Alumni Hall of Fame Inductees
The Alumni Hall of Fame was created in 2009 to commemorate Shaker High School’s 50th anniversary. The Hall of Fame honors graduates who are role models and can inspire students to continue the tradition of excellence which defines the community.
Craig Blair, SHS Class of 1972, inducted in 2018
Craig Blair is a graduate of Dean College and Siena College, with degrees in business administration and accounting. After working in the field of accounting for his entire career, Craig retired from his position as the Comptroller of the Town of Colonie. After losing his 19 year old daughter in 2014, he and his wife worked to raise funds to donate DVDs and gaming systems to the Albany Medical Center Children’s Hospital. Additionally, the Blairs created Cathryn’s Courtyard at the Colonie Town Library. This is a space made available to children of all ages where they can play, do outdoor literacy tasks, interact with others and be creative. It promotes literacy, creativity and social interaction.
Jennifer Blair, SHS Class of 1975, inducted in 2018
Jennifer Blair is a graduate of Hudson Valley Community College and the University at Albany, with degrees in dental hygiene, biology and chemistry. As a dental hygienist, she has been recognized by national organizations and is a true patient advocate. After losing her 19 year old daughter in 2014, she and her husband worked to create Cathryn’s Courtyard at the Colonie Town Library. This is a space made available to children of all ages where they can play, do outdoor literacy tasks, interact with others and be creative. Jennifer is also a long standing member of the Latham Fire Department Women’s Auxiliary where she has held the offices of treasurer and historian.
Dr. Luke Cicchinelli, SHS Class of 1982, inducted in 2018
Dr. Cicchinelli is a graduate of the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine specializing in adult and pediatric reconstructive surgery of the foot and ankle. He is an internationally recognized surgeon and professor having consulted and operated in 15 countries and currently lives, works and teaches in Spain. In 2018 his humanitarian medical mission team will travel to El Salvador and Guatemala celebrating 25 continuous years of pro bono reconstructive surgery for children in Central and South America.
Jesse King, SHS Class of 2001, inducted in 2018
Musician 1st Class Jesse King earned a Bachelor of Music from Ithaca College in 2005 and completed a Master of Music from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2008. He joined the Navy Band as a trumpeter in 2007, and was named the 2017 United States Navy Band’s “Sailor of the Year.” King is also a 2015 recipient of the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. The United States Navy Band serves the ceremonial needs at the seat of government, performing at presidential inaugurations, state arrival ceremonies, state funerals, state dinners, and other significant events. Besides acting in his official capacity as a musician in the Navy Band, Jesse regularly serves as a trumpeter for honors funerals at Arlington National Cemetery, honoring some of the nation’s most decorated veterans. He serves the band as leading petty officer for the Ceremonial Band, handling all logistics for more than 100 funerals at Arlington Cemetery and ceremonies for the highest-level dignitaries.
Michael Patrizio, Class of 1969, inducted in 2018
Michael Patrizio attended the Crane School of Music as well as the College of St. Rose, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s degree in education. He is an outstanding music educator with a long record of success in the field. Michael taught for many years in the North Colonie Central School District while running two local music businesses, First Note Music and currently, the Patrizio Center for the Arts. Over the years he has produced countless outstanding student musicians, many who have gone on to pursue careers in music themselves. He has inspired generations of North Colonie students. Even in retirement, Michael’s Patrizio Center for the Arts, located in Latham, continues to support the efforts of the North Colonie Music Department. Of particular note, is his constant offers to assist underprivileged students in the district who may have difficulties affording instruments or private lessons.
Dominick Purnomo, SHS Class of 1998, inducted in 2018
Dominick Purnomo, Wine Director & Co Owner of Yono’s & dp An American Brasserie, grew up in his family’s restaurant working alongside his parents at an early age before going on to the State University of New York at Morrisville to pursue a degree in hotel & restaurant management. Purnomo’s goal was to bring a world class wine program to Albany, more specifically to Yono’s. In 2005, he was elected to his first of two, two year terms as the President of the Greater Capital District of the New York State Restaurant Association, the youngest president in the history of the state organization. He currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District, the New York State Restaurant Association and The Palace Performing Arts Center; is a member of the Society of Fellows at the Culinary Institute of America, the American Sommelier Association, the Guild of Sommeliers; a founding board member of the Albany Food & Wine Festival, and the founder of the Sommelier Society of Albany.
John Van Vranken, SHS Class of 1962, inducted in 2018
During his 20 year career with the U.S. Army, John Van Vranken earned the highest non-commissioned office rank of Sergeant Major. He earned numerous letters and certificates of achievement and good conduct medals, as well as the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal. During his time in the army, John and his family were selected as the “Great American Family” for Fort Monroe, Virginia. This program presented his family with an award signed by the First Lady, Nancy Reagan. In addition, John was a volunteer coach for many years in youth soccer and baseball with the army’s dependent youth program. Locally, he has served as a deacon with the Malta Presbyterian Church and as a treasurer and elder with the First Presbyterian Church in Watervliet, and has volunteered at the Watervliet Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry for 20 years.
Dr. Jonathan Keith Joseph received his MD degree from Harvard Medical School and has focused his career on bringing medical care to some of the most impoverished places in the world, specifically Africa and Latin America. He has over 19 years of experience in Infectious Disease and Internal Medicine. He has practiced medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Lutheran Medical Center, City MD and Harlem United. Additionally, Dr. Joseph has taught at Harvard Medical School and Weill Cornell Medical College.
Dr. Michael Drusano is a family physician and humanitarian. He travels the world to treat the less fortunate, including Sierra Leone treating patients with Ebola, Greece treating Syrian refugees, and throughout Africa treating people with numerous health concerns. Additionally, Drusano is the medical director of an Ebola orphanage in Sierra Leone.
Ryan Chase is active as a pianist, recently performing his chamber and solo piano music with the Society for New Music. Over the past five years, his music has been presented at the Cannes Film Festival, Tanglewood, the Aspen Music Festival, the Copland House, the Mizzou International Composers Festival, the Poets Out Loud Festival, the Resonant Bodies Festival, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Oregon Bach Festival, and on PBS. Chase was recently named a recipient of the 2017 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Award. His upcoming projects include pieces for the Albany Symphony Orchestra, the New York Virtuoso Singers, the Lunatics at Large, the OK Electric Festival, and saxophonist Curtis Macdonald.
William Bryan, Class of 1969, inducted in 2016
William Bryan received Shaker’s 1969 National Honor Society award in Industrial Arts and in 1971 received his A.A. in Construction from Hudson Valley Community College. Bryan currently works for Gilbane Construction Company, an international construction firm and one of Rhode Island’s largest businesses. In 1996, he received the company’s annual Builder of the Year Award for managing its $200 million expansion of the Providence, R.I. airport. He was later promoted to the firm’s Senior Project Manager and now concentrates on school and college construction projects. In 2008, he was appointed to the state’s Workforce Building Futures Advisory Council, and in 2015 the Rhode Island governor appointed him to the Rhode Island Career and Technical Board of Trustees. Bryan is also a cancer survivor and is the father of a special needs adult son. In 1991, he co-chaired a statewide effort to restore Rhode Island’s funding of early intervention programs for special needs children under four years of age. He continues to remain active in the private center that provides services for his son.
Matthew McElligott, Class of 1986, inducted in 2016
Matthew McElligott is a world renowned author/illustrator of 14 children’s books. He has won many nominations and awards for his books, including the Nebraska Golden Sower award, Oregon’s Patricia Gallagher Picture Book Award, and the South Dakota Prairie Bud Children’s Book Award. McElligott’s illustration style includes multiple art media such as watercolor, fabric, ink, pencil, photography, and digital techniques. He has presented at many schools across the country and regularly visits North Colonie schools, including his alma mater, Southgate School.
Dr. Michael Person, Class of 1988, inducted in 2016
Dr. Michael Person is the Director of the Wallace Astrophysical Observatory and a research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. Dr. Person has spent the past 28 years at MIT, as a student, doctorate student, teacher’s assistant, researcher, and research professor. He was a principal investigator aboard SOFIA, (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy), a high-altitude NASA plane carrying a 100-inch-diameter telescope, which raced over New Zealand to catch a stellar occultation. He was named the 2016 Beatrice Hill Tinsley Lecturer by the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand. Dr. Person continually does astronomy outreach, speaking at high schools and libraries and working with boy scout troops to inspire interest in his field.
Thomas Dawes was a rock musician whose band opened for the Beatles on their final tour. However, he made a broader mark on pop culture writing music for well-known commercial advertising jingles including, “Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz” for Alka-Seltzer and “Our L’Eggs Fit Your Legs” for the hosiery maker. Dawes was also a co-founder of the Cyrkle, a folk-pop group with a brief career that is best known for its 1966 hit single “Red Rubber Ball,” written by Paul Simon and Bruce Woodley. Dawes passed away in 2007.
Arthur Walker joined the North Colonie district in 1956 as an elementary physical education teacher. He moved to Shaker High School when it opened in 1958 in the same capacity. Over the years, Walker was a coach or head coach for baseball, basketball, and football. In 1965, he became the Head Teacher for Webster Hall and the Hall Principal for Taft Hall in 1969. In January of 1971, he was appointed as Principal of Shaker High School until his retirement in 1991. During his time as principal, Shaker High School achieved Blue Ribbon status from the U.S. Department of Education, a national program that recognizes schools of excellence. The faculty and staff who worked under Walker describe him as a person who left a lasting impact and one who played an active, encouraging, and mentoring role in students’ lives. He is labeled by many as their “biggest cheerleader.”
Peter Gannon, Class of 1998, is the President of the Arsenal Business and Technology Partnership, serving as the economic developer for the Watervliet Arsenal. Under Gannon’s direction, the Partnership has developed 300,000 square feet of previously underutilized space, attracting new businesses and creating jobs. Gannon was a member of the inaugural class of the Leadership Tech Valley, and was named one of the Albany Business Review’s “Forty Under 40” in 2011. In addition, Gannon has coached hundreds of athletes during his years with North Colonie’s Pop Warner, and is currently the Chair of the 2015 Best Buddies Friendship Walk. He also is a member of the adjunct faculty at Schenectady Community College.
Joan Hart, Class of 1981, served the children and families of the North Colonie community for more than 20 years, as a member of the Board of Education, North Colonie PTA Council, and the Boght Hills PTA. For more than ten years, she played a key leadership role on the board, serving as President for three years, and co-chairing the superintendent search committee and the long range planning committee overseeing the Maplewood annexation process. Hart retired from the Board in 2014, but continues her liaison work with the district’s Special Education PTA. She is currently the CFO of Saratoga Financial Systems in Latham, N.Y.
Gloria Lamb, Class of 1999, is an artistic designer and director, holding the position of Art Director for a number of prestigious productions, including the 2015 Oscars, “The Voice”, Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards, and “BET Awards.” In 2014, Lamb was awarded a Creative Arts Emmy for her work on that year’s Oscars, and has also received Awards for Excellence in Production Design from the Art Directors Guild as Assistant Art Director for the 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2012 Oscars. During her time at Shaker, Lamb was described as a leader and one who enjoyed coaching younger students in music. She was involved in multiple performing groups, exemplifying her artistic strength in chorus, select chorus, and theatre.
Violet Palombo, Class of 1993, has directed the Colonie Youth Court Program for 20 years. Under her leadership, the program has been personally acknowledged by the President of the United States twice, for its use as a state and national model. Palombo serves as a mentor for thousands of youth, volunteers and juvenile offenders alike. She supervises juvenile offenders who are completing community service in the Town of Colonie, teaching them to live a life devoid of criminal activity. For the volunteers that work under her, Palombo educates them on the judicial system, and works with them on the college application process. In addition, Palombo sits on the Town of Colonie Youth Advisory Board, is a member of the Association of New York State Youth Courts, and is a Trustee of the National Association of Youth Courts, Inc.
Lisa Proskin Pierce, Class of 1985, received a B.A. in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University in 1989, and a law degree from the Ohio State University in 1992. Pierce has been an attorney with the Proskin Law Firm since 1995, and currently serves as the Village Justice of Menands in Albany County. Beyond her legal work, Pierce is very active within the community, having served as President of the Greater Capital District Business and Professional Women’s Association, chairperson of the Colonie Chamber of Commerce, and on multiple North Colonie PTAs. Pierce is also a breast cancer survivor, and is Vice-President of “To Life!”, a local breast cancer and support organization.
Dr. Maria Zarambo, Class of 1995, is a Pharmacy Clinical Coordinator at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dr. Zarambo received her Doctorate of Pharmacy, a six year program, in five years, resulting from the AP credits she earned while at Shaker High School. She became board certified in Oncology in 2007, and currently oversees and directs pharmacists in the delivery of clinical pharmacy programs. In addition, she has written and co-written eight publications related to various treatments, drug utilization, side-effects and pain management. Dr. Zarambo also volunteers each summer as a pharmacist at the Camp Oz Epilepsy camp and Hemophilia Foundation camp.
Dr. Maxwell Alley, class of 1979, is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Middlebury College, and a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Medicine. He is a board certified Orthopaedic Surgeon at Capital Region Orthopaedics, with a main area of specialization involving Arthroscopy and Sports Medicine. Dr. Alley was recognized as one of the “2011-12 Best Doctors in the Capital Region”, and has been named “Top Doc” by the Hudson Valley Magazine from 2006-2013. Dr. Alley has served for many years as the Shaker High School football team’s physician, as well as for the UAlbany football and basketball programs.
Steve LeBlanc, Class of 1977, inducted in 2014
Lt. Col. Steve LeBlanc, class of 1977, has a B.S. in Biology from Villanova University, an MBA from the University of Rochester, and a Master’s Degree in National Strategic Studies from the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Lt. Col. LeBlanc retired after serving honorably for 23 years in the U.S. Marine Corps as an aviator. Upon retiring from the Marine Corps, LeBlanc joined the Washington Post as a Production Superintendent, where he learned the art of printing. After one year, he was hired by the Government Printing Office, where he is currently a Senior Executive, in charge of the Secure Intelligent Documents of the U.S. government, including U.S. Passports.
Lieutenant Michael Woods, class of 1985, has a B.A. from UAlbany in Sociology and Criminal Justice. Lt. Woods has been a police officer for 23 years in the Colonie Police Department, protecting and serving the community he grew up in. Lt. Woods is considered an expert in training issues, use of force and police tactics. He oversees the Colonie Police Department Administration Division, and in doing so, is also in charge of the plans to deal with school violence, working closely with school administrators. Woods has held the rank of Investigator, Sergeant and Lieutenant, and is currently coaching the Shaker Freshman football team.
Kim Nazarian, class of 1979, is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Ithaca College. She is one of the founding members of the multiple Grammy Award winning group, New York Voices, a vocalist, teacher, lyricist and ensemble singer. In 2012, Nazarian was recognized as one of the top 50 most influential Armenian artists. She is one of the featured voices on Bobby McFerrin’s “VOCAbuLarieS” CD, and has also collaborated with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and the Manchester Craftman’s Guild.
David Lai, class of 1985, received his B.A. in Engineering/Economics and Music from Brown University, and an MBA in Finance and Marketing from Columbia University. Lai currently serves as a conductor for the Broadway company of The Phantom of the Opera, and is also a music coordinator, consultant, director, and Grammy Award-winning producer. Other Broadway credits include: South Pacific, Mary Poppins, Miss Saigon, The Woman in White, Riverdance, Jesus Christ Superstar, Les Miserables, and Aspects of Love.
Michael Elmendorf, class of 1992, received his B.A. from Union College in Schenectady, NY, Magna Cum Laude. He was named President and CEO of the Associated General Contractors of New York State in February 2011. Previously, Elmendorf had served as the New York State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), New York’s largest small business advocacy association. Prior to joining NFIB, Elmendorf spent 11 years in the administration of New York Governor George E. Pataki. He is also the founder of the Colonie Youth Court program, and the founder and Vice Chairman of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York.
Theresa Joslin, class of 1974, received her Bachelor’s Degree from Russell Sage College in English, Elementary Education, and Special Education. She taught for 30 years and also served on the North Colonie Board of Education for 14 years. While on the board, she held various roles, including Vice-President, President, and Chairperson of the Employee Relations Committee. Her volunteer work through the years also extended to Blue Creek Elementary School and Shaker High School, where she was the President of both PTA’s. Joslin is married and has four children, all of whom are Shaker HS graduates. She is currently the Executive Director of Mercy Cares for Kids, a childcare center for St. Peter’s Healthcare Services.
Prof. F. Scott Regan, class of 1965, received his B.A. from the University at Albany and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He is a producer, director, teacher, and researcher in the field of child drama. He has directed over 100 productions, written more than 20 plays, and been recognized for his contributions by the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, the Ohio House of Representatives, and the Bowling Green community.
Colonel Edward Daly, class of 1974, enlisted in the United States Army at the age of 17. His duty stations have included Germany, the Philippines, Panama, and Afghanistan. Col. Daly’s last assignment was in Fort Wainwright, Alaska, as the Deputy Commander of U.S. Army, Alaska. He retired from active duty in January 2011 and is currently a Commercial Pilot and Instructor in Alaska. Among his many decorations, are the Defense Meritorious Medal, the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf, and the Purple Heart. He received his B.A. in History in 1982 and completed his M.A. in International Studies in 2002.
Mr. Joseph Finder, class of 1976, and a summa cum laude graduate of Yale University, is an internationally bestselling author of eight novels. He has been called a “master of the modern thriller” by the Boston Globe. Mr. Finder’s books have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, have received the “Best novel of the year” designation from the International Thriller Writers Association, and have been adapted for the big screen.
Governor Kevin Warsh, class of 1988, received his B.A. in public policy from Stanford University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School. He took office as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in February 2006. Prior to his appointment, he served as Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Executive Secretary of the White House National Economic Council from 2002 until February 2006.