Daemen College Names Five Distinguished Alumni for 2011

Five are Named Distinguished Alumni for 2011: Service to Community; Career Advancement; Dedication to the College; Graduate of the Last Decade; and Distinguished Alumna


October 13, 2011



Contact:     Mike Andrei

                 Director-College Relations





Contact:     Lauren Jaeger

                 Director of Annual Giving & Alumni Relations




            Daemen College has named five individuals as Distinguished Alumni for 2011. They are Mary Ruth Leberer Haberman ‘61, 2011 Distinguished Alumna; Mary A. O’Connor Tosney ’64, Service to the Community; Alan H. Turner II ’93, Advancement in Career; Andrew C. Wheeler, DPT ’04, Graduate of the Last Decade; Claudia J. Pirri Nowak ’74, Dedication to the College.


            The awards will be presented 6:30 p.m., Friday, November 4, 2001, in Wick Center on the Daemen campus, 4380 Main Street, Amherst.  


Mary Ruth Leberer Haberman ’61              


            Mary Ruth Leberer Haberman’s life is a model of Franciscan values. These values were formulated by her education at Stella Niagara, Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart, and Rosary Hill College. Mary pursued a career as a neurosonologist with her Bachelor of Science degree. She trained at the Buffalo Veterans Medical Center, and at the prestigious vascular center in Seattle. She was the first and only professional in Buffalo trained in the groundbreaking technique which monitors blood flow through the brain. The procedure (TCD) soon became instrumental in vascular surgeries and in assessing neurologic damage resulting from stroke and open heart surgery. Mary Ruth trained neurologists in this method at Millard Gates and Buffalo General hospitals, while serving in the neurology department at the Buffalo VA until her retirement in 2005.


Mary Ruth’s community work has included serving in an active and creative way with several organizations. Little Portion Friary, a shelter for the homeless on Main Street is where she and her husband, Art, have served for over 25 years. Mary is a weekly volunteer and she and Art have procured significant amounts of money for the shelter, resulting in the realization of a renovated kitchen and other capital improvements. Buffalo General Hospital has four Hospice beds where Mary is a weekly visitor to those patients. Mary was a charter member of the Aids Inter-Faith Network, which serves AIDS patients unable to leave their homes. This led to her continuing involvement with AIDS Community Service. While serving the American Cancer Society

Mary Ruth developed the Chemo-Coach program, and was a coordinator for a significant breast cancer research study. She has received the American Cancer Society’s Outstanding Service Award. Mary Ruth has also received the Diocese of Buffalo Pro Vitae Award, as well as the Guild of Saint Apollonia Service Award. 


Through her 50 years of service to the College, Mary Ruth has provided energy and leadership to varied projects and activities. She was the first Buffalo Chapter President, Committee Member for the Class of 1961 reunions, Chair of OSF Provincial Dinner, and has served on the Board nominating committee. Most recently Mary Ruth served as a co-founder of the Duns Scotus Lecture Series. She is also a continuing supporter of the College's Annual Fund.


Mary and her husband of 50 years have two children, Dr. Patricia A. Haberman, and Richard A.

Haberman, Esq.


Mary A. O’Connor Tosney ’64     


Mary A. O'Connor Tosney ’64 has a lifelong commitment to service. As a member of the Women of Jewelia (WOJ), Mary has spearheaded and participated in countless charitable and volunteer activities benefitting families and individuals. She has initiated raising funds and awareness for the Catholic Charities food kitchen; the Coalition to End Family Violence; the local

Salvation Army's new kitchen, Habitat for Humanity, Easter Seals, Caregivers, and supplying Christmas gifts/food for needy families, among many, many other projects.  


As a member of the WOJ, Mary is one of 13 women who took a risk on an expensive diamond necklace, changing not only her life but her community. The women decided to share a necklace they could never have purchased on their own – an act that became a symbol of loyalty and friendship. Mary and her fellow WOJ began using the necklace to raise money for organizations,

auctioning off wearing it for an evening or having the WOJ at events, finding ways to fundraise wherever there is a need. Mary looks back upon the lessons of the Sisters of St Francis, learned at Rosary Hill College, as helping her find her place in the community. The inspirational story of these 13 women was made into The Necklace, a best selling book.


As a result of the enormous impact Mary & her fellow WOJ have had on the charities they serve, the small group of women has appeared in countless national print articles (People, Readers Digest) as well as television (The Today Show and Inside Edition). Fox Searchlight has also optioned their life rights with the objective of making a feature film. The Women of Jewelia

(WOJ) have been involved with multiple volunteer activities. Mary has been a vital player in helping with various charities and events, now as a member of WOJ and in her time before WOJ. A list of just a few of the organizations Mary has been involved with includes:


TheNational Alliance on Mental Health


Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County

Easter Seals, National Alliance on Mental Illness

CAREgivers Volunteers Assisting the Elderly

United Women’s Leadership Council

Coalition to End Domestic Violence

Working Artists Ventura (WAV)

Miracle House

Ventura County Community Foundation Women’s Legacy Fund

Catholic Charities

The Salvation Army

Rally for a Cure

United Way of Ventura California

Annual Multiple Sclorosis Fund Raiser - Yale Club (Manhattan, NY)

Glendale Adventist Medical Center

Ventura County National Charity League

Rotary Club of Simi Valley


Milton Hershey School

Charity Luncheon & 9/11 Remembrance

Farmworker's Fundraiser Luncheon High Bidders

The “Jeremy Necklace”


                Finally, after having spent 20 years teaching in Catholic schools, Mary is extremely proud of her recent induction into the St. Bonaventure High School Hall of Fame, which came about in recognition of her long service to Catholic education in Ventura.


Alan H. Turner II ’93                       


            Alan H. Turner II ’93 is new President and CEO for the United Way of Southwest Alabama, in Mobile, AL. Formerly, he was the President and CEO for the United Way of West Tennessee, which annually invested millions in an average of 130 local programs, within a 14 county service area.


Before life took Alan and his family to Tennessee and Alabama, he was the Executive Director of the Association of New York State Youth Bureaus. He worked to help secure funds for the youth bureau system, which provided services to over two million youth. Earlier in his career, Alan served in New York State Assembly, where he coordinated the legislative and communication efforts for several Assembly members.  Alan has also worked with the Boy Scouts of America in Vermont and Florida, as a District Executive.  An Eagle Scout by the age of 13, he has been involved in Scouting for most of his life.  Just recently he became his son’s Cub Scout Den Leader. 


Alan is a former United States Army Reservist (1992-1993), where he served as a Pharmacy Specialist with the 338th General Hospital Reserve Unit, in Niagara Falls, New York, while a student at Daemen.      


Throughout his career Alan has been personally responsible of raising more than $100 million that have been invested in various health and human service programs and organizations. His wife, Stephanie, notes: “Throughout Alan's professional career he has worked to help provide the opportunities to people that can help them better themselves and achieve more. His positions

with the Boy Scouts, the Youth Bureau, and now with the United Way have always allowed Alan to spearhead the efforts in offering programs that have a direct and positive effect on people's lives in the local community.”


Alan has a lifelong commitment to community involvement, devoting his time and energy to a wide range of organizations. Some of these include FEMA/Emergency Food & Shelter Program Board; Disaster Recovery Services; Imagination Library; Rotary; Association of Fundraising Professionals; Education Commission, Rotary, Boy Scouts of America; Jackson Area Recreation as a youth soccer and baseball coach and even served as a Special Deputy Sheriff in Tennessee.


At Daemen, Alan earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration-Specialization in Marketing. He earned his Associate Degree in Business Administration from the State University of New York at Cobleskill. He has completed Executive Education programs on Nonprofit Management at Harvard Business School, Harvard Kennedy School and in a few weeks from Kellogg School of Management. Alan is currently finishing his Master’s degree in Business Administration at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee.  


He began his new duties at the helm of United Way of Southwest Alabama, on August 15, relocating to the Mobile area with his wife, Stephanie, and their two young children, Andrew and Sara.


Andrew C. Wheeler, DPT ’04 ’05                 


Andrew Wheeler’04 has been a dedicated member of the Daemen College community since he first stepped foot onto the Daemen College campus. As a founding member of the Student Alumni Ambassadors (SAA), Andrew understands the importance of being an involved alumnus.


Andrew’s ongoing, active support of Daemen since his graduation in 2004 reveals itself in many ways. He was instrumental in building attendance for the Young Alumni Camping Trip for 2005 and 2006. By attending each of the Buffalo Chapter Holiday Parties from 2005 to the present, Andrew meets the newest SAA members and welcomes them into the Daemen College community. As the co-founder of Student Alumni Ambassadors, his continued connection to this organization and its

students is a key to its success. In reaching out to students and alumni, he has shown his commitment to all Daemen College alumni.


2010 Distinguished Alumnus Wayne N. Brown ’03, in discussing his efforts on the First AcroCommunity Convention (May 6-8, 2011), noted Andrew’s immediate, strong support: “Our organization was hosting its first annual mutual support convention for people dealing with a rare pituitary disorder, and many of our members suffer from chronic joint pain. After mentioning it to Andrew – who holds a doctorate in physical therapy from Daemen – he was immediately interested. As we talked he offered his time and expertise for the weekend, and, six months later, flew out to the convention in Las Vegas as a volunteer.”


A partial list of the events and programs that Andrew has been involved with since graduation includes: Board of Governors Annual Meetings; Young Alumni Camping Trip; Student Alumni Ambassador Reunion; Daemen Golf Classic; Buffalo Chapter Council Installation Dinners; and Alumni Relations events such as Wine & Chocolate Tasting, Homecoming Receptions, Day at Daemen Bisons Games, Scholar’s Day Interviewer/Panelist, Career Services speaker, and Physical Therapy



In 2004 Andrew received the Alumni Student Award at Commencement, an honor granted to a student who has demonstrated exceptional dedication to the larger community. He has been an active Buffalo Chapter member since 2007; he is Council President for 2011-2012. Along with his parents (supporters of the College since 2004) and his wife, Kathleen (Henninger) Wheeler ’04, Andrew has made his Daemen College connection a long lasting one.


Claudia J. Pirri Nowak ’74                           


When Claudia J. Pirri Nowak ’74 decided to commit her time to alumni endeavors, she was driven by a desire to make a positive impact, something she has accomplished. Those members of the Daemen College community who have had the pleasure of working with her during the last few years, noting her energy and enthusiasm, have said “Claudia always gives her all when planning and implementing events.”


Claudia was a member of the Buffalo Chapter Council from 2007-2008; President Elect 2008-2009; and President 2009-2010 (as Chapter President, she was a member of the Alumni Association Board of Governors). She held the office of Immediate Past President 2010-2011. A key theme that Claudia stressed during her Presidency and time on the Board was the inclusion of the whole Daemen community in their endeavors. This included reaching out to the Daemen faculty at a September faculty meeting a few Septembers ago.


In 2004, Claudia became a class correspondent for her reunion year and began her interest in Buffalo related alumni events for her Alma Mater. Claudia has been a member of the Buffalo Chapter Council from 2007-2011. A partial list of the events she has helped plan make a success include the Golf Classic Auction Committee; MusicalFare theater events; Children’s Fall Festival; Scrabble event; Art Park events; and the Easter Bunny Brunch. 


Together with Daemen Philosophy Professor Dr. James Moran, Claudia has been instrumental in planning and presenting the popular Daemen College Film Series for the past several years. Moreover, she is continuing her commitment to the College through assisting Daemen Director of Leadership Giving Pat Smith with events and fundraising for the new Daemen Visual & Performing Arts Center.  


Claudia’s attention to detail is a much-appreciated benefit to the Daemen Alumni Office. She brought about two major initiatives while on the Buffalo Chapter Council (2007-2011), including the Wine & Chocolate Tasting (2010) and planning the Art Park events. The Wine & Chocolate Tasting brought Chow Chocolate/Chateau Buffalo to the Daemen campus. Claudia personally oversaw the details and planned the layout of the event. She also established a Daemen College Wine Label Contest that included students, administration, and alumni in the design process, managing the selections with Daemen campus community assistance. As a result, three types of wine were available for purchase at the Hertel Avenue shop, Chateau Buffalo – with $3 per bottle sold

donated to the Annual Fund.


The Art Park events (2008-2009) provided Daemen with a connection to another alumna, Maureen Kellick ’74, and a wonderful way to connect Daemen College to this premier Western New York venue in the arts arena. 



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