NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. - Laurence M. Downes '79, '81MBA, an Iona College alumnus and business executive, will be the keynote speaker for the College's graduate commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 20, in the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
An accomplished businessman, Downes has spent the majority of his career working in the energy and utility industry. As chairman of the board and chief executive officer, he leads New Jersey Resources (NJR), a Fortune 1000 company that provides energy and natural gas services, including transportation, distribution, and asset management. NJR's principal subsidiary is New Jersey Natural Gas. Downes began his career with NJR more than two decades ago in 1985 and has served as CEO since 1995. Prior to NJR, Downes worked for Midlantic National Bank as assistant vice president.
"As an alumnus who has not only excelled in his career but has given back to the community and the College, Mr. Downes is a prime example of the successful lives for which Iona College prepares its students," said Iona College President Joseph E. Nyre, Ph.D. "The College is honored to recognize Mr. Downes and to have him share his knowledge and experiences with our young scholars as they take the next step in their professional lives."
In addition to his work at NJR, Downes holds leadership positions at several associations and foundations. He is a director and past chairman of the American Gas Association and the Natural Gas Council, trustee of the American Gas Foundation, member of the National Petroleum Council, chair of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development's National Advisory Board at Rutgers University, and board member for the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the Drumthwacket Foundation.
Since his graduation, Downes has remained active in the Iona College community, having served on the College's Board of Trustees as well as the Alumni Association Board of Directors. In 2009, he was the recipient of the Brother Arthur A. Loftus Award for Outstanding Achievement from Iona's Alumni Association. He is also a past recipient of the Sullivan Award presented by Iona to a scholar who demonstrates the concerns of loyalty and scholarship characteristic of Iona graduates.
Downes, who holds a BA in finance and an MBA from Iona College, will receive an honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree at the commencement ceremonies.