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2017 Athena Award finalists

 Elizabeth Arthur

Physician and owner
Helendale Dermatology and Medical Spa PLLC

Education: B.S., biology, Villanova University, Villanova, Pa.; M.D., Hahnemann University, Philadelphia

Family: Husband, Michael; a daughter and a son

Professional and community leadership: Board member, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; fellow, American Academy of Dermatology; national training and teaching faculty, Allergan; clinical instructor, Department of Dermatology, University of Rochester; clinical staff, Rochester General Hospital

Staying motivated: Two things keep me going; my family and the smile of a satisfied patient. I love how proud my husband and kids are of me. Whether it’s making a patient’s rash disappear, removing a skin cancer or completing a cosmetic procedure, nothing charges me up more than seeing their relief, gratitude and excitement.

How Rochester could improve: Rochester needs to be friendlier to businesses, both large and small. We need to keep our young people here. We need to have businesses, the nightlife and the community for them to want to stay and contribute. Our future depends on it.

Surprising fact: I married a boy that I rode the bus with and sat next to in grade school. We reconnected through Facebook. Our two children go to the same Catholic school that we attended. Over the years, I would see his parents as patients and they kept trying to play matchmaker.

Flor Colon
Vice president, strategic partnerships & alliances, and environmental, health, safety & sustainability
Xerox Corp.

Education: B.A., political science, Pace University, New York; J.D., Brooklyn Law School, Brooklyn

Family: Husband, Bobby; two daughters

Professional and community leadership: Vice chairwoman, board of trustees, Young Women’s College Prep Charter School of Rochester; member, board of directors, Monroe Community College Foundation; member, board of directors, Volunteer Legal Services Project; member, board of directors, Greater Rochester Enterprise; member, Healthy Weight Leadership Council

Staying motivated: I seek out new opportunities to learn and new career challenges. I volunteer for special projects whenever possible because I enjoy working with a cross-functional team on solving complex issues. These projects allow me to enhance current skills and acquire new skills.

How Rochester could improve: I am proud to live in such a historic and philanthropic community. I am amazed and inspired by what we can achieve when we combine our talents and resources. I want to see stronger collaborations across our community with the goal of addressing issues of poverty, homelessness, education and employment.

Recent lessons learned: In June I took a lead role in the project to separate Xerox into two multibillion dollar companies—the most challenging task I’d ever accepted. I learned that I have a broad set of skills that I can employ to achieve my goals. I am stronger and more confident as a result.

Twyla Cummings
Dean of graduate education, professor
Office of Graduate Education, Rochester Institute of Technology

Education: B.S., chemistry, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio; M.S., business and industrial counseling management, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio; Ph.D., business management, The Union Institute and University, Cincinnati, Ohio

Family: Husband, Thomas; stepson and stepdaughter

Professional and community leadership: Member, Printing Industries of America; past board chairwoman, honor roll member, Rochester Area Business Ethics Foundation; immediate past co-chairwoman, board advisory committee, YWCA; chairwoman, website committee, and soprano section leader, AKOMA-Rochester’s African American Women’s Gospel Choir

Staying motivated: Staying current with the changing generation of students and faculty motivates me to continue to increase my knowledge to enhance their educational and professional experience. Lifelong learning and knowing when it is time for a change keeps me engaged and always looking for the next big challenge.

How Rochester could improve: Rochester needs to work diligently to improve the educational experience in the public school system, with a goal to achieve 100 percent high school graduation rates. Along with this, there needs to be more focus on getting young women to pursue science, technology, engineering and math degrees/fields. 

Recent lessons learned: In giving presentations to women about career advancement, self-esteem and getting out of one’s comfort zone, I realized I wasn’t taking my own advice. This motivated me to take risks and try new things such as singing a solo in public where all eyes are on me!

Angela Ellis
Planning director
Livingston County Planning Department

Education: B.A., political science, Gannon University, Erie, Pa.; masters in urban and regional planning (MURP), University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh

Family: Husband, Mark; two sons 

Professional and community leadership: Vice chairwoman, planning committee, Genesee Transportation Council; chairwoman, planning coordination committee, Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council; vice chairwoman, New York State Association of Counties Standing Committee on Agriculture; past president, executive committee, New York State Association of County Planning Directors; vice president, Geneseo Rotary Club

Staying motivated: Knowing that the work we do as a county planning agency has a positive impact and makes a difference to our residents, businesses and visitors alike is very motivating for me. Seeing visible results gives me a sense of accomplishment and a desire to do more.

How Rochester could improve: Rochester and the Genesee-Finger Lakes Region are rich in history, development, creativity and innovation with national and international impact. As a region, I think we need to continue focusing on effective public-private partnerships and collaboration across multiple jurisdictions and organizational boundaries. Collaboration is necessary for long term regional economic prosperity.

Recent lessons learned: I learned how important it is to create life balance in order to achieve real success. I’ve found that scheduling time specifically for me, my family and other relationships and volunteer activities makes me happier and healthier, more focused and productive and a greater asset to my community.

Heather Goodbody
Senior vice president-private wealth advisor
The Goodbody Group at the Private Banking and Investment Group, Merrill Lynch

Education: B.S. finance, Daemen College, Amherst, N.Y.

Family: Husband, John; two sons

Professional and community leadership: Trustee, Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women; chairwoman, Merrill Lynch’s The Women’s Exchange; committee member, Women’s Leadership Council, United Way of Greater Rochester

Staying motivated: The ability to make a difference in the financial lives of our clientele is very meaningful to me and the mission of our practice. We are very proud that our clients select our team as a partner to create value within their financial lives that can last generations and impact the greater community—it is extremely exciting and consistently motivates me to a higher level of excellence. In addition, in my role as chairwoman of Merrill Lynch’s Women’s Exchange and my community involvement, it is exciting to make an impact with respect to the professional aspirations of women. It is very exciting to share knowledge and best practices with others so they can leverage it to their best way possible to reach and exceed their goals! My family, without a doubt, is my rock—they motivate and challenge me as well. Our family dinners are quite lively; my husband and I enjoy hearing the perspective of our sons on life and world affairs. It is definitely the highlight of our day!

How Rochester could improve: We need to address poverty, education and jobs. I don’t have the answers, however, I have confidence that it lies in public-private partnerships that can execute in an efficient manner. If Rochester can get this right, the sky is the limit in terms of success for all.

Surprising fact: During a Buffalo Bills camp, many years ago, I was given the opportunity to kick a field goal—and I made it! What a thrill!

Megan Henry
Chairwoman of the board and president, 
Exeter Trust Co.
Managing director of trust services, 
Manning & Napier Inc.

Education: B.A., economics, DePauw University, Greencastle, Ind.

Family: Single

Professional and community leadership: Board member and secretary, Kilian J. and Caroline F. Schmitt Foundation; member, Bishop’s Stewardship Council, Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester; past chairwoman, board of directors, and member, finance, investment pension review and long-term planning committees, CP Rochester; member, board of governors, Genesee Valley Club

Staying motivated: Motivation is working alongside my friends and colleagues with whom I am blessed. Sharing their inspiring generosity of spirit, talent and positivity provides a focused energy toward shared values, problem-solving for clients, and accountability as community stewards. My most favored and inspired roles are those I’ve held beside really wonderful people. Or … just tell me I can’t do something.

How Rochester could improve: Rochester’s generosity has long been a source of comfort and support to our less fortunate. There remains a growing chasm between families in poverty and others, creating hopelessness among even the youngest of our poorest children. We all need to emulate those who engage face-to-face with families needing our help. In so doing, we offer hope and compassion to those who need it most.

What I’d do differently: I would have understood at a much younger age that validation from others is much less meaningful than believing and trusting in myself.

Nannette Nocon
Private wealth adviser
Nocon & Associates, 
Ameriprise Financial Services Inc.

Education: B.S., Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

Family: Husband, Karl Wessendorf

Professional and community leadership: Board member, WXXI; honorary trustee, Geva Theatre Center; host and producer, “It’s About Money,” PCTV

Staying motivated: Helping clients achieve financial independence is always front of mind. I continue to cultivate passion by always setting the bar higher than my last personal best. I make sure that I’m cognizant of the quality of the dominant questions I ask myself every day because invariably, the answers come.

How Rochester could improve: The fastest way out of poverty is education. Collectively, we can each make an impact in the literacy of those who can use a little hand in life. Engagement in education can be formal or otherwise and can be at any age. And the arts, don’t forget the role of the arts.

Surprising fact: Most people would be surprised to know that I’m an introvert. I’m glad that my work and personal life draw me out of my shell every day. However, on a daily basis, I am also aware when the introvert in me reigns and when it’s time to retreat and replenish my energy for the next day.

Kathleen Parrinello
Chief operating officer and 
executive vice president
Strong Memorial Hospital, 
University of Rochester Medical Center

Education: B.S., nursing, M.S., nursing, and Ph.D., education, University of Rochester

Family: Spouse, Richard; three sons 

Professional and community leadership: Board chairwoman, Finger Lakes Performing Provider System; board treasurer, Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency; board member, Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network; board member, YWCA of Rochester & Monroe County; board member, Community Technology Advisory Board

Staying motivated: Being a health care professional and leader is intrinsically motivating. My career in health care provided opportunity to participate in delivering critical human services, which has been personally rewarding. I can’t think of another occupation that affords the opportunity to learn every day and witness firsthand the strength and courage of the human spirit.

How Rochester could improve: Rochester, for me, has been a great place to live and grow. Unfortunately, that is not the case for many in Rochester. We need to better understand and support all our communities to assure that all have the educational, health care and employment opportunities that so many of us have enjoyed.

What I’d do differently: Looking back on different choices is tricky business. Life is composed of a series of chains of events. Alter one choice, and you can never know what else may have been altered. So, I espouse the belief that if you’re happy with now, don’t think too hard on past alternatives.

Diane Shoger
Executive director
Monroe Community College Foundation Inc.

Education: B.S., special education, and M.S., special education, Illinois State University, Normal, Ill.

Family: Husband, Timothy Michael Coughlin

Professional and community leadership: Member, Council for the Advancement and Support of Education; member, Association of Fundraising Professionals, Genesee Valley Chapter; member, SUNY Advance Executive Advisory Council and professional development institute committee, State University of New York

Staying motivated: My job is all about making dreams come true—helping people realize their charitable goals through strategic philanthropic investment at Monroe Community College. And I get to do it with some of the most amazing volunteers and professional staff in our region. Quite simply, that just never gets old!

How Rochester could improve: I think we all need to embrace the beauty, the integrity and the incredible sense of community that exists here. Rochester is amazing, and we are too often too quick to downplay our assets and minimize the quality of life we enjoy in Western New York.

Surprising fact: I think people would never expect that I grew up on a corn and soybean farm in the Midwest. I raised sheep and horses, showed animals at the county and state fairs and was an active member of 4H all the way through high school!

Deborah Stamps
System vice president, quality and safety
Rochester Regional Health

Education: B.S., nursing, SUNY College at Brockport; M.S., gerontological nurse practitioner program, Nazareth College; doctorate of education in executive leadership, St. John Fisher College

Family: Husband, William Scott; one daughter

Professional and community leadership: Board chairwoman, March of Dimes, Finger Lakes Region; regional director, Northeast Regional Chi Eta Phi Sorority Inc.; past board member, Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York Inc.; trustee and chairwoman, health ministry, Genesee Baptist Church; co-lead, New York State Action Coalition for the Future of Nursing

Staying motivated: I have a strong faith in God—he guides me and keeps me fueled. I gain energy by seeing others grow. I enjoy learning and then applying the new knowledge as well as sharing. I remain motivated by giving back. Giving back in the form of community service and mentoring others keeps me motivated.

How Rochester could improve: Continuing to implement evidence-based programs that advance health equity to help ensure that all people have the opportunity for long and healthy lives. Continued focus on increasing high school graduation rates and partnering with health care and community organization for workforce development. 

Recent lessons learned: The continued importance and value of relationships. Listening is a skill that enables engagement of the team or individual. Listening includes paying attention to what is not said, and as leaders we sometimes have to listen to what is not said. Listening is critical to creating a work environment in which employees will become motivated, committed and engaged.

Kathleen Washington
Deputy commissioner of neighborhood 
and business development
City of Rochester

Education: B.M., Syracuse University; MBA, Simon Business School, University of Rochester 

Family: Single, a daughter and a son

Professional and community leadership: Board chairwoman, Rochester Land Bank Corp.; vice president, Rochester Economic Development Corp.; member, board of directors, High Tech Rochester; co-chairwoman, alumni board, Simon Business School, University of Rochester; member, board of directors, Greater Rochester Housing Partnership

Staying motivated: I am motivated by the opportunity to face challenges and make positive change. The work I have chosen throughout my career has always been driven by the mission to positively change the lives of others. Whether through application of finance and economics or music and theater, life has challenged me to focus on action beyond myself. Life is not valuable if not purposeful.

How Rochester could improve: Rochester is a great city with great people. We have an embarrassment of riches as well as a multitude of challenges. We can embrace our differences and build on them to work together to improve the lives of all. We can view our differences as assets to our community and work to illuminate our spaces that need our light. A little friction makes sparks.

Recent lessons learned: I learned that I can be the calm in a storm. When situations are out of my sphere of control, that peace comes from letting go and acknowledging that life is too short to worry. Life is too short to wait.

Mary Zelazny
Chief executive officer
Finger Lakes Community Health

Education: B.A., history/American studies, SUNY Brockport; MBA, health informatics, New England College, Henniker, N.H.

Family: Husband, Don; one daughter

Professional and community leadership: Chairwoman, board of directors, Community Health Care Association of New York State; secretary, board of directors, Finger Lakes Provider Performing System; board member, New York State Association of Rural Health; secretary, board of directors, Finger Lakes Economic Development Corp.; chairwoman, Penn Yan 2020 Community Vision Program

Staying motivated: My work is my passion. I thrive on collaborating with so many fantastic partner organizations and people across our region and across New York State to collectively create opportunities for our patients and community members to access better health care services and positive connections with other service agencies.

How Rochester could improve: We are very fortunate to live and work where there is a strong sense of collaboration and partnerships. We should focus on strengthening our relationships and linkages with our rural communities surrounding Rochester to create a stronger regional community that thrives economically and socially.

Surprising fact: I spent my formative years living in Guadalajara, Mexico with my family. This had a major impact on me—and in so many ways. The cultural experiences and education that I gained have shaped my belief in the value of understanding and embracing diversity and empathy in my work and life.

1/13/2017 (c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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