WOMEN SHAPING HISTORY 2011
Rita Dimartino, CUNY Trustee
What inspired you to pursue your current career?
From a very young age I was interested in national and international affairs and working with and helping people attain a good life through education. Although I am retired, I remain very active with many organizations and boards because I deeply believe in public service.
Challenges & Resolutions
I was a single mother with three children and a full time job. I knew the importance of education and strived to earn an associate Degree, a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in public administration. I also obtained an honorary doctorate in civil law. I resolved my challenges by working hard and just being tenacious in my quest for the improvement of my life and other people’s lives. I was dedicated to the attainment of success.
Accomplishments You’re Proudest Of:
My proudest accomplishment, of course, is my three children and three grandchildren. This is followed by the accomplishment of obtaining my educational degrees, and getting involved in politics at the local, state, national and international levels. I served for 18 years as the executive vice chair of the New York Republican State Committee, receiving several presidential appointments as U.S. Ambassador to the UNICEF Executive Board where I traveled worldwide visiting UNICEF projects and helped to increase UNICEF’s financial support and accelerate the program’s assistance in the areas of child health, nutrition, water supply, sanitation, and education, and many other boards and commissions where I assisted in enhancing the lives of people I am also proud of having had the opportunity to participate in 12 International Electoral Missions to places like Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas, and serving as an ambassador for peace in South Korea and Israel.
Most Influential Mentors:
There have been too many to mention, but one example of an influential mentor in my life was Daniel Scavone, a retired police officer who strongly insisted that I continue with my graduate studies at a time when I was too tired and dispirited to continue my studies as a single mother with three children and a full-time job.
My mother was a religious person and a mentor, also. She instilled in me at a very young age a strong sense of values, and the importance of attaining a good education. She was a great inspiration.
A most important turning point in my life was President Ronald Reagan’s appointment of me as the U.S. Ambassador to UNICEF. It opened up a whole new world that I knew nothing about until then.
My future goals are to continue serving on boards and commissions where I can continue to learn, and where I derive a tremendous amount of pleasure in helping others. It is important that we women understand and know the tools available to effectively influence decisions from the top down in the areas of social, economic needs.
I believe in, and I am always dedicated to the importance of public higher education as well as health services for the improvement of people’s lives.
Right now, I am serving on the CUNY Board of Trustees, the New York State Commission on Community and national Service, the National Endowment for Democracy, the Inter-American Foundation, the Cuban-American national Council, the Committee for Hispanic Children and Family, and of course, the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Board of trustees where I have served for more than 20 years. I also enjoy serving as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. #