Developing Effective Community Leadership

Leadership Award

2003 Leadership Award

Robert Berke, MD, MPH, MBPP, MBA

Image: Robert Berke, MD, MPH, MBPP, MBA

Entrepreneur, philanthropist, networker, environmentalist, teacher, innovator, lifelong learner, visionary, participator, community leader - these are all words to describe Dr. Robert Berke, a true leader. As a modern day “renaissance man”, he should be recognized for contributing to all three nomination categories: Business and Economic Development, Government, and Quality of Life. His leadership skills have been applied to all three in the past and present, and will no doubt continue into the future. His leadership is a work in progress with the fruits of those efforts constantly producing results. The collective body of his work, both professionally and voluntarily, continues to expand with new people and projects taking hold and growing, making Chautauqua County a better place to live in numerous ways.

Dr. Berke worked with Stan Lundine to create a dialogue about issues and possible solutions to pursue locally and are actively putting plans into motion. As Chautauqua County’s Health Commissioner for over 20 years, he has been proactive in problem solving by anticipating future trends and needs. The innovations he and his staff have implemented have saved taxpayers a lot of money in efforts such as the Early Intervention Program and Teen Pregnancy Prevention. Health promotion – disease prevention efforts have consistently won awards at the state and national level for their results in exercise and nutrition, environmental issues, and controlling the spread of HIV. Over the years, he has led the Chautauqua County Health Department to become a first class public health organization, and is recognized by his peers as one of the most outstanding commissioners in the state. He also involved in rebuilding and supporting the Love Fund an effort to create an endowment to sustain this fund which offers small grants to families of children with a long term illness to cover expenses not met by insurance.

For community involvement two specific examples include Chautauqua County Rails to Trails, Inc. of which he is a founder and current President. In about ten years time, approximately 25 miles of abandoned railroad bed between Brocton and Sherman have been converted into a linear, recreational park for snow mobiling, horseback riding, hiking, and skiing, serving residents as well as attracting tourists. The park continues to grow each year.

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