Of the 40 alumni volunteers serving on this newly established council, three past presidents of the former Alumni Association now lead efforts that focus on community outreach, mentoring, programming, reunions, fundraising and stewardship of a permanent collection of CNR memorabilia. All of these efforts intended to engage alums in new and meaningful ways while upholding treasured CNR traditions. Marlene Melone Tutera ’71, Rosa Puleo Napoleone ’75 and Mildred Perez ’95 make up what Eileen Niedzwiecki CNR ’72, Director of Development has dubbed the “triumvirate” who now guide the activities of CNR alumni. They are transferring their loyalty and dedication to their alma mater into a new era with Mercy College.

Tutera said joining forces as leaders was driven by the shared passion of all three women to work side by side with Mercy going forward. “In our hearts, we knew relationships had to be sustained. We all embraced what CNR meant to us, and Mercy recognized that and gave us a platform and a home for our alums.”

The capacity for this new platform to engage alumni was evident early on said Tutera. She describes her confidence in the plan as she observed the commitment expressed by President Hall to excite and inspire many other alumni to consider joining the effort.“We could feel there was a real thirst to explore how these two institutions could align. We all felt it,” said Tutera. She watched as her new council’s thoughtful action plans transformed into live events that attracted many CNR alums. Large Town Hall meetings and smaller intimate gatherings both worked to build momentum for a union of mission.

For Napoleone, the process of implementing a whole new start at Mercy was a sign of hope and recovery. “Many of us went through all the stages of grief prior to the closure. Planning a new council became a rallying cry to keep something of our alma mater alive.” She describes the unique synergy of her fellow volunteers as fuel for the creation of task forces to take the next steps. Community service projects, mentoring opportunities, plans for a center for leadership, and most excitingly, a last reunion weekend on the former New Rochelle campus were in the works.

With months of planning coming to fruition, all these activities loomed large on the horizon and then the unthinkable world events hit. To a group of alums all too familiar with challenge, this was another harrowing blow. This is a group that is undeterred by challenge, says Napoleone. “We’ve had good training in going forward when the way looked uncertain.” Tutera agrees. Though the pandemic crisis currently keeps the CNR alumni body physically apart, it is not putting any damper on the enthusiasm and hope for the future when all will be able to reconvene.  I know that all of us are looking forward to picking up where we left off,” said Tutera.

All mask-free and group photos were taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.