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37th Annual Employee Recognition Day

A Virtual Celebration Honoring Employee Service  |  Thursday, October 7, 11:00-11:30am

Each year, Upstate hosts a celebration to honor those employees who have reached a 5-year milestone in their years of service. This year, we honor those employees with a special online ceremony.

The presentation above will begin promptly on this website at 11:00am on Thursday, October 7 — with special acknowledgements from Upstate Leadership, special moments and memories from some of our 45-year honorees, and thanks for years of service to Upstate and the community.


Please take a moment to scroll through the 45, 40, and 35-year honorees below, and check out the complete list of honorees. Scroll through the shared comments and kudos, — and if you have a special memory, moment, or message of congratulations — submit them to share with the Upstate community.

Thank you for your service to Upstate Medical University!

45 Years of Service

40 Years of Service

Mary Foster

Mary Foster


Favorite memory: The day I found out that I received the Nursing Excellence Award. This is an award that I received because my colleagues voted for me to be a recipient of this award. I was extremely proud to be recognized and then awarded this honor, especially by the people I worked closely with every day. First job: My first job at Upstate was as a SCA (Summer clinical assistant). I am not even sure if they still have this position. I remember I worked at Upstate during the summer of my Junior year of nursing school. Since then I have gone on to work at Upstate as a GN (graduate Nurse), RN (Registered Nurse) and now as an NP (Nurse Practitioner). What has changed?: I would say the physical layout of the hospital and the growth of the pediatric care here at Upstate. When I started working here full time in 1981 there was only one building, with 8 floors. The pediatric ICU was a room at the end of the 4th floor, which at the time was the pediatric floor. The pediatric ICU was just a room with duct tape on the floor to divide the room into 4 separate sections for 4 beds. I was one of the first PICU nurses and one of the first PICU nurses on the pediatric transport team. As I advanced in my career I was the first NP to be hired to work as a NP for the inpatient pediatric pulmonary service. Funny story: One day I saw a patient around 8 years of age. I had been following him for a couple of years. On this day he came to our clinic with his 3 or 4 year old brother and his father. In the past when this patient would come see me they would tell his brother that he was going to Mary Foster’s. He finally said he wanted to go to Mary Foster’s, so they brought him along. When I walked in the room the brother looked a little sad. His father told me he was sad because he thought he was going to a store named Mary Foster’s and not to an office visit. Kind of like a Tim Horton’s I guess.

35 Years of Service

Below are thoughts shared by many 35-year honorees on their favorite memories, first jobs, how things have changed, and funny stories from their years of service. 

Cindy Couche

Radiology-Nuclear Medicine

Favorite memory: How staff in all different departments do whatever is necessary to come together and accomplish tasks that benefit the patients and their care.  A few dollars for a patient lunch or parking, holding the patient's hand and reassuring them to get them thru a lengthy exam, and learning about so many interesting people that have passed through my department.

First job: Nuclear Medicine Technologist

What has changed: Technology. Everything was documented by hand on oodles and oodles and oodles of paper when I started in 1986 and how we "Boomers" have adapted to all changes.  In nuclear medicine we used to do all our imaging using Polaroid film, the kind where you had to smear the picture with the goop to ensure the image didn't degrade over time.  

Darleen Rex

Transplant Clinic

Favorite memory: Choosing just one favorite memory of my career here at Upstate is difficult because I have so many. I have had the privilege of working with several great people who over the years I began referring to them as my work family. My favorite memory is when my husband, Glen got hired in 1996. Since then, every day we have enjoyed each other’s company as we ride to and from work together. We are fortunate enough to enjoy lunch together as well. 

Another fond memory I have was working with my husband and our amazing Emergency Department family. Together, he and I had the privilege of assisting with organizing the annual Clambake. Over the years I have had so much fun buying gifts to raffle off, playing games and listing to music all while making wonderful memories with our family and work family.

First job: My first job at Upstate was housekeeping at the Downton campus. Eventually I was promoted to my current title, Hospital Patient Service Clerk 2.

What has changed: So much has changed through my time here. The obvious physical changes of the hospital are something that sticks out to me the most. There are several more hallways to travel down. The main entrance to the Upstate Hospital Campus, the East Towers including the Golisano Children’s Hospital, Parts of Weiskotten Hall and the Cancer Center are all new since I began working here. I have no problem racking up the miles and getting my daily steps in as I travel through these buildings.

Funny story:  The one that I will never forget was when I worked for the Prenatal Center. I was put in charge of making scrub tops that represented our clinic. Our scrub top was a womb with triplets inside. I had to walk around while wearing this top.

I will share one last funny story that involved my husband and children visiting me on Valentine’s Day. At the time I was working on 8K/8P Peds Surgery. It was a quiet Saturday afternoon and seeing them was the highlight of my day. As if their visit was not enough, Archie McEvers NP for our Department of Surgery showed up with his quartet group. They began playing music as my family presented me with balloons and flowers. It was a sweet gesture. However, I had to laugh when I overheard one of our patient’s father saying to my charge nurse, Thank God my wife was not here! She would expect me to do this for her.

Ann S. Botash

Dean's Office, College Of Medicine

Favorite memory: The day the Child Abuse Referral and Evaluation Team moved into the new Child Advocacy Center. After many years of planning, fundraising, and work to create a new site, our team moved into the newly renovated building and were then able to provide a better approach to traumatized children.

First job: I was an intern in pediatrics!

What has changed: Technology! When I was a new attending, we used typewriters and carbon paper, Index Medicus, and paper charts! Our pagers were all voice pagers!​

Cynthia Lewis


Favorite memory: Meeting so many different people from so many different backgrounds.

What has changed: Xray Fileroom, the Technology

Funny story: We had a softball team that played against other departments. And I was playing the outfield and I was backing up to catch the ball and fell into a pool of water. And we all laughed the rest of the evening.

Mary Hayden 

Clinical Pathology-Core Lab

Favorite memory: Moving to the new lab on the 5th floor of the cancer center.

First job: working in the Chemistry/Microscopy lab at Upstate

What has changed:  Alot of the testing has changed, new analyzers, tests changing from manual methods to instrumentation


Barbara Lindenmayer


Thirty-five years is a long time. I actually started at Upstate in 1985 as an ICU nurse in the newly opened pediatric ICU. I worked nights with a great crew. I think all of them have retired by now, but we shared a comradery that I will treasure forever. It is by far my favorite memory of my time here at Upstate. Without a doubt what has changed the most during my career is the size of Upstate Medical Center as reflected in the addition of University to the name. The campus has expanded enormously! In hindsight the amount of energy and planning that allowed this to happen has been amazing!

Michelle Sisso

Procedural Float Pool

Favorite memory: I cannot identify any one favorite memory here at Upstate. I have taken care of and worked with so many wonderful people that I have many favorite memories!

First job: My first job at Upstate was as a brand new grad on 6A which at the time was a General Medicine Telemetry floor.

What has changed: Besides the obvious, growth, improvements in the institution’s physical appearance and advancement of technology, I believe, the most notable change has been the focus on continued growth of community outreach with seemingly heartfelt support from Upstate personnel on all levels.

Tammy Blackburn

Imt-Rev Cycle & Training

Favorite memory: The promotion to IMT was the most exciting career moment.  It was a large promotion and would enable me to utilize my skills with computer systems.

First job: Outpatient biller in Finance using typewriters for paper billing

What has changed: I watched paper files go to dummy terminals and now to laptops and pcs with so much information available at your fingertips.

Funny story: Not really funny but the most fun day I had was after we converted from paper files to our first AS400 system in Finance we had a Groundhogs Day party to celebrate. Everyone got a groundhog badge to wear, we brought food and there were silly Groundhogs Day themed games for candy bars and it was just a fun day for the entire department. The 1992 equivalence of a departmental retreat.

Colleen Henderson


Favorite memory: I can’t name a favorite.  Have had many good experiences.

First job: Working the night shift in Diagnostic XR.

What has changed: Breast imaging over the years.

Marlene Z. Hawley 


Favorite memory: My favorite memory would be the first five years of my employment when my office was hospital based at UH.  Going to work each day was an adventure!

First job: My first job at Upstate was to enter exam charges with a light pen, better known today as a stylus pen.

What has changed: Technology and the expansion of Upstate.   We are everywhere these days!

Funny story: A story or fact would be that I still have my original stapler from my first day of employment on June 23, 1986. It's been with me at 5 different office and building locations over my 35 years.  Talk about "Office Space", it does happen to be a Swingline but it's not Red!

Catherine Collins


I can't believe that I have worked in Radiology for the past 38 years as of this October. I began working at Upstate in October of 1983, fresh out of Xray school from Elmira, NY. Mr. Doug Kemme was so kind to take me on as an "outsider" of the Upstate school and take a chance on a youngster like me! What a lucky girl I was. This amazing opportunity lead me through a career advancement as night Xray technologist for 6 months to a CT scan technologist at Upstate for the next 3.5 years. I was so fortunate to have networked with the best physicians/technologists/administrators, etc. that my career finally led me to new career, learning the very first MRI system to Central New York at 550 Harrison Center back in 1984 ( I learned MRI and worked part time at 550 HC while maintaining my CT position at Upstate).

I finally left Upstate and obtained a manager position at 550 Harrison Center where I continue to perform as an MRI technologist today. I am looking forward to 2 more years and hopefully retiring and enjoying some much-deserved down time.

I have seen so many changes over the years, especially in the technology, but also in patient care. My favorite part of my job has always been the interaction with my patients! This aspect will be very difficult for me to leave behind when I do retire, but I have also had a most gratifying career.

I have met some truly wonderful people along the way, famous to humble and all in all, everyone still feels pain the same way and needs our compassion and empathy and I have tried my best to offer this to all my patients. I am very proud of my career and thankful for all Upstate has offered me and am looking forward to my future ventures!


A special thank you to the following sponsors for their generous contributions:

  • Advocates of Upstate Medical University
  • MedBest Medical Management, Inc.
  • Office of the President