Partners for Progress: Honoring Leadership in Cultural Enrichment and Community Service

At its annual Partners for Progress Gala on April 26, Queensborough Community College recognized four people for their distinguished work in supporting the College and inspiring outstanding students.

The honorees were selected for their leadership in the areas of fine arts and humanitarian service, highlighting the importance that Queensborough places on cultural enrichment and service learning. They are Enid Schildkrout, chief curator emerita, Museum for African Art; Daniel “Danny” Simmons Jr., co-founder and chairman, Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation; Benjamin and Zenaida Santos, United Staffing Registry, Inc./United Home Care.

“There is a reason that the word ‘community’ is part of the name of the college,” said Dr. Diane B. Call, Interim President of Queensborough Community College.

“Thanks to the efforts of these individuals – and countless others like them – we are able to award scholarships to hardworking and deserving students, and enrich the College’s cultural resources that exist for both our students and neighbors.”

Enid Schildkrout, Ph.D., is chief curator emerita at the Museum for African Art in Long Island City where she has directed exhibitions and publications, and overseen many notable travelling exhibitions, including Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria and Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art. She also served as curator emerita at the American Museum of Natural History for more than 30 years. Her exhibitions include Body Art: Marks of Identity and African Reflections: Art from Northeastern Zaire.

“The Gallery’s exhibitions highlight the uniqueness and the commonalities of many different cultures,” said Dr. Schildkrout. “They have the potential to play a very special role in the life of the College.”

Daniel “Danny” Simmons Jr., artist, co-founder and chairman, Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. Mr. Simmons is the older brother of hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons and rapper Joseph Simmons— “Reverend Run” of Run DMC. The brothers founded Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation in 1995 to provide disadvantaged urban youth with arts access and education, and to offer exhibition opportunities to emerging artists. Mr. Simmons, an abstract expressionist painter and African art collector, has exhibited his work at the QCC Art Gallery. He is also exhibited nationally at Chase Manhattan Bank, the United Nations, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City, and Hampton University in Virginia, which all show his work as part of their permanent collections.

“Queensborough is unique. It touches students, it touches communities—it touches the art world,” said Mr. Simmons. “The African collection at QCC Art Gallery is probably one of the best I’ve seen in the city. As an avid collector of African art, it made sense for me to want to be a part of it.”

Benjamin H. Santos, R.N., CEO and president, and his wife, Zenaida Santos, M.D., founder and vice president, of United Staffing Registry, Inc./United Home Care, in Elmhurst, New York. Dr. Santos specializes in internal medicine. Her in-depth knowledge of the growing demands for technology in the medical field has positioned United Staffing Registry, Inc./United Home Care as a dominant provider of healthcare in the eastern United States.

Mr. Santos’s career in medicine was inspired by his decade-long military service as a medic in Vietnam, southeast Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos. His valor earned him the “Military Merit Medal” and a plaque by the Ministry of Health of Saigon as “Public Health Nurse,” in recognition of his service in the battlefields of Vietnam. Mr. Santos was subsequently promoted from Sergeant to Second Lieutenant. As a member of the Special Forces, Ranger, Airborne, he is considered an elite skydiver and is the recipient of a “Master Jumper Badge” and a “High Altitude Low Opening” (HALO) Jumper.

“We want to share our passion for humanitarian and community services with Queensborough’s extraordinary students who deserve to realize success in their studies and careers.” said Mr. Santos

The Santos’ both received their degrees from the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, the Catholic University of the Philippines.

It was also announced that Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Inc has chosen to sponsor Queensborough’s Student Impact Team. Members of the team commit to helping the College at community and public events in exchange for the social and networking skills that will help them throughout their lives and careers.

The Partners for Progress Gala is hosted by the Queensborough Community College Fund, Inc. All funds support student scholarship and help the College maintain academic excellence and cultural enrichment, providing the opportunity for students to earn a quality education, no matter what their obstacles may be.

David Russell chose to start his academic career at Queensborough, although he was accepted to St. John’s University. The recipient of a Merit Scholarship and member of the Barnes & Noble Student Impact Team, David credits the individualized attention he receives to making a difference in his college experience.

“The faculty and staff here have motivated me to succeed in the classroom and beyond!” said David.

A liberal arts major, David is preparing for a career in sports journalism.

The 2012 Partners for Progress Gala was chaired by Charlotte Biblow, treasurer of the QCC Fund Board, Inc. and partner of the law firm Farrell Fritz, P.C.