Introducing the SUNY Adirondack Trailblazers 

The path to success for many alumni began at Adirondack Community College. For the college, humble beginnings in 1961 in Hudson Falls led to a new campus in 1967 in Queensbury and a new name, SUNY Adirondack, in 2010.  With the idea that paths unfold with twists and turns and that in life, success is derived from taking risks or changing direction, we have established SUNY Adirondack Trailblazers to celebrate the lives and careers of our distinguished alumni.

A college lives through its alumni. Their success contributes to the college’s success and reputation. We seek to recognize outstanding alumni who provide an inspirational impact to our students from their accomplishments and service to their professions and communities. By honoring our former students, we hope to inspire today’s students to strive for both personal and professional success.

Nominations to the Trailblazer Society

  • Nominees should have completed a degree or certificate at ACC/SUNY Adirondack.
  • Nominations may be made by the individual or by someone else. (Current Foundation Board of Directors, members of the Board of Trustees, and College employees can nominate others but are ineligible to become a Trailblazer.)
  • Nominations can be made posthumously.
  • Nominees should not be running for political office in the year they are nominated.

Inductees will be chosen based on achievement in one or more of the following areas:

Professional Achievement: The nominee has performed with distinction in their field as evidenced by more than one of the following: advanced degrees received; promotions in their field; honors/awards received from professional organizations recognized as outstanding in the field; offices held in professional organizations; publications/presentations of their work; mentorship.

Community Service: The nominee has served with distinction in civic, service and/or philanthropic organizations as evidenced by making significant contributions to the advancement and leadership of the organization(s); recognition (honors/awards) for volunteer service on the local, regional, state, national or international level.

Service to ACC/SUNY Adirondack: The nominee has demonstrated outstanding loyalty and service over a period of several years to the College or Foundation as evidenced by volunteer participation and philanthropic support.

Outstanding spirit: The nominee has demonstrated an indomitable spirit, overcoming significant obstacles and challenges to receive an ACC/SUNY Adirondack education that transformed his/her life. The nominee is a person of such integrity and stature that the college will take pride in his or her recognition. This may be demonstrated through their professional achievement or community service.           

How You Can Help

Nominate any outstanding candidate(s) who you feel demonstrate(s) the above criteria. 

The SUNY Adirondack Distinguished Faculty will review nominations and announce their selections in May 2019.

How to Nominate

Complete an online Nomination Form or contact the SUNY Adirondack Foundation at or 518.743.2243. Evidence of professional experience, awards and achievement can be submitted through media links, press releases and/or a resume. If these items are not provided at the time of nomination, the nominees will receive a request to submit documents supporting their nomination.

The deadline for nominations is April 5, 2019


2018 Trailblazers

SUNY Adirondack inducted five members to the Trailblazer Society at a networking luncheon on Sept. 28, 2018. 

The inductees include:

Stephen Conigliaro came to Adirondack Community College from Flushing in 1974. A student of Professor LeRoy Aiken, he found great joy in the Radio and TV Broadcasting major and at the newly established WACC Radio station. After graduating, Conigliaro left ACC to work at WIPS Ticonderoga, then moved to WBZA in Albany. He later settled in Charlotte, N.C., where a position as a professional DJ came with a new professional name, Steve Harmon. Through the years, he has won numerous awards, including three Billboard Major Market Air Personality of the Year awards, CMA Awards and, most significantly, an induction in 2018 to the Country Radio Hall of Fame in Nashville.

Sarah Ghent earned her AAS in Nursing from SUNY Adirondack in 1980 as an adult learner while raising her family, and she earned a Bachelor’s in Health and Human Services from Columbia Pacific University in San Rafael, California. Ghent continued a career in nursing that covered many diverse aspects of the profession. Her positions and roles included medical/surgical nurse at Staten Island University Hospital and Glens Falls Hospital; manager of a home care staffing agency on Staten Island; implementation of the first case management program on Staten Island for H.I.P. Plan of Greater New York; clinical review, quality improvement for Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield; and clinical reporting to physicians for Mohawk Valley Physicians. Since retirement, her volunteer endeavors include The American Red Cross, NY State Long Term Care Ombudsman (Certified) and Ombudsman of the Year 2017, NY Connects Long Term Care Council, Chairperson-SUNY Adirondack Nursing Alumni Association, SUNY Adirondack Nursing Program Advisory Board and the High Peaks Hospice. 

Dennis Harris is currently a systems engineer working at United Launch Alliance, where he is helping the company qualify their newest rocket, Vulcan, which will be used to launch manned missions to space as early as 2020. He graduated from SUNY Adirondack in 1996 with a Math/Science degree and then went on to SUNY Albany for a BS and MS in Physics. He received his MBA in 2010. Dennis has worked for several aerospace companies, and his projects include instruments for NASA, NOAA, the Air Force and South Korea.

Rich Johns, a native of South Glens Falls, began his academic career at ACC in 1968 and transferred to the State University of New York at Potsdam, where he graduated in 1972. Johns taught elementary and middle school, and he coached tennis at Saratoga Springs High School for 38 years. Under his guidance, Saratoga won 17 League Titles, nine Sectional Team Titles and holds the Section II record for Class AA with 85 consecutive wins and a record of 107– 2 during that period. He has won numerous awards as a coach, an Excellence in Teaching Award by the SUNY Albany Chapter of The National Society of Leadership and Success in 2015 and 2016 and has been inducted into the SUNY Adirondack and SUNY Potsdam hall of fames as well as the Saratoga Springs School District and the South Glens Falls Athletic and Community Pride Hall of Fames. Following his passion of personal character development, Johns started a “pay it forward” mission called Act With Respect Always, which has grown into a national model of student and athlete character development.

Brett Lange graduated from SUNY Adirondack in 1992 with an AAS in Radio Broadcasting.  He went on to earn a Bachelor's degree in finance marketing from the University at Albany. Today, Lange owns four local businesses in Lake George: Christie’s on the Lake, S.J. Garcia’s, Pablo’s Burrito Cantina and Magic Castle Indoor Golf. His entrepreneurial career has kept him linked with SUNY Adirondack. Many of his employees are student or graduates, and he has established two scholarships, one supporting students pursuing culinary degrees and another related to the study of the humanities.

The college’s Distinguished Faculty evaluated and selected the inaugural class from a competitive pool of nominations. Criteria for consideration include demonstrated excellence in the areas of professional achievement, community service, service to ACC/SUNY Adirondack and/or outstanding spirit.