Bernard H. “Bernie” Brown Jr., CEO of Bernier, Carr & Associates, was announced Wednesday as the recipient of the 61st annual Israel A. Shapiro Citizenship Award during a news conference at Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library’s rotunda.
Mr. Brown is chief executive officer of the engineering, architecture, land surveying and construction management firm in Watertown, where he’s been employed since 1984. He was nominated by Daniel J. Villa, who won the 2008 Shapiro Award.
Mr. Brown spoke at the news conference after his name was announced by Lynn M. Pietroski, CEO and president of the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce. He said he was shocked when he heard the news Tuesday from Mr. Villa, who called him before he boarded an afternoon plane for Albany at Watertown International Airport.
“I saw the number from Dan, and he started by saying, ‘Don’t be upset with me, but you’ve been nominated to receive the Shapiro Award.’ I’ve always had difficulty with receiving awards because I’ve found them humbling. I was having a hard time with this, but my son, Jacob, told me the award is more about the quality of service than quantity. He said whatever you do, you always give 100 percent.”
Mr. Villa was serving as a Watertown City School District board member in 1990 when he met Mr. Brown, who made a presentation about a school project at a meeting. The men soon established a friendship and went on to serve as Boy Scout troop leaders in Watertown for years while their kids grew up. Mr. Brown’s expertise in his profession of architecture, combined with his service to the community, have continued to impress Mr. Villa ever since.
“Any time someone had a project that needed to be done in Watertown I would always tell them to call him because I know how much of his free time he gives to the community,” he said of Mr. Brown, who is credited with leading the expansion of Bernier, Carr & Associates to the large firm it is today.
Mr. Brown has ceaselessly searched for ways to make the Watertown community better, Mr. Villa said. He’s supported an array of youth programs, including the student intern program at BCA, along with career development programs at area high schools and colleges. He spearheaded the launch of a toy program and Bernier, Carr & Associates, and played a pivotal role launching the annual Community Gift and Fund Drive, which is now in its 17th year.
“One of the most important attributes of good citizenship that Bernie emulates is to lead by example; there are so many things he has done, anonymously and without fanfare, to make our community a better place. Good citizenship is a part of his character and who he is as a man; they are inextricable,” Mr. Villa said.
As a citizen, Mr. Brown has given back to both his community and country. He served in the Army and was awarded the Medal for Meritorious Service in September 1976. He’s a graduate of the Jefferson Leadership Institute and has served as a chairman of the American Heart Association Heart Walk, where he continues to serve as an executive leadership team member. Today, he continues to lead the BCA Relay for Life team, Adopt a Platoon, Hospice Angel Tree and the Jefferson Community College Alumni Scholarship Program.
He’s also served as the president of the Northern New York Community Foundation’s board of directors and a senior warden of the vestry at Trinity Episcopal Church in Watertown.
The Shapiro Award was established in 1952 by Arnold I. Shapiro to honor the memory of his father, a longtime business leader in the community. Nominees are selected annually based on outstanding citizenship or for outstanding contribution in civic or social welfare activity. A panel of past recipients judges the entries in five categories: outstanding citizenship, achievement, leadership, dedication and motivation.
The award will be presented to Mr. Brown during a dinner at 6 p.m. Feb. 7 at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1290 Arsenal St., hosted by the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce. Reservations can be made at the Chamber, 1241 Coffeen St., or online at www.watertownny.com.