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SUNY Potsdam Alumni Honor Joyce 'Jackie' Tantillo Aab '71 & Joyce Barnholt Yianoukos '71 with Distinguished Service Awards

July 21, 2017

Distinguished Service Award recipients Joyce Barnholt Yianoukos ’71 (left) and Joyce “Jackie” Tantillo Aab ’71 (right) pose with President Kristin G. Esterberg.

The SUNY Potsdam Alumni Association recently honored two alumnae from the Class of 1971, Joyce “Jackie” Tantillo Aab and Joyce Barnholt Yianoukos, with its 2017 Distinguished Service Awards during the College’s Reunion Weekend.

The Distinguished Service Award is presented to alumni who have made exceptional contributions to the Alumni Association and/or the College.

Aab and Yianoukos were honored for their outstanding dedication as volunteers and generosity as donors to the College.

About the recipients:

Through their volunteer leadership and philanthropy, Jackie Aab ’71 and Joyce Yianoukos ’71 have ensured a bright future for many generations of schoolchildren and SUNY Potsdam education students who benefit from programs offered at SUNY Potsdam’s Rebecca V. Sheard Literacy Center.

Beginning in 2013, during Joyce’s “Magic of Books” drive, she connected with many of her classmates, Alpha Delta Kappa sorority sisters, former work colleagues and fellow area educators, asking them to join her in buying their favorite book – or a favorite of their students, or their own children. The result was a wonderful collection of more than 1,500 books for the literacy center, which serves more than 250 children who are mentored after school by SUNY Potsdam teacher education students.

The center now has an outstanding collection of children’s and adolescent literature that is used not only by the children and their college student mentors, but also by literacy faculty who use the books in their undergraduate and graduate courses.

One of the donors to the book drive was Joyce’s dear friend, and Alpha sorority sister, Jackie Aab. Both former teachers, two friends decided to collect funds for an endowment that would provide annual income in support of the literacy center. To encourage others to join them, Jackie offered to match gifts to the endowment, thus creating the Alpha and Friends Challenge.

Joining in that effort was a committee of Alpha alumnae that included Ellen Davey Burns ’59, Kathy Benson Elliott ’73, Barre Hobkirk Hall ’65, Kathy Jordan Londraville ’75 and Sandy Lawrence Tomalty ’64. Two years later, they achieved their goal of raising $60,000, thus earning Jackie’s match and creating an endowment fund that will total more than $120,000.

In addition, Joyce and Jackie helped to establish a new volunteer organization in support of the Rebecca V. Sheard Literacy Center. The student-led organization, coordinated by faculty member Cindy Wells, is called the Alpha Literary Society, reflecting the history of Alpha, which was founded in 1886 as a literary society.

To find out more about SUNY Potsdam’s committed alumni, visit

Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit

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