College announces 2022 Heritage and Alumni Award winners

SUNY New Paltz presents annual awards during Alumni Reunion to recognize dedicated alumni and faculty.

This fall, honorees will receive their awards at the All-Class Heritage Dinner on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022. The dinner begins at 5 p.m. in the Student Union Building and is part of the Alumni Reunion schedule of events. Follow this link to learn more.


Heritage Awards – These awards recognize alumni and faculty/staff individuals and couples whose devotion to the ideals of the College serves as an extraordinary example to the entire New Paltz community.


Michele Di Palo-Williams ’77 (Sociology) has more than 30 years of experience in healthcare research, working in advocacy, academic and corporate settings.

She is retired from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, where she served as Director of Medical Policy Evaluation and Assistant Director of Health Services Evaluation.

Di Palo-Williams serves on the SUNY New Paltz Foundation Board of Directors and also has served on the board of the Salvation Army of Waltham, Massachusetts. She assisted in the launch of a culinary arts program at the Boston Kroc Center and volunteered at several food relief programs.

Di Palo-Williams, along with her husband Graeme, are active philanthropists, supporting the Scholars’ Mentorship Program with the purchase of laptops for student use, and sponsoring grants for undergraduate student research, travel, conferences and study.

After graduating magna cum laude from SUNY New Paltz, she went on to earn a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Arts and Science at Harvard University. Since retiring, she and Graeme moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, where they are involved in animal rescue.


Nancy Kassop, professor of political science and a nationally recognized expert in constitutional law and the U.S. presidency, has taught at the College for more than 30 years.

Kassop previously served on the SUNY Press Editorial Board for four terms. She earned the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities in 2019.

Each year, Kassop organizes and leads a group of 20 students on a trip to Washington, D.C., during spring break, where they meet with government officials, think tank experts and journalists. The trip includes an annual alumni-student reception, sponsored by the SUNY New Paltz Office of Development and Alumni Relations, where New Paltz alumni from the area engage with current students and often serves as a catalyst for students to gain an internship or paid professional experience in the nation’s capital.


Alumni Professional Achievement Award – This award recognizes alumni who have achieved distinction in a chosen profession or outstanding lifetime achievement.


New York State Senator Robert Jackson ‘75 (Sociology) has made a lasting impact on the lives of his constituents in District 31. He was elected to the State Senate in 2018 and is the first Muslim elected to the NYS Senate. Currently, he chairs the Cities Committee and is a member of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian American Caucus.

Jackson advocates for fairness and equality at the state level and has been diligent and vocal about how funds shall be invested—fighting to ensure that the state fulfills its obligation to provide students with the opportunity for a sound and basic education and fiscal equity. Jackson has continued to push for education, from being at the forefront in the fight to reduce class sizes to helping pass legislation to improve access to higher education for marginalized groups like immigrants and veterans.

He is married to Faika Jackson ’76 (Communication Studies; Sociology) and is a dedicated father of three daughters.


David Scott ’99 (Black Studies) ’03g (Humanistic-Multicultural Education) has served as an educator for the past 21 years at every level from college to elementary school. He has worked as an adjunct professor and college counselor, high school guidance counselor, and assistant principal. He is currently the principal of Clinton Elementary School in Poughkeepsie, New York.

While at SUNY New Paltz, David participated in the Scholars’ Mentorship Program, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc, Black Student Union, Migrant Education Program and served as vice president of Programming for the Student Union. After graduating, Scott earned a C.A.S. in Educational Administration from the College of Saint Rose and his Doctorate in Educational Leadership at Sage Colleges.

Scott joined Beulah Baptist Church in 1998, where he serves as deacon and servant leader of the Paul & Timothy Ministry. Scott and his wife, Rendesia Scott ’96g (Educational Administration), have two children, Tylen and Tiana.


Distinguished Alumni Service Award – This award recognizes alumni volunteers who have made exceptional contributions in support of the activities of the SUNY New Paltz Alumni Association.


Ronald Law ’74 (Political Science) has had a career rooted in the public and non-profit sectors, serving as an advocate for education, health care, community development, business improvement and human rights.

Since 1976, Law has held key positions in city, state and federal government, which includes service to two governors, a U.S. senator and a New York City mayor. He left New York City government as the director of Intergovernmental Relations for MetroPlus Health Plan, a subsidiary of the New York City Health & Hospitals Corporation.

He is a member of the College Council and previously served on the SUNY New Paltz Foundation Board of Directors.


Friends of the Alumni Association Award – This award recognizes individuals (non-alumni) who have made exceptional contributions in the engagement of alumni in the life of the College.


Mark McFadden has worked in the career services field for more than 20 years, including 14 years at Alfred State and the past six at SUNY New Paltz. He serves as director of the Career Resource Center, where he develops new programs through cross-campus collaborations that focus on expanding job, internship, and networking opportunities for students and alumni.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown, a Master of Public Service in Community Service Administration from Alfred University and is certified as a Wilderness Skills Instructor through Cornell Cooperative Extension.

A true partner and collaborator with the Office of Alumni Relations, McFadden has distinguished himself through the planning and presentation of student-alumni networking events, which take place on campus as well as throughout the Hudson Valley and the New York City metro area.

He is the proud parent to alumnus Sawyer McFadden ’18 (Environmental Geochemical Science).