Peterson honored on RHJ Center Founders’ Day | News, Sports, Jobs

Kristan McMahon is pictured Tuesday night addressing the crowd and Robert H. Jackson Center co-founder Greg Peterson on Founders Day. Peterson was recognized for his years of work at the Jackson Center. Photo of PJ by Katrina Fuller

The Robert H. Jackson Center celebrated Founders Day by honoring one of its founders, Greg Peterson.

The halls and halls of the center were adorned with shiny balls and ribbons, trees and greenery as guests gathered to celebrate the occasion. Jackson Center Director Kristan McMahon greeted the audience, both those attending in person and those assisting virtually via Zoom.

“As we conclude our 20th anniversary, we felt it was most appropriate to continue the celebration of our founders: Carl Cappa, Elizabeth Lenna and Greg Peterson” McMahon said. “We kicked off our 20th anniversary celebration on Founders Day last year with tributes to our three founders. We were delighted that so many of you were able to join us virtually. But tonight it’s especially fitting that we get to do at least some of this in person, we’ll mainly be focusing on one of our founders, the illustrious Gregory L. Peterson.

She said the occasion reminded her of a quote that is often attributed to Robert H. Jackson: “Your job today doesn’t tell me anything about your future. Your use of your free time today tells me what your future will be.

“We have no greater living embodiment of this principle than Greg Peterson and the Robert H. Jackson Center,” McMahon said. “It’s no exaggeration to say that without his brainpower, community ties, programming ideas, interview prowess and sweat – although hopefully no blood and tears – and on occasion, by sheer force of will, this organization would not be there today. You will hear some of these stories tonight.

McMahon then invited various community members and leaders to share their memories, some in person while others did so virtually or through a pre-recorded message. Speakers included Mayor Eddie Sundquist, Penn Yan’s Don Wertman, Peggy Morgan, Carol Drake and others.

Randy Sweeney, former director of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, took to the podium to share a few words about Peterson and the Robert H. Jackson Center.

“Think of all the people who have walked through the door of the Jackson Center in those 20+ years.” Sweeney said. “And again, I had the benefit of being a lot of Greg’s ear at the start. He would mention someone’s name and realize… what a wonderful thing it would be to have this person here to introduce the Jackson Center to the community through these very special people. He would have no idea how to find or contact that person. I’m telling you, it didn’t take him 24 hours before I got a call and he had established that first connection.

Sweeney said the center wouldn’t exist without Peterson’s efforts and dedication.

“There was never a challenge … that was too big or a mountain too high” he said. “I wouldn’t know what to define dedication if it wasn’t to put Greg Peterson’s name on the side. Greg, thanks for letting me drive. It was a great experience, a learning experience and we had a lot of fun.

Roland Kidder also addressed Peterson and the crowd, saying he was only there for “Support Randy Sweeney. “

“You all know this guy”, Kidder said. “You know how he operates. I know how the Jackson Center got there. He’ll see you in town on Third and Main, he’ll see me in a store in Lakewood at noon, he’ll see someone in Chautauqua that afternoon, and the next day at four, they’re in his office going. to sign an agreement.”

He added that the region owes Peterson a debt of gratitude for his efforts and that he greatly admires the “Follow through to the end”.

“There are a lot of people talking but they don’t walk. “ Kidder said. “Greg Peterson is a follow-up person – think of the dog with his teeth in your pant leg. He’s got his teeth in the pant leg of that place. He’s not going anywhere.

Michael Hill, president of the Chautauqua facility and board member of the Robert H. Jackson Center, also addressed the crowd, explaining that when he first came to the area, he was invited to have an interview with Peterson.

“I was told that it was an interview that I had to take and that I had to be careful”, Hill said laughing. “It was one of two interviews that Greg Peterson made me cry in this room. He is a past master in unpacking the human condition. I’m a little offended that I didn’t think about digging deeper to ask yourself that uncomfortable question you’ve asked countless people in this room. Where you think it’s going to be just a straightforward interview, then Greg asks you, and at that point you remember that you are a human being and that you had something to contribute that you forgot.

Hill said it was entirely appropriate that evening for Peterson to be honored for “to dream and insist that this son of Jamestown not be forgotten in his hometown.” He joked that he and McMahon were continuing their research on Peterson.

“Your turn is coming, my friend” he said. “Tonight I’ll just say… thank you for reminding us to be human.” Thank you for reminding us that to be human is to dream. Thank you for looking around and realizing that to dream is to achieve something like this. Health my friends. “

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