Closing the Gender Gap in Tech

Women in Tech panel

The CSI Tech Incubator is working diligently to close the gender-gap in tech. The Tech Incubator officially launched a 15-week Girls Who Code program. [View the Gallery.]Girls Who Code is a national non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology and change the image of what a programmer looks like and does.

The Girls Who Code Club at the CSI Tech Incubator allows high school students to join a sisterhood of supportive peers and role models. Through this program, high school students use computer science to design and build a project, solving real-world problems through code. Girls Who Code, with partners like the CSI Tech Incubator, is leading the movement to inspire, educate, and equip young women with the computing skills to pursue 21st-Century opportunities.

When asked of the significance of a program like Girls Who Code, Computer Science Professor Sarah Zelikovitz stated, “Girls Who Code helps young women enter the tech world by giving them a comfortable environment where they can explore technology, ask questions, find mentors, and join a network. The energy at these meetings, the lessons learned, and the lifelong friendships and contacts that are formed give these young women strength to succeed.  At CSI, we strive to ensure that women, although a minority in most classes, thrive, feel included, and have a support network to carry them over difficult times, classes, and decisions.”

Throughout the Spring 2019 semester, GWC members were able to learn coding, build community, and learn from inspiring role models. Following a team deliberation, program participants elected to focus their group project on developing a tutoring platform called Teens Who Tutor.

To bring this project to fruition, members utilized a wide variation of platforms and languages, such as:

  • Adventure/Platform Game in Scratch – block-based programming language
  • Info App in Thunkable – block-based programming language
  • Chatbot in Python (using platform) – text-based programming language
  • Quiz Game in Python (using platform) – text-based programming language
  • Interactive Magazine Website in JavaScript and HTML (using platform) – text-based programming language
  • APIs in JavaScript, JQuery, and HTML – text-based programming language

During the program, the CSI Tech Incubator facilitated a Women in Tech Panel where members had the opportunity to hear stories from successful women in different areas within the tech industry. Panelists included Kathryn Jonas, Software Engineer at TeachersPayTeachers; Clara Nice, Software Engineer at Squarespace; Dr. Sarah Zelikovitz, Computer Science Professor at CSI; and the moderator was Jasmine Cardona, Executive Director of Economic Development, Continuing Studies, and Government Relations.

The club was facilitated by CSI students Ellie Chen and Kaylyn Torres, who is the Treasurer of Emerging Ladies in Technology (ELiTe), and a member of CUNY Women in Technology NY. Kaylyn is a member of the New York Academy of Sciences and was recognized as a Next Scholars and Academy Ambassador. She participated in the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program at Twitter NYC and has held internships at GoReadyMade as a QA Engineer Intern, and TeacherPayTeachers as a Back-End Engineer Intern. This summer, she will be interning with Verizon Media, working on the Mobile Test Engineering team at Tumblr. As a special thank you, the CSI Tech Incubator granted a full scholarship for Kaylyn to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration—the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. Kaylyn was selected from a pool of applicants, from which she was recognized based on her work and impact within the community.

The successful inaugural cohort, consisting of girls in grades 9-12, attending Lavelle Prep, Wagner, Staten Island Tech, St. Joseph Hill Academy, Curtis, Petrides, and CSI high schools and residing in Staten Island, Brooklyn, and New Jersey, concluded with a graduation ceremony showcasing each student’s work throughout the semester. In recognition of their hard work and dedication, students received certificates of completion as well as a gift bag consisting of an Amazon HD tablet, an Adidas bag, and CSI Tech Incubator swag. For more information on Girls Who Code, please visit

For more details on the Girls Who Code Club at the CSI Tech Incubator, please visit the student-created Website,


Move-In Day 2019 Welcomes More than 300 Incoming Freshmen

CSI President William J. Fritz, CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, and Danny the Dolphin

This past weekend, more than 300 new freshmen moved into the Dolphin Cove Residence Halls at the College of Staten Island (CSI). Nearly 200 campus community volunteers – including students, student-athletes, faculty, and staff – assisted the new students as they moved their belongings to their new dorms. Students from across the New York City boroughs and throughout the world now call Dolphin Cove their new home as they prepare to begin their college journeys. Students were also greeted by CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez and College of Staten Island President William J. Fritz, who presided over the annual and highly anticipated waffle brunch. Chancellor Matos Rodríguez, CUNY Trustee Michael Arvanites, and select CSI staff toured the campus including the newly announced, Lucille and Jay Chazanoff School of Business at the College of Staten Island.

Other activities on Move-in Day included town hall events, a DJ, and an evening barbecue. Returning students will move into the residence halls on Monday, September 2.

“I am pleased to welcome our incoming freshmen to Dolphin Cove, and to have the opportunity to provide them with a delicious breakfast as they move in. I also want to thank Chancellor Matos Rodríguez for visiting our campus to meet our students and graciously provide assistance. There is certainly excitement in the air as we embark on another academic year, giving our students the Opportunity to Ascend. Go Dolphins!” says College of Staten Island President, Dr. William Fritz.

“It was wonderful to visit the College of Staten Island with CUNY Trustee Michael Arvanites for move-in day, and to see President Fritz and his administration and staff come together to welcome the students and their families. While watching the students wheel their belongings into the Dolphin Cove, it struck me that I was the one who was being moved. Their educational journey begins here on this beautiful Willowbrook campus, and there is no telling where it will take them,” said Chancellor Matos Rodríguez. “As this school year unfolds, we will be working hard to make sure that they, and all of CUNY’s students, have the best possible environment to pursue their passions – during their time here with us and beyond. Ultimately, it is their progress that provides the most meaningful measure of success for this University.”

Dr. Veit Attends Faculty Development Workshop to Bolster Sustainability Efforts at CSI

As part of the Valley & Ridge Faculty Development Workshop, participants get to learn from one another about how their home institutions address sustainability.

The Division of Economic Development, Continuing Studies, and Government Relations at the College of Staten Island (CSI) through its Office of Sustainable Community Planning sponsored Biology Professor Dr. Richard Veit to attend Dickinson College’s Center of Sustainability Education 11th Annual Faculty Development Workshop. In collaboration with the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), Dickinson College supports faculty in integrating social, economic, and environmental sustainability into their undergraduate teaching. The workshop was facilitated by Neil Leary and Lindsey Lyons, the Director and Assistant Director of Dickinson’s Center for Sustainability Education.

Nora Santiago of the Office of Sustainable Community Planning wants to support CSI’s ability to incorporate sustainability throughout the campus. She stated, “By using role-model universities like Dickinson College as our guide for sustainable change, we can improve our campuses’ capacity for developing leaders in our faculty, staff, and student body.” Dr. Veit’s coursework focuses on a variety of topics in ecology, behavior, and conservation of vertebrate animals.

Dr. Veit shared, “The workshop provided a number of ideas for incorporating the concept of sustainability into proposed research on conservation and management of grassland birds on four reclaimed New York City landfills. We want to engage the public, as well as students, as to the importance of conservation and more generally the management of lands in a sustainable fashion.”

In order to support the work of faculty such as Dr. Veit and expand CSI’s ability to incorporate sustainability throughout the campus and in the classroom, the Office, with support of the division, will create a competitive process by which other faculty members can apply for sponsorship to participate in Dickinson College’s Faculty Development Workshop. Over the course of the year, the Office will continue to work closely with faculty and staff who have a shared commitment toward sustainability practices. Dr. Veit believes that it is vital to “[broadcast] the importance of conservation and sustainability to the public at large.”

Dr. Veit is one example of the metamorphosis happening across our entire campus, influencing the character and behavior of our campus community. Through more opportunities like these, our campus community can teach our students how to meet the needs of today without compromising the needs of tomorrow.

CSI is committed to developing a strong sustainability culture at the College. To learn more about the Office of Sustainable Community Planning or get involved, please email or call 718.982.2354.

Former Willowbrook State School Resident Donates Memoir to CSI Library’s Willowbrook Archive

Henry Geller (seated, center) with members of the CSI and HeartShare communities, and members of the Willowbrook Mile Project

The Willowbrook Archives at the College of Staten Island’s Library received a welcome and enlightening addition yesterday when former Willowbrook State School resident Henry Geller donated his self-published book, Henry Geller: A Memoir to the collection. The book examines his time at the notorious warehouse for the developmentally disabled, and his fascinating life after he left.

Geller was born in 1946 and was placed in Willowbrook in 1950, remaining there until 1967. After residing in group homes for many years, in 2010, he eventually moved to the Subbiondo I Residence of HeartShare, a nonprofit organization, which is dedicated to empowering individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, in Bayside, Queens. Geller eventually worked part-time job at a Bronx newsstand and then took on a full-time job, serving as a messenger and clerk for the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission until he retired in 1999.

In attendance at the event were Geller, and members of the CSI and HeartShare communities, as well as members of the WIllowbrook Mile Committee, which is developing an educational and fitness walking trail through the three distinct campuses that were created from the original 383 pastoral acres that were once the Willowbrook State School.

CSI Executive Director of Institutional Advancement and External Affairs Cheryl Adolph accepted the book on behalf of the College, and introduced CSI Vice President for Economic Development, Continuing Studies, and Government Relations Ken Iwama, who noted the welcome change of attitude toward the significance of Willowbrook on behalf of the College under current President William J. Fritz, “Instead of ignoring it, now we embrace it, and we all embrace it together.”

Evelyn Alvarez, Associate Executive Director, Developmental Disabilities Services at HeartShare, discussed her 35-year history with Geller and the positive ways that others at HeartShare viewed him, as well as his exceptional expertise in navigating the city as a messenger.

Geller, who preferred to take the subway to make his deliveries, added that he is most proud of the fact that he never used a subway map to get around.

The CSI Library’s Willowbrook Archive collects material documenting the history of the Willowbrook site prior to and during its use as a state school; the experiences of the school residents and staff, and the activities of parents and caregivers who brought about the closing of the school; and secondary source materials that analyze the legal significance of the Willowbrook Consent Judgment and its role in the history of self-advocacy and the group home movement.

CSI continues its dedication to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities through its participation in AHRCNYC’s Melissa Riggio Higher Education Program, which provides the first, fully inclusive college experiences for non-matriculated students with intellectual and developmental disabilities at CSI, and Creative Exchange, which serves adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in a non-degree program with ongoing educational offerings through the College. In addition, CSI hosts the annual Willowbrook Memorial Lecture, and is a partner, along with the Institute for Basic Research, the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities and Staten Island Developmental Disabilities Council (SIDDC) in the Willowbrook Mile Project.

CSI’s Workforce Development Program is designed to boost Staten Island business

Vlad Nunez, CSI Workforce Development A+ instructor (Photo: Staten Island Business Trends)

STATEN ISLAND BUSINESS TRENDS – With a mission of “empowering the borough’s economic engine,” the College of Staten Island’s Office of Workforce Development and Innovation is a critical component of the College’s Office of Economic Development and plays an important role in the continuing education of New York City residents. Read more at Staten Island Business Trends.

Visiting Doctors from China Tour Richmond University Medical Center

Visiting Chinese physicians and members of the CSI Faculty toured Richmond University Medical Center.

Nine members of the U.S. Health Care Physician’s Observation Program had the opportunity to tour Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC) yesterday.

The Program brings nine physicians from the First Affiliated Hospital of USTC (Anhui Provincial Hospital), China to the College of Staten Island from May 3 to July 30 so that they may explore all aspects of the U.S. health care system. While at CSI, participants will be provided with clinical observational opportunities, meet with various community agencies, visit health care providers, and participate in various educational, social, and cultural activities in the New York City area. The Program is conducted by the Center for Global Engagement with the support of the School of Health Sciences at the College of Staten Island.

The tour of RUMC included a meet and greet with RUMC President and CEO Dr. Daniel J. Messina; a  tour of the RUMC Emergency Department with Dr. Kopolovich of the Department of Emergency Medicine; and a tour of the hospital with Alex Lutz, RUMC Director of Public Relations and Marketing.

Besides the nine visiting physicians, Dr. Messina, Dr. Kopolovich, and Mr. Lutz, other participants included Dean of the CSI School of Health Sciences Marcus Tye; Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Biology Dr. Chang Hui Shen; Dr. Muhammad Zia from the Department of Biology; and Winnie Brophy of the Center for Global Engagement.

The visiting physicians and their specialties are:


Dr. Yunqin Liu, Deputy Chief Physician, Radiotherapy

Dr. Jie Tang, Deputy Chief Physician, Geriatric Cardiology

Dr. Mao Zheng, Deputy Chief Physician, Endocrinology

Dr. Shao Hui Cheng, Deputy Chief Physician, Intensive Care Medicine

Dr. Zhili Pan, Deputy Chief Physician, Radiology: Medical Imaging (leader)

Dr. Haibo Wu, Deputy Chief Physician, Pathology

Dr. Lei Wen, Deputy Chief Physician, Ophthalmology

Dr. Fei Yin, Attending Physician, Otorhinolaryngology

Tong Tong, Head Pharmacist, Clinical Pharmacology


They are currently residing on Staten Island in the West Brighton neighborhood during the Program.

Record-setting $7.5M Chazanoff Donation to Name School of Business

The College of Staten Island has received a $7.5M cash gift from Class of ’65 alumni Lucille and Jay Chazanoff to benefit the School of Business.

The College of Staten Island has received a $7.5M cash gift from Class of ’65 alumni Lucille and Jay Chazanoff to benefit the School of Business. The gift is the largest individual donation ever made to a nonprofit within the Borough of Staten Island. With the potential to dramatically transform the work of the School, the Fund will be used to support the Lucille and Jay Chazanoff School of Business, including accreditation pursuant to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) – an international organization that is the preeminent accrediting body for business schools in the United States. There are 845 business institutions in 56 countries and territories that have earned AACSB accreditation.

The income generated by the Fund will support a wide range of objectives, including retaining faculty, many of whom have garnered national recognition as Fulbright Scholars, National Science Foundation grant recipients, and National Academy of Science expert panel members. CSI Business faculty hold positions on journal editorial boards, occupy leadership roles in professional organizations, and consult to federal, state, and local governmental agencies.

The College will also use this endowment to undertake a well-defined series of strategic program improvements that will significantly strengthen both CSI and the Lucille and Jay Chazanoff School’s national standing and improve student success.

College President William J. Fritz commented that “the Fund will greatly augment the effectiveness, impact, and reach of our School of Business, providing levels of instruction and excellence that were once only imagined. In addition, it exemplifies the power of personal legacy through private philanthropy, which strengthens our College and, ultimately, our community by giving us an Opportunity to Ascend consistent with our Strategic Plan. Lucille and Jay are part of the fabric of this Island, and we are deeply grateful for their support of the School of Business and the College of Staten Island.

Founding Dean of the School of Business, Susan L. Holak, remarked that “we are exceedingly grateful for this generous, transformational gift that will provide expanded opportunities for experiential learning and student success; support faculty hiring, retention, and scholarship; and raise our level of community engagement. The Chazanoff CUNY Fund demonstrates confidence in our School’s mission and programs, while affording us the flexibility and capacity to innovate at a faster pace. Lucille and Jay Chazanoff are exemplary alumni, exceptional members of our community, and generous philanthropists. We are immensely proud that our School will bear their name.”

The donors, Lucille and Jay Chazanoff, stated that “it is an honor to have the opportunity to support the School of Business, and the College of Staten Island. We met at Staten Island Community College and the education we received there gave us the foundation to launch successful careers and lives. We are proud to pay it forward to future students with the hope of giving them greatly enhanced career opportunities so that they may follow in our footsteps.”

Lucille and Jay Chazanoff met while attending classes at Staten Island Community College, a predecessor of CSI. They are longtime benefactors of the College of Staten Island and the community at large. Previously, they established the $100,000 Jay and Lucille Chazanoff ’65 Endowed Scholarship Fund that provides support for full-time Business majors. Their philanthropy within the community includes the establishment in 2004 of the family-run Carmine and Robert DeSantis Charitable Foundation, named after Lucille’s late brothers. The Foundation, whose motto is “one child at a time,” assists children with special needs on Staten Island, providing more than $1M in support to date. In addition, the Chazanoffs are the lead benefactors of the JCC of Staten Island-sponsored Lucille and Jay Chazanoff Sunrise Day Camp, a free camp for children affected by cancer and their siblings.

Lucille, also a graduate of Pace University, worked as a CPA in the international accounting firm Arthur Young & Co. for four years, before joining the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), eventually rising to the position of Vice President and Controller. After a seven-year career with NBC, Lucille returned to her Staten Island-based family business, Royal Press, serving as COO until her retirement in 2012. Upon returning to Staten Island, Lucille began to take on leadership roles with various nonprofit organizations, including the Visiting Nurses Association and Meals on Wheels, which culminated in her being acknowledged as a Staten Island Advance Woman of Achievement in 1994. Lucille served on the CSI Foundation Board of Directors for 12 years, including as the Founding President of the Board of Directors (1992-1994) and remains active on the Boards of the Northfield Bank Foundation and Richmond University Medical Center Foundation, where she serves as Treasurer.

Jay also earned his Bachelor’s degree from Pace University and an MBA from Long Island University. He began his career as a CPA at the international accounting firm Ernst & Ernst, prior to joining a young publicly traded financial services company in 1973, where he rose to become a senior executive over a 20-year term as the company grew into Fortune 500 status. After managing the company’s corporate restructuring as the COO and President in the early 1990s, he began his second career as an entrepreneur by co-founding a technology-based claims management company to provide services to the corporate reorganization industry.  The company grew to become the nation’s largest claims administrator and Jay oversaw the company’s successful sale to a publicly traded company in 2003. In 1997, Jay also became a partner in Pembroke Companies, Inc., a commercial and residential real estate investment, development, and management enterprise. Over the years, Pembroke Companies, Inc., has been actively engaged in the real estate industry and currently, among its various projects, serves as an operating partner with The Blackstone Group, managing a large, multifamily real estate portfolio. Jay has served the Staten Island community extensively, notably as a representative and Board member of the former St. Vincent’s Hospital of Staten Island, as part of the team that brought cardiac surgery to the Borough, also serving for two years as the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of The Heart Institute. He is currently the Vice President of the Jewish Community Center on Staten Island, where from 2004-2006, Lucille and Jay co-chaired a $40M capital campaign. Jay has also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the College of Staten Island Foundation since 2013, and is slated to join the UJA-Federation of New York Board of Directors this July.