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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Albany Med CEO to Address Roundtable on 11/12

James J. Barba, President and CEO of Albany Medical Center, will address the Albany Roundtable at a luncheon on Wednesday, November 12.

Mr. Barba oversees the medical education, biomedical research and patient care activities of northeastern New York 's only academic health sciences center. The Albany Medical Center, which has approximately 7,000 employees, consists of the Albany Medical Center Hospital ; the Albany Medical College; the Albany Medical Center Faculty Group Practice; and the Albany Medical Center Foundation, Inc. It also owns the former Child's Hospital, now the Albany Medical Center South Clinical Campus.

In July 1994, Mr. Barba was named chairman of the Medical Center 's Board of Directors, and in March of 1995 was named president and chief executive officer. Mr. Barba served as the Medical Center's board chair for twelve years, stepping down in June 2006. He was formerly senior counsel to the Albany law firm of Hiscock & Barclay. He is an expert on banking law, corporate law, trust and estate law and employee benefits law.

Hiscock & Barclay is sponsoring the November 12 luncheon. "Jim Barba will undoubtedly highlight the strategic relationships between the Albany Medical Center and the neighborhood, city and region," said Thomas J. O'Connor, Managing Director of the firm's Albany office. "Our support of the Albany Roundtable serves to underscore Hiscock & Barclay's local insight and perspectives, as well as our regional capabilities."

Mr. Barba, who graduated summa cum laude in 1966 from Siena College , received his law degree from the University of Notre Dame Law School, graduating cum laude in 1969. He is a member of the New York State Bar Association and holds a number of other civic and private appointments.

Reservations for the November 12 Luncheon are required by Monday, November 10 and can be made by calling 518-431-1440 (the reservations hotline of the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce) or by e-mail .

The luncheon is open to the public. The cost is $12 for those who register on or before November 10, and $15 at the door. The buffet lunch begins at 12:00 noon and concludes at 1:00 p.m. It is held in the third floor former court room of the Old Federal Building, now part of SUNY Plaza at the foot of State Street.For additional information call Colleen Ryan at 518-462-1900 or visit


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Breaking bread helps the Capital Region

Paul Bray's monthly column in the Times Union provides a history of the Albany Roundtable

First published: Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Albany Roundtable lunch forum is a civic ideal I guided as president for three decades. With Colleen Ryan, an outstanding Albany civic leader, as the new Roundtable president, I can think back about how it got started and about the couple of hundred luncheons and programs it has sponsored.

I vividly recall how the lunch forum idea developed. In the 1970s, a good time for Albany, I was on the board of the now-defunct Albany League of Arts, a civic organization supporting local arts. At one meeting, the wife of a banker said in a huffy way that her husband's work was too important for him to offer any of his time to a community activity the League was planning. What a shame someone, no matter how important he or she is, could not give a little time to support the community.

These days, I hear it called being in silos when units of business, government or community are isolated or not functioning well with each other. I saw the arts and business communities in Albany in their own separate silos. I didn't see the town square in Albany where community members could meet and exchange ideas.

These thoughts led to the notion of organizing a civic lunch forum where a cross-section of people from business, media, education, arts and neighborhoods, among other interested citizens in Albany, could have lunch together and listen to a community leader speak. The seed may have been planted in the 1950s, when I was president of the Key Club at Albany High School and was invited to attend Kiwanis Club luncheons.

Organizations like the Rotary Club and the various chambers of commerce offer a fair share of breakfast and luncheon programs. The Roundtable was intended to be different in the sense that it was public with a simple agenda of fostering an informed sense of community.

Enough local residents shared my enthusiasm to organize the nonprofit Albany Roundtable. Some stalwarts, like Realtor Mary Alice Leary and banker Mark Patten, have served from the beginning. The state Education Department offered use of the members room at the State Museum. We were ready to go.

Albany continues to be above all else a political city; City Hall casts a large shadow. Even though the emphasis was on the civic realm, I bowed to reality by inviting then-Mayor Erastus Corning 2nd to be the speaker at the first Albany Roundtable Luncheon in 1979. Corning enthusiastically accepted the civic lunch forum and he agreed to speak.

With Corning's appearance we started the practice of having the city's mayor give a state of the city talk each year, a practice that ended last year. During the few years before his death, Corning spoke each January and brought news of some new project that was going to happen. He also attended luncheons when he wasn't the speaker.

Initially about 35 people, who usually knew the speaker or came from the same sector as the speaker, attended. When the mayor spoke, attendance spiked to 50, representing a wide cross-section of interests. Here was another example of how Albany's mayor was involved in every aspect of city life.

The pattern changed when we moved to larger quarters at State University Plaza that could accommodate a hundred people. Today's audiences, ranging from 60 to a 100, are a mix coming from business, professional, government and nonprofit sectors. We also have a small, loyal contingent of retirees who want to stay in touch with what is happening in the city.

The Roundtable succeeded by keeping to the basics of its original purpose of offering a luncheon opportunity for community networking and to see, meet and hear leaders talk about their work.

Paul M. Bray is Founding President of the Albany Roundtable civic lunch forum. His e-mail is

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Agenda: October 8 Luncheon

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Chris Miles to receive Good Patroon Award on 10/8

ALBANY, NY – September 30, 2008 – The Albany Roundtable has selected Christine M. Miles, Director of the Albany Institute of History and Art, to receive its prestigious Good Patroon Award for her commitment to making the museum a broadly accessible cultural and educational resource. This annual award was established in 1988 to recognize outstanding contributions to the community by institutions and individuals.

“Chris has done so much to solidify the important connection between the arts and business,” said Colleen M. Ryan, President of the Albany Roundtable. “When a delegation from Albany traveled to Austin, Texas in 2003 to determine how the predicted growth in high technology might affect our community well-being, Chris was there. And when the Upstate Artists Guild launched ‘First Friday’ in Albany, Chris advocated for the Institute’s participation in this cutting-edge approach to arts and culture. The continued success of the Albany Institute over two decades of momentous change is a testament to her visionary leadership, and we are delighted to honor her with the Good Patroon Award.”

Wally Altes, host of The Bottom Line with Wally Altes on WMHT – Channel 17 and former President of the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce, will present the Award at the first meeting of the Albany Roundtable’s 30th Anniversary Season on Wednesday, October 8th. The luncheon’s featured speaker is Robert Altman, President and CEO of WMHT Educational Telecommunications.

“Over the years, the Albany Institute has worked with the corporate and business sector to garner support for many high impact projects, the most successful to date being the GE-funded Excavating Egypt which drew record crowds from all over,” said Miles. “Visitors to Albany and our area ate in our restaurants, stayed in our hotels and shopped in our stores. Our current exhibition, Impressionist Giverny: American Painters in France is built on a similar model. As Jan Smith of GE Power Systems said while speaking at an Albany Institute Corporate Breakfast, ‘... projects like Excavating Egypt are a win-win situation for the public, our businesses and the arts -- our whole community.’ ”

The Albany Institute of History and Art is a cultural and educational institution dedicated to public service. As a museum, it mission is to collect, preserve, and interpret the art, cultural and history of Albany and the Upper Hudson Valley Region in a global context from the 17th century to the present. In 2009, the Institute will feature “HUDSON RIVER PANORAMA: 400 Years of Art, History and Culture,” based on new research and largely drawn from the Institute’s vast holdings, documenting life in the Hudson Valley.

Prior to coming to the Capital District, Christine Miles worked in New York City and Washington, DC at a number of museums. She has a BA in Art History from Boston University and an MA in American Culture and Museum Studies from George Washington University. Miles has been active in the museum and arts community state-wide and served as President of two boards: Museum Association of New York State and Gallery Association of New York State. Miles is active in the community, and currently sits on the board of the Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau. She was born in Madison, Indiana and grew up living in the mid-west, the east coast, and England. Christine and her husband, Jake Kelliher, live in downtown Albany.

The October 8 Roundtable Luncheon begins at 12:00 noon and is held in the third floor former courtroom of the old Federal Building, now part of SUNY Plaza at the foot of State Street. The cost of the Luncheon is $12 for those who register on or before October 6, and $15 at the door. Reservations are required by Monday, October 6 and can be made by calling 518-431-1440 (the reservations hotline of the Albany Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce) or by e-mail For additional information call Colleen Ryan at 518-462-1900 or visit

The most recent Good Patroon Award winners include Parsons Child and Family Center and its Executive Director Raymond Schimmer; Capital Repertory Theater and its Producing Artistic Director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill; and the Albany Housing Authority and its Executive Director Stephen Longo.

“When he died in 1839, Stephen Van Rensselaer III was remembered as ‘The Good Patroon’ for his benevolent attitude toward the residents of Rensselaerswyck,” said Ryan. “The Good Patroon Award is the Albany Roundtable’s primary means of honoring those leaders who make our community a better place to live. We are so pleased to be able to present Chris with this award.”