Mark Cisternino’s Life Outside FTA
Mark was born March 11, 1960 in Peekskill, NY. In drupa years, his birthday—including his 40th—occurred right in the midst of Forum. He lived in Yorktown Heights with his parents Andrew and Julia (Judy), and four older siblings: Diane, Teri, Tom and Linda. They moved to Bethel Park, PA when he was 4 years old, then to Huntington, NY when he was 5. It was soon thereafter the Jets secured a lifelong fan.
“Mark was captain of his high school football team and is proud of sacking Boomer Esiason during the Huntington/East Islip game!” Suzy recalled. “Oh, those glory days!”
In college, Mark was treasurer of his fraternity, Sigma Tau Beta. He graduated in 1982 from the State University of New York at Albany. It was there he met Suzy, on her move-in day. “He was a sophomore and helped my dad bring a heavy trunk to my dorm room,” she said. “The rest is history.”
The couple was married April 11, 1987 and their only daughter, Emily, was born March 21, 1993. Speaking to personal interests, Suzy said, “Mark enjoys all kinds of music—from classical to rock; Sinatra to blues. He has an extensive music library and has enjoyed countless concerts. I’ve grown accustomed to him saying, ‘By the way, I was able to get tickets to go see (insert artist’s name here).’ Invariably, we have a wonderful time.
“He is a terrific football fan, following Syracuse University and the Jets. Over the years, we have enjoyed giant family tailgate parties for the Syracuse homecoming games.
“Mark coached Emily’s softball team for a few years. He was also on the league’s board and organized tournaments. We spent many summers traveling up and down the eastern seaboard watching and cheering her team.”
Leisurely drives are another pastime, Suzy says. “We often get in the car and take a drive out to the East End, stopping at wineries for a picnic. Some of Mark’s favorite vacations had that wanderlust quality to them. On our first trip to Ireland, we had no itinerary or reservations. We got in a car and drove until something piqued our interest; be it a small town or a pretty view. We stayed in bed and breakfasts, met lovely people, saw breathtaking sites—and the Guinness was pretty darn good, too.
“Another one of Mark’s favorite vacations was our trip to Italy for Emily’s sweet 16. We stayed in a villa in Tuscany and took day trips to all the wonderful places there: Pisa, Rome, Florence, Sienna. Every time we got into the car, we would get lost, without fail! Every day was an adventure filled with wonderful people, food and places. Most of all, we made wonderful family memories.”
Asked to reflect on favorite FTA memories, Forum, football and music once again came to mind. “It’s hard to say what were Mark’s favorite memories. Of course, all of the Forums over the years were very rewarding. The staff works hard all year for this annual event. The special events were always so much fun and gave everyone a chance to exhale. I know some of his favorites were the Forum in San Antonio, where Asleep at the Wheel—one of Mark’s all time favorites— performed. Mark will never forget when Terry Bradshaw was the keynote speaker. He was on cloud nine as he passed footballs to Terry to autograph and throw to lottery winners.”
Aptly summing his appreciation for and devotion to FTA, Mark wrote the following in the Golden Anniversary Commemorative Journal.
“There have been thousands of dedicated industry volunteer leaders committed to FTA’s principles over the years—far too numerous to mention… Volunteer organizations, like FTA, are only as good as the people that keep them chugging along, and this industry has certainly had some of the very best! The dedication, enthusiasm and passion that our membership has demonstrated in FTA’s 50 years of existence are the main reasons there’ll be a new generation of people honoring the organization on its 100 year anniversary in 2058. We’ve had, and continue to have, the very best industry volunteers lending their expertise for the common good of us all.”
True to character, he concluded with a nod of appreciation to past and present staff: “I am very proud to have been a part of FTA’s journey and to call myself your president.”