MIDDLETOWN - The SUNY Orange Board of Trustees officially installed two new members Tuesday evening (Jan. 14) when vice chair Helen Ullrich presided over the swearing in ceremonies for Donna L. Benson, recently retired Orange County Clerk, and Frederick A. Watson, president of Watson Services, Inc. of Newburgh.
Both Benson and Watson were appointed to the Board in December by outgoing Orange County Executive Ed Diana. Benson’s term will expire on June 30, 2018 while Benson’s term will conclude June 30, 2019.
The SUNY Orange Board of Trustees is comprised of 10 members. The county executive and governor appoint five and four members, respectively, while the student trustee is selected from the student body. The duo joins chair Joan Wolfe, Ullrich, and current trustees Thomas Hunter, Robert E. Krahulik, Gertrude F. Mokotoff, Sister Margaret Murphy (secretary) and Stephen P. O’Donnell. Alex De La Rosa is the student trustee.
When Benson retired from the County Clerk’s Office in December, she concluded a 32-year career of public service in that office. She was first elected as County Clerk in 1997, took office on Jan. 1, 1998 and remained in that capacity until her retirement.
In addition to holding elected office, Benson remains a dedicated community volunteer, assisting such organizations as the Boy Scouts of America, Hudson Valley Council Committees for Distinguished Citizens, the Office for the Aging/RSVP Advisory Council, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the American Legion Auxiliary.
She has been on the Board of Directors for Inspire from 2006 to the present. She is also a part of St. Joseph’s Living Rosary Society, is an honorary member of the Florida Fire and Rescue Company, is a member of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and is a past vice president of the Florida Little League. While in office, she served as regional chair of the Hudson Valley County Clerks and New York State Association of County Clerks. She was president of the New York State Association of County Clerks, is a United Way Board of Directors past chair and secretary, and was 2004-05 Inspire Cherish the Children honorary chair.
In 2013, she was honored as one of New York State’s Women of Distinction. Benson has also received such honors as the Regina G. Black Humanitarian Award (AHRC); the Women’s Bar Association of Orange/Sullivan Counties Rose Rosen Award; Hudson Valley Council-Boy Scouts of America "Distinguished Citizen" Award; Inspire Shining Star Award; NYSACC Annual Achievement Award; and the NYSACC Clerk of the Year Award.
A certified food executive, certified food service director and a certified food service sanitation manager, Watson possesses more than 30 years of food management experience. Prior to establishing Watson Services, an institutional food service managing and consulting firm headquartered on Grand Street in Newburgh, Watson was vice president of Ja-Ce Company, Inc., a New Jersey food service management company where he developed and implemented policies, procedures and budget forecasts for more than 50 school districts in central New Jersey.
While at Ja-Ce Compay, Watson was president of Jersey Associated Commercial Equipment, Inc., a Ja-Ce subsidiary. Additionally, Watson is a Certified ServSafeR Instructor and Registered ServSafe Examination Proctor for the National Restaurant Association. He received his master’s degree in food service administration from New York University and his bachelor’s degree in dietetics and institutional management from Virginia State University.
Watson serves on the boards of Teamsters Local 445 Health, Welfare, Pension, Annuity and Training Funds, and has served on the Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., the Industrial, Technical and Professional Employees-National Maritime Union/Marine Engineers Beneficial Association (ITPE-NMU/MEBA) Annual Benefit Fund, and as an alternate trustee of the ITPE-NMU/MEBA Health and Welfare Fund. He also currently serves as an adjunct professor at Long Island University-C.W. Post campus where he teaches Food Service Management II to dietetic students.
The SUNY Orange Board of Trustees typically meets on the second Tuesday afternoon of each month throughout the year, except for its summer retreat in June. The Board does not meet in July and August.