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Dr. Marty Stallone of Cayuga Health Systems.

ITHACA, NY -- The Town Gown Awards held their 10th Annual Awards, and their first virtual awards event. The ToGos honored local partnerships and Ithaca community members for their work with Cornell University.   

Although the awards needed to be virtual this year, everyone was thankful that they were still able to happen. The awards began with Joel Malina thanking the Ithaca community. 

“The theme today is, of course, town-gown partnerships, and those partnerships have never been more important than in 2020,” Malina said. 

Malina introduced Dr. Lavelle Brown, ICSD Superintendent who will celebrate his 10th year in the position this coming January, and Martha Pollack, 14th President of Cornell University.  

“This is my favorite event of the year, each and every year,” Brown said. “This year is unique, obviously, but some things are the same — the fact that Cornell has continued to be a great part of our school district. We had a major hand and partner to help us open up our schools.” 

Brown continued to thank Cornell for helping the school return in person and for providing testing. 

Pollack welcomed viewers, and added that she missed being able to meet in person. 

“Welcome to everybody,” Pollack said. “This is also an event I really like a lot, but I have to tell you one of the things I like best about it: It’s the period before where everyone is mingled in that vestibule outside of the auditorium. I do miss that because they’re people I don’t get to see that often. But there it is. We are, I think, so glad that we still have the opportunity to get together… I do want to thank all of you who have taken the time out of your Saturday morning to join us for this 10th TOGO Awards. It really is a great opportunity for us to shine a spotlight on the wonderful achievements that [happen] because of partnerships between Cornell and our local communities.”

Pollack continued to thank everyone who helped Cornell open up safely during the pandemic, and said she is looking forward to working with the community as spring approaches. 

“We could not have done this alone. I could not say it enough, or frequently enough, how incredibly valued our collaborations have been with the local health system, with the county health department and with other local governing bodies.

“I think that as we look back at the historic events of 2020, the lesson that is clear is that no person, no individual, no institution is an island. We are all in this together.”   

Cornell acknowledged the Child Development Center, Cayuga Health and Tompkins County throughout the award ceremony.    

“I’m pleased to be here today, honored really, to have been asked to speak about the Child Development Council of Central, New York,” Mary Opperman, Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer at Cornell, said. “The council has been serving Tompkins and Cortland Counties for more than 50 years, and perhaps this year more than any other, Cornell staff and faculty are so very grateful for the council’s bottom line mission. Promoting the healthy development of children and families at home, in childcare and in the community.” 

Opperman continues to express how this year the help was extremely important to keep everyone safe.   

“Cornell’s partnership with the child development council is something the university cherishes,” Opperman said. 

Fittingly, the first award recipient was Child Development Council of New York Chief Executive Officer Sue Dale-Hall.

“This has certainly been a challenging and changing year for many of us,” Dale-Hall said. 

She thanked Cornell for the connections they have provided to the council over the years. 

“All of this really reminds me that what we teach in early childhood education is all built on relationships,” Dale-Hall said. “Children learn through their relationships that they have with us and with their peers. The developmental milestones that come from these relationships carry us throughout our adulthood and, in fact, they’re reflected through our communities.” 

Provost Mike Kotlikoff introduced the second award recipient, Dr. Marty Stallone, who received the award on behalf of Cayuga Medical Health. 

“Thank you for the thoughtfulness of this entire event and this tradition and also to the dedication that Cornell has and exhibits in the community,” Stallone said. “It is inspiring.”

After Stallone made a few thank you remarks, he then gave his acceptance speech for the award. 

“I’d like to make two brief points, if I may. First, any credit for this award and recognition should be rapidly deflected onto the hundreds of health system team members who have been absolutely heroic during this entire time. We have again and again asked them to deliver the impossible and they have risen to the challenge. My second point is that there has been good that has come from the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking back over the nearly nine months that we’ve been living this, and even what we face now...it’s easy to miss this. I think it’s easy to be discouraged and demoralized. And certainly everyone involved is exhausted, but we can also be lifted up by certain bright points, silver linings as I call them. And they give us hope and encouragement, if we can recognize them.” 

Stallon is very proud of the award and says it will be displayed at the hospital. 

The third ToGo award when to Tompkins County Administrator Jason Molino. 

“This award means a lot to Tompkins County,” Molino said. “If anything over the past 10 months, relationships and partners have allowed us to work collectively through the betterment of the community. It’s been a true pleasure working side-by-side with Cornell and the leadership team there. Frankly, I think we could probably write a book on relationships and how important they are in managing situations like this.”  

After the ToGos were accepted, Susan Riley and Kate Supron presented the retiree awards to the following people: Karen Bishop, Bev Chin, Melissa Gatch, Joanie Groom, Janice Johnson, Mark Macera, Dan McClure, Sarah Myers, John O’Neill, John Spence, Paul Streeter, Liz Thomas, Daniel Tier, Rich Tracy, Jim Weber, Deborah Whitney and Erik Whitney.  

The 10th Annual Town Gown Awards ended with one last award, the 2020 ToGo Achievement Award which was given to professor Richard S. Booth. 

“Thank you very much,” Booth began in his remarks. “I’m honored and I’m very appreciative of this award. I’ve been fortunate to be a member of the faculty and the department of city and regional planning, which has not only allowed, but in fact encouraged me to pursue my interest in public service.” 

Booth has always not only seen himself as a professor, but also focusing on public service.

“It’s been a wonderful journey and I thank you again for this award,” Booth expressed. 

 

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