Van Wagner will receive the 2022 Joseph Dalton Community Service Award – Saratogian

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – L. Clifford Van Wagner has been named the recipient of the 2022 Joseph Dalton Community Service Award and will be honored at the upcoming 103rd Annual Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce Dinner.

“It gives me great pleasure to congratulate and honor Cliff for his outstanding service and dedication to Saratoga County for more than 40 years,” said Todd Shimkus, President of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, in a press release. “Cliff’s leadership, extensive community involvement, and gracious support from many organizations throughout the county exemplify and reinforce his passion and commitment to making Saratoga County a great place to live, work, and visit.”

Van Wagner joins a distinguished set of past recipients, Steve Sullivan (2018); Tom Roohan (2019); John Munter, Sr. (2020); and Julie Stokes (2021), who demonstrated honorable, relevant, innovative and versatile ways of always doing what is good for the community.

Currently Director of Pharmacy at Wesley Health Care, Van Wagner joined Wesley in 1976 and became Director of Pharmacy in 1978. During his tenure, Van Wagner not only provided Wesley residents, patients and staff through leadership and service, but also served as the project coordinator for $28 million in expansions and renovations, including the addition of Woodlawn Commons.

In addition to his responsibilities as Pharmacy Manager and Project Coordinator, Van Wagner served as Wesley’s Corporate Compliance Manager from 2000 to 2006. Van Wanger was also instrumental in fundraising for Wesley. Currently, he is one of eight steering committee members who have helped raise nearly $5 million in funds for the construction and renovation of the Springs building, which is part of the Wesley Health Care Center.

Van Wagner has dedicated more than 40 years to improving the Saratoga County community as a whole for present and future generations. Among his extensive volunteer experience is his support for the Franklin Community Center. In 2015, he served as chair of the fundraising committee for the expansion of the Center’s pantry. And in 2018, he served as chair of the Franklin Community Center’s million-dollar capital fund campaign to support further expansion of the center. His dedication to the organization was recognized in 2016 when Van Wagner was named the recipient of the Outstanding Service Project Community Award.

“I can’t think of a more deserving person to receive this honor than Cliff,” Kari Cushing, executive director of the Franklin Community Center, said in the statement. “He is an ambassador for our agency and the people we serve. Recently, Cliff co-chaired our expansion committee and, in a short time and during a pandemic, was instrumental in raising the funds needed to acquire the former Masie Center to expand our programs and operations. He does so much for our community, and we are all so grateful to know him and have the opportunity to work alongside him.

Van Wagner has also been involved in local organizations including, but not limited to: the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, serving as Chairman of the Board in 1995; Saratoga County Chapter of the American Red Cross; chairman of the board of directors from September 1987 to September 1990; and Saratoga Springs Zoning Board, serving two terms as Vice Chairman. An alumnus of the Saratoga Leadership Class of 1988, Van Wagner received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1991 and was the one and only recipient of the Leadership Saratoga Alumni Exemplar Award in 2011.

“In the 50 years that I have known Cliff, his approach to community service has always been the same…he organizes, then leads, then works tirelessly for the community,” Matt Jones of Jones Steves LLP said in the statement. “He is undoubtedly the most deserving person for this prestigious award.”

Van Wagner will be honored at the chamber’s 103rd annual “Stronger Together” dinner on the evening of May 17. He will also be joined by Julie Stokes who received the award in 2021.

This will be the first time in two years that the chamber has hosted its annual dinner in person. Due to the pandemic, Stokes was unable to accept her award in person last year and will be duly recognized in person this year.

Stokes has spent more than four decades serving Saratoga County, advocating for communities

throughout the county through historic preservation, land conservation and trail planning. Among his many accomplishments, Stokes helped preserve Canfield Casino in the 1970s; served as the first executive director of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation; was founding director of Saratoga PLAN in 2003; has represented the cities of Saratoga and Northumberland on the Champlain Canal Trail Committee since 2005; and was instrumental in restoring the Schuylerville Canal towpath.

“Julie has been a vital advocate for our Saratoga County community,” Shimkus said in the statement. “From her efforts leading the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation to her involvement with the Champlain Canalway Trail Committee, Julie’s dedication to making this area as vibrant as possible benefits our residents today and tomorrow.”

More information about the 103rd Annual Chamber Dinner, including how to reserve a table or become a sponsor, is available online at https://bit.ly/3Omr4XO.

Julie Stokes was the 2021 recipient of the Joseph Dalton Community Service Award from the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. (Photo provided)
The annual Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce Dinner, held in downtown Saratoga Springs, is one of its biggest events of the year. (File Photo/Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce)

Jill E. Washington