Stony Brook alumni know that their degree creates boundless opportunities for career success.
Read more about the paths they have taken below.
Boosting Long Island Revitalization
By Erin Blakeley Ginsburg
After a decade as head of the Long Island Association, one of the most powerful business organizations in New York State, Kevin Law ’82 finds himself in a new role — one that draws upon his vast experience in championing economic development in communities across Long Island.
As partner and executive vice president at Tritec Corporation, a full-service real estate firm, Law is focused on expanding multifamily housing and revitalizing downtowns across Suffolk and Nassau counties, bettering communities with development projects that are both economically and environmentally viable.
It is the natural culmination of a 40-year career that began at Stony Brook, where Law majored in political science and pursued internships in local government. After becoming an attorney, Law sought opportunities to create a more robust and environmentally sustainable business climate on Long Island. Through his roles as chief deputy county executive for Suffolk County, and as president and CEO of the Long Island Power Authority, Law helped lay the groundwork for a clean energy economy.
As he turns his focus to expanding residential housing, Law believes that the economic future of Long Island depends on its ability to attract and maintain a talented workforce. “Industries across Long Island are creating clean and green jobs, allowing an opportunity to train a future workforce, who in turn need places to live,” he said.
His timing couldn’t be better. In the wake of COVID-19, as people are re-evaluating how they work and where they live, demand for high-quality housing in suburban downtowns has exploded. Yet across Long Island, multifamily housing units remain in short supply, comprising only 18 percent of housing stock, compared with 40 percent across Northern New Jersey and Westchester County.
But where some have seen challenges, Law sees potential. Long Islanders are looking to move from urban centers into suburban settings, he said, seeking good jobs, housing, walkable downtowns and proximity to transit hubs. “Both our housing challenges and our energy challenges related to climate change are creating vast economic opportunities for Long Island and also for Stony Brook University graduates.”
Law sees a further connection between SBU and the region. Since 2011, when he was appointed by the state as co-chair of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, he has continued to lead efforts to expand collaboration among academic institutions and the life sciences, clean energy and information technology industries. “Stony Brook is inextricably linked to the economy of Long Island and the economy of New York, and increasingly, the economy of the Northeast,” Law said. “It is one of the best assets in our entire region.”
His vision of Long Island as a place to live and work has been vital to his role as chairman of the Stony Brook Council, where he has served for the past 12 years. He also led the search for Stony Brook’s sixth president, Maurie McInnis, which he calls a highlight of his work on the Council.
“I care deeply that we continue the onward trajectory of Stony Brook in the regional, national and international community, and in President McInnis we found an excellent, dynamic new president,” he said. “She is the exact right person at the right time, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue working with her as we move forward out of the pandemic.”
Leading the Way With Vaccines
By Kristen Brennan
Before a vaccine can be distributed, it goes through a complex process to ensure it’s safe and effective.
At the forefront of this work is Judith Absalon, MD ’96, the senior director of vaccines clinical research at Pfizer, where she plays an integral role in the testing of new vaccine candidates. In her 11 years with the pharmaceutical company, Absalon has served as an advocate for volunteer safety, leading studies and analyzing the data needed to get vaccines licensed and approved.
But, despite the magnitude of her role, she’ll be the first to tell you that it takes real teamwork to effectively introduce a new vaccine. This was especially evident when COVID-19 ramped up the pace and volume of data required for testing.
“I work with hundreds of people who are dedicated to this work and although it was a horrendous time in history, it was unbelievably rewarding to see people step up,” said Absalon. “I was quite proud to be part of a team that developed the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Her journey began right here at Stony Brook, where she received her MD before beginning a career devoted to the study of infectious diseases. In fact, she credits her time in medical school with providing the foundation that allowed her to excel on her career path following graduation.
And behind her great experience at Stony Brook was Aldustus E. Jordan III, associate dean for student and minority affairs at the Renaissance School of Medicine. As a medical student of color, Absalon found a support system in Jordan.
“Dr. Jordan was really influential in bringing me to Stony Brook, where I was provided with a strong base that catapulted me into other amazing institutions, like Columbia University and the CDC,” said Absalon. “I don’t think I would have been able to do that without the foundation I received at SBU.”
Along her journey, Absalon has always had one goal in mind: to make a broader impact. As a first-generation immigrant, she feels passionate about using her expertise to advance healthcare in developing countries. Now her work and that of her team is making a global impact. In addition to her efforts on the COVID-19 vaccine, she continues to work on vaccines for a number of infectious diseases that are predominant outside the United States. She is also determined to make a difference at Pfizer through her work on vaccines for pregnant women, both as a member of the COVID-19 development team and in her work on the Group B Streptococcus vaccine.
“Preventative care, whether it be behavioral or vaccines, is so important,” said Absalon. “You can really impact a lot of people by preventing illness, rather than focusing solely on treatment.”
Making an Impact in Bridgeport
Earlier this summer, Danielle Wilken, BT, BS ’98, MS ’01 was named the 12th president of the University of Bridgeport in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Wilken had most recently been provost and dean of faculty at Goodwin University.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead UB in this next chapter as we help our students grow both personally and professionally to achieve their goals,” she said. “I look forward to working with members of our faculty, staff, and the City of Bridgeport to continue to make UB a supportive and diverse learning environment that serves the needs of our students and the community.”
Wilken earned a master’s degree in health care policy and management and bachelor’s degrees in clinical laboratory sciences and biology from Stony Brook University. She later earned an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Hartford. She has more than 25 years of experience in higher education.
Upon taking office, she told NewHavenBiz that “higher ed needs to become more efficient, and more student-centered, and I think we are really on track to lead the way and demonstrate an effective model for doing that. In five to 10 years, you will see a thriving, robust university that has really set the model for other institutions on how to collaborate, not only interdepartmentally on campus but across institutions.”
One of her first goals is to involve the UB community in deciding together what target areas for change and improvement are needed. She also wants to see the university grow by expanding UB’s academic programming and services. Follow her journey @UBridgeport
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