Smithtown’s Joani Madarash Honored as School-Business Partnerships of Long Island, Inc.'s 2017 Volunteer of the Year
School-Business Partnerships of Long Island, Inc. (SBPLI) is pleased to present longtime Board Member and former Executive Director Joani Madarash with the organization’s 2017 Volunteer of the Year Award. A fully volunteer-run 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, SBPLI relies on the dedication and support of its members year-round. As such, the organization takes the time each year to recognize the countless hours and efforts of a devoted volunteer.
Presently part of SBPLI’s Executive Management Team, Ms. Madarash joined the organization in 1992 as an Advisory Board member. In 1998, along with others at the Annual SBPLI Board meeting, she was witness to the passion and magnetism of Dean Kamen, Founder of FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). It was this presentation by Mr. Kamen that took SBPLI into a new and long-lasting direction! It was the beginning of an affiliation which secured SBPLI’s involvement with the FIRST Robotics programs and, in fact, brought the FIRST Regional event to NY state. Since that time, Ms. Madarash has served as a member of SBPLI’s FIRST Robotics Competition Development Council, which each year is tasked with organizing the program’s associated events. This includes, among other things, the Long Island Kick-Off at Stony Brook University and the SBPLI Long Island Regional at Hofstra University.
In 2002, Ms. Madarash was invited to join the SBPLI Board of Directors and served as the organization’s Vice President of Event Coordination (2007-2010), President (2011-2012), Executive Director (2012-2014) and Interim Executive Director (2014-2016). In her role as Events Coordinator, Ms. Madarash held a key role in multiple fundraising events – such as VIP receptions, the organization’s signature “60 Over 60 Gala,” scholarship fundraisers and SBPLI’s annual golf tournament, among others. Her involvement with many of these events continues still today.
Ms. Madarash was instrumental as a founding committee member in the creation of the Fred Breithut Scholarship at Farmingdale State College in 2009. Vibrant and overjoyed to receive this honor, Fred Breithut, Founder of School-Business Partnerships was touched and profoundly humbled by the creation of this educational scholarship in his name. Following Fred's sudden passing in 2010, it became even more important to keep his legacy and gift to the young people on Long Island alive and continue this scholarship. Ms. Madarash is one of several SBPLI volunteers to review applications and select a recipient of the scholarship, which is presented to an incoming Farmingdale State College freshman or transfer student each semester. She also helps to select a winner of the organization’s annual Musical Theme Award, presented by School Construction Consultants, Inc.
“Joani Madarash is a shining example of the hard work, determination and commitment that is required to run an organization such as SBPLI,” says Ms. Madarash’s successor, Bertram Dittmar, who today serves as the organization’s Executive Director. “Joani’s guidance and leadership over the last 25 years has enabled SBPLI to serve much of Long Island’s present workforce, and her continued commitment to the organization will allow her to influence even more generations to come. I thank her personally for her friendship and support in my role as her successor, and professionally for all that she has done in service to SBPLI.”
In addition to her involvement with SBPLI, Ms. Madarash has an impressive career that began with her rehab counseling position at the Long Island Developmental Center in Melville in 1973, where she worked her way up the ranks to Director of Vocational Rehabilitation Services before leaving in 1989. From there, Ms. Madarash went on to hold several titles at the National Center for Disability Services in Albertson, New York. Ms. Madarash stepped down from her position as Co-Director of the Smeal Learning Center for that organization in 2002 to start Smithtown-based accessLinx, Inc., for which she serves as President and CEO still today.
A graduate of Queens College, from which she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Ms. Madarash went on to earn a master’s degree in counseling from Long Island University’s C.W. Post Campus (now known as LIU Post) and has authored several curricula, newsletters, journals and articles.
She is an active member not only of SBPLI, but also sits on the boards of the New York State Association for People Supporting Employment First, the Suffolk County Disabilities Advisory Board and the Suffolk County Rehabilitation Council, and is a community fundraising advisory for Future Child Advocates. Ms. Madarash’s involvement with these organizations has earned her a variety of awards, including LIBN’s Most Influential Businesswoman and the National Rehab Association’s (Metro NY Chapter) Schwartz Humanitarian Award, and was recognized by the Huntington Chamber as one of 101 Volunteers of the Year in 2003. After winning her personal battle with breast cancer, Ms. Madarash has proudly served as an American Cancer Society team leader for many years, achieving Pacesetter status for the organization’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. Her efforts earned her the Walbaum’s Foundation’s Breast Cancer Survivor of the Year Award in 2005 and again in 2011 from the A&P Foundation.
For more information on SBPLI or the FIRST Long Island programs, please visit www.sbpli-lifirst.org.
About School-Business Partnerships of Long Island, Inc.
School-Business Partnerships of Long Island, Inc. (SBPLI) is a fully volunteer-run 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1984 by Fred Breithut with the goal of developing partnerships between local high schools and businesses. His goal was to provide students with practical experience and curriculum development, while helping the business community develop its future workforce, which resulted in the formation of over 100 partnerships. In 1999, SBPLI brought the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) to Long Island, which featured just eight FIRST Robotics Competition high school teams. Since then, the Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition has grown to over 50 teams competing each year. SBPLI also hosts Long Island’s annual FIRST LEGO League Qualifying and Championship Tournaments and the FIRST LEGO League Junior Expos, in which over 2,000 elementary and middle school students from Nassau and Suffolk Counties take part each year. In 2016, SBPLI added the FIRST Tech Challenge to its roster of programs. For more information about the programs, or to learn how to become a sponsor, visit www.sbpli-lifirst.org.