Central New York Regional Planning & Development Board
David V. Bottar, Executive Director  

Rhea Eckel Clark Citizenship Award

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The Rhea Eckel Clark Citizenship Award was established in 1985 in memory of Rhea Eckel Clark, one of the founders of the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board. Mrs. Clark distinguished herself throughout her career by working to improve the quality of life in Central New York while addressing issues of regional significance such as education, health care, community revitalization, environmental protection, and social justice.

Mrs. Clark spent three terms as chairperson of the CNY RPDB from 1967-1969. During this period she helped to direct the agency through its formative stages and initiated work on a range of comprehensive planning issues confronting the Central New York community.

In addition to her work with the CNY RPDB, Mrs. Clark was president of Cazenovia College from April 1957 to March 1971. She was also named director of the American Management Association for a three-year period beginning in 1968. Upon retiring from her presidency of Cazenovia College, Mrs. Clark headed Governor Rockefeller's State Commission of the Aging.

Before coming to Cazenovia College, Mrs. Clark spent eight years with the New York University School of Education as assistant to the dean and consultant for community education and development. Previously, Mrs. Clark was executive secretary for New York State Citizens Council, Inc., and in 1949, she served in Germany as a visiting consultant to the U.S. Army of Occupation Program. During her lifetime, Mrs. Clark received a number of honors including the 14th Colgate Civics Awards presented to area men and women "who have exemplified, by their own generous service, the principle of democracy in action." Mrs. Rhea Eckel was married to Dr. Wesley C. Clark, who served as dean of the Syracuse University School of Journalism for more than 20 years.


The recipient of this award must:

  • Provide strong regional leadership;
  • Help implement programs that have improved the quality of life in CNY; and
  • Support efforts that foster intergovernmental cooperation and civic participation.

Kathryn Howe Ruscitto CNY RPDB's 2015 REC Award Recipient

Katheryn Howe Ruscitto (left) receives the CNY RPDB's Rhea Eckel Clark Citizenship Award from Board Chairwoman Kathleen A. Rapp at the Board's 2015 Annual Meeting
Katheryn Howe Ruscitto (left) receives the CNY RPDB's Rhea Eckel Clark Citizenship Award from Board Chairwoman Kathleen A. Rapp at the Board's 2015 Annual Meeting

Katheryn Howe Ruscitto was named the recipient of the 29th annual Rhea Eckel Clark Citizenship Award at the Central New York Regional Planning & Development Board's Annual Meeting held on October 23, 2015

Kathryn Howe Ruscitto currently serves as president and chief executive officer of St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center, a comprehensive, mission-based health care system that encompasses a 16-county service area. Ms. Ruscitto has been employed by St. Joseph's since 2001, and became the institution's 13th president and chief executive officer in 2011.

In her tenure at St. Joseph's, Ms. Ruscitto has led initiatives to improve the quality and safety of patient care, and has focused on deepening physician engagement in operations and strategic development. In addition, under Ms. Ruscitto's leadership St. Joseph's has invested in a multi-million dollar hospital renovation project on its main campus in Syracuse, and made investments in the expansion of several ambulatory care centers with the goal of improving access to care for patients and their families. Ms. Ruscitto has prioritized community engagement as integral to maintaining community health, and has led the effort that has made St. Joseph's a driving force in the revitalization of Syracuse's Northside neighborhood. She also led St. Joseph's in the creation of an innovative, integrated health care center on Syracuse's Near West Side in collaboration with key community partners.

Ms. Ruscitto has dedicated herself to civic-minded and mission-driven roles throughout her career. She previously worked for Syracuse-based Loretto, the largest provider of elder care in Central New York, as Senior Vice President of Strategy, where she implemented the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) and developed numerous community collaborations and partnerships that still exist today. She also served as the Administrator for Human Services for Onondaga County, where she oversaw the development of the County's Emergency Communications Center (E911).

Kathryn serves as a board member of several local and national health care and philanthropic organizations, including the Healthcare Association of New York State, Iroquois Healthcare Alliance, Excellus Regional Advisory Board, CNY Regional Economic Development Council, CenterState CEO, and Co-Chair of the Health Initiatives Planning Committee for the Health Advancement Collaborative of Central New York. She received her Bachelor's degree in political science and economics from Le Moyne College, and a Master's degree in public administration from Syracuse University's Maxwell School. She also holds an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Le Moyne College.

Past Recipients

2014 Barbara S. Rivette
2013 Cornelius B. Murphy, Jr., PhD.
2012 Walter John Tennant, Jr. (posthumously), Chairman, CNY RPDB
2010 Louis Pettinelli, CNY RPDB Board member
2009 Mary Ann Messinger, CNY RPDB Board member
2008 Ferdinand L. Picardi, Chairman, Metropolitan Water Board, Onondaga County Water District
2007 David R. Elleman, CNY RPDB Board member, Onondaga County Comptroller (retired)
2006 Eugene G. Saloga, Director, City of Oswego Community Development (retired)
2005 John Zawadzki, President, Partners Trust Bank; Central Upstate Regional Alliance
2004 James T. Walsh, U.S. Congressman
2003 Robert Doucette, Armory Development & Management
2002 Chuckie Holstein, FOCUS Greater Syracuse
2001 Ralph Standbrook, Chairman, Cayuga County Legislature
2000 Robert H. Kuiper, Mayor, Village of Hamilton
1999 John H. Mulroy (posthumously), former Onondaga County Executive
1998 Ann Petrus, Chair, Cayuga County Water & Sewer Authority; Supervisor, Town of Brutus
1997 Bruce B. Phelps, Oswego County businessman
1996 Arthur W. Ospelt, Oswego County Administrator
1994 Ray Halbritter, Oneida Nation Representative; CEO, Nation Enterprises
1993 Tarky Lombardi, Jr., former New York State Senator
1992 Vijay Mital, Director, Department of Planning and Economic Development, City of Auburn; Team Snyder General
1991 Marilyn Higgins-Rohde, Senior Vice President, Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce
1990 Robert J. Congel, President, Pyramid Companies
1989 Warren H. Frank, Executive Director, CNYRTA
1988 Mayor Tom Young’s Advertising Advisory Council
1987 Francis P. Benton, Former CNY RPDB Chairman
1986 L. Steve Riford, NYS Senator
1985 Hollis Iselin, Chair, Oswego County Legislature
Central New York Regional Planning & Development Board, 100 Clinton Square, Suite 200,  126 North Salina St., Syracuse, NY  13202
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