At times, he stays behind the scenes; at others, he takes center stage. He is ever cognizant of how Flexographic Technical Association works, lauds the volunteer spirit that drives the organization and, like all members of the FTA Flexo Hall of Fame, he encourages veteran, new, and prospective members to “get involved” and work to make flexography packaging’s print process of choice around the globe.
One moment he morphs into a leading advocate of print standards and skills certification; the next he steps up to become an MIS administrator, mentor, logistician, statistician, fundraiser, project manager, international flexo ambassador, lecturer, author, arbitrator, facilitator, conference coordinator, navigator, negotiator, forecaster, repairman—even a truck driver, his cargo no less than hundreds and hundreds of printed pieces of packaging. For every task, whether big or small, he possesses the wherewithal and tenacity to do it all.
Careful planning and astute attention to detail are in his blood. It’s been his trademark ever since first entering the world of flexography 32 years ago. In downtime, however, he enjoys living in the moment, blowing with the wind and appreciating what life has to offer, whether it be a nice glass of wine, pint of Guinness, fine cigar, great band, or intimate moments with family and friends.
It seems, at one time or another, he has leant his talent to every committee and working group associated with FTA, from Forum to its various awards; Supplier Leadership to Emerging Leadership; Hall of Fame to Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications & Tolerances (FIRST), the Flexo Quality Consortium (FQC) and Flexo in High School. His clear, “Here!” has been heard in roll call on committee conference calls, like Scholarship, Fall Conference, and Membership and Marketing, as well as the Consumer Products Company Leadership Council, Corrugated Leadership Council, Latin American Committee, Project Evaluation Committee, Scholarship Committee, Solicitations Committee, Sustainability Committee—and, of course, FTA’s Board of Directors and FFTA’s Board of Trustees, where he continues to hold seats.
He has made FTA’s interests his life’s work, and is committed and dedicated to the organization’s success. As a result, his and the association’s names will forever be linked.
The 2016 and 54th inductee into FTA’s Flexo Hall of Fame is Mark Cisternino, the organization’s long tenured president, its presiding Awards Banquet emcee, and one of the staunchest supporters of flexographic printing that can be found.
The story of Mark Cisternino’s career begins with a short, part-time stint in FTA’s mailroom, where, as a graduate student attending Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY working toward his MBA at age 24, he started looking at packaging very, very differently. The position was his second in the graphic arts, as he spent about one year selling Curtis 1000 envelopes and print products on the streets of New York City.
The second stop on his FTA career ladder: associate editor, FLEXO Magazine, a title he held from April through October of 1986. His byline appears occasionally to this day—including in this very issue. Next in progression, as he became FTA’s most familiar face:
- Marketing Manager, October 1986 to April 1988
- Director of Programs & Marketing, April 1988 to November 1994
- Vice President, November 1994 to May 2001
- President, since May 2001
To date, Mark stands as FTA’s second longest tenured chief staff officer, but he is quickly closing in on mentor George Parisi’s 26 years, after surpassing Julian Ross’ 10 years and Bill Dowdell’s seven. He does, however, hold the record for most years worked at FTA. By count, 2016 stands as his 31st Forum and with his formal welcome into FTA’s most prestigious society, it will no doubt prove memorable.
Suzy Cisternino, his wife of 28 years, confidently states, “Every year before Forum, I ask Mark about the Hall of Fame recipient. He invariably tells me about an exceptional person and of his or her amazing accomplishments, dedication and passion. He has spoken about each and every one with the utmost respect and genuine admiration. For him to be inducted into the Hall of Fame and stand with those he holds in such high regards, will be the greatest moment of his career. He will be incredibly honored and overjoyed and—I’m sure—overcome with emotion.”
She further remarked, “With each new position he held, Mark learned and he grew. What impresses him the most are the people he has met and had the opportunity to work with and learn from over the years. He loves visiting member sites, be they schools or companies, and meeting production staff and management. Mark has lived the ups and downs of the industry and has devoted himself to making it the best it can be. He is most proud of where FTA and the flexo industry are today.”