Banacos Center Celebrates 40th Anniversary

In September 2019 Westfield State University and the Banacos Center celebrated a remarkable milestone, the 40th anniversary of The Learning Disabilities Program.  A celebration that honored the tireless work and support of the many staff, donors, and students who made the 40 years of creating and supporting student access and opportunity possible and the lasting impacts made on alumni, current students, and future Owls.  

The Learning Disabilities Program was also awarded two citations by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts State Senate at the event.  The program and successes were recognized by Senator Humason and State Representative John Velis, a longtime supporter of the program and now state senator representing the 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District. 

40th Anniversary Photo Gallery

About the Banacos Center

The Sue Krieg Scholarship Award

A spotlight of the 40th Anniversary celebration was the recognition of Sue Krieg and the introduction of the Sue Krieg Scholarship Award.  Sue, now retired, was the Associate Director and a Program Advisor at the Banacos Academic Center for over thirty years.  "Her voice, leadership and ideas have been instrumental in shaping the Learning Disabilities Program that is now seen as a model for students with disabilities across the region, " said Michelle Rizk-Jarvis, program advisor with the Banacos Center and former student of Sue's in the Learning Disabilities Program.

Sue’s dedication to the program, that has given countless students the support needed to complete their undergraduate degrees, continues with the Sue Krieg Scholarship Award. "This scholarship recognizes the longstanding work, commitment and career of Sue Krieg," added Rizk-Jarvis.

About the Sue Krieg Scholarship Award

  • The Sue Krieg Award is available to students, in the Learning Disabilities Program, of any class year who are in good standing and have shown significant academic growth. This includes, planning and organization of their studies, taking responsibility for their own learning, becoming an independent learner and using the services of the Banacos Center or other academic support.
  • This award is given annually and honors Sue for her loyalty, kindness and unconditional support that has allowed so many students to excel.

Learn more about scholarships and donation opportunities

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Banacos Center 40th Anniversary including introduction of the Sue Krieg Scholarship Award.


Banacos Center 40th Anniversary including introduction of the Sue Krieg Scholarship Award.


About the Learning Disabilities Program (program reflection by Sarah E. Lazare, M.Ed., J.D.)

Our program started as the brainchild of Joe Shinn. 40 years ago, he was teaching English comp.  He noticed students struggling and set out to do something about it. He grabbed his good friend, Kamal Ali and together, they wrote a grant that served as the foundation to the Learning Disabilities Program.

Joe recognized the potential of students with learning disabilities and ADHD. If only they were given more attention, more guidance, the chance to learn how to organize themselves, to prove to themselves, and to realize, their capability, to speak up and advocate for what they needed to be successful. Many of our students were told they would never graduate high school or never go to college. Look where they are now.

I want to thank some of the pioneers who were instrumental in making the learning disabilities program the success it is today. Kamal Ali, who co-wrote the grant which started the program, Ken Magarian who worked so closely with the Banacos family to create this great space for the program, and the Banacos family, (Nicky, Christina and Bob, Paul), the relatives of Jimmy Banacos, the namesake of the Banacos Academic Center.

Sue Krieg for over 30 years, has been the backbone of the program, guiding students, leading the program advisors throughout the years.

Speaking of the heart of our work, people are the power behind the program:

Our administrative support: Nancy Goodniss, Lindsay Towle

Our program advisors over the years: Linda Levister, Beverly Dupuis, Sue Krieg, Ellie Nuemuth, Kristie Knotts, Jen Macarini, Chris Hurley, Rosann Ryczek, Sigrid Stevens, Jessica Ekness, and Michelle Rizk-Jarvis