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Honor Roll / Recognizing the accomplishments of Western New Yorkers

The St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute Department of Visual and Performing Arts inducted five alumni into the school’s Fine Arts Wall of Honor who have distinguished themselves in their creative endeavors and community involvement.

The inductees are:

Michael Formato, Class of 1971, holds a master’s degree in counseling from Canisius College and works as production manager for the University at Buffalo’s Department of Theater and Dance. As a performer, Formato has been cast in more than two dozen musicals at venues in Western New York, including an Artpark production of “West Side Story.” Formato is involved with the Gus Macker Tournament, People Inc. and Buffalo Boys’ Town, and in 2011 he was named a Legend of Cradle Beach in honor of his years of dedicated support of the camp.

Joseph P. Dispenza, Class of 1980, graduated from SUNY Fredonia State in 1984 with a degree in theater and spent seven years performing in New York City and in national tours of “Oliver” and “Man of La Mancha.” In 2005, Dispenza was named Forest Lawn’s president and, shortly after, a trustee. Dispenza connects his theater experience at St. Joe’s to his successful launching of Forest Lawn’s historical tours in the mid-1990s, using actors to play some of Forest Lawn’s most notable residents. He has served as a member of the Erie County Cultural Resources Advisory Board and as director of the Variety Club of Buffalo.

Robert G. Schulz, Class of 1984, a timpanist, mallet specialist and multi-percussionist, serves as principal percussionist for the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. He has worked with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops and the Boston Ballet Orchestra. In 2010, he recorded Kick and Ride, a concerto for drum set and orchestra written for him by Eric Moe. He received a Grammy nomination for best small ensemble performance on Yehudi Wyner’s “The Mirror.”

Andrew J. (A.J.) Fries, Class of 1990, graduated with a bachelor’s in fine arts from SUNY Buffalo State in 1995. His work has been exhibited at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo Arts Studio, Hallwalls, Big Orbit Gallery and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. One of his most recognizable works, “Twinkies,” was exhibited at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in 2012 in a salute to the beloved snack as Hostess went out of business. Fries also has used his talents to help support numerous organizations, including Roswell Park Cancer Institute, PUSH Buffalo, ALS Therapy Development Institute, Visual Aids, Empire State Pride Agenda and Gerard Place.

Gino J. Bona, Class of 1991, graduated from Ithaca College and worked as a senior management position with a Washington, D.C., advertising agency. He also wrote sports stories for his website, and hired him as a columnist. In 2007, Bona won the National Football League’s Pitch Us Your Idea for the Best Super Bowl Commercial contest and was featured on several national media outlets. He works for a start-up engineering company that designs processing solutions for the Department of Defense and continues to perform with his band, All the Gods, throughout North Carolina and Washington, D.C.


Ian B. Carlino of Buffalo, a graduating journalism, political science and French major at the Syracuse University S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the College of Arts and Sciences, was named a Syracuse University scholar, which is the highest undergraduate academic honor bestowed at the university. The SU Scholars Selection Committee, a university-wide faculty committee, selects the 2013 scholars using criteria that include coursework and academic achievement, creative work, a personal statement and a faculty letter of recommendation.

Carlino is a 2009 graduate of Kenmore West High School.


LeadingAge Western New York (formerly the Western New York Association of Homes and Services for the Aging) honored 59 employees and volunteers who have shown exemplary work in the senior care profession. Five scholarship awards were presented to employees of LeadingAge member facilities to help continue education in the field of long-term health care and geriatrics.

Freed Maxick CPAs awarded a $1,000 scholarship to Lauren Ashburn of Mercy Skilled Nursing Facility, Lackawanna. Ashburn is attending SUNY Buffalo State to earn her bachelor’s degree in social work. She is a resident of West Seneca.

The Janet Engasser $1,000 scholarship was given to Michelle Halliday, a certified nursing assistant at the Pines Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, Olean. The Allegany resident attends Jamestown Community College’s nursing program.

Additional scholarships were presented to the following individuals:

• Elaine Judd, a licensed practical nurse at Beechwood Homes, Getzville. She is a student in Excelsior College’s registered nurse program and lives in Lockport.

• Nanette Viavada, also a Beechwood licensed practical nurse. She is also enrolled in Excelsior’s nursing program and is a Hamburg resident.

• Ann Zuccaro, a personal care aide at Bristol Village, Clarence. She attends Erie Community College’s physical therapy assistant program and lives in Lancaster.

The Special Program Award was given to the Pines Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, Machias, for its Bring Your Child to Work Day. Children and grandchildren of employees participate in this annual intergenerational program that has included a wheelchair obstacle course, Bingo, adaptive equipment contests, “lift” rides, sidewalk chalk decorating, a glow-in-the-dark hand-washing experience and a luncheon with their parent or grandparent.

Brothers of Mercy Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Clarence, received a special program honorable mention for its evening campfire events that include residents and families.


Housing Opportunities Made Equal elected its 2013-14 officers and board of directors and presented awards at its 50th anniversary gala.

The new board includes: chairwoman, Mary Jo Giambelluca; president, Diana Cooke; senior vice president, Elizabeth M. Fox-Solomon; vice presidents, Janet E. Barnes and Laura Krolczyk; secretary, Melissa A. Cavagnaro; and treasurer, Philippe P. Deterville. Both Fox-Solomon and Krolczyk were newly selected for their offices.

Elected to the board of directors were: Michael P. Agoston, Joseph A. Butch, Joel P. Feroleto, Mary Jane Zak, Christina L. Akers, Grace A. Andriette, William W. Berry, Nancy Blaschak, Paul B. Curtin, Tina M. Destro Goodman, Kathleen Haggerty, Bernadette F. Harlan, Gilbert R. Hernandez, Lynn M. Kwon-Dzikiy, Samuel Loliger, Ellary J. Mori, and David A. Nestico.

Fox Solomon received the Director’s Award for her dedication to HOME’s mission and successful fundraising efforts for the Greater Buffalo Community Housing Center. Janet Meiselman, president of Oxford Consulting, was chosen for a second time to receive HOME’s highest honor, the James Crawford Award, for her volunteer efforts in the development of HOME’s offices and affordable housing units at Main and Ferry streets.

The Joanne Champion Granger Scholarship was presented to McKinley High School senior Tiana Wilson for her academic excellence, a spirit of volunteerism and a commitment to civil rights and fair housing.

HOME is a civil rights organization whose mission is to promote diversity and to ensure people of Western New York have an equal opportunity to live in housing and communities of their choice – through education, advocacy, enforcement of fair housing laws, and the creation of new housing opportunities.