Original Article from SILive By Carol Ann Benanti | benanti@siadvance.com

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Members of the board of directors of The Staten Island Foundation unveiled portraits of its founding members who died during their tenure with the charitable organization.

Harry P. Doherty was president of SI Bank & Trust and the foundation’s first chair until his death from ALS in 2008.

Allan Weissglass was a member of the founding board and served as chair from 2008 until his death in 2019.

Denis Kelleher, also a founding board member, served until his death in 2019.

All of the aforementioned men were critical to establishing the foundation when SI Bank & Trust went public in 1997.
Other board members included John Morris, Arthur Decker, John Hall, and Alice Diamond, who continues to serve today — leaders who created the foundation’s mission to improve the quality of life on Staten Island, particularly for the least advantaged.
The portraits unveiled included that of Betsy Dubovsky, the foundation’s first executive director, who served for more than 22 years and died in February 2021. Dubovsky’s dedication and compassion left an indelible mark on the foundation’s future, today’s board members said.
To celebrate Dubovsky’s work, the foundation board has established The Staten Island Foundation Elizabeth Dubovsky Fellowship in Social Work.

The first recipients of the fellowship were Betty Deru Ren, Lisa Matelle, Gabriella Frontera, and Karimot Sanusi.

Foundation chair Kate Rooney led the unveiling and the recognition of recipients of the inaugural Dubovsky Fellowship in the foundation’s offices.
Rooney said, “At this time of year it is appropriate for us to remember with gratitude the contributions of individuals who have made our many achievements possible and look to a future that continues to support better outcomes for the residents of Staten Island.”
Laura Jean Watters, executive director of the foundation, said, “The fellowship recipients would make Betsy proud and are sure to make great contributions to our local social work community.”


Ren was born in China and expects to complete a master’s degree in social work at the College of Staten Island in the spring. This year she will complete an internship at the Community Health Center of Staten Island. She was inspired to become a social worker by the assistance she received when her family immigrated to America.

From the left, Jackie Filis and Laura Jean Watters, and Bill Dubovsky and Diane Arneth, right, congratulate Lisa Matelle and Karimot Sanusi, recipients of The Staten Island Foundation Elizabeth Dubovsky Fellowship Award in Social Work. (Courtesy/Laura Jean Watters)

After a career in finance, Matelle returned to school to obtain a social work degree. She is a senior counselor at the YMCA Counseling Center while attending the University of Oklahoma online. She hopes to come to the assistance of Staten Islanders seeking mental health treatment.

Frontera will finish her degree in social work at the College of Staten Island in 2024 and also looks forward to a career where she can help others, especially if that includes school counseling. This year she is completing an internship at the Community Health Center of Staten Island.
Sanusi immigrated to America from Nigeria and has worked in local health agencies which inspired an interest in social work. She expects to complete her master’s degree at the College of Staten Island in the fall of 2024. This year, she’s participating in an internship at the YMCA Counseling Center.
The Staten Island Foundation is an independent, private foundation with a mission of improving the quality of life in Staten Island.

The foundation was created in 1997 by the former Staten Island Savings Bank when the Bank converted to a public company.

Since its founding, the foundation has granted nearly $80 million to service-providing organizations for the benefit of Staten Island residents, especially its least advantaged, in the areas of education, health, community services and the arts.

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