Although they couldn’t utter those phrases in English, Andrew Sabin’s grandparents – like millions of others arrived at last at the Goldine Medina, the Promised Land more than a century ago. Despite the language barrier, they understood and believed every word. And, their grandson Mr. Andrew Sabin, among the chosen to be honored as a 2015 Medalist of Ellis Island Medal of Honor, has lived the life they wished for him, and done so honorably, joyfully, courageously, compassionately, and usefully.
Andy Sabin, Chairman of Sabin Metal Corporation and founder of Sabin Commodities, oversees facilities in Rochester, New York, Williston, North Dakota, Ontario, Canada and many other overseas’ offices. But the sons are tasked with those enterprises while Andy sets the goals, approves the operations, commands the troops, and still finds time to pursue that goal of living honorably, joyfully, courageously, compassionately, usefully, and -in the end-making a difference that he’s lived among us.
Even before he graduated from the University of Denver, and served in the U. S. Army, Andy had established a ‘hands-on’ reputation, moved to action by his devotion to the environment, and his natural ability to organize and command major undertakings in his profession and his environmental expertise.
A man with a voracious appetite for action and learning, he seeks no personal rewards, striving always to master every activity that challenges him, every opportunity to explore new challenges. He’s traveled to 105 countries and has biked while exploring the culture of people and habitat throughout the world – whether in Bhutan or searching for snow leopards in Kashmir or tracking indigenous tribes in South America.
To strangers, he is Andrew Sabin, presiding over a corporate empire. To those who know him best, Andy is “Mr. Salamander,” the Salamander Commander. As one of America’s most ardent, dedicated, pro-active environmentalists — whose passion is to preserve our air, water, flora and fauna – Andy earned the title of Salamander Commander when he made the first documented find in recent history on eastern Long Island of the endangered Eastern Tiger salamander. He has had two frogs named after him, Centrolene sabini (aka Sabin Glass Frog) and Aphantophryne sabini, one pigmy chameleon Rhampholean sabinii and a dwarf lemur Cheirogaleus andysabini.
Andy is private about his philanthropy and his organizing efforts. However, his countless friends and environmental allies have spoken out about many other contributions he has made in leadership and advisory and financial contributions he has made to environmental, educational and governmental institutions. Just to name a few:
- Sterling Fellow, Yale University;
- Member, the Leadership Council of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies;
- Field Associate, the American Museum of Natural History;
- Environmental Law Advisory Committee, Columbia Law School;
- Board Member, New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund;
- Advisory Council, Amphibian Conservation of Conservation International;
- Board of Overseers, East Hampton Youth Alliance;
- Dean’s Council, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, SUNY Stony Brook;
- Board of Directors, Turtle Conservancy;
- Board of Visitors, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
- Board member, The National Road Safety Foundation
In 2008, seeking to make his philanthropy more impactful, Andy established the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation (ASFF) and is now mentoring and inspiring his family to carry on with important philanthropic work. This foundation makes about 200 grants each year focusing on the environment, preservation of amphibian and reptile species and their habitat as well as making a major effort in funding cancer research at MD Anderson and genetic research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He is widely known as an avid environmentalist, conservationist and wildlife enthusiast.
All the above is indicative of the central passion in his life: to enhance and preserve the environment: air, water, flora and fauna, and help to improve cancer victims’ lives and eventually find a cure for their diseases.