2022 Alumni Awards – Newsroom

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Wagner College Alumni Awards, given by the college’s Alumni Association to recognize service and achievement:

  • Walter J. Pagan ’61 — John “Bunny” Barbes ’39 and Lila T. Barbes ’40 Wagner Alumni Laureate
  • Jeffrey D. Forchelli ’66 — Kevin Sheehy ’67 M’70 M’92 H’99 Alumni Leadership Medal
  • Christine Fleming Mahon ’70 — Distinguished Graduate of Wagner
  • Alex Boniello ’13 — Wagner Alumni Key
  • Joan F. O’Connor ’66 M’69 — Reverend Lyle Guttu Award

This year’s awards will be given, in person, during the Wagner Weekend homecoming, family weekend and reunion gathering. The awards presentations will be made during the Grand Celebration event scheduled for Friday evening, Sept. 16 in the Union’s Main Dining Hall. For more information about Wagner Weekend, and to register, visit the Wagner alumni website.

John ‘Bunny’ Barbes ’39 & Lila T. Barbes ’40 Wagner Alumni Laureate
for long and distinguished service to Wagner College

Walter Pagan

Walter J. Pagan was a noted leader and athlete during his student years at Wagner College, and he has continued to provide leadership for the college and its athletic program since graduating in 1961.

Wally Pagan, co-captain of Wagner College’s first undefeated football team (1960), was a charter member (1961) of the Wagner College circle of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society. He was also a member of Alpha Sigma Phi.

As an economics major, Pagan says that the professor who made the greatest impression upon him was business professor Charlie Kramer. “He prepared me not only for college but for life and the business world by stressing the importance of commitment and preparation,” Pagan said.

A member of the Block W Club, in 1990 Pagan was one of the founders of both the Sal Alberti Annual Memorial Golf Tournament, whose proceeds benefit Wagner student athletes, and the Wagner College Athletic Hall of Fame. He was himself inducted into the hall of fame in 1993. In 2011, Pagan was chairman of his graduating class’s 50-year reunion. He served on the college’s board of trustees from 1986 to 1998.

Following his post-Wagner military service, Wally Pagan enjoyed a successful career in industrial sales and the marketing of packaging and printing. In 1990, he segued into college bond financing for major campus buildings and the refinancing of debt with Uni-Med Consulting Services as national director of sales and marketing.

Pagan lived in Wayne, New Jersey, for over 33 years, where he coached Little League baseball, PAL baseball and Boys Club football. He was an active member of the YM-YWHA of North Jersey and the Passaic-Clifton YMCA. Since moving to Florida in 1998, Pagan has been active in the chambers of commerce of Ft. Lauderdale, Tamarac, Sunrise and Boynton Beach.

Wally and Gail Pagan, who have been married for 61 years, have three sons (Marc, Keith and Michael) and four grandchildren (Alex, Oliver, Cassandra and J.J.).

Kevin Sheehy ’67 M’70 M’92 H’99 Alumni Leadership Medal
for consistent leadership and service to the Wagner College Alumni Association

Jeffrey Forchelli

Jeffrey D. Forchelli earned his bachelor of science degree in business administration from Wagner College in 1966. Ten years later, after graduating from Brooklyn Law School, he became a founding partner of the law firm known today as Forchelli Deegan Terrana, which employs a total of 120 people out of its Uniondale, New York, office. Today, he is chairman and co-managing partner of the firm. He has won numerous professional distinctions, most recently appearing on the Long Island Business News 2021 Power 25 Lawyer List.

“Our firm is a proud corporate citizen,” Forchelli says. “Over the years, we have collectively supported many charitable and nonprofit organizations by providing the time, legal services and contributions needed to help them thrive.”

Jeff Forchelli has served on the Wagner College Board of Trustees for a total of 12 years so far, first from 2005 to 2015, and again beginning in 2020. He served as vice chairman of the board for two years (2013-15) and will begin serving as chairman on Sept. 1.

Forchelli served his country as a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve’s Judge Advocate General Corps, retiring in 1975. He has been a member of the Nassau County (N.Y.) Republican Executive Committee, and he has served as an elder of Marble Collegiate Church (2005-13) and trustee of Nassau Community College (1986-90). He is currently a Brooklyn Law School trustee and a board member of the St. Francis Hospital Foundation and the Columbus Citizens Foundation.

Forchelli has endowed two faculty chairs at Brooklyn Law School, which named the Jeffrey D. Forchelli Conference Center in his honor. He and his firm have also endowed two scholarships at Hofstra University’s Maurice A. Deane School of Law.

Jeff and Sadie Forchelli have four daughters: Nicole, Linda, Debra and Pamela.

Distinguished Graduate of Wagner
for unique career contributions to his or her community, state, or the nation, bringing honor to Wagner

Christine Fleming Mahon

Christine Fleming Mahon earned her bachelor of science degree in nursing from Wagner College in 1970. She earned her master’s degree in community health nursing from Arizona State University, and her master of strategic studies degree from the United States Army War College.

Mahon is a life member of Alpha Omicron Pi and active in the Phoenix, Arizona alumni chapter. She was named an Alpha Omicron Pi Woman of Achievement in 1996.

Christine Fleming Mahon has used her education to serve and educate her community as well as her country. After working in the field of public health nursing in Westchester County, New York, she joined the staff of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health in Phoenix, Arizona, where she worked in various capacities for 22 years while also teaching at the University of Phoenix and Arizona State.

Throughout her civilian nursing career, Mahon also served in the U.S. Army Reserve Army Nurse Corps. Commissioned in 1972, she was assigned as chief nurse to the 403rd Combat Support Hospital in Phoenix during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and was deployed to Saudi Arabia at the northernmost Army Reserve hospital supporting Desert Storm. Later, she served as chief nurse of the 129th Evacuation Hospital in San Diego and the 921st Field Hospital in Sacramento, California. Promoted to full colonel in 1995, Mahon was the commander of the 4211th U.S. Army Hospital in San Diego, the first nurse to command a battalion-level hospital unit in the Army Reserve’s 63rd Regional Support Command (California, Arizona and Nevada). She retired from the Army Reserve in 2003. Among her many commendations, Mahon was awarded the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious service from 1993 to 2003.

Mahon has engaged in numerous service activities with her church, the Mountain View Lutheran Church in Phoenix; the Arizona Public Health Association; the Senior Advocacy Group of Ahwatukee, and the Strawberry Patchers chapter of the Arizona Quilters Guild. During the pandemic, she volunteered with the Maricopa County Medical Reserve Corps to administer the Covid vaccine, serving two to three shifts per week at various distribution sites.

Christine Fleming Mahon is married to Charles Mackey. She has three children: Greg (Tracey) Mahon, Alex (Shannon) Mahon and Emily (Ralph) Ochoa. Her seven grandchildren are Declan, Sophia, McKinley, McCoy, Vincent, Olivia and Benjamin.

Wagner Alumni Key
for graduates of the last 15 years who have made extraordinary achievements in their personal and professional endeavors

Alex Boniello

Alex Boniello, who earned his bachelor of arts degree in theater and speech from Wagner College in 2013, is an actor, musician, writer and Tony Award-winning producer. He most recently appeared on Broadway in “Dear Evan Hansen,” where he played the role of Connor Murphy for nearly 800 performances. He will next be seen in the upcoming Netflix feature film “Love & Gelato.” Other Broadway credits include playing the Voice of Moritz in Deaf West Theatre’s Tony-nominated revival of “Spring Awakening” and as a co-producer of “Hadestown,” which won the 2019 Tony Award for Best Musical. His other theatrical credits are too numerous to list.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Boniello raised over $150,000 for the Actors’ Fund and Broadway for Racial Justice through a series of online fundraisers. He has also partnered with some of the most active mental health organizations in the country, including the Child Mind Institute and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Boniello’s first illustrated children’s book, co-written with fiancée and fellow Wagner College Theatre graduate April Lavalle ’13, is titled “A Case of the Zaps.” It will be released in August.

Boniello is also a songwriter. His songs and arrangements have appeared in films, and his original music is available wherever you stream music.

Asked to identify the Wagner professor who had the greatest impact upon him, Boniello said, “I think everyone working in the theater department impacted my life, including the students I graduated with. Michele Pawk always comes to mind, not only as a professor but as a friend and mentor I can call upon at any time for advice, both about the theater business and life. She already knows how much I look up to her.”

Alex Boniello continues to work with up-and-coming Wagner College Theatre students. “I’ve actually returned to teach some of the acting classes a few times,” he said, “and I always love to do so. Like most things in life, there are just some things that can’t be learned in a classroom. I think it’s incredibly important to share the information I’m getting in the industry with the young actors who will soon be entering it.”

Reverend Lyle Guttu Award
for contributions to Wagner, local communities, or the global world in a spiritual way

Joan O’Connor

Joan F. O’Connor earned her bachelor of science degree in education from Wagner College in 1966 and her master’s in education in 1969. She earned a second master’s degree in special education in 1980.

O’Connor worked for 30 years with Wagner College’s Early Childhood Center, first as a teacher from 1966 to 1982, then as director from 1983 to 1996. She was also an early-childhood lecturer in the college’s Education Department from 1984 to 1996.

O’Connor was president of the Wagner College chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society in education, from 1985 to 1995. She was also active in the New Jersey chapter of the National Down Syndrome Society.

“I was honored and privileged to be part of Wagner College during a challenging period of change in society and in my personal life,” O’Connor said.

“As a result of my early career experiences, and as a single mother and a woman, I became very involved in inclusion and diversity efforts, both through Kappa Delta Pi and directly within Wagner College. This included advocating for policy changes regarding career continuity for pregnant women as well as inclusion of disabled children in the college’s Early Childhood Center.

“As part of this mission, Rev. Lyle Guttu was a valuable mentor and advocate,” she said, “helping us double Early Childhood Center enrollment from 50 to 100 students.”

Joan O’Connor has two sons, Wagner alumni Edward O’Connor ’79 and Paul O’Connor ’88 M’93; five grandchildren (including one who was a student in the Early Childhood Center), and one great-grandchild.