Epsilon Sigma Phi
The Extension Professionals' Organization

2020 National Conference
Rochester, New York, October 5-8, 2020


Jonathan Ntheketha - Tuesday General Session

To be announced - Distinguished Ruby Lecture

Robert J Duffy - Wednesday General Session

Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy - Thursday General Session

Jonathan Ntheketha

Associate Director Student Success and Development
Multicultural Center for Academic Success
Diversity and Inclusion
Rochester Institute of Technology

Johnathan Ntheketha is committed and in his work to develop, oversee, and coordinate the Multicultural Center's commitment to providing opportunities to and holistically developing underrepresented students.

He provides complimentary leadership, oversight, and support of Center initiatives and operations, including the MCAS Advocates Program, DDI Summer Experience, and MCAS Coaching.

Born and raised in Rochester, NY, Jonathan has spent a lifetime telling stories, exploring truths, and sharing in the richness of cultures around him. Growing up a middle child, he honed his passion for performance through classes at Hochstein School of Music and as a member of the Maplewood Community Center’s Flower City Players.

Jonathan went on to earn his BA in Speech and Theatre from St. Lawrence University with minors in Biology and Education, and a Master’s degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology and has enjoyed a career teaching, mentoring, and developing students in higher education for nearly 20 years. Supporting and championing underrepresented students in college is at the heart of Jonathan’s professional work in the Multicultural Center for Academic Success at RIT. Jonathan also serves as an adjunct professor, with experience teaching Year One Seminar, RIT 365, and Motivation & Wellness all at RIT. Additionally, he recently taught Script Analysis for Geva Theater Center’s Summer Academy.

Theatre and performance have always been at the center of Jonathan’s heart and life. He has appeared in numerous productions locally and regionally, and has a resume that includes small screen, stage, and voice work. Favorite roles include Brian in Avenue Q (Blackfriars), the title role in Othello (Shakespeare Players of Rochester), Daniel Woolfe in Closer (Method Machine), and the voice of Dracula in PUSH Physical Theatre’s Dracula. Favorite readings include Hamilton (Geva), Katherine's Colored Lieutenant (Geva), and directing Skeleton Crew for Hourglass Play Reading Series (Blackfriars).

Jonathan serves on the Board of Directors for Blackfriars Theatre, the Alumni Board at Allendale Columbia School, and is a former member of the William Warfield Scholarship Board of Directors. Additionally, he serves on the Education Committee of the Seneca Park Zoo Society Board and the Marketing and Fundraising Committee of Leadership Rochester.

Robert J. Duffy

Rochester native Robert J. Duffy began as Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce president and Chief Executive Officer January 1, 2015. Prior to working for Rochester Chamber, Duffy served as New York lieutenant governor in Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration from January 2011 to December 2014. Duffy previously served as Rochester mayor from January 2006 to January 2011 and as Rochester police chief from March 1998 to April 2005, when he resigned his post to run for mayor. He joined the Rochester Police Department in November 1976.

During his tenure as Rochester mayor, Duffy was widely recognized for reducing the cost of government, improving services, lowering tax rates, and attracting millions of dollars in private-sector investments.

As lieutenant governor, Duffy chaired the Regional Economic Development Councils aimed at rebuilding New York's economy and positioning the Empire State to be a global economic leader. Duffy also served as chair of the Spending and Government Efficiency Commission. In that role, Duffy oversaw an effort to make New York's government more modern, accountable, and efficient.

Duffy also played an instrumental role on the governor's Mandate Relief Council. He chaired a series of statewide mandate relief hearings, which sought input from local government officials and constituents on the statutory and regulatory burdens faced by local governments and school districts.

In May of 2012, the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations awarded Duffy the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. The medal honors notable American citizens who demonstrate a life committed to community service.

Duffy holds two degrees from Monroe Community College, a Bachelor of Science from Rochester Institute of Technology, and a Master of Arts from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

Duffy also serves on a variety of boards, including SUNY Board of Trustees, Chairman of the AIM Photonics Leadership Council, Center for Governmental Research, Business Council of New York State, AVANGRID, and Visit Rochester. He also serves as co-chair of the Finger lakes Regional Economic Development Council.

Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy

Sonny Ramaswamy is president of Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (http://www.nwccu.org) in Redmond, WA, which accredits institutions in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and British Columbia. The Commission’s mission is to accredit institutions of higher education by applying evidence-informed standards and processes to support continuous improvements and promote student achievement and success.

Sonny served for six years as President Barack Obama's appointee as the Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (https://nifa.usda.gov) in Washington, DC. NIFA catalyzes transformative discoveries, education, and engagement to solve societal and agricultural challenges. He provided leadership and strategic direction in the formulation of broad, national policies needed to develop and execute cutting edge science and its application to promote profitability of the food and agricultural systems while protecting the environment and creating economic opportunities.

Previously, Ramaswamy held a number of academic positions, including: dean of Oregon State’s College of Agricultural Sciences; director of Purdue’s Agricultural Research Programs; university distinguished professor and head of Kansas State’s Entomology Department; and professor of entomology at Mississippi State. He has mentored numerous high school, undergraduate, and graduate students, along with postdoctorates and visiting professors and staff in non-governmental, governmental, and private sector organizations. He has had significant success in development and fund raising to create endowed professorships, students scholarships, and infrastructure, including envisioning, fund raising for, and creating the Leadership Academy at Oregon State University to inculcate non-cognitive and leadership skills in undergraduate students https://agsci.oregonstate.edu/leadership-academy/leadership-academy). Sonny also envisioned, fund-raised for, and created the KSU Insect Zoo (https://www.k-state.edu/butterfly/).

As a faculty member, Sonny’s research was funded with grants from federal agencies, including USDA, NSF, NIH, EPA, and USAID, and from state agencies, commodity groups, and industry. He has published over 150 journal articles, book chapters, and a book, and has a patent. Sonny is the recipient of a number of awards and honors, including Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Fellow of the Entomological Society of America, Agriculture Future of America’s Leader in Agriculture Award, and the Hutchinson Medal from the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Ramaswamy received his Bachelor of Science in agriculture and Master of Science in entomology from the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, India. His doctorate is in entomology from Rutgers University. Sonny has been active in community and university theaters, Habitat for Humanity, and enjoys riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He is married to Dr. Gita Ramaswamy, who previously served as professor and administrator and senior advisor to the USDA’s chief scientist; they have a daughter Dr. Megha Ramaswamy, associate professor of preventive medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC), who resides in Kansas City with her husband Dr. Andrew Park, emergency room physician at KUMC, and their son Siddhartha.

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