Photo of alumni of distinction 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 13, 2023


This year, for the first time, honorees included four alumni from The College of New Rochelle, as part of Mercy’s commitment to preserve CNR’s legacy after it closed in 2019.

Dobbs Ferry, New York On Friday, February 10, 2023, Mercy College recognized 10 exemplary alumni for their accomplishments at its Alumni of Distinction Awards. The annual event celebrates alumni for their contributions to the community and to the College and helps raise funds for student scholarships. This year, for the first time, honorees included four alumni from The College of New Rochelle, as part of Mercy’s commitment and agreement to preserve CNR’s legacy after it closed in 2019.

“I am delighted to honor these 10 remarkable alumni from Mercy and The College of New Rochelle who exemplify what it means to be a leader and engaged citizen,” said Tim Hall, president of Mercy College. “These incredible individuals are examples for Mercy’s students to learn from and to follow, and we are proud to call them all Mavericks.”

Mercy College and CNR Alumni of Distinction Awards honorees and Class of 2023 inductees into the Alumni Hall of Fame are Pamela Cole ’72; Phillip Grant ’08, M.B.A; Liz Longmore ’09, M.S. ’11; Shannon Freeman ’14; Cynthia LaMonica ’69; and Brian Sweeney ’07. The 2023 CNR Alumni of Distinction Awards honorees are Dr. Shango Blake SNR ’93, GS ’96, GS’11; Dr. Sandy Cayo DNP, FNP-BC, PhD(c) SN ’08; Chris Morrison, Esq. SAS ’72 and Min, Pearl M. Sullivan MS, MPA SNR ’03, GS ’15. Read more about them below.

Pamela M. Cole ’72

Dr. Pamela Cole has spent her career dedicated to child clinical and developmental psychology, devoting her life to ensuring better emotional health for children.  Pamela graduated from Mercy College in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

Over the course of her more than 45-year career, Pamela remains a beloved faculty member at Penn State University and is currently leading five research projects. She has held numerous academic leadership roles at Penn State, was a Fulbright Scholar in the 90s studying the emotional development of Nepalese children and has authored or co-authored over 90 publications. Among several honors during her time as a faculty member she has received the Faculty Scholar Medal at Penn State and Fellow status in the American Psychological Association.  

Phillip Grant, M.B.A. ’08

Phillip Grant is the Chief Executive Officer of the Hunts Point Produce Market. Phillip leads a team of approximately 110 staff that support the day-to-day operations of the largest wholesale produce market in the nation. He graduated from Mercy College with an MBA in 2008.

The Market is composed of nearly 30 different merchants and is essential to the food infrastructure serving the New York City region. The Market partners with local food rescue and food-service organizations to donate surplus produce. For the last two years, the Market has partnered with Mercy’s Mav Market Food and Resource Pantry to provide fresh produce to Mercy’s community. 

Previously, Phillip held a senior role at the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

Liz Longmore ’09, M.S. ’11

Liz Longmore is Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Stamford Health.  With over 25 years of health care expertise, Liz began her career in nursing where she worked in women’s health care and expanded her professional experience to emergency services and critical care. As her career developed, she held roles in clinical, educational and operational leadership. Prior to her current role, Liz spearheaded all clinical aspects of the design, construction and operationalization of the new Stamford Hospital which opened its doors in September of 2016.

Liz graduated from Mercy College in 2009 with her bachelor’s degree in nursing and in 2011 with her master’s degree in nursing administration.

Shannon Freeman ’14

Shannon Freeman graduated from Mercy College's Media Studies program with a concentration in Film and Culture in 2014.  Shannon has spent the last eight years as a Television Director for CBS News streaming channel. While a student at Mercy, she interned with News12 Westchester, and was hired after graduation.

Shannon serves as a mentor to students of the Reels Works program, where she assists in storyboarding, filming and editing short documentaries to be shown at film festivals around the New York City area.

Cynthia Borges LaMonica ’69

Cynthia Borges LaMonica enrolled at Mercy College in 1964 at a time when the world and higher education were rapidly changing.  Cynthia attended Mercy College on scholarship and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology 1969.

Influenced by the social values taught by the Sisters of Mercy, she became a case worker for the city of Mt. Vernon, NY.  In the 1980s, she created the first New Jersey licensed Social Service agency, at that time known as Homestudies, Inc., devoted to international adoptions. She was a social worker for the Mount Vernon City School District for 18 years.

In her retirement, Cynthia has become an active volunteer with a variety of organizations including her church and Open Table, an outreach program assisting youth aging out of foster care.

Brian Sweeney ’07

Brian Sweeney accomplished what few college athletes can claim by translating a successful college athletic career into a successful professional career. Brian played baseball at Mercy College from 1993-1996. And in 1996, he was signed by Major League Baseball's Seattle Mariners and took a break from his education. He later returned to Mercy and graduated in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in biology.  

While at Mercy, Brian was named All-State and the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference Scholar Athlete of the Year in 1995, becoming Mercy’s all-time leader in complete games and strikeouts. Over 18 seasons playing professional baseball, Brian amassed 128 victories.

At the conclusion of his playing career, Brian was called to coaching professional baseball.  He is currently the pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals.

Dr. Shango Blake CNR SNR ’93, GS ’96, GS ’11

Nationally known as the Hip Hop Principal, Dr. Shango Blake is the founder and CEO of TRU SK Consultants and Executive Director of NYC Speaks.  As a New York City principal, Shango saw a profound need to institute drastic and creative changes to improve his school’s failing health. He initiated a bold and daring self-created project to integrate a conceptualized Hip Hop based educational program. 

He is a triple alumnus from the College of New Rochelle graduating with his bachelor’s degree in 1993 and then earning master’s degrees in guidance and counseling in 1996 and in communication arts and studies in 2011.

Dr. Sandy Cayo CNR SN ’08

Dr. Sandy Cayo is a board-certified family nurse practitioner who cares for patients across the care continuum from pediatric to geriatric specializing in primary care and urgent care services. Her other specialties include oncology, school-based health and women’s health.

Sandy started her career as a clinical nurse at Yale New Haven hospital in 2008. She has owned and operated her own telemedicine practice and enjoys providing holistic modalities of care and wellness for her patients. As an assistant professor at Yale, Sandy specializes in curricular course design innovation and transition to practice. Sandy is an advocate for global health and travels to Haiti, Nigeria and Ghana annually to conduct health fairs and instruct courses in nursing education. She graduated from the College of New Rochelle School of Nursing in 2008.

Chris Morrison CNR SAS ’72

Chris Morrison graduated from the College of New Rochelle in 1972. with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.  Her impressive career included positions as a research scientist for the New York State Department of Drug Abuse Services, assistant district attorney in the Office of the Bronx District Attorney, operating her own general law practice, and assistant attorney general for the New York State Office of the Attorney General.

Passionate about volunteerism, Chris is no stranger to giving back and making a difference, serving on the board of organizations focused on immigrant communities and improving New York City public schools. She has also served on the board of the CNR Alumni Association and is currently a member of the CNR Legacy Council at Mercy College.

Minister Pearl M. Sullivan CNR SNR ’03, GS ’15

Pearl Sullivan spent 14 years as a New York City police officer until she retired due to injury. Soon after, she enrolled in the College of New Rochelle’s School of New Resources, which offered a bachelor’s degree program specifically for adults.

After graduating in 2003 from CNR with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, she went on to earn a master’s in public administration from CNR in 2015. She returned to CNR and spent 12 years as the Coordinator of Retention Systems. After being ordained by Miracle World Outreach Ministries, she decided to join the ministry full-time in 2017.

Currently, she works as a minister administrator at Miracle Worship Center in the Bronx which provides food, back-to-school supplies and clothing to the local community. Pearl is a member of the CNR Legacy Council at Mercy College.

The Alumni of Distinction Awards event helped funds the Mercy College Endowed Alumni Legacy Scholarship Fund as well as the CNR Legacy Scholarship Fund. The Mercy College scholarship fund— which was created by the Mercy College Alumni Advisory Council to support the children of Mercy College alumni — is the only fund specifically designated to provide educational support to second-generation Mercy students. The CNR scholarship provides support for students pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Mercy College who are the first in their family to attend college. You can find a video recording of the event on Mercy’s YouTube channel here


Alumni of distinction awards invite

About Mercy College

Founded in 1950 by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy College is an independent, coeducational college that offers more than 90 undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs within five schools: Business, Education, Health and Natural Sciences, Liberal Arts and Social and Behavioral Sciences. The vibrancy of the College culture is sustained by a diverse student body from around the region. The College offers campuses in Dobbs Ferry, the Bronx and Manhattan as well as online offerings. For more information, visit