26th Annual Hall of Fame set for November 2nd. Bridge to Equity Funds Scholarships & Honors Community Leaders

The 2023 Hall of Fame Honorees are:

· Gateway Lion Award for Outstanding Activism on Behalf of Students: The Hon. Toni E. Walker, House District 93

· Corporate Honoree: Garrett Sheehan, President & CEO, Greater New Haven Chamber

· Community Honoree: Dr. Keith Churchwell, former President, Yale New Haven Hospital; Executive Vice President, Yale New Haven Health

· Alumni Honorees:

· New Haven Alder Carmen Rodriguez (Ward 6), Class of 1993 Read full profile here.

· The Gateway Nursing & Allied Health Alumni Group


The Honorable Toni E. Walker to receive Gateway Lion’s Award at Nov. 2 Hall of Fame

Gateway Foundation’s most prestigious honor will be conferred for only the third time at the Nov. 2 Hall of Fame. The Gateway Lion Award for Outstanding Activism on Behalf of Students will be presented to the Honorable Toni Edmonds Walker. Because she is commited to and serves Gateway students and their families, supported the Pledge to Advance Connecticut, which provides free community college tuition to many Gateway students, and for all her work to uplift Gateway families, Connecticut State Representative Walker (D-93), long-serving chair of the

Connecticut General Assembly’s Appropriation Committee, will be the recipient.

Rep. Walker advocates passionately for youth, education, and human rights. And, according to Dr. Wilson Luna, Gateway Foundation Board member and CT State Gateway Dean Emeritus of Student Services, she and fellow members of New Haven legislative’s delegation were instrumental in securing State funding to bring the college campus to downtown New Haven. 

“Toni was a key leader at New Haven Adult and Continuing Education,” recalled Dr. Luna. “The college always had a strong relationship with Adult Ed, including facilitating students’ entry into Gateway. Toni understood the role post-secondary education plays in helping aspiring learners grow, succeed, and thrive. She was determined to make the downtown campus a reality.”

Rep. Walker has deep roots in the Elm City, especially at Dixwell Avenue Congregation Church, where her late parents, Rev. Dr. Edwin Edmonds was pastor and Maye Bailey Edmonds headed the Women's Group. There, Rep. Walker was a fundraiser and Director of the Dixwell Children's Creative Arts Center. While working and raising a daughter alone, she continued her education at Southern Connecticut State University and earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Fordham University.

A tireless leader, she retired as Vice Principal and Coordinator of Special Services and Grants from New Haven Adult Education, where she helped develop, design, and implement community-based programs. Rep. Walker is House Chair of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee and a member of the Judiciary Committee, where she focuses especially on juvenile judicial reform. Rep. Walker advocates for education and health care on behalf of her district and constituents, especially the most vulnerable.

She is married to Donald Walker – a Gateway professor – and loving mother and stepmother to Talia Aikens-Nunez and Tiffany Beech. She proudly grandmothers Isabella and baby Nyles.

Hall of Fame is Gateway Foundation’s most ambitious annual fundraiser. Sponosrs, advertisers, and ticketed guests are most welcome.

Please join the Gateway Foundation in honoring Rep. Toni Walker – and help us fund scholarships and academic programs vital to Gateway students’ educational success! You can purchase tickets, underwrite a sponsorship, or offer a congratulatory message to her HERE.


Garett Sheehan to receive Corporate Award at Nov. 2 Hall of Fame

Garrett Sheehan, President and Chief Executive Officer, Greater New Haven Chamber, was an easy pick to receive the Gateway Community College Foundation’s Corporate Award at its 26th Annual Hall of Fame celebration slated for Nov. 2, 2023.

Sheehan leads the Chamber’s focus on equitable economic growth. A lynchpin of that effort is the Chamber’s partnership with CT State Community College Gateway. The partnership benefits students and employers and strengthens connections between the college’s academic and workforce programs and local regional businesses.

“Garrett understands the pivotal role a first-rate education and career-focused training plays in helping employers recruit a skilled workforce and succeed in today’s and tomorrow’s economy,” said Gateway Foundation Board Chair Thomas Beirne III, Vice President, Senior Wealth Planning Officer, and Business Development Manager, The Washington Trust Company.  

“Employers need well-prepared employees. We’re grateful to Garrett and the Chamber for their longstanding support and collaborative partnerships with our Foundation and the college. It’s a ‘win-win-win’ for Gateway, its students, and our business community.” 

Sheehan’s career has focused on economic development. He was a researcher for the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce in Huntsville, Ala., and a project manager for the North Alabama Industrial Development Association. In 2007, he took positions first with United Illuminating (UI) and later Eversource. He was named the Chamber’s President in 2018. In his current role, he also leads the Regional Leadership Council and the Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce. The combined Chambers have a membership of more than 1,200 businesses. He is Past President of the Connecticut Economic Development Association, a statewide group of economic development professionals.

A certified Economic Developer, Sheehan earned an undergraduate degree at Syracuse (N.Y.) University; an MBA from Auburn (Alabama) University; and a law degree from the University of Connecticut. He is a licensed attorney in Texas and Connecticut and was clerked for the Connecticut Appellate Court. He also served as an infantry officer with the Connecticut National Guard and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010.

He and his wife Julie have been married 10 years and have two children.

To celebrate Garrett’s leadership, please consider purchasing a congratulatory ad in the Hall of Fame program booklet and a ticket to cheer for him at Hall of Fame.

To contribute to or fund a career-specific scholarship, please contact Victoria Dancy, (203) 285-2558 or via email at vdancy@gwcc.commnet.edu to find out how!


Keith Churchwell, M.D. to receive Community Award at Nov. 2 Hall of Fame

Keith Churchwell, M.D., FACC, FACP, FAHA, former President of Yale New Haven Hospital and Executive Vice President of Yale New Haven Health, has been selected by the Gateway Community College Foundation as its 2023 Hall of Fame Community Honoree. His award will be presented at the 26th Annual Hall of Fame celebration Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023.

Dr. Churchwell came to Yale New Haven Hospital in 2015, Yale New Haven’s first Black president. According to Rev. Hiram Brett, Gateway Foundation Vice Chair and Co-Chair of the 2023 Hall of Fame, Dr. Churchwell’s knowledge of and focus on racial disparities in health have been vitally important to the hospital’s and the health system’s mission.

“Dr. Churchwell’s vision of leading with equity helped Yale New Haven build outreach programs and ground-breaking treatments and protocols that saved lives, especially during the global pandemic when mortality rates among Black and Brown New Haven residents were stunningly lower than those of other groups,” Rev. Brett explained.

“Though we experienced tremendous hardship, thanks to Dr. Churchwell’s leadership, we fared significantly better than other regions of the country. His leadership measurably and meaningfully improved health outcomes for many Gateway students, their families, and the Gateway community.” 

Dr. Churchwell helped set the direction for CT State Gateway’s collaborative educational and clinical partnerships with Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale New Haven Health System. The College’s Nursing and Allied Health students benefit from training they receive at the bedside at Yale New Haven Hospital. Many Gateway grads become YNHH staff members after completing their degree and certificate programs. Many YNNH employees study nursing at Gateway to better their careers. They join many Gateway alumni who already enjoy healthcare careers while they provide the Greater New Haven community high quality care.

Dr. Churchwell previously was Executive VP, Chief Operating Officer, Senior VP, and Executive Director for Heart & Vascular Services, Transplantation Services, and Clinical Services for Yale New Haven Hospital’s Department of Medicine.

Born and raised in Nashville, Tenn., he earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine. He trained at Emory University Medical School and Affiliated Hospitals, with a chief residency at Grady Memorial Hospital and a cardiology residency. After 12 years in private cardiology practice, he joined Vanderbilt Medical School as an Associate Professor of Medicine and Radiology, later becoming Executive Director/Chief Medical Officer of Vanderbilt’s Health and Vascular Institute.

Dr. Churchwell serves on local boards in Greater New Haven. He also is on the National Board of the American Heart Association (AHA) and is the 2023 Chair of the AHA’s National Advocacy Committee. He is also AHA’s President-Elect, with his tenure to begin in July 2024. He and his wife live in Guilford where they occasionally indulge in New Orleans cuisine.

Please join the Gateway Foundation Board in saluting Dr. Churchwell and his fellow Hall of Fame Honorees. You may purchase tickets, provide a congratulatory message or become a sponsor. The Hall of Fame is the Foundation’s largest annual source of funding for Gateway students’ scholarships.


New Haven Alder Carmen Rodriguez to receive Alumni Award at Nov. 2 Hall of Fame

New Haven Alder Carmen Rodriguez, graduated from Gateway Community College with the class of 1993. Today, she represents Ward 6, home to many Gateway students, employees, and alumni.

A resident of the City Point neighborhood – not far from the college’s former Long Wharf campus where she earned her associate degree in Human Services – Carmen remains a staunch supporter of Gateway, Gateway students, their families, and the larger community.

A 35-year employee of Yale New Haven Hospital, where she currently is a Human Services Counselor. She was elected to the 30-member Board of Alders, New Haven’s legislative body, in 2020 … and she has been working hard for her constituents ever since.

According to Gateway Foundation Board member and 2023 Hall of Fame Co-Chair LaKisha Jordan, Rodriguez earned the Alumni Honoree title due to her passionate advocacy for Gateway. “Carmen achieved her degree through weekend classes,  often with her children in tow, Jordan said.

“Many Gateway students are parents juggling full-time jobs. Carmen’s journey exemplifies that with determination and a supportive educational environment, even those with complex lives can succeed.” Rodriquez and her husband Jose Romero have three grown sons, ages 36, 28, and 24. In addition to her full-time job and her aldermanic duties, she makes time to be a meaningful part of the social fabric of her neighborhood and the 6th Ward. She seves on her local Block Watch and helps plan holiday celebrations to unify and energize her nearly 4,500 constituents.

You can support nontraditional students with a contribution to Gateway’s on-site daycare, or tuition assistance for students-parents.


CT State Gateway Nursing and Allied Health Alumni will be honored at Nov. 2 Hall of Fame

The Gateway Community College Foundation recently launched a new Alumni Network to engage former students and graduates of Gateway, South Central Community College (SCCC), and Greater New Haven Technical College.

The Alumni Network’s goals are to support current students and provide ambassadorship, mentorship, and feel-good connection between CT State Gateway and its community. The relaunch of the Alumni Network was

inspired by the sustained connections of Gateway’s Allied Health and Nursing alumni. This cohort of Gateway alums meets occasionally, connects regularly on social media and always looks out for and cares for one another. Because they embody the best of Gateway alumni, the Gateway Foundation will confer to the Nursing and Allied Health Alumni its first group award at the 26th Annual Hall of Fame celebration, Nov. 2, 2023.

Three alumni who helped organize the group, Sam Osei, Julie Austin, and Maria Goode, are Gateway instructors. Osei and Goode are Nursing professors. Austin is Radiography Program Coordinator and interim Allied Health Department Director. They saw that many of their colleagues, both full- and part-time, were also alumni, so they pulled the group together.

Gateway Foundation Board member Ena Williams, Ph.D., MBA, Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Yale New Haven Hospital, understands the importance of Gateway-educated and -trained students to Greater New Haven’s healthcare sector. “The college is a valued partner in our commitment to providing high-quality, patient-centered, equitable care,” she said. “Yale New Haven Hospital is proud of the many, many alumni who bring compassion and excellence to our skilled local and regional workforce in our quest to transform health care.

According to Barbara McFarland, Associate Professor of Nursing and interim Chair of Nursing, Osei and Goode are two of a half-dozen full-time Gateway alumni nursing professors. Additionally, two more alums currently are completing graduate practicums as part of their Master’s of Nursing degree requirements, and likely will join the college’s faculty upon their graduation.

“Nearly 90 percent of our Allied Health full- and part-time faculty are Gateway or South Central alumni,” Austin said. “They know firsthand how our programs work. They also understand the student population we serve, which is largely adult learners.”

Austin makes it clear that alumni working at Gateway are driven by love for what they do and commitment to those they serve. “It’s a passion, for them. As Gateway students, they were inspired by their professors. Now, they are stoking that passion in the next generation of healthcare professionals.”

Gateway offers seven Allied Health programs, the most of all CT State’s college campuses, according to Austin. Two of them – Diagnostic Medical Sonography and Dietetics and Nutrition – are unique within the CT State system; and one, Nuclear Medicine Technology, is unique to the entire state.

Help Nursing and Allied Health students realize their educational dreams by donating to a Gateway Foundation scholarship.

If you graduated from or attended Gateway Community College, South Central Community College, or Greater New Haven State Technical College, you’re invited to join the Alumni Network! Click HERE for more information. Questions? Call Victoria Dancy, (203) 285-2558 or email her at vdancy@gwcc.commnet.edu.