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2015 Athena Young Professional Award finalists

Julie Bazan

Assistant vice president of operations and administration

Manning & Napier Advisors Inc.

Education: B.A., Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, N.Y., M.A.L.S., Nazareth College; M.S. Ed, St. John Fisher College

Family: Husband, Michael D’Angelo

Professional and community leadership: Chairperson, Western Region Easter Seals; member, regional board, co-chair, 2015 Casting for Caring Committee, American Red Cross; member, silent auction committee, 2015 Lollypop Farm Gala; co-chair, distinguished faculty award committee, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Staying motivated: I stay motivated by being challenged within my career and enhancing my personal knowledge base by continuing my education. I have continued to take on more responsibilities that are either new or outside of my comfort zone; allowing me to grow as both an individual and employee.

Changes in store for Rochester: Rochester will continue to make strides for women in the workplace, government and politics. With a history built on Susan B. Anthony and Clara Barton, and a present built on Slaughter, Brooks, Warren and Burns, the future holds unlimited potential for the growth and advancement of women.

Recent lessons learned: I lost my best friend to ALS a year ago. She was my age, with two young children. I found her death incredibly unfair. During this reflective time, I learned that life is fleeting. It is important to take advantage of every opportunity and to give back when I     can.

Claudia Burcke

Vice president, investor and business development

Greater Rochester Enterprise Inc.

Education: B.A., Western New England College, Springfield, Mass.

Family: Husband, Matthew

Professional and community leadership: President-elect, program director, Pen-Web Rotary Club; active docent, Seneca Park Zoo Society; board member, Monroe County Industrial Development Corp.; member, governance committee and grants committee member, the Women’s Foundation; member, NextGen Rochester

Staying motivated: I have my dream job! I wholeheartedly believe in the mission and vision of GRE and love what I do every day. It’s also the hardest work I’ve ever done, so many variables are out of our control, but actively participating in our community’s future is unbelievably rewarding.

Changes in store for Rochester: All I can say is that there are so many good things ahead for this entire region!

Surprising fact: I’ve been obsessed with South Africa since I was a kid. In March 2012, I spent my vacation time in Knysna, South Africa, working on environmental conservation projects: the best experience was at an elephant sanctuary when an elephant named Jabu picked me to be “her person.” It was pretty awesome.

Andrea Cain

Vice president of programs

The Community Place of Greater Rochester Inc.

Education: B.S., SUNY College at Brockport; M.S., Ed.D., St. John Fisher College

Family: Fiance, Keith Lawson

Professional and community leadership: Board member, Stepping Stones Learning Center; board member, Step Up 2 Your Future; past chief operating officer, Epilepsy Foundation Rochester-Syracuse-Binghamton; director, community services, former board member/agency representative, Epilepsy Coalition of New York State Inc.

Staying motivated: I stay motivated by keeping things in perspective, as I always remind myself of why I work and why this work is so important. What keeps me going is experiencing the results of my efforts that create positive change and substantial difference in people’s lives.

Changes in store for Rochester: Rochester is very service rich and has many resources. I envision more collaboration and partnering throughout the community to help resolve the various social, political and environmental challenges that we are currently facing.

Looking back: I would not allow myself to become too complacent in one position. It’s important to grow and learn as much as possible and to recognize when it’s time to move into new opportunities. Experience has taught me that this is the only way to reach one’s full potential.

Erika Duthiers

Deputy general counsel

Rochester Institute of Technology

Education: B.A., Manhattan College, Riverdale, N.Y.; J.D., Albany Law School, Union University

Family: Husband, Christopher Simmons; two sons

Professional and community leadership: Member, board of trustees, member, executive committee, chair, governance committee, Young Women’s College Prep Charter School of Rochester; board member, chair, compliance committee, Mary M. Gooley Hemophilia Center; board member, Haiti Outreach Pwoje Espwa (H.O.P.E.); member, judicial committee, Monroe County Bar Association; member, diversity committee, Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys; member, Rochester Black Bar Association

Staying motivated: I often think about my vision and the career goals that I have set for myself. Without a clear vision for where I want to be both in the short and long term, it’s difficult to work purposefully. It is also important for me to understand how I fit into an organization and how I add value through my work.

Changes in store for Rochester: The city of Rochester is undergoing revitalization. In the next few years, I believe we will see a city that is no longer in decline and one where the city center’s growth will usher in a new sense of innovation and activity.

Recent lessons learned: You can do more than you think if you just test your limits. Last year I competed in my first half Ironman. When I first thought about doing a long course triathlon, I almost talked myself right out of it. When I finally made the commitment, I learned about time management, working hard to achieve a significant goal and, most importantly, I learned that I can push past fear and physical discomfort to achieve anything that is important to me.

Julianna Frisch
Interim assistant to the president

Human resources and organizational development

Monroe Community College

Education: B.S., SUNY College at Brockport; M.S., Roberts Wesleyan College

Family: Husband, Aaron; one foster son

Professional and community leadership: Region 1 director, national board, immediate past president and current chair of professional development, Monroe Community College Chapter; American Association of Women in Community Colleges; president, Chili Unit 1830, American Legion Auxiliary; vice president, membership, Eastern Great Lakes Chapter, Meeting Professionals International; co-chair of 2013, 2014 and 2015 Workplace Campaign, United Way of Greater Rochester Inc.; adjunct assistant professor, Monroe Community College

Staying motivated: Continual learning! If you want to be relevant and ensure you have a seat at the table, do your homework and don’t be afraid to participate. Stay current to stay competitive, and don’t be afraid to take chances—you never know what will become your next opportunity.

Changes in store for Rochester: I am looking forward to the opening of the new MCC Downtown Campus, along with the growth of our workforce development programs and their impact on closing the middle skills gap in the local employment population.

Recent lessons learned: This has been a year of change: from losing a parent to becoming a parent, changing career direction and taking on new responsibilities. I learned that I am resilient, and I had an entire skill set that I had not tapped into yet. I am looking forward to 2015!

Kimberly Gangi
Insero & Co. CPAs P.C.

Education: B.S., SUNY College at Geneseo

Family: Husband, Louis; one daughter and one son

Professional and community leadership: Board member and president, Small Business Council of Rochester; member, planning committee, Annual Chocolate Ball Gala, Epilepsy-PRALID Inc.; board member, Rochester Business Alliance Inc.; district treasurer, Honeoye Falls-Lima PTA; former board member and gala table captain chair, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Staying motivated: One of my most motivating factors truly comes from seeing my clients succeed and knowing my firm had an impact in some way in those successes. Really knowing that we can always do more and strive to reach the next level keeps me going. I look at current successes and take that opportunity to sit down and figure out where we go next and set the bar higher.

Changes in store for Rochester: I believe that the overall outlook for Rochester is positive. We live in a great community. Even with all the changes that have occurred on the business front for the large companies, we have shown growth in other segments—a true reflection of the talent that resides here.

Looking back: I believe that failures and decisions give you cause to self-reflect. Sometimes, a little humility is necessary to grow. There are moments in life where you question the path chosen and second-guess yourself. I have a career and business I love and a family that is more than I could ever hope for. My choices in life have led me here, and I am grateful for it.

Kate Kenney
Partner, ProNexus USA

ProNexus LLC

Education: B.S., SUNY College at Oswego

Family: Husband, John; one daughter and one son

Professional and community leadership: Partner Mentor and team manager, ProNexus LLC; co-chair, Annual Wine and Microbrew Tasting Event, Bivona Child Advocacy Center; former board member, former chair of Summit Business Conference, Rochester Women’s Network; member, women’s leadership council, United Way of Greater Rochester Inc.

Staying motivated: I love a challenge and if I am not challenged, I find a way to be. At ProNexus, my role is to solve problems and create solutions daily. Also, as a new and growing company, our processes are changing constantly. I get to feel like I add value every day.

Changes in store for Rochester: Rochester companies will need to learn to invest in locally owned businesses. Oftentimes, organizations feel like the best solution comes from a larger city or a national firm. There are great companies and talent here. Once companies invest in their local economy, we will see improvement and sustainment.

Recent lessons learned: I have learned that if I manage my time efficiently, I can accomplish a lot. It is OK to enjoy time with my family, be the best that I can be at the office, give back to the community and learn new things such as golf and to ski.

Nicole Mahoney

Break The Ice Media Inc.

Education: B.S., Rochester Institute of Technology; M.A., SUNY College at Brockport

Family: Husband, John; three daughters

Professional and community leadership: Board member, member, executive leadership team, marketing chair, Digital Rochester; board member and marketing chair, the Partnership for Ontario County; committee chair, Professional Women of the Finger Lakes; member, Messenger Post Community Readership Group

Staying motivated: Accomplishment, passion and new challenges keep me going. Even the smallest accomplishments are energizing—whether it is winning a new client or weeding out my inbox, getting things done keeps me motivated. Passion for my work, our clients and the community inspires me to continuously grow. New challenges that expand my thinking and test my problem-solving skills excite me.

Changes in store for Rochester: More public/private partnerships and collaborations will play a key role in solving community issues. There will be a broader footprint for collaboration, borders will be blurred as neighboring communities help solve issues with far-reaching impacts. The Rochester area will continue to be a leader in innovation and entrepreneurship resulting in a stronger business climate, a stable economy and a thriving community.

Recent lessons learned: I have learned how awareness and understanding impact my ability to lead. Being aware provides clarity and perspective on how my actions impact others. Understanding different perspectives provides the ability to lead without judgment.

Cynthia Pacia
Manager, corporate and foundation relations

Lollypop Farm, the Humane Society of Greater Rochester

Education: B.A., SUNY Binghamton

Family: Husband; Thomas; one son and one daughter

Professional and community leadership: Board member, chair, resource committee, founder and co-moderator 2009-2014, Young Professionals Networking Group, Association of Fundraising Professionals Genesee Valley Chapter; former chair, advisory committee, RocCity Coalition; founding member and former chair, advisory committee, NextGen Rochester; former board secretary and volunteer coordinator, Rush Henrietta Soccer Club

Staying motivated: When I’m at work and away from my kids, I want to be accomplishing something greater. I need to be able to tell them when I get home, “I helped build a better community.” Fortunately, I have worked for organizations that make this easy for me to say.

Changes in store for Rochester: It’s an exciting time in Rochester. With all of the redevelopment projects downtown, a rising Center City population, and the national attention our downtown festivals are gaining each year, I foresee continued growth and development strengthening our city’s core, which will positively impact investment in our greater community.

Looking back: Everything I have done has led me to who I am now. Along the way, I have learned valuable lessons, met amazing people and gained new professional experiences. I would not be where I am now or as content with who I have become if I did things differently.

Jennifer Wallace
Vice president
First Niagara Risk Management

Education: B.A., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.

Family: Husband, Matthew; one daughter and one son

Professional and community leadership: Board member, American Heart Association, Rochester Chapter; graduate, former board member and volunteer, Leadership Rochester; gala co-chair, JCC of Greater Rochester; advisory board member, SportsNet; member, program committee, Healthcare Financial Management Association, Rochester Regional Chapter

Staying motivated: I am blessed to have a career I enjoy, and incredible teammates and leadership, but at the end of the day what matters is providing for my family and knowing that I did my absolute best in the hours I was away from them.

Changes in store for Rochester: Rochester is an amazing place to live and raise a family, and I think we will continue to see growth in education, health care and small and midsize businesses. In order for the community to be truly successful, though, we need to tackle the disparities in our education system. 

Looking back: At some point I learned to make decisions based on my own values instead of worrying about how others might judge me. I don’t have regrets because I love where my life is, but had I learned that earlier I probably could have saved myself a lot of grief. 

1/16/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email [email protected]


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