 1.4 million customers in over 1,500 small cities and towns across America.
Mr. Commisso began his business career at Pfizer Inc.’s manufacturing facility in Brooklyn, NY. After graduating from business school in 1975, he spent a decade in the financial community, initially at The Chase Manhattan Bank and then at Royal Bank of Canada, where he led the bank’s U.S. lending activities to companies in the media and communications sectors. From 1986 to 1995, he served as executive vice president, chief financial officer and director of Cablevision Industries Corporation. During his tenure there, privately-held Cablevision Industries grew from the 25th to the 8th largest cable company in the nation, serving over 1.3 million customers at the time of its merger with Time Warner.
Mr. Commisso serves on the executive committees and board of directors of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and Cable Television Laboratories, Inc. He is also on the board of directors of the National Italian American Foundation and C-SPAN and is a member of the Cable TV Pioneers. He is the recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the National Italian American Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2007, Mr. Commisso was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame. In 2008, he served as Co-Chair of the Cable Show, the industry’s premier annual event. In 2009, he was the recipient of the Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership, the cable industry’s highest honor, and Mediacom was named the nation’s best cable company by CableFAX Magazine.
Born in Calabria, Italy, Mr. Commisso immigrated to the United States at age 12. He earned both a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and a master’s degree in business administration from Columbia University. While at Columbia, he was co-captain of the varsity soccer team and was elected president of the business school student body. In 2004, on the 250th anniversary of Columbia’s founding, the school’s daily newspaper listed Commisso as one of its 250 greatest alumni.
Dean's Award of Excellence
Steve & Shelley Turk own and operate Rocking Horse Ranch, an all inclusive family vacation dude ranch in Highland. The Ranch continually receives the prestigious AAA and Mobile 3-Diamond rating, in addition to receiving local accolade for the property’s award winning landscape and gardens. In 2004, Mr. Turk and his Management Team purchased Splash Down Park in Fishkill, renamed it Splash Down Beach, added a giant wave pool and more rides, and enhanced the theming throughout the park. In its first year, the water park earned the Newcomer Business award by the Dutchess County Economic Development Corporation. In 2007, the Team introduced the Halloween attraction Skull Island Scream, which earned the number one Haunted Attraction of the Hudson Valley its first season.
Mr. Turk is President and CEO of the Rocking Horse Ranch, roles he has held since 2001. He has previously worked in the reservations and sales department, Saddle horse operation (the largest of its kind in North America) and food and beverage units during high school. He became the Food and Beverage Director in 1985, and shareholder and Vice President of Tee Bar Corporation (dba Rocking Horse Ranch) in 1987. Mr. Turk graduated from the University of Miami School of Business in 1981.
In his over 30-year experience in hospitality management, Mr. Turk has cultivated a strong Management Team committed to the pursuit of quality assurance. He has continually focused on guest services by adding features and new attractions at the Ranch. From giant waterslides to rock-climbing walls and three guest elevators in a two year span. He also introduced “Big Splash”, the Hudson Valley’s first Indoor Water Park.
Ms. Turk works in the Finance Department at Rocking Horse Ranch. Previously, she was employed by Key Corp as an Auditor, and American Capital Corp as a Financial Analyst and Stock Broker. She received her B.S. in Finance with a minor in Economics from SUNY New Paltz.
In the tradition of his mother and late father, Nathan and Gloria Turk, Mr. & Mrs. Turk support our community through many generous donations to education and the arts. In addition, Mr. Turk has served on the Board of Trustees for The Community Foundation of Dutchess County and The Bardavon 1869 Opera House. He is currently on the Dutchess County Tourism Council and Vassar Hospital Foundation Board. Mr. Turk has coached the Highland High School girls varsity tennis team and has even danced at the Bardavon in the New Paltz Ballet School’s production of The Nutcracker.
Ms. Turk is currently a member of the Audit Committee for the Highland Central School District, a Banker and committee member for the Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation, and a Board Member of the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce. She has previously served as Secretary for the Jewish Federation of Dutchess County, Treasurer for Vassar Temple, Assistant Leader for the Girl Scouts and Vice President of the New Paltz Ballet Theatre. She was also a member of the Building Level Team at Highland High School and the Curriculum Development Committee at Highland Central School District.
Mr. & Mrs. Turk married in 1987, and they have two beautiful daughters Stefanie and Samantha, ages 16 and 18. The family lives on Ranch property in Highland, NY.
Alumni of the Year
Everton H. Henriques is President and founder of E.H. Hall, Inc., a consulting and supplier firm in the process development, environmental, safety and health arena. He is a co-founder and vice president of the former Panasonic Plasma Display Laboratory of America, Inc. (formerly Plasmaco, Inc.) where he managed their process development, engineering and prototype manufacturing activities. Plasmaco developed and made the first full color 60-inch HD plasma display television in the world in 1999. Mr. Henriques was an engineering manager at IBM’s Kingston plasma display manufacturing facility, and was responsible for setting up Plasmaco’s facility in Highland. Prior to his employment with IBM, Mr. Henriques worked as a chemist for Texaco, Inc.
Mr. Henriques received a BS degree in Chemistry and an MA degree, with emphasis in Physical Chemistry and Materials Science, from SUNY New Paltz. He also received a Business Decision Making Certificate from the Colgate Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia.
During his tenure at IBM, Mr. Henriques received the IBM Inventors of the Year Award three times, the IBM Invention Achievement Award and the IBM Outstanding Technical Achievement Award. He holds one US Patent and has several publications.
Mr. Henriques was Chair of the Board of Trustees for the SUNY New Paltz Foundation (2007 – 2009) and currently serves as a Trustee. In addition, he is a co-founder, former President and director of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail Association, member of the 2004 – 2006 Ulster County Charter Commission, and member of the former SUNY New Paltz EAB. He is a past President of the George Washington Carver Foundation, a member and a past President of the Highland Rotary Club, former member of the board of directors for the Southern Ulster County Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Lloyd’s Economic Development, Sewer and Water Committees.
Mr. Henriques was honored in 2000 as a Conservation Hero by the National Parks Service. In 2008, at the Mid Hudson Valley’s Philanthropy Awards Ceremony, the Association of Fundraising Professionals recognized him with the Outstanding Fundraising Volunteer Award.
Jeannie Irvine received a BS in Mathematics with an emphasis in Computer Science and a minor in Asian Studies from SUNY New Paltz. She worked for IBM Corporation as a Programmer until her early retirement in 1993. Since then she has spent most of her time raising her two children, volunteering in the local community and supporting her husband, Everton, in his business endeavors. Ms. Irvine has been a Bible class teacher for 20 years. She is a member of the American Sewing Guild. She occasionally teaches sewing and studies Spanish as a hobby.
Mr. Henriques & Ms. Irvine are strong supporters of SUNY New Paltz. Together, they’ve created ten endowments to support various scholarships at SUNY New Paltz.
Their daughter, Jeannie, graduated from the SUNY New Paltz in May 2008 with a BS degree in Accounting. She was CFO for the first place team in the 2008 Business Plan Contest and was the 2008 Student Leader of the Year for the School of Business’ Hall of Fame. Their son, Everton, a BS Chemical Engineer from the University of Delaware and an MS Ceramic Engineer from Alfred University, is currently an MAT student at SUNY New Paltz.
Student Leader of the Year
Diana Ortiz will receive a B.S. degree in Marketing in May 2010 from SUNY New Paltz. She has been actively involved in several student associations including the Student Organization for Business Ethics and Research (SOBER), the Dean’s Student Advisory Board, and the American Marketing Association. She has been on the Dean’s List for two consecutive years.
Under Ms. Ortiz’s stewardship, SOBER has been committed to promoting the awareness of business ethics and integrity to students through guest speakers, panel discussions, and research projects. Last year, SOBER’s panel discussion on the economic meltdown drew a large audience. Topics included the mortgage crisis, banking industry, automobile industry, layoffs, and the impact of ethics, or lack thereof, in business and government. Ms. Ortiz also successfully recruited a panelist from this event to offer a new elective course, Fundamentals of Business Integrity, in Spring 2010.
Ms. Ortiz is just as involved in other departments on campus as she is in the School of Business. She works for Student Activities and Union Services as a Student Activities Manager where she supervises student-sponsored events and assists in department events in the Student Union Building. She is also responsible for departmental public relations and its monthly newsletter.
While at SUNY New Paltz, Ms. Ortiz took advantage of the opportunities made available to her as a student. In Spring 2008, she studied abroad in Guayaquil, Ecuador and took courses in business and Ecuadorian culture. She has worked Open House events, and participated in the School of Business debates. In Spring 2009, she competed in the Business Plan Contest where her team won second place. In Summer 2009, she participated in the Multicultural Advertising Intern Program where she was a Project Management intern at the advertising firm Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners in Sausalito, California. She had the opportunity to work on big accounts like MINI USA, RadioShack, and Priceline. She was also awarded the Wachovia School of Business Scholarship for two consecutive years, 2008-2010.
Ms. Ortiz plans to attend graduate school and pursue a career in advertising.
Everton H. Henriques '78, '83g & Jeannie Irvine '78