The CNR Alumni Newsletter is published to keep the alumni community informed of the latest news and events. 
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Spotlight Interview – Rosa Puleo Napoleone '75


Rosa with BorderAs she accepted the CNR Legacy Award at the Mercy College Trustees’ Scholarship Gala in May, Rosa Puleo Napoleone, SAS ’75, movingly described the lasting impact of her four years as an undergraduate at the College of New Rochelle.

“CNR was indeed a special place, affording me with an excellent, well-rounded education, invaluable life lessons, and many dear friends.  Principles such as maintaining a sense of integrity, life-long learning and Serviam – ‘I will serve’- became ingrained and provided me with a compass for the years that followed commencement.”

Serviam has indeed characterized every part of Rosa’s personal and professional life.

Her service to her alma mater has been unwavering and effective since her graduation 47 years ago.  For her own class of 1975, she was class president and fund agent; and for the larger Alumni Association, she was a board member for many years and president for two terms (2009-2015). Then when the College was facing closure, she volunteered for three years in the Office of Alumni Engagement, working alongside Marlene Tutera, SAS ’71.  She now co-chairs with Marlene the CNR Legacy Council, working in partnership with Mercy College which has been so welcoming and supportive of the CNR alumni community.  Her classmates and other alumni of all four schools and many graduation years who have worked with Rosa admire and respect her quiet inner strength and determination, her energy and ability to get things done, her integrity, humility, and her inspirational loyalty to CNR, as well as her family and friends.

Nancy Harkins, another active alum from the Class of '75, offered high praise for Rosa and her service to CNR.

"Rosa and I met at freshman orientation, were roommates for two years, and I am so grateful for our lifelong friendship. I have seen firsthand Rosa’s dedication to CNR over the years including as class president, director of the alumni board, and president of the Alumni Association.  When CNR faced closure, she volunteered her time and expertise in the Office of Alumni Engagement.  Her fellow alums recognize and appreciate that her enduring commitment continues, ensuring CNR’s legacy lives on through Mercy College and within each of us."  

Marlene Tutera, SAS '71, who now co-chairs the CNR Legacy Council with Rosa and was the first recipient of the Mercy College Trustees' CNR Legacy Award in 2020, also paid tribute to her long-time friend.

"I first met Rosa almost 50 years ago at the College of New Rochelle. She was a student, and I was a staff member. Throughout all those years our relationship has changed and grown. It is clear to me that in addition to our love and loyalty for CNR, we share so many common bonds. I've always looked to Rosa for leadership, friendship, and partnership. Working together on so many projects I have found her ability to listen, her honesty and integrity have made all of our time together so valuable. Whether on student projects, alumni issues and at the very worst time the crisis at the College, we have always looked to each other for support. As we continue forward, it is our friendship that I value the most."

Those same qualities were evident during her distinguished 38-year career at New York Life.

Several weeks after Rosa Napoleone graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the College of New Rochelle in May 1975, she started a training program at New York Life Insurance Company. She would spend the next 38 years of her life there, rising in the rapidly evolving Information Technology department to the position of vice president.

Rosa credits her CNR education with giving her “confidence – the ability to do things, to adapt, to learn.” Working in a career field not then heavily populated by women and always changing with new technological advances and challenges, Rosa said CNR had taught her to be “open to new assignments.” A double major in math and Italian, (“math was my great passion and Italian was a nice thing to do”) her math courses gave her “strong analytical skills and critical thinking.”

She said that another key part of her CNR education – the personal relationships with classmates, her work as a Resident Assistant and member of the Resident Staff, as well as her involvement in many student activities -was just as instrumental as her academic work in shaping her future, both professionally and personally.

“It was such a technical career,” she noted. “I always tried to keep in mind the people. I nurtured people to bring out their hidden talents.”

The many hours she quietly gave to mentor and nurture colleagues didn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated. Rosa didn’t want a large retirement party from New York Life in 2013, because “I don’t like to be the center of attention.” She said the many notes she received from those she had helped throughout her career “meant the most.”

She continues to share her IT expertise – serving as an adviser to KnowledgeConnect, a group of executives from member companies sharing information on current topics including information security and working remotely during the worldwide pandemic.

Summing up how her well-rounded CNR education helped her in the business world, she said, “I felt a real sense of integrity.  It guided me certainly in business. Whenever challenged, I stood my ground. Whether you call it Serviam, I was always serving in ways not so obvious.”

The impact of her CNR education on both her personal and professional life has been life-changing.  She met her husband, George, early on in her career at New York Life and they were married in 1980 - where else but at CNR’s Holy Family Chapel.   Rosa and George raised their son, Michael, in Valhalla where they also have actively served their parish, Holy Name of Jesus; the Valhalla Lions Club, and Hawthorne Boy Scout Troop 1, among many organizations.

Praising the support of her husband and son, Rosa said, “George, and later Michael, came to realize that CNR is in my DNA, and it became intuitive for them to expect, and full-heartedly support, my involvement with CNR.”

Rosa was particularly grateful that the CNR Legacy Award was presented at the Mercy College Trustees’ Scholarship Gala because she knows first-hand the importance of tuition assistance. When she was a student at St. Barnabas High School in the Bronx, Rosa and her parents decided she would commute to a nearby college (be a “day hop” as they were called then) from their Bronx home. When they toured CNR’s New Rochelle campus on a Sunday afternoon, they were impressed with not only its physical beauty, but the level of student engagement even on a weekend. Shortly after, Rosa learned she had been awarded a tuition scholarship to CNR.  Her father insisted that she use the family money for room and board so that she could experience all that the college had to offer its students.

Since entering CNR as a freshman in the fall of 1971, Rosa has consistently given back – sharing her talents, loyalty, and commitment to CNR. Now she continues to work tirelessly, in the rich spirit of Serviam, to keep the CNR legacy alive. 

When accepting the Trustees CNR Legacy Award, Rosa concluded, “My efforts over the years have been driven from my desire to ‘pay it forward’ in return for the wonderful education I received and for the scholarships that made all of that possible.  The fact that I am being honored here at the scholarship gala makes it all the more meaningful to me.”

  • Pat Keegan Abels SAS ‘73
    CNR Alumni Communications Committee

 Spotlight Interview – Christine LaSala, ‘72


What brought Christine LaSala to the College of New Rochelle was an advertisement in Time magazine in 1967 that read, as best she can recall, “If a college does not ask you for money, it is because it wants your daughter.” Chris was intrigued by that ad and, as a result, became interested in CNR. Chris attended a public high school in Aliquippa in western Pennsylvania and had never heard of CNR. Being the oldest of seven children, Chris applied to several state colleges and universities, the University of Pennsylvania, and the College of New Rochelle. She was surprised when CNR accepted her and, to her father’s dismay since she was accepted at Penn, decided to attend in the fall of 1968, never having visited the campus until the day she arrived for her freshman year. As Chris settled in at her dorm, her father walked around the campus. When he came back to her room, he told Chris “This is a very good college – all of the fathers I met are thrilled that their daughters are here”.         

When asked how she would describe her four years at CNR, Chris instantly replied “on balance, I loved it”. From the very beginning of freshman year, Chris began friendships with a group of women who remain her closest friends today – sustaining is how she describes those friendships. She arrived on campus probably, in her words, a little more conservative; hence, CNR was eye-opening politically. And Chris became very attached to New York City while at CNR, seizing on every opportunity to go to the city. Not surprisingly, Chris has resided in New York City for decades with her spouse Ellie Lipshitz and their adopted daughter Sophie. Chris graduated in 1972 and left CNR feeling completely comfortable, self-assured, and very attached to people and she credits the institution for creating such an enriching and supportive environment.

Chris’ immediate focus upon graduation was getting an apartment in Manhattan with a classmate and a job. As a philosophy major, Chris thought it might be challenging but nonetheless pursued a job in the insurance industry. In interviews, she emphasized that, as a philosophy major at a rigorous liberal arts college, she learned how to think critically, to write well and to make convincing arguments. And it worked – she got a job. Chris believes CNR completely equipped her to enter the workforce – “there was a presumption at CNR of preparing young women to be successful in the workforce and in life” - and that gave her confidence.

Chris has over 45 years of management, client leadership and financial experience in the insurance industry as an underwriter, an insurance broker working with large corporations and public institution clients, as the president of the World Trade Center Captive Insurance Company and as a non-executive director. Currently, Chris is the Senior Independent Director of the Board of Directors of Beazley Group, a role she assumed in March 2019. Chris was appointed to Beazley’s Board in July 2016, and now serves on the Nominating and Remuneration Committees. Chris retired as Chair of Willis Towers Watson North America. In that role, Chris worked closely with the leadership of Willis Towers Watson on business development and aligning WTW’s global resources to deliver services and solutions to the firm’s global clients.         

Prior to joining Willis in early 2014, Chris was, for 10 years, President and CEO of the WTC Captive Insurance Company, a not-for-profit corporation providing liability insurance to the City of New York and over 100 private contractors. The WTC Captive led negotiations for the landmark settlement of over 10,000 environmental tort cases against the City of New York and the private contractors that undertook rescue, recovery, and debris removal work after the 9/11 terrorist attack. In agreeing to serve as president of the WTC Captive, Chris came out of retirement after a long and successful career as the only woman partner of Johnson & Higgins. She was president of Johnson & Higgins New York, president of the firm’s tri-state operations and served on its Board of Directors. She managed Johnson & Higgins’ largest operations and provided advice to many of the firm’s largest clients.

Chris’ professional life has paralleled her work in the not-for-profit world. From her perspective, what is most connected to CNR is her multi-decade commitment to the not-for-profit world. In 2001-2002, Chris was acting Head of School at the Children’s Storefront, a tuition-free, independent school in Harlem, where she also served as president of the Board of Trustees from 1997 until 2013. Chris has also been very active in other not-for-profit work, including the YMCA of Greater New York, New York City Outward Bound and Classroom Inc. From 2002-2008, Chris was on the Board of Trustees of the College of New Rochelle, serving as Vice Chair in 2007-2008. More importantly, Chris has supported CNR and its students with her time, talent, and treasure. When CNR faced its financial crisis in 2017, Chris was asked to rejoin the Board of Trustees. Without hesitation, she joined the Board and served again as Vice Chair, working tirelessly to save the college. Chris explained, “When I rejoined the Board, the trust was naturally in place.”

Reflecting on her recent 50th reunion, Chris said, “There was a richness and fullness in talking about our lives and that can be attributed to our experience at CNR”.

  • Christine Morrison, SAS ‘72
    CNR Alumni Communications Committee


CNR Diary, Volume 6



Welcome to the latest edition of CNR Diary. We hope you enjoy reading these memories of CNR experiences that alums have shared. Possibly you will be inspired to submit a Diary entry for our next newsletter issue this fall.

Once again, we have grouped the memories in decade order. We encourage all e-newsletter readers to click here to open the diary entries to recall a similar experience or learn something new about what made CNR special to another alum.

  • Pat Keegan Abels SAS ‘,73
    CNR Alumni Communications Committee



CNR Alumni Authors


Based on the overwhelmingly positive response to our initial celebration of CNR Alumni Authors, we are pleased to continue the celebration in this issue. This time we requested submissions from authors of children’s books, graphic novels, collections of poetry, short stories or plays, or professional books for educators, psychologists, and sociologists. Once again, the response was terrific.

And so, in their own words we present our second list of CNR Alumni Authors…

Please click here to see the list.




Reunion Reflection


On the weekend of June 3rd, the sun shone brightly on the return of a much anticipated “in-person” CNR Alumni College – the first since 2019.  Classes ending in 2 and 7 were delighted to be welcomed to Mercy College to reunite and celebrate our time at the College of New Rochelle along with the enduring gifts we carry in our hearts and minds.  We once again confirmed that the indelible mark of our CNR education continues to influence our lives in countless ways that enrich our families, our professions, our communities, and our souls. 

We started with a barbeque on Friday evening at Moller House, the historic property on the Tarrytown/Dobbs Ferry border that is now the home of the CNR Alumni Room.  Our dedicated space contains impressive displays of many nostalgic artifacts from our New Rochelle campus including historic and precious items from the CNR archives.

There was much exclamation as we explored the glass cases and beautiful grounds, but the essence of reunion is the joy of seeing classmates.  The reality of being together exceeded all expectations!  Classmates traveled from as far as Alaska, California, Florida, and Bermuda to reminisce and learn about the lives we are living right now.  Overwhelming emotions rose to the surface as we discovered so much about each other and rediscovered how much we still have in common no matter what paths our lives have taken. 

At a lovely Champagne Luncheon Buffet in the Mercy College Rotunda, Marlene Tutera, co-chair of the CNR Legacy Council and newly elected Mercy College Trustee, greeted us with her heartfelt reflections on the impact that CNR has left on all of us and on the important efforts we have made to persevere on the journey with Mercy College to preserve our legacy and continue to make a difference in the world.  She introduced Mercy College president, Tim Hall who welcomed us, reported on the latest graduates who transferred from CNR, and encouraged us to keep our legacy alive.  President Hall also joined us Friday evening to seize the opportunity to chat informally and reinforce his commitment to us.   Our Director, Tara Alfano CNR SAS ’02, GS ’04 presented a poignant slide show of CNR photos and shared a video of one of the CNR Legacy Scholarship recipients who expressed her gratitude for the meaningful impact the scholarship is having on her education and her future. 

Each class planned additional unique ways to celebrate, including a moving remembrance ceremony for those who have entered eternal life. We were inspired to hear of the innumerable ways we are using our CNR experiences to serve others.  The thread of Serviam consistently runs deep and wide, eliciting a strong sense of pride and stimulating fond memories of Ursulines and lay faculty and staff who planted and nurtured those seeds in us.    

At the close of the day, all the classes came together for a jubilant evening and sumptuous dinner off campus.  


To view the Reunion Photos Click Here
To view the CNR Through the Years Photo Montage Click Here
To view the CNR Legacy Scholarship Recipient Video Click Here 


Thank you, Mercy College, for your warm hospitality and genuine respect and appreciation of our CNR legacy.   We are deeply grateful for your generosity and continued support of CNR alumni – a unique and remarkable gift to be treasured.  Our reunion was amazing!!!

Special thanks to Bernadette Wade, Tara Alfano, Alexis McGrath Rothenberg, and the other Mercy College staff who so graciously gave of their time and skills to make this a great weekend for CNR alums.  Your attention to every detail for the gatherings, housing, and transportation was exceptional and we deeply appreciate your thoughtful kindnesses!

The 2022 Reunioners highly recommend that class committees of the 3s and 8s start planning for next year.  Don’t miss this opportunity.  With an initial investment of a little time from you, you will not be disappointed at Alumni College 2023!

  • Eileen Niedzwiecki, SAS ‘72

CNR Alumni Communications Committee


Class of 1975 Reunion Gathering at the Moller House


For the past two years, sparked by a successful 45th reunion on Zoom, members of the Class of ’75 have organized a committee and have held regular meetings to work on ways to reconnect classmates and rebuild friendships that began nearly 50 years ago.

In January 2022, a Zoom “Happy Hour” was held, consisting of an “icebreaker” activity followed by a lively discussion on the topic of Retirement.  This was followed by an in-person reunion that took place on April 30th.  

The class is very grateful to Tara Alfano, Director of Development and CNR SAS ’02 GS ‘04, for all her assistance in making this event so wonderful.   More than 30 classmates, faculty and staff attended both in person and via Zoom. The setting – Moller House in Tarrytown – reminded many of the Castle at The College of New Rochelle.  Nancy Harkins opened the event with a welcome and introduced the special guests:  Sr. Marie Celine, Sr. Terry Eppridge, Jim Magee (who has published a book “Do Not Deny Me the Road”), Sr. Mary Virginia Orna (who led us in prayer), Mary Ellen Foster McEvily, Tara Alfano, Eileen Niedzwiecki, and Marlene Melone Tutera. Carol Bodenheimer Corliss then delivered a toast to the group.

 Rosa Puleo Napoleone, who received the CNR Legacy Award at the Mercy College Trustee’s Scholarship Gala, was honored by the class.  Rosa has been a leader in keeping our shared CNR Legacy strong for all alumni. She was given a framed copy of the tribute ad that the Class of ’75 placed in the Gala Journal. Proceeds from the ad will be directed to the CNR Legacy Scholarship.

After viewing photos of classmates’ weddings at the CNR chapel, Mary Frances Blecha Gaits expertly led the group in a lively discussion during the “CNR People, Places and Things” activity. Classmates shared anecdotes that brought back many memories, with everyone laughing hard as they were brought to happy tears recalling their CNR days. Jim Magee had the day’s best stories to tell - he lived within walking distance of CNR which gave him plenty of source material from which to draw his tales.  Our beloved Ursulines also shared their memories and were genuinely thrilled to be there. At the end of the time, as everyone lingered, not wanting to leave, one last photo of the group was taken with the sunny spring sky and Moller House as the backdrop.  The day continued for some as they headed to a late lunch at a nearby tavern.

The Class of ’75 Committee is intent on keeping this momentum going and is already in the midst of planning their next event, a virtual Happy Hour scheduled for Sunday evening Sept. 18th!

  • Mary Frances Blecha Gaits, SAS ‘75

 Class of 75


Book Club Update


Are you a “professional reader”?

I’m not really sure how to qualify as a “professional reader” but ever since reading Ann Patchett’s description of one of the characters in her novel Commonwealth, I’ve frequently used it as a self-description. How else do you describe someone who belongs to 4 book clubs? One of those clubs is the Mercy and CNR Alumni Book Club.  Our club is going strong and the May – July book selection is Isabel Allende’s riveting A Long Petal of the Sea. It’s never too late to join. Visit the club website at:, create a profile, log in, and introduce yourself, check out the discussion topics, ask a question, add your comments.

Nancy Harkins and I are also pleased to announce that we will be hosting a Zoom discussion of this book on July 26 at 7:30 pm. If you haven’t already done so, please register here.

We’d love to see you in our discussion… and you don’t need to be a “professional reader” in order to enjoy reading and discussing good books.

  • Annalinda Pandolfi Ragazzo, SAS’74

CNR Alumni Communications Committee 


Prayer of St. Teresa of Avila


St. TheresaSt. Teresa of Avila was an important figure in the counter-reformation.  In 1970, Pope Paul VI bestowed upon her, along with St. Catherine of Siena, the title of Doctor of the Church, making them the first women to be awarded this distinction.

Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing frighten you.
All Things pass away;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who has God finds he lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

Update Info

Tech Corner


With the proliferation of what the travel media is coining as “Revenge Travel,” it may be tempting to plug your cellphone or another mobile device into one of the free USB charging stations at airports, hotels, train stations, etc. But do so at your own risk.

According to the article by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, “'Juice Jacking': The Dangers of Public USB Charging Stations,” cyber criminals can infect these public charging ports with malicious malware that could pollute your device and can expose your personal and financial information.

As an additional safeguard, whether you are home or away, be wary of public WiFi networks as they provide a virtual feeding ground for cybercrimes.

To read the full article, please click here


 CNR Legacy Scholarship Update

As of today, we have raised over $100,000 toward the CNR Legacy Scholarship and have awarded scholarships to twelve Mercy students. These recipients are majoring in nursing, biology, health science, psychology, and animal science.

Click here to watch a video of one of the CNR Legacy Scholarship recipients, Lesly DeLeon Mendez. Hear her story and see how the collective generosity of CNR alumni has made a difference.

By making a gift to the CNR Legacy Scholarship, you will help deserving students like Lesly earn a college degree and will provide them with the opportunity to give back and serve their communities.


To learn about The CNR Legacy Scholarship Fund and to donate, click below:

  CNR Legacy Scholarship Fund  
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