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2016 Athena Award finalists

Melissa Brown
Executive vice president, strategic initiatives and marketing
CDS Life Transitions Inc.

Education: B.A., communications, and M.S., human service administration, St. John Fisher College

Family: Husband, Michael Brown; stepdaughter and son

Professional and community leadership: Vice chairwoman, St. John Fisher College alumni board; member, Association of Fundraising Professionals; founding board member, Parenthood for Me

Staying motivated: I stay motivated by a commitment to making a positive impact in the lives of others. I have found a career that allows me to do that. I am inspired by the people we support at CDS Life Transitions; they keep me going. Working for a visionary leader who has infectious dedication to bringing innovative opportunities to help people in our community keeps me energized.

How Rochester could improve: Continue work on revitalizing Rochester and finding ways to bring in new business/jobs, arts/culture and entertainment. Enhance support and promotion of local businesses. Rochester is a wonderful city that boasts beautiful attributes of history, landscape, industry, products and services for people. We have to continue to attract people to want to come and stay here to live and work and to raise their families.

Recent lessons learned: No amount of preparation and planning prepared me for becoming a mother with a career. I have learned how strong I can be, how to operate with flexibility, that sometimes you can’t control everything, that you have to find the right work/life balance, and I found a deeper passion to succeed like I have never had before. My hope is I make my children proud and set a good example for them to do what they love and to do it with dedication and commitment.

Katrina Busch
President
Roberts Communications

Education: B.S., communications/journalism, St. John Fisher College

Family: Husband, John Quinn; two sons

Professional and community leadership: Board member and marketing chairwoman, Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association; advisory board chairwoman, media and communications department, St. John Fisher College; W. B. Potter Society member and volunteer, Ad Council of Rochester; member, Women’s Leadership Council

Staying motivated: I strive to learn something new every day. I’m excited to watch the people around me do the same—learning, growing and taking on new challenges but also having fun along the way. You can’t beat the feeling of great creative thinking and execution that delivers results—and happy clients.

How Rochester could improve: I am proud to work and live in the Rochester area. We all need to promote our region more. I hear people “apologizing” for living here—we are lucky! From the Finger Lakes to downtown, we have it all for all ages and we should all be proud.

What I’d do differently: When I was younger, I thought about all the things I would have done differently—more of some, less of others. But as my career and personal selves have evolved, I realize everything happens for a reason. One change and I might not be where I am today with the people I love.

Dorothy Coleman
Executive vice president and chief financial officer
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield & Lifetime Healthcare Companies

Education: B.S., accounting, University of Phoenix; MBA, Simon Business School, University of Rochester (June 2016)

Family: Husband, Steve Coleman; a daughter and son

Professional and community leadership: Member, board of directors, United Way of Greater Rochester and YWCA of Rochester and Monroe County; member, Women’s Leadership Council, United Way of Greater Rochester; founding member, Women’s Leadership Group, Lifetime Healthcare Companies

Staying motivated: I stay motivated by helping to solve some of our greatest challenges in access to affordable health care. What keeps me going is helping women achieve their maximum potential in both their professional and personal lives. It thrills me to see someone who I’ve coached or mentored achieve their goals.

How Rochester could improve: We need everyone to participate in the anti-poverty initiative. Together we can come solve our biggest challenges through collaboration and aligning to help families move out of poverty. We have a unique opportunity at this moment to really make a sustainable change for our community. Let’s make Rochester the best place to live for everyone.

What have you learned about yourself in the past year? It is more important to me to help others succeed and achieve their goals. I have accomplished a lot during my life, so now I want to help others do the same. It’s not about a title or status; it is about connecting with people and helping them fulfill their dreams.

Rachel DeGuzman
President and CEO
21st Century Arts

Education: B.A., University of Michigan

Family: Husband, Jimmy DeGuzman; two sons and one daughter

Professional and community leadership: 2015-17 fellow, Field Leadership Fund; founder and executive producer, A Call to Action in ROC symposiums; founder and executive producer, A Street Light Festival; writer, Up Close and Cultural blog, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, and programmer/host, Up Close and Cultural radio show, WAYO 104.3 FM; communications lead, steering committee, WAYO; participant, Association of Performing Arts Presenters 2012/2013, Leadership Development Institute

Staying motivated: I am a strategic and vision-driven person who continues to be motivated by the powerful and underleveraged role the arts/cultural sector could contribute to building a more vibrant community. On a day-to-day basis, it is the people I collaborate with and the work they produce that inspire me.

How Rochester could improve: Outside-the-box thinking and tactically connecting the dots. We have exceptional assets in the arts/cultural sector that could be strategically deployed to address some of our greatest challenges—especially in education and poverty. We have to be more open to cross-sector collaboration and taking calculated risks.

Recent lessons learned: I can take the heat, even when it becomes quite intense, and stay in the metaphorical kitchen, still on mission, improved by the rigorous process. And that my grandmother’s admonition to “focus forward” continues to be valuable counsel.

Deborah Hughes
President and CEO
National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House

Education: B.S., University of Oregon; M.Div., Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School; certificate, fundraising management, the Fundraising School, Indiana/Purdue University

Family: Wife, Emily Marie Jones; stepson

Professional and community leadership: Commissioner, New York Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission; advisory board, Women & Gender Studies Program, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School; member, steering committee, Coalition for Pay Equity (COPE); charter member, New York Cultural Heritage Tourism Network; member, Arts and Culture Work Group, Finger Lakes Economic Development Council; member, Rochester Rotary

Staying motivated: We can’t all be history makers like Susan B. Anthony, but she said that if each of us would do the one thing we have the time or energy to do, then it would make all the difference. Believing that I am a part of a greater movement for healing and justice in the world keeps me going.

How Rochester could improve: At its very best, Rochester is a community of compassionate, inventive and visionary people. We can focus our remarkable entrepreneurial energy into assuring that every child in our community gets a superior education and every adult has an opportunity to earn a living wage. We have the grit and creativity to do this together.

Surprising fact: Most people are surprised to learn that I can change the brakes on a Tilt-a-Whirl, but others are surprised to hear that I am an ordained American Baptist minister.

Susan Latoski
Executive director
Women’s Foundation of Genesee Valley

Education: B.A., art history, University of Rochester

Family: Husband, Edward Butcher

Professional and community leadership: Management and mentoring of the all-women staff, 23-member board and dozens of volunteers for the Women’s Foundation; vice chairwoman, Concentus Women’s Chorus; former executive director, Rochester Civic Garden Center; former board member, Association of Fundraising Professionals

Staying motivated: The mission of the Women’s Foundation to empower women and girls to achieve economic self-sufficiency means so much to me. I am inspired by the many remarkable women and girls who are working their way out of poverty despite challenging circumstances. All they need is a chance to be successful.

How Rochester could improve: Growing up in Rochester, I learned a lot about poverty when a friend stopped coming to school in eighth grade, caring for her younger siblings as her single working mom could not afford child care. We need to better address generational poverty, most importantly through education and affordable child care.

Surprising fact: My mom dropped out of high school to help support her family, and I am the first in my family to graduate from college. My education has taken me far, and I am passionate that all women and girls in our community have the same opportunities.

Lesli Myers
Superintendent of schools
Brockport Central School District

Education: B.A., psychology, and M.S., school counseling and human development, University of Rochester; M.S., educational administration, and Ed.D., executive leadership, St. John Fisher College

Family: Partner, Randy Small

Professional and community leadership: Member, House of Delegates, New York State Council of School Superintendents; member, New York State Professional Standards and Practices Board, Subcommittee of the Board of Regents; past president and lifetime member, New York State School Counselor Association; member, College Council at SUNY College at Brockport; board president and member, Priceless Vessels Inc.

Staying motivated: The first core belief for our district is Students First. It is this tenet that guides and shapes my work. Prior to any decision I always think about the impact on students—and it is my students who provide me the strength, courage and inspiration to lead.

How Rochester could improve: The late Whitney Houston sang, “I believe our children are our future.” Rochester needs to confirm that our children are our present. This translates into quality schools and educational programming, wide-ranging extracurricular opportunities, social, emotional, financial and spiritual supports, as well as a commitment to consistent mentorship.

Surprising fact: My role and diverse commitments require me to often speak to varied audiences, sometimes extemporaneously. People often think that I am “a natural” when it comes to public speaking. What people don’t know is that I can be very shy at times and would much rather stay in the background.

Marilynn Patterson Grant
Owner
M.P. Grant LLC

Education: B.A., history, and M.S., education curriculum, University of Rochester; certificate, CAS school administrator/district supervisor, SUNY College at Brockport; Ed.D., executive leadership, St. John Fisher College

Family: Husband, David Grant; a daughter and son

Professional and community leadership: National consultant and executive coach to charter and traditional public schools; mentor, City of Rochester Operation Transformation; board member, vice president, committee member, Renaissance Academy Charter School of the Arts; community service co-chairwoman, Theta Alpha Zeta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.; co-chairwoman, 2016 masquerade ball scholarship fundraiser

Staying motivated: “To whom much is given, much is required!” My life has not been perfect, but it has been blessed. An innate element of my spirit requires I pay blessings forward. Faith, family and friends are my motivation for what I do and the impact I desire to have on others, particularly young people.

How Rochester could improve: Rochester must aggressively identify new and more diverse leaders to provide the next generation of energy and ideas required in a global society. We must highlight and replicate successful initiatives designed to serve the greater good within our community. In an era of limited resources, collaboration must become de rigueur.

Surprising fact: Had I not gone into education, I would have loved to have a career in advertising (Mad Woman). I’m intrigued by how one convinces people what and why to buy a product or service. “Buy-in” is a critical tool for any leader to understand and use in an optimal and ethical manner.

Kathleen Pringle
CEO
Kathleen Pringle Group Inc.

Education: B.A., Denison University

Family: Partner, Larry Pitts; two sons

Professional and community leadership: Board chairwoman, Jordan Health Foundation; board member and human resources chairwoman, Anthony L. Jordan Corp.; director, Rochester Rotary Charitable Trust; member, Rochester Rotary; co-chairwoman, Sunshine Kids Gala; co-executive, the Moxie Exchange

Staying motivated: The privilege of helping “visionary-gutsy-innovative-game-changing” professionals and executives to achieve performance excellence in their careers and companies is a constant source of inspiration and motivation. I thrive on learning and adventure, so I consistently push myself into my discomfort zone. Amazing opportunities have resulted by choosing to be bold and unstoppable.

How Rochester could improve: We need a differentiating, refreshed attitude that defines our city. As a community, we would benefit from recognizing the significant value in traits commonly associated with women, such as nurturing, listening, cooperating, communicating and sharing. I believe we would find new ways to solve our problems, create prosperity and redefine success.

Recent lessons learned: I challenged myself to achieve an audacious goal and failed brilliantly. I am able to look back and celebrate the risks that I took and valuable learning that resulted from letting go. I have also learned that taking time for myself and my family is so vitally important to my overall happiness and success.

Elaine Spaull
Executive director, the Center for Youth Services Inc.;
Councilwoman, Rochester City Council, Southeast District

Education: B.A., George Washington University; M.A., literature, Georgetown University; Ph.D., higher education and philosophy, J.D., SUNY Buffalo

Family: Husband, Malcolm Spaull; a daughter and a son

Professional and community leadership: Co-producer, Fashion Week of Rochester; board member, Monroe County Legal Assistance Corp.; board member, Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center; member, government affairs committee, Memorial Art Gallery; member, community affairs committee, Rochester Regional Health; advisory board member, First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival

Staying motivated: My motivation and incentive come from the people that I am surrounded by in our community, in our neighborhoods, the children I meet in our schools, and certainly in my family. And most especially I am inspired by the dedication of the Center for Youth staff; their work encourages me to stay focused and determined to do whatever I can to make sure that they have the resources they need to be effective.

How Rochester could improve: Like many cities, Rochester often forgets to focus on what’s right rather than what’s wrong; we have an identity crisis that prevents us from emphasizing our own amazing assets. Using those assets as the basis, we can move forward with positive energy. I like to be around people who are positive and solution-based. Rochester needs to reclaim a positive approach, courage and curiosity, celebrate what’s right and get to work improving what we can.

Recent lessons learned: The quote by Albert Schweitzer, reminding us that public service is the greatest gift we can give, rings truer than ever. I’ve also learned that serving requires taking time to plan and to be intentional in my actions so that things are done well the first time. Moving fast is good, and being solution-based is essential, but being thoughtful in my actions makes for even better outcomes in an extremely busy schedule.

Patricia Uttaro
Director
Monroe County Library System and Rochester Public Library

Education: B.A., cultural studies, SUNY Empire State College; master of library science, University at Buffalo

Family: Husband, Cosmo Uttaro; a son and a daughter

Professional and community leadership: Secretary, Roc the Future; member, New York State Early Childhood Advisory Council; board of directors member, International Sister Cities of Rochester; member, Urban Libraries Council; member, New York Library Association

Staying motivated: I often receive emails from people who have had good experiences in our libraries. When someone takes the time to tell me that they got a job, earned a diploma, learned to read or made a friend at the library, it makes all the daily issues melt away.

How Rochester could improve: We have to get better at acknowledging and supporting what works and letting go of what doesn’t. There is much good work happening in Rochester that isn’t always recognized. A tremendous amount of quiet, quality, life-changing work goes on under the radar. Learn about it!

Surprising fact: I collect community cookbooks and have even found my grandmother’s recipes in a 1920s Flower City Junior League cookbook. Like her, I bake and I totally believe in the power of the cookie. I bake thousands of cookies every year and give them to my staff and friends throughout December.

Lori Van Dusen
CEO, chief investment officer
LVW Advisors

Education: B.A., Ithaca College; M.Ed., Harvard University

Family: Husband, Ronald Boillat; two sons

Professional and community leadership: Board of trustees member, University of Rochester Medical Center; board of trustees member, Thompson Health; member, executive committee and star power leadership committee, board of advisors, Monroe Community College Foundation; board of advisors member, Memorial Art Gallery; steering committee member, Women’s Leadership Council, United Way of Greater Rochester

Staying motivated: A partial quote I love is: “Being noble is being superior to your former self.” The challenge of continually evolving myself as a person and putting that energy into LVW Advisors is one of the things I’m passionate about. Having a vision, and being in a position to execute on that vision, is extremely rewarding.

How Rochester could improve: It’s clear that the city of Rochester has a K-12 education failure and a big poverty problem. We have many children that feel helpless, but we need to show them that they are not hopeless. Without a family structure or some type of systemic mentoring to support social, educational and emotional development, we will continue to be challenged as a community.

Surprising fact: I have a twin brother, Scott, and we were raised by a single mother. My mother was told her premature twins, if we lived, would have developmental disabilities. Fortunately, we are/were healthy. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college.

1/15/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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