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Staten Island Community Members Visit Eden II as ‘Principal for the Day’


Eden II proudly hosts a number of prominent community members throughout the year as “Principals for the Day.” These visits serve as an opportunity for community leaders to spend time with our participants as they perform their daily activities. This allows them to see first-hand the programs and services Eden II provides. Our most recent visitors were Congressman Dan Donovan, Dr. Pankaj Patel and Mr. Joseph Kovac.


CONGRESSMAN DANIEL “DAN” M. DONOVAN, JR. represents Staten Island and


parts of South Brooklyn in the 11th Congressional District of New York in the U.S. House of Representatives. Dan was elected on May 5, 2015 during a special election and sworn in on May 12, 2015. Dan grew up on Staten Island, the only son of two working class parents. True to his modest upbringing, he worked his way through school. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from St. John’s University and his J.D. from Fordham University School of Law as an evening student. Dan has dedicated his life to serving the people of New York. He began his career as a prosecutor


under legendary Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau. Aſter leaving the DA’s office, Dan began serving his native Staten Island as Chief of Staff to former Borough President Guy Molinari, then as Deputy Borough President to former Borough President James Molinaro. In 2003, Dan was elected Richmond County District Attorney, beginning 12 years of service in that office. During his tenure, he earned the Diversity Champion Award from the New York City Bar Association and was elected president of the New York State District Attorney’s Association. Congressman Dan Donovan said of his recent tour, “I had such an incredible time with the Eden II students during my visit; and the


facility’s staff is providing an invaluable service. I’m proud to represent a team so dedicated to improving the lives and experiences of our special needs population. I look forward to returning again soon.”


DR. PANKAJ PATEL is board certified in psychiatry, and a member of the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical


Association, the Medical Society of the State of New York and the Richmond County Medical society. He was awarded the Nancy C.A. Roeske M.D. award by the American Psychiatric Association in May 2008 for outstanding and sustained contribution to medical student education while at New York Medical College. Currently, Dr. Patel is the Chairman of Psychiatry at Richmond University Medical


Center. He is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry of New York Medical College, Chairman of the Credentials Committee, and a member of the Board of Trustees Quality Subcommittee, the Continuing Medical Education and Graduated Medical Education Committees. Dr. Patel shared, “I was invited to be the Principal for the day at Eden II’s School in


Stapleton. When I arrived at the school, I was greeted warmly by the leadership group who gave me a tour of the facility and told me what they do. I was escorted by one of the senior students to all the classrooms. I found all the students were actively engaged in various learning activities. Te teachers were very caring; I was amazed with the energy and atmosphere of learning and teaching which was evident throughout the school. It is an


excellent program for all the children who otherwise would not have a place to go.” JOSEPH A. KOVAC has worked for the City of New York for over 20 years in various managerial


and compliance capacities. Presently, Joe is the Director of Discretionary Contract Review & Compliance and oversees over $53 million in City Council Discretionary funding overseeing more than 1,000 not for profits in New York City. Joe has three beautiful daughters; Milla, Olivia, and Emily, and lives in the New Dorp section of Staten Island. Mr. Kovac shared, “I was honored to be selected as Principal for the Day at Eden II’s new


school. Meghan and Billy were fantastic on taking me for a tour and explaining what they did during their day. I appreciate their time and sincerity. I commend Joanne for all of her hard work and passion to the families that are a part of Eden II. I would like to also give a special thank you to Erika Hellstrom, who I have known for almost 20 years, for the amazing person she is, and undying commitment she has for all of the participants of Eden II.”


Eden II’s Executive Director, Dr. Joanne Gerenser, stated, “We’re thrilled to have so many wonderful members of the community visit our new facility, and see all it has to offer. It shows tremendous commitment to education and dedication to the community.”


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