Youth development programs at the IYB would look very different if it weren’t for Alumni Bill Shaw. Starting in the early 60s, Bill began working to enhance youth involvement in civic affairs and nurture future community leaders in Ithaca and Tompkins County. His journey with the Ithaca Youth Bureau began when he joined others to establish the Tompkins County Youth Court, a unique program of peer justice for young defendants and a novel opportunity for youth leaders to engage constructively with the criminal justice system.
Bill rose through the ranks and became the Chief Judge in 1964. That experience let him to join and become Vice President, then President of the National Youth Councils on Civic Affairs in 1966. He persuaded other local youth and the Youth Bureau Director, Bob Cutia, to establish the Ithaca Youth Council on Civic Affairs (IYCCA). This initiative provided leadership opportunities, involvement in local government, and trend-setting services by its members (e.g. Fall Creek Youth Park, the first performing arts event at the Hangar). Now known as Youth Council Ambassadors (YCA), the goals and mission are similar; nearly sixty years later.
While studying at Cornell, Bill worked weekends overseeing the Youth Center, which was housed in the “Eagles Building,” 130 E. State, at the time. While working at the Youth Center, he developed a lifelong friendship with Bob Cutia. They shared the same passion for involving local teens in civic affairs and training them to be future community leaders.
One of Bill’s novel programs within the IYCCA was the Youth Employment Service (YES) in 1966. This program provided employment opportunities to youth; and services to homeowners in the City. The Youth Employment Service is still active in the Ithaca Youth Bureau.
Besides helping to create programs during those early years, Bill's commitment to youth and civic engagement led him to serve the community in many different ways. He was a collegiate and law student advisor for both the Youth Court and the IYCCA, offering guidance in the realm of civic affairs.
Bill returned to Ithaca after working with several agencies in Washington, D.C.. He chaired the Tompkins County Youth Board in the late Seventies, as well as the County Environmental Management Council, while working at TC3 as Assistant to the President.
His commitment and interest in civic affairs led Bill to seek election as Mayor of Ithaca in 1979, at the time the youngest candidate ever. He ran again in 1981 and served as our Mayor from 1982-83. In that capacity, he was able to strongly support the IYB and work closely, again, with Bob Cutia.
Bill opened his own law office, now Shaw & Murphy, and chaired and served on many other NFP boards. He was elected to serve as Covert Town Judge after moving to his home near Trumansburg, where he and his wife now live.
Because of Bill, his collaborations with Bob Cutia, and the motivated teens they worked with along the way, a strong foundation was laid to support local leaders of tomorrow. As we reflect on Bill Shaw's decades-long journey, we are reminded of the power of mentorship, dedication, and youthful spirit in shaping a better future for our community.