Medical Center CEO is one of six to receive first-ever Move to Include Award
Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo has been named one of the first-ever recipients of the Move to Include Award by the Golisano Foundation.
The award and its recipients were announced Thursday. The honorees, including Ruffolo, will be honored Thursday, Oct. 15, following a dinner reception celebrating the Golisano Foundation's 30th anniversary at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester.
"I am deeply honored to receive this recognition on behalf of the Memorial Medical Center board of directors and all its dedicated employees," Ruffolo said. "Tom Golisano and the Golisano Foundation have made an incredible commitment to health care in our community and it's a privilege for us to partner with them to serve people with intellectual and developmental challenges."
The Move to Include Awards honor those who believe and act in the purest realm of the essence of "move to include." Recognition is given in the hope the understanding of "include" can be elevated, promoted, ingrained and demonstrated at the highest levels of human behavior.
The award is named after the Move to Include initiative, which was launched in 2014 by the Golisano Foundation and Rochester public television station WXXI to advance inclusion in all aspects of the community.
"This anniversary is a celebration of the champions who are working in the community every day to make life better and more productive for people with intellectual disabilities," said B. Tom Golisano, the Golisano Foundation's chairman and founder. "It is important that we thank and recognize those who are setting the standard and leading the way to help people with intellectual disabilities realize their potential and live life with dignity. By shining a light on their innovative work and deep commitment, we also hope that others will be inspired to follow in their footsteps."
Ruffolo is being honored for leading Memorial Medical Center's commitment to providing model, innovative community-based integrated health services for people with intellectual disabilities. The medical center will provide comprehensive integrated health care services to adults with special needs and their families beginning next spring with the opening of the $7 million Golisano Center for Community Health.
The new center is an integral part of Memorial's strategic plan, imagining what health care should be and can be for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Construction of the center, which will be one of the few of its kind in the country, is being supported by a $3.5 million gift from Golisano.
Move to Include Award recipients will receive a Steuben crystal award presented by Golisano and Golisano Foundation Director Ann Costello. In addition to Ruffolo, honorees include:
•Julie J. Christensen, Ph.D., LMSW, director of employment programs for the University of Rochester Medical Center, Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities, for expanding workforce development opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities through the Project Search program and other initiatives.
•Rick Guidotti, founder and director of Positive Exposure, for his work internationally in raising public awareness and educating people to understand and see the beauty in human diversity and our shared humanity.
•Daniel M. Meyers, president of Al Sigl Community of Agencies, for a lifetime commitment and achievement on behalf of people with intellectual and other disabilities.
•Martha Mock, Ph.D., associate professor and director, Institute for Innovative Transition at the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education, for increasing college options for students with intellectual disabilities.
•Shirley F. Szekeres, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, director of the York Wellness and Rehabilitation Institute at Nazareth College, professor of speech-language pathology and former dean of the School of Health and Human Services, for her commitment and contributions to educate and train the next generation of health clinicians and human service professionals to service people with disabilities.
One of the largest private foundations in the U.S. devoted exclusively to supporting programs for people with intellectual disabilities, the Golisano Foundation was founded in 1985 with an initial gift of $90,000 from Golisano, the founder and chairman of Paychex.
Now with more than $32 million in gross assets, the foundation has awarded more than $19.5 million in grants - about $1.5 million annually - to nonprofit organizations primarily in a multi-county region surrounding Rochester serving people of all ages with intellectual disabilities.
"Our 30th anniversary celebration will be a true celebration of partnerships as we bring together the people who are leading the diverse array of programs and services we have supported in health and wellness, education, employment, sports, the arts, awareness, mobility and accessibility and recreation," Costello said. "We know we can't do it alone. By serving as a proactive partner with organizations that serve people with intellectual disabilities and encouraging those organizations to develop partnerships with others, we can expand our reach and impact exponentially."