SUNY JCC Alumni Association Honors 9 Graduates at Annual Awards Gala

ELLICOTTVILLE, N.Y. –  The SUNY Jamestown Community College Alumni Association honored nine graduates during the JCC Foundation’s annual awards gala held Nov. 9 at Holiday Valley’s Yodeler Lodge.

Colin Kremer, Jonathan O’Brian, and Rick Whitney were recipients of the Distinguished Alumnus Award. The award is the association's highest honor and is given to those who have typified the college's tradition of excellence and brought ​credit to the college through personal accomplishment, professional achievement, or humanitarian service.

Kremer is a 2005 graduate with an associate’s degree in Math and Science. He is an assistant professor in the department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of California Los Angeles. 

photo of Jonathan O'Brian and Rick Whitney holding awards
Recipients of JCC's Distinguished Alumnus Award Jonathan O'Brian,
left, and Rick Whitney.

Kremer has dedicated his career to studying interactions between ecology, evolution, and physiology in variable and changing environments. He has also maintained a passion for volunteering throughout his education and career, having mentored several students and worked on many outreach and workshop programs.

Kremer holds a bachelor’s in Biology & Mathematics from SUNY Geneseo and a Doctor of Philosophy in Plant Biology & Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior from Michigan State University. 

O’Brian is a 1985 graduate and professor of history at JCC. He infuses his passion for education and life-long learning into his curriculum and community service. 

O’Brian earned a bachelor’s degree in Science from SUNY Fredonia and a master’s in History from SUNY Buffalo, where he is pursuing a Ph.D. in History. 

O’Brian serves as director of the YMCA’s Camp Onyahsa and spends countless hours volunteering for local organizations. He self-published a history of the American evangelical endeavors in southwest China that founded the YMCA of Chengdu in 1910. His work helped to restore much of the association’s history that was destroyed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. 

O’Brian has received several awards, including the 2014 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Teaching and the 2013 Paul B. Sullivan Award for Lifetime Achievement. ​

Whitney is a 1975 graduate and the current Allegany County sheriff. Upon graduating from JCC, Sheriff Whitney became a police officer for the Village of Bolivar where he was promoted to chief of police and served for 30 years. 

Whitney is a graduate of the FBI National Academy at Quantico and the National Sheriff’s Institute in Longmont, Colorado. 

He has a passion for serving his community and is a member of several professional organizations, including the FBI National Academy Associates, National Sheriff’s Association, NYS Association of Chiefs of Police, American Jail Association, and Partners for Prevention in Allegany County. 

Whitney has received several prestigious awards including the Medal of Honor from the NYS Association of Chiefs of Police and the Ronald Regan award from the Allegany County Republican Committee. He is a 35-year member of the Bolivar Lions Club and a 25-year member of the Macedonia Lodge.

The Foundation also honored alumni award recipients from each of the college’s six career communities. Each was chosen by faculty from among thousands of JCC graduates. 

The recipients were Richard Dixon, Business & Entrepreneurship; Eric Jones, Society & Human Expression; Leanna Luka-Conley, Health & Physical Wellness; Patrick Lund, Engineering, Manufacturing, & Applied Technology; Jennifer Miller, Math, Science, & Computer Technology; and Kristy Woodfield Martin, Public & Professional Services.

career community award recipients holding awards
Alumni award recipients from JCC's career communities, from left, Richard
Dixon, Jennifer Miller, Kristy Woodfield Martin, Eric Jones, Leanna Luka-Conley,
and Patrick Lund.

Dixon received associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration from JCC and SUNY Fredonia. He is the chief financial officer with the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency. His leadership and dedication have led to the creation and retention of thousands of jobs and the investment of hundreds of millions of private dollars in Chautauqua County. Dixon has also served on several boards of directors in the region.

Jones, who studied Digital Illustration at Alfred University, was a natural stone and mosaic mural artist before starting an online retail caricature and avatar illustration business, which he still owns. He is also a 2D and 3D sculptor who works in pumpkin, wood, sand, and snow. Jones was a finalist on season 10's “Halloween Wars,” and was the world champion of season 3's “Outrageous Pumpkins,” both Food Network shows.

Luka-Conley, a licensed social worker, attended JCC, SUNY Fredonia, and the University at Buffalo. She is the deputy commissioner of adult, children, and family services for the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services. She was instrumental in laying the foundations for “Strong Starts Chautauqua” and “The Better for Families” initiatives. Luka-Conley is an adjunct professor at Fredonia and JCC.  

Lund attended SUNY Binghamton on a full scholarship where he served as president of the Engineering Honor Society Pi Tau Sigma and graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering. He has worked at Betts Industries in Warren, Pennsylvania since college. Lund became Betts’ first senior design engineer and was promoted to design engineering manager in 2019.

Miller earned an A.S. in Mathematics and Science from JCC and a B.S in Nuclear Medicine Technology from the Rochester Institute of Technology.  She was a nuclear medicine technologist and supervisor before working in customer support for molecular imaging and radiation therapy hardware and software vendors. Miller joined Syntermed, Inc. as its senior applications and business development manager this year.

Woodfield Martin received a bachelor’s from the University at Buffalo where she also attended law school. She started her career as an Americorp Equal Justice Works Veterans Fellow at Legal Assistance of WNY assisting low-income veterans with civil legal issues. She transitioned into criminal defense work with the Chautauqua County Public Defender’s Office, where she was recently promoted to first assistant public defender.

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