The annual Dr. Richard M. Silberstein Memorial Lecture and Award was established in 1988 as a tribute to the Staten Island Mental Health Society (SIMHS) founding director, who served in that capacity for 21 years. During Dr. Silberstein’s more than two decades of leadership, he dedicated himself to building a network of diverse mental health services for children in our borough, building bridges of help and hope to this vulnerable population.
The Silberstein Award is presented to a person or group to acknowledge their extraordinary service to Staten Island children, especially children with special needs. This year’s award was presented to Staten Island PPS Executive Director, Dr. Joseph Conte.
“Joe’s vision is to transform the delivery of health care on Staten Island, to make it more accessible, more affordable and more dependable,” noted SIMHS President and Chief Executive Officer Fern A. Zagor. “His vision and his achievements touch every child and family in a positive way, helping them to envision a healthier future that raises the quality of their lives. He is a man of creative innovation and he encourages creativity in everyone he works with.”
At the ceremony, a lecture dealing with issues of concern to children, delivered by a distinguished individual in the health or mental health field, preceded the presentation of the award. The keynote speaker this year was Dr. Peter D’Amico, Director of Child and Adolescent Psychology at Northwell Health, LIJ Medical Center. The focus of his presentation was on trauma informed treatment for children and their families.
In previous years, City Council Member Steve Matteo received the award. Other recipients of the Richard M. Silberstein Award include: Borough President Jimmy Oddo, Betsy Dubovsky (2013), Councilwoman Debi Rose (2010), Senator John J. Marchi (2002), City Councilman Jerome X. O’Donovan (2000), Rev. William E. Merryman (1999), the Honorable Judge Holt Meyer (1996), the Reverend Monsignor John T. Servodidio (1995), and Assemblywoman Elizabeth A. Connelly (1989).
The Staten Island Mental Health Society has only one mission: to improve the quality of life for Staten Island children. Their 300 professional and support staff bring the latest evidence-based diagnostic and therapeutic services to Staten Island. SIMHS is a private, not-for-profit agency that has been serving Staten Island children and their families since 1895. They provide assistance to more than 5,000 individuals each year (over one-in-ten Staten Island families) in 20 programs at 21 locations throughout the borough. In addition, they have more than 500 volunteers who contribute 50,000 hours of service.