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Distinguished Alumni Return for Homecoming Weekend 2017

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

As part of the Second Annual Grand Alumni Homecoming Weekend, St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences held an Alumni Award Ceremony and Reception on Friday, June 2, 2017 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. in the Dr. M.T. Geoffrey Yeh Art Gallery on the Queens Campus.

Guests joined Dean Jeffrey W. Fagen, Ph.D., to recognize the accomplishments of some of our most distinguished alumni and to view some of the outstanding works created by our students in the annual Department of Art and Design Student Art Exhibition. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres and beverages were served, and the reception was followed by an after party outside of Lourdes Hall. The event, which was well-attended, was free and open to all St. John’s College alumni.

View photos and a video from the event, and read more about our distinguished alumni honorees:

Joanne Lenhart ‘86C – Distinguished Alumni Award

As Director in Global Compliance Services for the Americas at Barclays, Lenhart oversees the Employee Compliance team, the Compliance Frameworks teams, and the Compliance Career Academy. She has worked in the financial services industry for over 30 years and has been with Barclays for the past two years.

Lenhart began her career with Chemical Bank in 1987 as a Senior Systems Analyst in the Finance division. She worked for Citibank until 1998 covering Management Information Systems, and for HSBC for 16 years in Finance and Compliance. Lenhart was the Executive Co-Chair of HSBC's Women's Network (an employee resource group focused on aiding and promoting the professional development of women at HSBC). In 2008, HSBC awarded her the Diversity Ambassador award, and in 2010 she was part of American Banker’s "Top Banking Teams" in the industry as part of the "Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking" issue.

In September 2015, Lenhart was appointed to the Board of Directors for The Center for Arts Education (CAE). This not-for-profit organization's mission is to ensure that every child in New York City public schools has equal access to a well-rounded education, of which the arts are a central component.

Lenhart graduated from St. John’s University in 1986 with a B.A. in English.

Gerald C. Yarborough ‘03C – Distinguished Alumni Award

In his acceptance speech at the award ceremony, Yarborough recalled having to briefly drop out of St. John’s because of an inability to pay his tuition until Professor and Chair Belenna Lauto called him to let him know a scholarship was available. Today, he is the Art Director of Soft Goods Product Design and Development at Nickelodeon, managing the design direction of all retail programs across Nickelodeon brands, Nick REWIND, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Paw Patrol. He has been with the Viacom Company since 2008. In 2007, he was awarded the Seal of Excellence in Creative Child Awards for his work on the Nickelodeon Etch-A-Sketch products and packaging.

While a student pursuing a B.F.A. in Graphic Design at St. John's, Yarborough worked as senior production design for the L/E clothing company. From March 2003 through 2006, he managed the international and domestic 2-D packaging, graphics, and product development cycle for more than 10,000 SKUs a year for both in-house and licensed products of NCR/Toys and Packaged Goods division.

Not only is Yarborough a professional success; he is also an exemplary "product" of St. John's Catholic and Vincentian education and has demonstrated a commitment to service throughout his career. Since 2013, he has served as an Advisory Board Member for the Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation (SASF), the largest provider of school-based, after school services in New York City. He also serves as Co-Chair for Social Responsibility with the BEAT of Viacom. For the past 14 years, Yarborough has visited Nassau County Correctional Facility on the first Sunday of every month to mentor young men and give them hope and a sense of purpose for the lives as an ordained outreach pastor at St. Albans Gospel Assembly in Queens.

Benjamin Edward Liss, M.D., ‘09C – Distinguished Young Alumni Award

Dr. Liss was an exemplary student at St. John’s, completing the Honors Program and graduating Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. in Chemistry. He was Head Skull of the Skull and Circle Honor Society, which recognizes outstanding juniors in St. John's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who have attained a high standard of academic excellence and moral character, and who have contributed to University life through involvement in campus activities. While St. John’s undergraduate, Dr. Liss was a Medicinal Chemistry Summer Intern at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He went on to earn his medical doctorate in 2013 from Penn State University College of Medicine, and completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine. In 2016, Dr. Liss was part of the Drexel team that won the national championship for the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine in New Orleans, LA. He is currently a member of TeamHealth, a physician-led, patient-focused company. Dr. Liss is a member of the Loughlin Society and an active alumnus who has always welcomed opportunities to mentor current St. John’s students.

Tremaine A. Sayles ‘07G, ‘09Psy.D. – Distinguished Young Alumni Award

Dr. Sayles attended Regis High School, a private Jesuit high school on Manhattan's Upper East Side. After Regis, he attended Duke University, where he completed a B.A. in psychology and enlisted in the United States Army. Dr. Sayles later completed Army ROTC and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. He also earned a master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from Columbia University, after which he held multiple positions, including but not limited to: case manager, case manager supervisor, and program director of an Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services treatment program. To further his education and enhance his career, Dr. Sayles earned his doctorate in psychology from St. John's University's School Psychology program, which helped him advance to the position of Associate Managing Director of Behavioral Health Services. In this position, he managed all clinical and administrative operations of eight licensed mental health and substance abuse treatment programs across New York City.

In 2011, after a national search and rigorous selection process, Dr. Sayles was selected to manage behavioral health services for the U.S. Army Reserve. In this position, he wrote policy and provided guidance on such topics as suicide awareness, family reintegration, substance abuse treatment, and crisis intervention for over 200,000 members of the U.S. Army Reserve and their families. He also worked with the Office of the U.S. Army Surgeon General on multiple behavioral health projects for the army, which required him to travel worldwide providing oversight for soldiers as close as Maryland and as far away as Guam and Saipan. In 2013, Dr. Sayles was charged with working with the U.S. Army in Kuwait and Afghanistan. In this role, he provided support to Department of State and Department of Defense personnel on how to best move patients across 22 countries and three continents. He also provided culturally sensitive guidance and support to service members and allies on behavioral health issues.

Dr. Sayles currently works for the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) as the Director of Counseling Services, managing the clinical staff that provides support to NYC’s 15,000 first responders. He is also responsible for ensuring that first responders who were impacted on September 11, 2001 receive mental healthcare under the Zadroga Act, as well as managing the provision of mental healthcare to retired FDNY personnel nationwide. He is working as part of a team to develop a strategic plan for training FDNY first responders on resiliency, mental toughness, and the importance of the human factor at every level.

Dr. Sayles is a U.S. Army Reservist and a decorated veteran of the war in Afghanistan.