The Distinguished Alumni Awards recognize the achievements, growth, and societal contributions of the college’s outstanding alumni. Award recipients, who are selected by the National Alumni Board of Governors, exhibit the ideals expressed by the college’s founders and that remain strong at the institution today.
This year’s recipient of the highest honor presented to a graduate, the Distinguished Alumni Award, is Anibal Soler, Jr. ’00. The award, which is presented by Daemen President Gary Olson, recognizes a graduate who has achieved distinction in his or her career and in the community and has shown outstanding dedication to the college.
Other 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are Dr. Elizabeth D. Liddy ’66, Advancement in Career; Adriane Z. Williams ’01, Dedication to the College; Mary L. Sage ’02, Service to the Community; and Dr. Joseph P. Gravino ’13, Graduate of the Last Decade.
Distinguished Alumni Award
Anibal Soler, Jr. ‘00
Soler is superintendent of schools for the Batavia City School District, having previously served as associate superintendent of strategic alignment and Innovation for Buffalo Public Schools. He also supervised Buffalo’s district athletics, the adult education division, and the district’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative.
Soler is a member of the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS), a national organization that advocates for Latinos and Latino educators, and was a charter member of the inaugural ALAS Superintendent’s Leadership Academy. Currently, he serves as communications officer and regional board member for the New York State Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents representing Western New York.
Mayor Byron Brown of the City of Buffalo recognized Soler as a 2019 Champion of Education as part of Buffalo’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. He was also recognized by President Barack Obama as a 2014 Latino Educator Champion of Change for his leadership and commitment to positive change for the Latino community.
A West Seneca resident, Soler earned a bachelor’s degree in art education from Daemen and received a master’s degree in educational administration from St. John Fisher College. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Rochester.
Advancement in Career
Dr. Elizabeth D. Liddy ’66
Liddy most recently served as dean of Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies and also held the role of interim provost at the university. Under her leadership at the school, the undergraduate program grew from 14 percent to 42 percent in female students.
After graduating from Daemen (then Rosary Hill College) with a bachelor’s degree in English literature, Liddy earned a master’s degree and became a faculty librarian and taught at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse. She later became the first part-time Ph.D. student in Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies and went on to receive a doctoral degree.
Liddy founded TextWise, a semantic-based search engine company where she earned six patents. She then established the Center for Natural Language Processing in the Syracuse University School of Information Studies.
Now retired from Syracuse University, Liddy serves on various boards while enjoying spending time with her children and grandchildren. She resides in Syracuse.
Dedication to the College
Adriane Z. Williams ’01
Williams is vice principal of college and career at Washington Leadership Academy, a public charter high school in Washington, D.C.
Williams joined the leadership academy after a long tenure at Daemen. She started her career in the Office of Admissions while pursuing her studies at the college. After earning a bachelor’s degree in humanities with a minor in philosophy/religious studies, she was named director of Daemen’s Liberty Partnership Program.
Williams went on to receive a master’s degree in student personnel administration from SUNY Buffalo State. She then served as an academic advisor and was later promoted to associate director of academic advisement at Daemen, a position she held until she accepted the position at the leadership academy.
A native of Buffalo, Williams resides in Rockville, Md., with her husband Harold ‘02, a Daemen alum. She is also the proud mother of five children, including three who are also Daemen graduates.
Service to the Community
Mary L. Sage ’02
Sage, a leader in the health care field for more than 50 years, served as a nurse at United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia, N.Y.
Active in the community, Sage was honored as Volunteer of the Year in recognition of more than 20 years of volunteer service with the American Cancer Society. She has also volunteered with the Harris Hill United Methodist Church and the Genesee Community College Nursing Program.
A Clarence resident, Sage holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Daemen. She enjoys spending time with her family, including Jeff Sage, assistant athletic director for sports medicine and performance at Daemen, and attending many sports activities for her four grandchildren.
Graduate of the Last Decade
Dr. Joseph P. Gravino ’13, ’15
Gravino is co-owner of Elite Spine and Extremity Physical Therapy in Amherst, N.Y. which he co-founded with fellow physical therapist Dr. Michael Brown.
Gravino earned a bachelor’s degree in natural sciences and a doctor of physical therapy from Daemen. As a student, he was recognized by the physical therapy department with the Class of 2015 Faculty Recognition Award.
Before establishing Elite Spine and Extremity Physical Therapy, Gravino was affiliated with other physical therapy practices in Western New York. His passion to treat patients more holistically led to the physical therapy partnership.
In addition to his practice, Gravino is an adjunct faculty member at Daemen, instructing a course in kinesiology. His practice also offers an internship to a Daemen physical therapy student.
He resides in North Tonawanda.