St. John’s is Home for Staten Island Campus Alumnus

Alfred Cerullo at 2018 SI Scholarship Dinner
April 23, 2020

All roads lead back to St. John’s University for Alfred C. Cerullo III ’83NDC, ’86L. An accomplished public servant, community activist, and lifelong resident of Staten Island, Mr. Cerullo recently observed that St. John’s “formed the foundation for my life.”

Currently serving as President/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Grand Central Partnership (GCP) and a Commissioner on the New York City Planning Commission, Mr. Cerullo has been an elected and appointed official for more than 30 years, serving in the administrations of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

After walking on to the Staten Island campus for the first time in 1979, Mr. Cerullo quickly found a home there, and a place that reinforced the strong Catholic values instilled by his family. The English major became heavily involved in campus life, eventually becoming President of Student Government International and a member of the President’s Society, the highest student honor society at St. John’s.

“St. John’s gave me a great education, which of course helped my career,” Mr. Cerullo observed. “I grew my leadership skills there. The Vincentian spirit was easy for me to inhabit as part of the St. John’s family. It taught me the importance of giving back and helping those most in need. That was integral to how my professional career developed.” He added, “Everyone who knows me understands that St John’s is an important part of my life.”

Alfred Cerullo and President Gempesaw shaking hands
Mr. Cerullo and President Gempesaw at the 2018 Staten Island Scholarship Dinner.

Mr. Cerullo began his career as Counsel to the Minority Leader of the New York City Council. He won four consecutive elections to the New York City Council representing the South Shore and portions of the Mid-Island communities of Staten Island, while also holding the position of City Council Minority Leader. 

He became one of the youngest New York City Commissioners when he was tapped to run the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, and later he became the City Commissioner of Finance, after running both agencies simultaneously for six months. 

“Whether I was a young attorney, a city councilman, or the CEO of GCP, the accomplishments that I am most proud of are the ones that occurred at the most grassroots level,” he observed. “Dealing with problems that impact the lives of people sits the best with me. The big stuff is important too, but there is something especially gratifying when you know you have impacted someone’s life in a positive way,” like helping a person find affordable housing or helping a business open that was caught up in red tape. “Those are the things that stay with you longer.”

Mr. Cerullo has served on the boards of many nonprofit organizations, including the Staten Island Foundation, Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, and the St. George Theatre Restoration Inc.

St. John’s has remained a constant in Mr. Cerullo’s life, and he has shown his devotion to alma mater as a member of the alumni boards of both the Staten Island campus and the School of Law, where he also served as President during the School’s 90th anniversary year. 

The University has shown its gratitude to Mr. Cerullo by awarding him the Pietas Medal, the Alumni Outstanding Achievement Medal, the President’s Medal, and, most recently, the Terence Cardinal Cooke Medal, which he said has only served to reinforce his relationship with the institution.

“I cannot say enough about how good it makes me feel that my relationship with St. John’s is still as strong as it was when I walked on to the campus 40 years ago,” he observed. “I have such a place in my heart for St. John’s, as does my family. All roads lead back home, and I think of St. John’s as my home.”