40 Under Forty celebrates successful, inspiring alumni

The SUNY New Paltz 40 Under Forty awards recognition program honored 40 alumni under the age of 40 who earned a SUNY New Paltz undergraduate, graduate or certificate of advanced study degree and who are innovative leaders in their fields.

Finalists were chosen from a diverse pool of 135 nominees spanning numerous career fields, including education, the arts, science, technology, medicine, business, media and government.

“There was no shortage of well-deserving nominees,” said Shana Circe ’02 (Art Education) ’08g (Visual Arts Education), director of alumni relations. “Our alumni continue to make significant impacts in their communities both professionally and personally. We are very proud of their achievements and commitment to giving back in this way.”

Click here to view photos from the 40 Under Forty Celebration 

The celebration culminated with an event on June 7, at Novellas in New Paltz. The occasion featured an introduction by Alumni Council President Kevin Sanchez ’15 (Business Administration) and included remarks from Circe, President Donald P. Christian and student speaker Quentin Owusu-Adjei Thomson ’20 (Electrical Engineering).

Many finalists demonstrated a strong entrepreneurial spirit in their work, including; David Walton ’06 (Metal) and Sara Walton ’10 (Visual Arts Education), owners, Hudson Valley Goldsmith; Chris Ganje ’05 (History), CEO and co-founder, AMPLYFI, a business intelligence company; and Lara Hope Levine ’06 (Journalism), award-winning touring musician and band leader of Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones.

Other honorees are groundbreakers in their professions. These include; Eileen (Carpenter) Uchitelle ’09 (Photography), first woman to join the Rugby Core team; Emma (Hempel) Morcone ’11 (Music) ’14g (Humanistic Multicultural Education), Title IX coordinator and first LGBTQ+ coordinator at SUNY New Paltz; and Giancarlo Llaverias ’16 (Communication Studies), first Afro-Latino legislator for Dutchess County District 1.

“It was an immense honor to stand beside such true-to-self, authentic and genuine individuals that have done good in the world. Each high five, hug and moment of sharing reminded me of what’s possible when we allow ourselves to be challenged by individuals that believe. Educators that both believe and care enough about others to impart their leadership, guidance and wisdom onto their students.” Juan-Carlos Piñeiro  ’07 (Psychology), left, pictured with President Donald P. Christian.


“There are about 10 million things about New Paltz that I remember fondly and still cherish to this day. I met people that transcended the role of friend and became closer to family.  I met my wife in my freshman year and cannot imagine my life without her. I played hockey for four years for the Hawks and had some truly amazing times.  I also have the utmost respect and admiration for the faculty that I had the privilege to encounter.” – James O’Brien ’03 (Physics; Mathematics), above far left.


“I was honored to be included among such an outstanding group of alumni. The SUNY New Paltz reputation for excellence was present in each person recognized from a range of exciting careers. You know that feeling when you walk into a place and it just feels right? For me, New Paltz was and always will be, home. – Holly Palmieri ’08 (Communication Studies), above left.

Honorees were nominated by their peers and faculty members and selected for achievements in their careers and communities. Finalists were determined by the College’s 40 Under Forty Awards Committee, composed of representatives from the College’s senior administration, alumni leadership and faculty.

For more information on the program and to see the list of all 40 alumni honorees, visit this link.