Merryl H. Tisch
New York State Board of Regents Chancellor
Hostos' Person of the Year
Merryl H. Tisch was appointed to the New York State Board of Regents on April 1, 1996 and reelected to five year terms on April 1, 2001 and April 1, 2006. She was elected Vice Chancellor by her colleagues effective April 1, 2007 and was elected Chancellor by her colleagues effective April 1, 2009. Chancellor Tisch brings to her appointment many years of experience in the fields of education, community service, and philanthropy.
Chancellor Tisch is chairperson of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty. With an annual budget of $100 million, Met Council has gained national recognition for its work in the areas of youth and family services, housing, poverty programs, and neighborhood preservation. Previously, she served as chairperson of the Mt. Sinai Children’s Center Foundation.
Chancellor Tisch serves on the executive committees of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Citizens Budget Commission. Additionally, she serves on the board of The Trust for Cultural Resources of the City of New York, the Graduate School of Education’s Board of Overseers at the University of Pennsylvania, Learning Leaders, and the Sesame Workshop.
From 1977 to 1984, Chancellor Tisch taught first-graders at New York City’s Ramaz School and the B’nai Jeshurun School. She received a B.A. from Barnard College, an M.A. in Education from New York University, and an Ed.D from Teacher’s College, Columbia University.
2013 President's Medal Recipient
Born in Panama City, Panama, to a family of four, Mariano Rivera would grow up to become one of the most successful relief pitchers in baseball history.
As a child, Mariano played with improvised equipment, using milk cartons for gloves and tree limbs for bats until his father bought him a real leather glove when he was twelve. Always athletic, he dreamed of making it professionally in sports…just not baseball. Young Mariano aspired to become a star soccer player. Ankle injuries in his school days brought an end to those dreams. After graduating from high school, he worked long days on a commercial boat captained by his father. Later, he joined a local amateur baseball team, where Yankees’ scouting director Herb Raybourn saw him play.
Ironically, Rivera was playing shortstop that day and almost was overlooked by the scout. It wasn’t until he stepped in to cover for the failing pitcher that his teammates and the scouts saw Mariano’s star potential. Two weeks later, he was being signed by the Yankees.
The rest is New York and baseball history. Mariano Rivera is living proof of how far our dreams can take us. He is an inspiration for all of us—particularly for Hostos students who come from similar backgrounds. Not everyone can play professional baseball, but we can all aspire to make our lives better and uplift those around us. For that, and for his consummate professionalism and constant loyalty to the community and his fans, we are proud to present Mariano Rivera with the Hostos President’s Medal.
and CEO, Tonio Burgos and Associates, Inc.
Hostos' 45th Anniversary Award Recipient
With almost four decades of government, civic involvement and legislative affairs experience, Tonio Burgos brings unique insight and a comprehensive understanding of how to get results on behalf of clients.
Twenty two years ago, Mr. Burgos founded the firm which bears his name with a simple mission in mind: A commitment to integrity and a focus on delivering results for his clients. Today he is a valued counselor to some of the country's most influential organizations, companies and civic leaders.
As a top-rated consulting firm in the tri-state region, Tonio Burgos & Associates, Inc. (TB &A) along with its affiliates, Tonio Burgos & Associates of New Jersey, LLC, and NYPROCOA, Inc., have successfully worked with clients on a wide range of projects in both the public and private sector.
In 1983, New York Governor Mario Cuomo appointed Mr. Burgos Director of Executive Services. Mr. Burgos long association with the Governor began with the Governor's service as Secretary of State and continued during his tenure as Lieutenant Governor. Mr. Burgos also served as a Commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and as a Director of the Path Commuter Rail System.
In 2002, New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey appointed Mr. Burgos Vice Chairman of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and a member of the School Construction Corporation. Mr. Burgos was also chosen as Treasurer of the Camden Economic Recovery Board, as well as a Commissioner of the Israel Trade Commission.
In addition to running TB&A, Mr. Burgos is an active leader in many civic organizations and causes. In 1995, President Bill Clinton appointed Mr. Burgos to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.
New York Governor George Pataki appointed Mr. Burgos a member of the Advisory Committee of Lower Manhattan Economic Development Corporation on Transportation issues. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the New York City Partnership. He serves, as well, on the Steering Committee of the Association for Better New York (ABNY). He is also a member of the New York Building Congress Foundation and the Governor's Island Advisory Committee.
Currently Mr. Burgos is a member of the New York City Latin Media Entertainment Commission. He serves on the Board of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and is a member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for New Jersey.
Famous Famiglia Pizzeria
Hostos' Corporation of the Year
Having made a promise to her husband that their children would have an opportunity at the American Dream, Mamma Rosa arrived in New York City with her daughter and four sons in the spring of 1970.
As her children, we'd like to share our story with you...
Though the early years were a struggle, Mamma always had a way of turning the hardships into opportunities of instilling in us core values through the lessons of life. Through chores and responsibilities, we learned the value of discipline, teamwork, and commitment. We began working early on in our youth, and through the years gained much experience in the pizza industry in New York City. And, by the summer of 1986, we opened our own pizzeria, Famous Famiglia, in the heart of New York City! In the years to follow, we opened several more pizzerias throughout New York City, winning awards with our quality and customer service standards. Hence, the Famous Famiglia pizza chain quickly became a leader in the New York pizza market and earned the title of "New York's Favorite Pizza".
Today, Famous Famiglia operates company owned and franchised locations across a diverse mix of venues which include leading airports and transportation hubs, malls and shopping centers, colleges and universities, theme parks, hotels and casinos, stadiums and arenas, military bases, medical centers, motorways, and in-line urban downtown locations. The Famous Famiglia brand currently operates in the United States, Mexico, Asia, and Europe.
The Famous Famiglia story is one of triumph and a passion for the spirit of entrepreneurship. It is also one of a return to the very basic principles of the foodservice industry; serving a quality product, in an efficient and enthusiastic manner, and in a clean and pleasant environment. As the founders of the company, throughout the growth, it has been a consistent vision for us to instill this culture throughout the organization and, hence, Famous Famiglia has become one of the fastest growing pizza brands, and one of the most respected and admired leaders in the industry. We are committed to continuing on in this tradition.
Mamma Rosa, "The Boss"
Mamma Rosa is not only the matriarch of the Famous Famiglia company, but is also our loving mother. Having come to America as a widow with five young children, she proved that the human spirit truly can accomplish great things. And from our early childhood through today, Mamma continues to instill in us valuable lessons of life. A simple woman really, but a woman with passion, love, and respect… a visionary.
Paul Kolaj, Co-Founder, President and CEO
Paul Kolaj is Co-Founder, President and CEO at Famous Famiglia. In this role, he is responsible for the overall direction of the company. In August 1986, Paul and his brothers founded the Famous Famiglia pizzeria concept in the heart on New York City.
As a strategic business thinker, Paul ensures that the company maintains its focus while delivering results toward its mission. With more than thirty years of experience in the field of pizzeria operations, his business acumen with real-world knowledge earns Paul respect in the industry circles.
John Kolaj, Co-Founder, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
John Kolaj is Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at Famous Famiglia. With more than thirty years of hands-on experience in the foodservice industry, John directs all aspects of the company’s field operating activities. His responsibilities include: managing the design, construction, and maintenance of all company and franchisee-owned operating units; designing the global infrastructure to support and maintain all procurement logistics and product distribution activities; and enabling and empowering his team of professionals to seamlessly manage training and support activities.
From supply-chain and logistics, design and construction, to steady-state operations, John draws from his decades of experience in the pizza industry to help deliver solutions with impressive results. His strategic forethought and precise execution help deliver significant economies and efficiencies in the expansion and support of the Famous Famiglia operating system.
Giorgio Kolaj, Co-Founder, Executive Vice President, Global Business Development
Giorgio Kolaj is Co-founder and Executive Vice President at Famous Famiglia and is responsible for leading the company's expansion efforts both domestically and overseas, and is responsible for all marketing and communications activities. His role in global business development involves site selection, contract negotiations, strategic relationship management, and brand development. Under Giorgio's leadership, the Famous Famiglia brand has expanded nationwide and across the globe.
Prior to re-joining the family business in 2004, Giorgio enjoyed a successful career in the high-tech industry, where he worked at IBM Global Services and later helped launch a successful security software company. Giorgio holds a bachelors degree in Computer Science and Business, with Latin Honors.
Giorgio serves on the boards of: D.A.R.E. America; Boy Scouts - Queens Council; President's Advisory Council - Vaughn College; and In Arms Reach.
Tony Kolaj, Co-Founder, Director of Quality Control
Tony Kolaj is the Co-founder and Director of Quality Control at Famous Famiglia. With more than thirty years invested in the pizza business, his expertise in the industry is unrivaled.
Very much a detail-oriented person, Tony's attention to ensuring high quality operation is his relentless pursuit. His skills are routinely tapped during training of company and franchisee employees. For his more than twenty-five years pizza making expertise, Tony has earned the coveted Maestro di Pizza title.
Wallace I. Edgecombe
Director, Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture
Wallace Edgecombe was the director of the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture since its establishment in 1982 until 2012. Now one of the pre-eminent Latino arts centers in the northeast, the Hostos Center has presented and/or commissioned works by such internationally known musicians as Tito Puente, Danny Rivera, Celia Cruz, Orquesta Aragón, Rubén Blades, Marc Anthony, Fernandito Villalona, Los Van Van, and Dizzy Gillespie. It has also produced numerous plays, showcases, and festivals, and exhibited the works of many outstanding visual artists, including Myrna Báez, Antonio Martorell, and Faith Ringgold. In 2004, the Hostos Center received a special award from the Municipal Art Society of New York.
Born and raised in Havana, Cuba, Wallace Edgecombe holds bachelor’s (history) and master’s (journalism) degrees from Columbia University. He has served as a panelist and site evaluator for the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, the Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Arts Partners Program, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Mr. Edgecombe has also served on the boards of the Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art, the Bronx Council on the Arts, the Bronx Arts Ensemble, and the South Bronx Community Action Theatre. He is an honorary member of Rincón Criollo Cultural Center and the recipient of a special recognition award from the International Latin Music Hall of Fame. In addition, he has been named a Maestro by Los Pleneros de la 21, New York City’s premier bomba y plena ensemble—an honor reserved for artists and arts advocates who have made significant life-long contributions to Puerto Rican culture. In 2006, he received the Bobby Capó Lifetime Achievement Award from the State of New York for achievements, leadership and service to the arts in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. In 2007 he received El Diario/La Prensa’s annual “EL” award, reserved for New York City’s top Latino leaders in business, education and the arts. In 2007-8, Mr. Edgecombe directed a national demonstration project at the Hostos Center which linked programming at the Hostos Center with academic offerings in the Hostos Community College Humanities Department. Under Mr. Edgecombe’s direction, the Center just received a special grant from the Rockefeller Foundation’s Cultural Innovation Fund to showcase emerging performing artists in the New York City area.
Edward T. McGettigan, Jr.
Chairman, President, CRM & CEO
American Transit Insurance Company
Edward T. McGettigan, Jr., took over American Transit Insurance Company in 2006 and is responsible today for it’s 38,000 policy holders and its operations. Chairman, President, Chief Risk Manager and Chief Executive Officer of the company, Mr. McGettigan grew up in the commercial auto insurance business. Under the guidance of his father, the late Edward T. McGettigan, Sr., Ed officially joined the company in 1975 as the Underwriting Manager.
American Transit Insurance Company is a second generation family company and the largest livery underwriter in the state of New York with approximately $135 million in annual premium and about 350 employees. American Transit has locations in Manhattan, Freeport and Brooklyn.
Mr. McGettigan received his B.A. from Assumption College in Worcester, MA, and his MBA, Magna Cum Laude in Risk Management from Jones International University.
He is an avid golfer, a licensed paramedic and a Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree.