The Esther W. Couper Memorial Award
On December 13, 2001 the Society established this award for outstanding service and dedication to the children and families of our community. Mrs. Couper founded the agency in 1941 and her legacy continues on today. Each year the board of directors takes nominations from Society members and staff and recognizes an individual, regardless of their position or status, who exemplifies, as Mrs. Couper did, commitment and dedication to our community. The award presentation is made at the annual meeting each year.
2017 Recipient – Dr. Laura Bronstein
When you think of the values Mrs. Couper held dear, we consider Dr. Laura Bronstein, Dean of the College of Community and Public Affairs at Binghamton University, as one whose work is to elevate the lives of others and honor their voices. She advocates for our aging population and seeks to solve problems for those living in poverty as well as our youth. Dean Bronstein has made endless contributions to the community through her work with the Conrad & Virginia Klee Foundation, Broome-Tioga BOCES, and Promise Zone, just to name a few. Dr. Bronstein puts individuals and the community first and we are grateful to have someone with her capabilities in our region.
2016 Recipient – Lillian Levy, Esq.
It is our pleasure to recognize Lillian Levy, Esq. as this year’s award recipient. Lillian has given selflessly and tirelessly to the Greater Binghamton community not only through her Family & Children’s Society board service, but through her board service for the Boys and Girls Club Foundation, American Lung Association, Boys and Girls Club, Jewish Community Center, YWCA of Binghamton, American Red Cross, Danielle House and the Good will Theatre. Lillian has led our agency through many difficult times, including business disruption as a result of water damage to our Binghamton office and several leadership transitions. Congratulations Lillian!
2015 Recipient – Roz Antoun
Roz Antoun, director of Jewish Family Service, through the Greater Binghamton Jewish Federation , received the award on May 14, 2015. Mrs. Antoun has devoted herself to alleviating suffering, sustaining healthy relationships and supporting people in times of need. Roz says that her passion for helping others comes from her father who inspired her to help others. Her accomplishments of positive impact in our community, too numerous to mention here, are carefully budgeted for to provide deserving recipients the programs or funds to improve their lives. It is our distinct honor to bestow Ros Antoun with this award as she continues to model the ideals of Esther W. Couper.
2014 Recipient – Arthur R. Johnson
Arthur R. Johnson, is the Broome County Commissioner of Mental Health and Social Services. Together, the two departments employ approximately 400 staff and have budgets of $135 million. He is a NYS Licensed Clinical Social Worker and an Internationally Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor. Mr. Johnson has 35 years of human service experience including substance abuse, mental health and public welfare. He is the Second Vice President of the NYS Public Welfare Association and the Chairman of the Mental Health Committee of the NYS Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors. This year with this award, the agency would like to recognize all his efforts to save the Greater Binghamton Health Center and his past work during the regions’ floods.
2013 Recipient – Keith D. Chadwick
Keith D. Chadwick, recently-retired CEO of United Methodist Homes, dedicated his career to developing long-term care options for seniors in our community by expanding the Homes’ locations and services. During his career, Keith was a member or board member for a number of state-level senior advocacy organizations. Mr. and Mrs. Couper lived at a United Methodist Homes campus and would be proud to know that Keith Chadwick was being honored with this award.
2012 Recipient – Margaret “Pokey” Crocker
Margaret “Pokey” Crocker, executive director of The Discovery Center of the Southern Tier since 1989, is a tireless advocate for every child’s imagination and intellectual development. Pokey has created, developed, and found the necessary funding for programs and events which have had a positive impact on thousands of our community’s children and their families. She has overseen the expansion of the Center, as well as serving in numerous organizations. Additionally, Pokey is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Binghamton, which was instrumental in founding The Family & Children’s Society. The award was presented at our annual meeting May 17, 2012.
2011 Recipient – Donald F. Bowersox
Donald Bowersox, MSW was chosen as one who has had an outstanding impact on the lives of many children and families in our community. He has worked for Broome County Department of Social Services for 24 years and has served as the Deputy Commissioner of Children’s Services since 2004. Don has dedicated his career to the protection of children and their mental health and has served on numberous committees that advocate and coordinate services for children. Don’s dedication to the people of our community makes him an excellent choice, and we are pleased to honor him with this award presentation on May 12, 2011.
2010 Recipient – Daniel L. Yeager
Daniel L. Yeager has served this community through his work with Catholic Social Services for the past 36 years, first as a counselor, and for the past 19 years, as executive director. Some of the highlights of his career are his development of the Adolescent Preventive Services program – still in operation today under another name. He served as the “Father” of the Children and Youth Services Council that brings youth-serving organizations together to advocate for troubled kids. His current responsibilities include two food pantries, the Family Counseling Program, the Pregnancy, Parenting and Adoption Program, RSVP and the Oak Street Senior Citizen Center. Dann has dedicated his professional life to addressing the human service needs of individuals and families, and it is our great pleasure to honor him with this award.
2009 Recipient – Sharon Aswad
Sharon Aswad, director of Emergency Services, Southern Tier Chapter of the American Red Cross since 2004, stands out as an esteemed leader in our community this year. She has been a strong advocate of including mental health in Red Cross services and has mandated that all volunteers receive training on disaster mental health and psychological first aid. This has made a great impact on our community, limiting the long-term psychological effects on those affected by disaster, volunteers, and rescue and relieves workers. Sharon has worked numerous disasters with compassion and respect – always with a smile. The Society takes pleasure in honoring Ms. Aswad with our distinguished Esther W. Couper Memorial Award.
2008 Recipient – Margaret R. Dugan
Margaret R. Dugan, executive director of the Greater Binghamton Health Center, is a community leader among mental health service providers. For the last eleven years she has been an advocate of high quality mental health services for children and adolescents.
When another behavioral health program closed, her quick action ensured the continued treatment for some four hundred children and adolescents. This transitional emergency program led to the creation of the present Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Center at GBHC. Ms. Dugan also worked diligently with Senator Libous’ office to bring a fourteen-bed Child and Adolescent Inpatient Unit to the campus of GBHC in 2001.
This year, it is our distinct pleasure to honor Ms. Dugan with the Esther W. Couper Award for her compassion and her dedication to the provision of quality mental health services for children and adolescents—thus making a difference in our community.
2007 Recipient – John G. Spencer
John G. Spencer, executive director of United Way of Broome County, Inc. epitomizes the ideals held by Mrs. Couper. He served as board president of The Family & Children’s Society in 1984 until he was hired as associate director of United Way, and later became executive director in 1986. He has also held positions at Broome County DSS and was employed as district representative for Matthew F. McHugh, former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he advocated for human service needs in the region. He currently serves in several community organizations. Mr. Spencer has demonstrated remarkable leadership, shepherding United Way and its community agencies through some very challenging years. When the flood of 2006 hit, he led the effort coordinating with the Red Cross, Catholic Charities and Salvation Army among others, to ensure that flood victims received the help they needed. It is our distinct pleasure to honor Mr. Spencer with the Esther W. Couper Award this year as he retires from United Way—to one who has truly made a difference in our community.
2006 Recipient – Darwin R. Wales, Esq.
Darwin R. Wales, Esq. was one of the first board members that Esther W. Couper appointed to the newly formed Family & Children’s Society of Broome County in early 1941. He joined other very dedicated people in guiding this agency through the early years, alongside the dynamic and extremely dedicated Mrs. Couper. To this day, Mr. Wales continues to give back to this community in many ways, serving higher education and non-profit organizations as a volunteer, providing expertise and a community-minded spirit. Mr. Wales is of counsel to Hinman, Howard & Kattell, LLP, where he continues his practice of corporate law, estates and estate planning, real property and general business law. He has been selected as this year’s Esther W. Couper Memorial Award recipient because he truly exemplifies Mrs. Couper’s commitment and dedication in making a difference in the lives of others. was one of the first board members that Esther W. Couper appointed to the newly formed Family & Children’s Society of Broome County in early 1941. He joined other very dedicated people in guiding this agency through the early years, alongside the dynamic and extremely dedicated Mrs. Couper. To this day, Mr. Wales continues to give back to this community in many ways, serving higher education and non-profit organizations as a volunteer, providing expertise and a community-minded spirit. Mr. Wales is of counsel to Hinman, Howard & Kattell, LLP, where he continues his practice of corporate law, estates and estate planning, real property and general business law. He has been selected as this year’s Esther W. Couper Memorial Award recipient because he truly exemplifies Mrs. Couper’s commitment and dedication in making a difference in the lives of others.
2005 Recipients – Twila Watkins & Gene Peters
Twila Watkins, registered nurse, home care supervisor, is a caring, dedicated leader who has made a difference in this community. She has served as a role model for our home care aides, striving to teach the importance of providing high-quality care, compassion and courtesy to all clients. Her ideals and reputation have positively affected the home care aides and those they serve.
Gene Peters, clinical social worker, is a gifted, highly trusted and effective therapist who has provided training to many professionals in our community and helped countless individuals and families. During his years at Family & Children’s, he has done an outstanding job working with clients facing many challenges. He commands and gives respect, and he is an invaluable asset to The Family & Children’s Society and community.
2004 Recipient – Joseph S. Sanfilippo
Joseph S. Sanfilippo has dedicated his life to improving the well being of others. He was Broome County Commissioner of Social Services from 1977-1992 and under his leadership the Child Abuse Prevention Council was formed. Broome County became a model for preventative services in the state. Upon his retirement from the Department of Social Services, he went on to establish the BEAR Program to make mental health services accessible to children and families in rural areas. He currently is serving his third term on the Binghamton City Council and has served on several boards of community organizations. Mr. Sanfilippo has long been an advocate for the poor, the disabled and the families and children of our community. He embodies all of the qualities of compassion, dedication and humility that also marked Mrs. Couper’s life. The award was presented to Mr. Sanfilippo at the annual meeting of The Family & Children’s Society on Thursday, March 25, 2004.
2003 Recipient – William J. Knecht, RCSW
William J. Knecht, RCSW, Clinical Supervisor at The Family and Children’s Society, was chosen as the second recipient of this award for outstanding service and dedication to the children and families of our community. He has worked for the agency for 24 years and epitomizes the ideals that Mrs. Couper possessed throughout her life. His commitment to the mission of the agency and enhancing the lives of the people of our community models the dedication Mrs. Couper demonstrated in all that she did. Mr. Knecht has leadership, knowledge, compassion and awareness of community needs. He has also been instrumental in the creation and continuation of many of the agency’s programs. The Family and Children’s Society has benefited greatly from Mr. Knecht’s dedication and commitment. Mr. Knecht was presented with the award at the annual meeting of The Family & Children’s Society on Thursday, March 27, 2003.
2002 Recipient – Rosemary Wilson,
Rosemary Wilson, former executive director of The Family and Children’s Society, Inc., was chosen as the first recipient of this award. Miss Wilson had a long and very rich history not only working with The Family and Children’s Society, but also with the Department of Social Services in Broome County. She was always known for her dedication not only to clients, but also to the support of the social work profession. She was instrumental in assisting many professionals of our community to pursue social work degrees. While at the helm of The Family and Children’s Society, she developed a number of programs including child abuse prevention, sexual abuse treatment, and greatly enhanced the home care program. In addition to her many accomplishments, Rosemary Wilson truly exemplified the qualities of our founder Esther W. Couper. Her commitment to the mission of our agency and enhancing the lives of our community members models the dedication Mrs. Couper demonstrated her entire life. Miss Wilson was presented with this award at the annual meeting of The Family & Children’s Society on Thursday, March 21, 2002. Miss Wilson died on November 11, 2003.