Submitted photo and press release:
Leadership Genesee will present awards honoring the 29 members of the Class of 2019 along with the 2019 Outstanding Alumnus Award at the annual Graduation Celebration on Dec. 5th at Terry Hills
Eric Wies, a graduate of the Class of 2006, has been named the Leadership Genesee Alumnus of the Year. The award is presented annually to an alumnus who works to fulfill the program’s mission displaying exceptional achievements and contributions to the community and Leadership Genesee.
Wies is the immediate past chair of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and the current president of the Bergen Fire Department.
“My primary volunteer effort is tied to helping people in times of emergency," Wies said. "I joined the Bergen Fire Department in 1992, where I have served as lieutenant, captain, assistant chief, and deputy chief. In 2015, I decided to focus my efforts on a business role with the Fire Department and was elected president, a role I continue today. While I have debated about scaling back my efforts so that I could focus on my career and other potential volunteer efforts, I have come to realize that I will always be a volunteer fireman.”
As a member of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Wies found his involvement to be very rewarding. The Chamber plays an important role in business and tourism throughout Genesee County and he is happy to be part of their community presence.
“Eric has been an active participant in Leadership Genesee since he graduated in 2006 because he feels that Leadership Genesee has given so much to him that he wanted to give back to the program," said Leadership Genesee Director Peggy Marone. "He served on the LG Steering Committee from 2009 to 2014 and was chair of the Recruiting Committee for five years.
"He obtained sponsorships for our bowling and golf tournaments ensuring his team was ‘dressed’ for the event. Eric’s support and involvement in Leadership Genesee’s curriculum has helped the program grow and become a shining example of servant leadership.”
Wies said he feels that LG he has been a primary building block in his growth professionally and personally. His philosophy is there should always be time to participate in a program that helps you grow, introduces you to other leaders in the County, and gives you a sense of satisfaction in belonging to a group of people that consider themselves servant leaders.
“An employer that does not support your efforts to better yourself, does not truly understand that the time and money for the program will also result in a better person and employee," Wies said. "I grew up in Bergen, New York and thought I knew everything about the County but, boy, was I wrong.
"The program opened my eyes to agribusiness, gave me a better understanding of the health care issues in the County, and the challenges that local government must face every day."
When asked about previous awards and achievements, Wies said, “For me, the most important awards don’t come with a plaque or trophy, but they do come with a sense of accomplishment or being part of something bigger than you are.
"Helping a friend when his business burned down, helping a single mom at Christmas with presents for her kids, saving a young lady from her burning car, hearing my daughter tell me she loves me, and being part of a group of individuals that make up a team that puts community first.”
Marone said “This is exactly why Eric is an outstanding selection for this year’s Alumnus Award.”
“He is a true leader," said his nominator Michele Smith, LG Class of 2016 and Bergen Town Clerk. "I witnessed his cool and calm demeanor with the passing of Barry Miller LG ’08 in 2015. Eric was the president of the Bergen Fire Department, I observed several incidences that I don’t know how Eric made it through. I know inside he was a wreck, but as a leader for everyone else who was hurting, he was unwavering.”
Wies is a principal for Clark Patterson Lee, a multidiscipline architecture, engineering and planning firm. He lives in Bergen with his wife, Carrie, daughter, Hannah, and dog, Casper.
Although he hopes to retire one day, he and his family enjoy getting away for a cruise and more recently trips to remote locations in Vermont to fish and have high stakes games of family Monopoly. Wies is an avid golfer and enjoys spending weekends working on their house.
The Outstanding Alumnus Award is sponsored by Skip Helfrich of Human Energies.
Leadership Genesee is a program of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County. For more information about Leadership Genesee, please visit their website.