Rochester attorney receives NYS Hometown Alumni Award
Fernando Santiago ’86 never had the chance to focus on academics in high school. He ran a pizzeria 28 hours a week to make ends meet.
At Cornell, that all changed.
“I will forever be indebted to Cornell and the kindness and goodwill of its donors who, decades and even centuries ago, set out to provide a world-class education to students regardless of their financial ability to pay. “Santiago said. He was the first person in his family to go to college and majored in government at the College of Arts and Sciences.
Now a lawyer, Santiago paid for that kindness. He volunteers in leadership positions at several Rochester-area nonprofits that improve the lives of people in need of food, shelter, training, and other support.
In recognition of his service, Santiago received the Cornell New York State Hometown Alumni Award on June 22, in a ceremony at the Genesee Valley Club in Rochester. The award recognizes New York State natives who return to their hometown after graduation and have a positive impact on their local communities. Santiago grew up in Spencerport, New York, a few miles west of Rochester.
“I think we understand the world better and find our own humanity when we help others,” Santiago said ahead of the event. “The truth is, I only give occasional advice and guidance to people who work daily to improve our communities. I am constantly inspired and impressed by the leadership teams of the organizations I have the privilege of serving. a community for having a community. I am only a very, very small part of that.
Santiago began serving on nonprofit boards 22 years ago, starting with Foodlink, which fights hunger, food insecurity and their causes. He also holds senior leadership positions with PathStone Corp., which helps people become self-reliant through building affordable housing, training the workforce, empowering farm workers, and promoting sustainability. social justice ; Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester, which provides families with a place to call home while their children receive medical care; and the Monroe County Bar Association.
“Bright, bold, and curious young men and women from across New York State—people like Fernando—come to Cornell for an education, then bring new knowledge, new knowledge, and a commitment to service to their communities. original,” said Joel Malina. , Cornell’s vice president for academic relations, who presented the award. “We are proud of Fernando and the more than 67,000 Cornell alumni who live in New York State today. »
At Foodlink, Santiago helped oversee three physical moves of the organization, two fundraising campaigns, 320% revenue growth, succession planning, and the implementation and growth of more than two dozen related programs. food,” said Julia Tedesco, president and CEO of Foodlink. “Having someone like Fernando and [his wife] Arline shows us care, respect and support as young leaders who have come a long way and continue to go a long way to empower us and allow us to lead an organization we care about,” he said. she declared. “I would say his presence and influence are as valuable, if not more so, than any monetary donation or volunteer days, and Fernando did all of the above.”
After graduating from Cornell, Santiago earned a law degree at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He and his wife, Arline Bayo Santiago, both began their careers as attorneys at major Philadelphia law firms and returned to the Rochester area after building their families. Fernando Santiago co-founded Santiago Burger LLP, focusing his practice on litigation in New York State and federal courts. He has published a number of legal articles and lectured in various fields, including insurance law and design-build and construction law. Santiago has been listed by the Best Lawyers in America organization and has been recognized as one of Rochester’s “40 Under 40”.
Also present at the event were Bob Attardo ’88, chairman of the board of directors of the Cornell Club of Rochester, who nominated Santiago for the award; Bayo Santiago; and daughters Alina Santiago ’20, MPA ’22 and Claire Santiago ’17.
Cornell’s Academic Relations Division created the award in 2018 in conjunction with Alumni Affairs and Development. Santiago is the ninth recipient.