YOUNG ASSOCIATE OF THE YEAR FOR 2007
Since the founding of Centre Associates in 1990, an important part of our annual dinner program has been recognizing a Centre Associate of the Year. Because the Associate of the Year is typically someone with a long record of professional achievement, service to society, and support of Centre, the person chosen has usually been middle-aged or older. While this is altogether appropriate, in recent years as more and more young alumni have joined the ranks of Centre Associates, we have talked about finding a way to highlight this emerging group of leadership donors. The outcome of these discussions is the decision, beginning with tonight’s dinner, to also recognize a Young Associate of the Year. This person will be younger than the typical Associate of the Year, by virtue of having graduated from Centre within the past ten years, and ideally will have compiled an impressive record of professional achievement, civic engagement, or service to Centre and preferably all three.
The inaugural Young Associate of the Year, Leonard “Nappi” Napolitano, fits this bill beautifully. A native New Yorker, Nappi came to Centre after serving in the U.S. Army, where he rose to the rank of sergeant. He pursued his many campus activities – history major, football, Greek life as a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon, and member of the Army’s Reserve Officer Training Corps – with an infectious enthusiasm. Since his graduation in 1997, he has put that passion to use in business and in service. He joined Blackboard, Inc., as a regional sales manager as it was starting up in 1997, and helped to build the company into one of the world’s leading software providers to higher education. He recently joined another education software provider, Regent Education, as vice president of sales.
Still a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, Nappi has also been called up to active duty in connection with the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a Red Cross Disaster Action Team volunteer. After his most recent tour of active duty with the military, Nappi voluntarily spent several months on the Gulf Coast assisting with the Red Cross’s response to Hurricane Katrina before returning to what might be called a regular life.
An enthusiastic supporter of his alma mater, Nappi quickly jumped in to assist Centre with the expansion and renovation of Crounse and Sutcliffe halls. In recognition of his generosity, the College has designated the area adjacent to the theater in Crounse Hall as the Napolitano Lobby.
In grateful recognition of his professional achievements, his service on the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina, and his commitment to Centre, we are pleased to recognize Leonard Napolitano as Young Associate of the Year for 2007.