Buffalo State College will honor three of its most distinguished and dedicated alumni during its 147th Commencement, Saturday, May 18, in the Sports Arena.
A Distinguished Alumnus Award will be granted to Michele Fairchild Marko, ’72. Morgan Williams Bryant, ’03, and Mo Sumbundu, ’13, ’17, will receive Young Alumnus Achievement Awards.
DISTINGUISHED ALUMNUS AWARD
Michele Fairchild Marko, Class of 1972
Award presented during the 9:00 a.m. baccalaureate ceremony
Michele Fairchild Marko has transitioned to a nonprofit community leader after 40 years as a progressive food and nutrition services professional with extensive experience in health care, organizational redesign, regulatory compliance, and business development.
Her impressive career has included stints as chief clinical dietitian for the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; associate director of clinical nutrition at Yale New Haven Hospital; instructor at Yale University, the NYU School of Preventive Dentistry, Cornell Medical College, and Columbia University; and regional vice president in the Midwest for the Compass Group, a position that entailed overseeing more than 1,000 food and nutrition employees in multiple states. In 1995, she earned the advanced level credential of “fellow” from the Commission on Dietetic Registration, a title held by only 350 dietitians out of the roughly 75,000 dietitians in the country. In 2007, she received the Medallion Award from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for her service to the profession.
Professionally she has created successful outcomes in complex situations and in fiscally challenging markets, and today she uses the same skills in her volunteer capacities. Her innovative and creative results-oriented leadership have earned her positions in such community organizations as the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce; the Driskill Foundation Board; the Fox Valley Chapter of Score; the Philanthropic Educational Organization; the Naperville Newcomers and Neighbors Club; and her Homeowners’ Association. The latter catapulted her into the civic engagement arena to preserve her beloved community in Naperville, Illinois, noted for its outstanding quality of life, combining small-town values and charm with the vibrancy and boldness of rapid economic growth and development as a thriving powerhouse in the Chicago area.
Marko’s inspirational leadership capacity and strong mentoring and team development have supported her effectiveness in fundraising to include securing a national grant award for entrepreneurial programs for small-business women, in addition to her role as a certified Score mentor and women’s roundtable leader, where she guides clients to promote business clarity, generate sales, improve revenue and profit, and retain clients.
She launched a continuous learning program showcasing local talent, exploring diverse topics, and engaging local businesses. With discretionary funds from the Driskill Foundation, she identified the need to support young women in STEM and seeded the Neuqua Valley High School “Girls in STEM Club” with $10,000 to expand their reach. Her passion for education and scholarship produced matching funds that doubled the number of tuition scholarships for graduating seniors pursuing a trade.
In her spare time, she enjoys golfing, bowling, and exploring food science challenges when not traveling with her husband, Tedy.
YOUNG ALUMNUS ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Morgan Williams Bryant, Class of 2003
Award presented during the 1:00 p.m. baccalaureate ceremony
Morgan Williams Bryant is a dynamic motivational speaker, former college educator, and professional trailblazer in Western New York. A proud native of the City of Buffalo, Bryant currently serves as the senior vice president for community engagement and member services with the Girl Scouts of Western New York, managing and implementing programs for over 20,000 girls and adult members.
Bryant’s prolific gift of the spoken word has made her a highly sought-after keynote speaker, lecturer, and guest presenter for high schools, colleges, nonprofits, and corporations. Her thought-provoking, eye-opening messages of self-empowerment, sisterhood, and leadership have awakened the spirit of her audiences since she was 15. Her strong stance on issues relevant to the importance of higher education, the responsibility of women in leadership roles, and combating negative stereotypes of today’s youth has brought audiences to their feet and empowered both young and old to seize the moment, develop a growth plan, and realize their full potential.
Before her appointment with the Girl Scouts, Bryant was deputy commissioner for Erie County’s Youth Services Division in 2012. She is also the founder and CEO of MWB Consulting Services, a certified minority and woman-owned business enterprise, which offers leadership development training, student development, program evaluation, and speaking engagements on a variety of topics.
Bryant earned her bachelor of arts in broadcast communication from Buffalo State in 2003 and her master of arts in organizational leadership from Medaille College in 2006. She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and the Buffalo Chapter of the Links Inc.
She is a 2018 Buffalo Business First 40 Under 40 award recipient, a member of the 2017 Class of Leadership Buffalo, a graduate of the Health Leadership Fellows program, and a 2016 Buffalo Niagara Partnership Athena Young Professional Leadership Award finalist. She serves as co-chair of the Charter School of Inquiry Board of Trustees and as a member of the Say Yes Forever Endowment and the Leadership Buffalo Board of Directors. A devout Christian, she is a dedicated member of Elim Christian Fellowship Church.
Mo Sumbundu, Class of 2013 and 2017
Award presented during the 5:00 p.m. master’s hooding and C.A.S. ceremony
Mo Sumbundu joined Empire State Development (ESD) in May 2015 as assistant project manager in the Buffalo office and was promoted to assistant director of the Regional Economic Development Council of Western New York in December 2018.
Sumbundu is an integral part of ESD’s Western New York regional office and its efforts to promote a growing regional economy, encourage business investment and job creation, and support diverse local economies through the efficient use of loans, grants, tax credits, real estate development, marketing, and other forms of assistance in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, and Niagara counties.
As assistant director, Sumbundu helps with Regional Economic Development Council oversight and provides staff support for ESD initiatives. He works with community leaders and elected officials on ESD funding opportunities and serves as a liaison between the WNY Regional Office and ESD’s offices in Albany and New York City. In addition, he maintains a portfolio of economic development projects, such as the expansion of the Buffalo History Museum, continued growth of the West Side Bazaar, improvements to Four Mile Brewing in Olean, master planning efforts at Artpark, and the restoration of the White Inn in Fredonia.
Sumbundu is a recipient of the 2014 Changemakers 30 Under 30 in Western New York award, the 2016 Buffalo Black Achievers Award, and the Buffalo Business First 2018 30 Under 30 award.
He earned his bachelor of arts in political science in 2013 and his master of public administration in 2017. During his time at Buffalo State, he served as a student representative on the College Council and was a graduate assistant in the President’s Office. He was a member of the Alumni Association Board and the President’s Council on Equity and Campus Diversity.
In his hometown of Manhattan and in Western New York, Sumbundu remains active in politics. He is committed to building the networks and community consensus necessary to meet the economic and social challenges facing Buffalo and Western New York. He has volunteered with the Food Bank of WNY and the New York City Department of Education’s Students in Temporary Housing program and has been a National Dump the Pump Day ambassador for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.
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