Onondaga Community College annually recognizes distinguished graduates by naming them ”Alumni Faces” for their accomplishments and contributions to the community. The 2016 class will be honored during a ceremony October 26 at 5:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall which is located in the Academic II building. One of the graduates we will honor that night is Michael Meath.
Communication is key for Michael Meath ’87. It’s been a constant throughout his professional life as he’s experienced a high level of success. “You can have all the skills and knowledge in the world but if you cannot effectively communicate with others, than you will never be able to get your ideas heard or supported.” He’s turned his outstanding communication skills into a nearly 40 year career that has spanned health care, energy, and education; and as a consultant sought by hundreds of organizations around the country dealing with sensitive or crisis situations.
Meath is a Central New York native who graduated from Bishop Grimes High School in 1975. After two years at Le Moyne College and some volunteer work in the Gulf Coast, he took a job as a building manager for the Syracuse Diocese and then Loretto. While working at Loretto, he decided he should learn more about fire and life safety, especially with at-risk populations. That’s when he enrolled in OCC’s Fire Protection Technology program. After earning his degree he spent two years working as a loss control consultant for The Hartford insurance company, then director of health and safety for Agway, Inc. Each step up the career ladder came with more responsibilities. During the next few years, he began working with legislators and regulators on behalf of Agway, handling public relations as a spokesperson for the company, and responding to crisis situations. Along the way, he continued his education and picked up a SUNY bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Economics, and a master’s degree in Communications Management from Syracuse University.
Meath rose to the level of vice president at Agway Energy Products and led the development of a new company, which was ultimately sold along with other Agway businesses in 2003. It was the perfect time for him to strike out on his own. “My work in corporate communications, government relations, and new business development turned me on to a new business model that focused on crisis management and communications.” He started his own business, Strategic Communications, LLC, which he would quietly build into a highly sought after consulting firm for organizations trying to navigate sensitive and confidential situations. Meath would own and operate Strategic Communications for eleven years. In 2014 he sold the company as two separate businesses to two trusted employees in Syracuse and Washington, DC. Meath works as a senior adviser to both, and has a small handful of his own clients around the United States. For the past ten years, he’s been an active adjunct professor in ethics, strategic management and crisis communications at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications, and an affiliated program at McMaster University in Hamilton, ON.
Meath says time spent on Onondaga’s campus in the 1980s built the foundation for his successful career. “Without a doubt, OCC helped me focus my career and further education – and helped shape my interest in dealing with crisis situation decision making. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t utilize these teachings in what I am doing. To receive an Alumni Faces award is a tremendous honor. In addition, I feel a special connection with Onondaga each time I walk the bridge that stretches over the gorge. My father, who passed away more than 25 years ago, was president of the company that built that bridge, so I feel a closeness to him each time I am on campus.”