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1841 Awards Celebrate Excellence as Employees and Individuals


Father Joseph McShane, S.J., congratulates 1841 Award recipient, Georgia Edwards of Custodial Services, who “shows up for work every day, early, ready, and proud.” Photo by Bruce Gilbert

At the annual 1841 Awards ceremony, Fordham employees with at least 20 years of service are honored with medals.

They are lauded in decorative citations for their exemplary work and dedication to the University. But it is personal anecdotes that are revealed at the ceremony that tell their real stories.

For instance, Jose Benitez of Accounts Payable visits his 94-year-old mother every day after work and stays with her until she falls asleep.

Frederica Roberts from the Office of the Controller is a cancer survivor known for her naturally sunny disposition. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Fordham while working full-time and raising a daughter, who is now a junior at the University, and a son.

Nickola Kinaj, better known as “Nicky Doughnuts,” began his career in Custodial Services as a young man who wore a baseball cap with a “long bang of curly hair flowing from it” and whose humor and easygoing personality are admired by colleagues.

The 28th annual ceremony was held on Dec. 15 at Duane Library on the Rose Hill campus. There, Fordham honored 15 employees with a collective 300 years of service. The event was followed by a reception that was full of laughs, tears of joy and buckets of pride. The festive gathering included family members, former 1841 Award recipients, coworkers and many children.

“This is what Fordham is all about,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the University. “Fordham is a community bound together by love and able to move forward precisely because it is bound by love. It is our great fortune to have you—the ministers the Lord has sent to us to give life to this community. You minister to us with enthusiasm, humor, great devotion and extraordinary professionalism, generosity beyond measure and with great love.

“On behalf of all here at Fordham, I thank you for all that you have done. I praise you for the life that you have given to the community and I beg you to stay at least 20 more years,” Father McShane said.

The 1841 Award was established in 1982 by former president James C. Finlay, S.J., in honor of the year Fordham was founded by Archbishop John Hughes.

Honored at this year’s 1841 Awards ceremony were:

  • Maria Assaro    Custodial Services
  • Jose Benitez    Controller’s Office
  • Marlo Coates    Graduate School of Business Administration
  • Pamela Cook    Law Library
  • Georgia Edwards    Custodial Services
  • Mary Lou Elias Pena    University Press
  • Nickola Kinaj    Custodial Services
  • Ulises Negron    Facilities Operations
  • Lynette Osborne    Graduate School of Social Service
  • Maria Pignataro    Controller’s Office
  • Antonietta Pomilla    Custodial Services
  • Michael Raucci    Facilities Operations
  • Fredrica Roberts    Controller’s Office
  • Anna Romain    Facilities Operations
  • Michael Smith    Facilities Operations

    Eleven of the 15 award recipients with Father Joseph McShane, S.J., (far left), and other members of the administration. Photo by Bruce Gilbert


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