Wisdom Keeper 2021
The Board of Directors of FOCUS Greater Syracuse Inc. celebrated our 2021 Wisdom Keepers and their message to “Get Involved, Make A Difference” at the SALTspace, on Oct. 28, 2021 at 5:00 pm, with the three Wisdom Keepers for 2021:
Honorable Van B. Robinson, Former President, Syracuse Common Council
Linda-Brown Robinson, Immediate Past President, Syracuse NAACP
Merike Treier, Executive Director, Downtown Committee of Syracuse
These Wisdom Keepers join a long list of people who have shown leadership, continual caring and an understanding of the importance of the vision for tomorrow.
Wisdom Keeper is the annual fundraiser for FOCUS Greater Syracuse celebrating efforts of a growing list of Wisdom Keepers who show leadership, continual caring and understanding of the importance of vision for tomorrow.
2021 WISDOM KEEPERS
Thank you to our 2021 Wisdom Keeper Sponsors!
The Dorothy and Marshall M. Reisman Foundation; Syracuse University Office of Community Engagement; National Grid; Hueber Breuer Construction Co., Inc.; The Central New York Business Journal; Wegmans; Eckardt C. Beck
Pioneer Companies; KeyBank; Dannible & McKee, LLP; St. Joseph’s Health; Central New York Community Foundation; KS&R; Onondaga Community College; Brackens Financial Solutions Network, LLC; FM Realty and Don Radke; EDR; Partnership Properties, Inc.; George and Rebecca Barnes Foundation: The Mansion on James; The Gifford Foundation
Past Wisdom Keepers
FOCUS Greater Syracuse has had the honor of recognizing a diverse range of powerful and passionate Wisdom Keepers throughout the years. Our Wisdom Keepers have come from many different walks of life. Chuckie Holstein and Judy Mower – who we first named as Wisdom Keepers – are citizen trustees who strongly believe in citizen engagement, were instrumental in founding FOCUS and gave us B+ Syracuse.
We have Wisdom Keepers, like Nancy Cantor, Neil Murphy and Bea Gonzalez who come out of higher education. We have Bill Sanford, with experience in local government, and Oren Lyons involved in leading a nation. Fr. Jim Mathews uses the pulpit to seek justice, and Dr. Sharon Brangman speaks on behalf of those with dementia. Melanie Littlejohn and Maarten Jacobs want to make sure everyone has a seat at the table. Sean Kirst tells stories of ordinary people to promote the value of every human life.
In 2020, we celebrated the entire community for our resilience in the face of this terrible pandemic. And last years, we had the honor of celebrating powerful activists and community leaders the Honorable Van B. Robinson and Linda Brown-Robinson, for their service to Central New York, and Merike Trier, whose mission of downtown revitalization has helped to make the City of Syracuse a more vibrant, economically powerful, and culturally diverse urban center.
Thank You Central New York
Wisdom Keeper 2019
The Board of Directors of FOCUS Greater Syracuse Inc. celebrated community strength at the Everson Museum of Art, Oct. 2, 2019, with the two Wisdom Keepers for 2019: Melanie Littlejohn and Maarten Jacobs. These Wisdom Keepers join a long list of people who have shown leadership, continual caring and an understanding of the importance of the vision for tomorrow.
Melanie Littlejohn is vice president for New York Customer & Community Management at National Grid and chair of the Centerstate CEO Board of Directors.
A thought leader and a visionary, Melanie joined National Grid in 1994 as the director of inclusion and diversity for U.S. operations responsible for the company’s overall strategy for inclusion and diversity and compliance, a mission she carries on today in community as well as business roles.
She is former chair of the CNY Community Foundation Board and has served on the Business Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, MACNY, Consensus Commission, boards at SUNY Morrisville Business School and St. Joseph’s Hospital, the Downtown Committee, and the Say Yes to Education Scholarship Board. She is a member of the OCC Board of Trustees and on the board of Pathfinder Bancorp. She has been active with HealtheConnections and other health organizations.
Maarten Jacobs is the Director of Community Prosperity at the Allyn Family Foundation. He is co-developing a Community Prosperity Initiative to disrupt concentrated poverty in neighborhoods by empowering residents to fulfill their potential, contributing to the wellbeing of their families and revitalization of their neighborhoods.
Before joining Allyn Family Foundation, he was executive director of the Near Westside Initiative, a nonprofit organization working to combine the power of art, technology, and innovation with neighborhood values and culture to revitalize Syracuse’s Near Westside, also known as the SALT District. In that role for seven years, Maarten worked to ensure that neighborhood residents were engaged in the revitalization. Early in the process in 2010, he was a featured presenter at a FOCUS Forum introducing the initiative.
He teaches Community Economic Development at the Syracuse University School of Social Work. In January 2016 he received the Martin Luther King JR Unsung Hero award at Syracuse University.
Tapping their creativity and drive to improve Central New York, Melanie and Maarten asked that the 2019 Wisdom Keeper event be a celebration bringing together all parts of the community in a community venue.
Wisdom Keeper 2018
WISDOM KEEPER 2018
The 2018 FOCUS Wisdom Keeper Sean Kirst celebrated with us by honoring the people of Central New York who made his storytelling career possible. A throng of remarkable people with memorable stories joined us in the Finger Lakes Ballroom of the Marriott Downtown Syracuse (Historic Hotel Syracuse) to tell their stories at the event.
You can see the plaque honoring Wisdom Sean Kirst “Storyteller” alongside the plaques honoring previous Citizen Trustee Wisdom Keepers in the mini-garden on the east side of City Hall Commons.