Celebrating Walter Wheeler’s legacy of leadership

By Polly O’Brien Morrow

Forty-three years ago, the Business Council of Fairfield County sought to recognize volunteer leaders committed to strengthening businesses and communities. They asked Pitney Bowes for permission to name the annual honor after retired Pitney Bowes Chairman and CEO Walter Wheeler, Jr., in honor of his leadership commitment to innovation, respect for employees and community responsibility.

The Walter Wheeler award winners collectively are a “who’s who” of generations of business leaders in southwestern Connecticut. They are men and women with diverse careers that shared the common threads of extraordinary accomplishment built upon the commitment to their businesses and their communities. Past honorees included Pitney Bowes Chairmen and CEOs Michael Critelli (2007), George Harvey (1989) and Fred Allen (1978).

The 2018 dinner committee was chaired by Marc Lautenbach and comprised more than two dozen business leaders from the region, including representatives from PwC, KPMG, Frontier Communications, SL Green, The Ashforth Company, First County Bank and Stamford Health Systems.

Johnna Torsone, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, set the stage for the presentation of the 2018 award, describing Walter Wheeler’s enduring legacy at Pitney Bowes: “Walter Wheeler exemplified true corporate citizenship and instilled that outlook at Pitney Bowes long before the term was coined. He had an abiding faith in people and their potential and valued giving back and supporting those in need in our communities. And thanks to his extraordinary leadership, our mindset for community took hold and grew with each succeeding generation of Pitney Bowes leaders, and has remained central to who we are throughout our company… I am proud to be part of the leadership team of a company that strives to stay true to our values as we accelerate our pace of change.”

This year’s honoree, Rey Giallongo, is Chairman and CEO at First County Bank, a $1.6 billion independent mutual community bank headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut. The award was presented by the 2017 honoree, Dan McCarthy, President, and CEO of Frontier Communications. Rey was honored for his legacy of involvement in social issues including affordable housing, to regional economic competitiveness and the vitality of Stamford’s downtown. The Business Council thanked Pitney Bowes for our sustained support and leadership of this important event, which was attended by more than 300 people, including representatives of 40 companies and 31 nonprofit organizations.

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