Clarkson University's highest community service honor, the Bertrand H. Snell Award, was bestowed upon the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department, its former and interim directors and four community leaders at a reception in their honor hosted by Clarkson President Tony Collins and University Trustees on October 15, 2021.
Created by the Clarkson University’s Board of Trustees in 1981, the award recognizes Congressman Bertrand H. Snell’s (1870-1958) service to the community, Clarkson and the nation. The Bertrand H. Snell Award assures the remembrance of Clarkson’s patron while recognizing a new generation of leaders who share his commitment to the University's greater community. Recipients of the award are chosen for their professional, business or educational accomplishments, combined with demonstrated integrity and concern for the community.
This year’s recipients were Garry F. Douglas, long-time President and CEO of the North Country Chamber of Commerce; Kate Fish, retired executive director of the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA); Betty Little, former New York State Senator; Ellen Rocco, longtime station manager for North Country Public Radio (NCPR); and the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department, including former Director Dana McGuire and Interim Director Jolene Munger.
“The 2021 honorees exemplify the principles on which the Bertrand H. Snell Award for Community Service was founded,” said Tony Collins, President of Clarkson University. “Each has selflessly dedicated themselves to enhancing the lives of the residents of the North Country while achieving professional successes in their fields. The impact of their steadfast and gracious leadership will be felt for generations.”
Under Douglas’ leadership since 1992, the Chamber became the largest business and economic development organization in northern New York. and one of the five largest Chambers in the state. It is a recognized leader in Quebec-New York relations, infrastructure development, the attraction of foreign direct investment and advocacy for the region in Washington, Albany and elsewhere. Douglas served as vice chairman of the Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corporation for nine years. Prior to his return to the North Country in 1992, Douglas served for 14 years as executive assistant to U.S. Representative Gerald Solomon of New York.
Fish’s unyielding optimism and energy, coupled with a contagious vision for the future helped drive ANCA to be seen as a leading organization that sought to strengthen and identify new opportunities in the region. Prior to her recent retirement, Fish was recognized as a leader who led ANCA to becoming an innovative and responsive organization that produces tangible results for every sector on which the organization focused. She joined the organization in 2010 and quickly identified renewable energy as a critical path to developing more resilient local economies. In addition to building a professional and efficient organization, she helped to attract millions of dollars in investment into the region. ANCA’s Clean Energy Program and Center for Business in Transition – developed under Fish’s leadership – have become models for other rural areas.
Rocco has had an indelible impact on local, state and national public radio. She began as development director at NCPR (then known as WSLU) in 1980 and was promoted to station manager in 1985. During her nearly 35-year tenure in that position, the station grew from serving only St. Lawrence County to reaching a third of New York State through a network of more 30 transmitters. Twice a finalist, Rocco’s “North Country at Work” project won the Current’s Local that Works contest. The station has been recognized regularly as a leader in public journalism and digital innovation. She has been active within the community and with numerous professional affiliations. Rocco served on the board of National Public Radio and the board of the New York Council for the Humanities. She sat on advisory panels for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, her local school board and on various local arts and economic boards and panels
Sen. Little represented the residents of the 45th Senate District for nine terms. Prior to first winning election to the state senate in November 2002, she served in the New York State Assembly for seven years. A former teacher and realtor, Little first entered public service as a member, and later chair, of the Town of Queensbury Recreation Commission. In 1986, she was elected as an at-large supervisor to the Warren County Board of Supervisors for the Town of Queensbury. At the state level, Little served as the ranking minority member on the Senate Education Committee. She also sat on key committees for Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation; Environmental Conservation; Finance; Health; Housing, Construction and Community Development; New York City Education; and Rules. During her tenure, she sponsored several successful amendments to the New York State Constitution to assist residents, the economy and the environment in the Adirondacks.
The St. Lawrence County Public Health Department, McGuire and Munger were recognized, in part, for leading the county’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the direction of then-director McGuire and Munger, the current interim deputy director, the Department of Public Health helped to guide residents of the country through unprecedented times while fulfilling the department’s commitment to its 17 other programs, including rabies and flu clinics, early intervention referrals and other communicable disease investigations. The department had a hand in nearly every phase of the fight against the pandemic, including coordinating efforts at hospitals, rescue services, schools and colleges.
Congressman Snell, the man for whom the award is named, was born in 1870, in Colton, NY. A successful entrepreneur, political leader and philanthropist, Snell founded the Raquette River Paper Company in Potsdam, NY, and the Snell Power Company at Higley Falls, NY. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1914 and served for 23 years Snell served on the Clarkson Board of Trustees for 47 years, including 25 as chairman of the board. He supported Clarkson generously throughout his life and his family continues to graciously support the university through their resources and energies. To learn more about the award or past recipients, click here: https://www.clarkson.edu/snellaward