The Canandaigua ATHENA Leadership Awards Program will take place online and on television on Nov. 19, the Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce said this week.
Now in its 36th year, the Canandaigua ATHENA program has been recognized nationally for its innovation, leadership and achievements, including the Young Professional Leadership Award that honors the accomplishments of women under the age of 40. Since its inception, the program has awarded 50 women and honored numerous others, while raising more than $100,000 for scholarships to educate and empower local women of all ages.
Producers of the event are encouraging viewing parties this year.
“Hosting a remote event was always a possibility,” said Canandaigua Chamber President Ethan Fogg. “With the support of Finger Lakes Television and our generous sponsors, we’re able to deliver a truly first-class experience for nominees, recipients and our community.”
This year’s 90-minute event centers on two of ATHENA’s core tenets – Courageous Acts and Celebration & Joy. Mary Beer, director of public health for Ontario County, will deliver the keynote address and presenting sponsor Randall Farnsworth Auto Group will join 2019 recipients Margaret Somerset and Allison Hildebrandt in remarks.
The following women have been named Leadership Award nominees:
• Kari Bush, United Way of Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes
• Donna Cotter, Literacy Volunteers Ontario-Yates Inc.
• Hon. Kristina Karle, Ontario County Supreme & County Courts
• Nancy McCarthy, freelance writer and community volunteer
• Pam Metting, retired doctor of audiology
• Hazel Robertshaw, University of Rochester Medicine Thompson Health
ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award nominees:
• Kristen Bloom, Thompson Health
• Jacklyn Cotter, Habitat for Humanity of Wayne County Inc.
• Mandy Friend Gigliotti, the Friend Team at Keller Williams Realty
• Amber Foster, UR Medical Center
• Chelsey Pendock, Innovision Advertising LLC
• Diana Perry, Canandaigua National Bank and Trust Co.
• Sonya Smith, Muddy Sneakers Physical Therapy PLLC
Dixon Schwabl Advertising Founder and Chairman Lauren Dixon was named the 2021 ATHENA International Award winner on Thursday.
The ATHENA Organizational Award recipient was Brockport Research Institute and its President and CEO Sara Silverstone. This year’s ATHENA Young Professional was Cicely Strickland-Ruiz, chief operating officer of the United Way of Greater Rochester Inc.
After a start in television, Dixon launched her own business in a male-dominated field, which would go on to become one of the largest firms in the Rochester region. Dixon Schwabl has been one of the Top 25 Small Companies to Work for in America for 15 consecutive years, and ranked one of the Top 20 on the Ad Age list and the Top 20 on the PR News list for five years.
Dixon’s name is synonymous with board, volunteer and philanthropic efforts, but on Thursday she thanked her family, particularly her husband, Mike Schwabl, who was the ultimate partner when she was building her company. Dixon and Schwabl celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary on the day of the event.
The ATHENA Awards are held annually by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce Inc. and its Women’s Council affiliate. The award is given to a professional female leader who has demonstrated significant achievements in business, community service and the professional advancement of women.
The 35th annual ceremony was broadcast live from the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center, where dozens of women and organizational finalists were honored for their successes and asked to say a few words about their paths and advice for the future.
Rochester’s nominees and award recipients spoke of lifting each other up and often quoted the likes of Susan B. Anthony and Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
“I’d like to speak to the nominees for this award. You exemplify the highest level of professional excellence. You give back to your community and you open up leadership opportunities for others, especially for women. For these and all the other impactful things you do in your community, you inspire others to achieve their full potential” said ATHENA International Founder Martha Mayhood Mertz in a video played during the event.
Since 1982, more than 6,700 top leaders in over 500 communities have received the prestigious ATHENA Award in the United States, Bermuda, Canada, China, Greece, India, Russia, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. By honoring exceptional leaders, the ATHENA Award Program seeks to inspire others to achieve excellence in their professional and personal lives.
Past local recipients of the ATHENA Award include Heidi Macpherson of the College at Brockport; Hilda Rosario-Escher, formerly of Ibero-American Action League; Elaine Spaull of the Center for Youth; and Sharon Napier, CEO of Partners + Napier.
The Women’s Council of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce Inc. has chosen 15 area business, nonprofit and community leaders as finalists for its 2020 ATHENA International Awards. Twelve women have been chosen as ATHENA Young Professional Award finalists.
The ATHENA Award is given annually to a professional female leader who has demonstrated significant achievements in business, community service and the professional advancement of other women.
The 2020 finalists include:
• Marlene Bessette, president and CEO, Catholic Family Center;
• Donna Brink Fox, senior associate dean of academic and student affairs, Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester;
• Stephanie Caffera, partner, Nixon Peabody LLP;
• Nancy Catarisano, managing partner, Insero & Co. CPAs LLP;
• Kelly Gagan, vice president, institutional advancement, Nazareth College of Rochester;
• Gidget Hopf, president and CEO, Goodwill of the Finger Lakes and the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired;
• Heidi Macpherson, president, the College at Brockport, State University of New York;
• Julie Marsiglio, director of major gifts, United Way of Greater Rochester Inc.;
• Colleen Matteson, Rochester Market President and Senior Vice President;
• Arlette Miller Smith, associate professor, English, and director, African American studies, St. John Fisher College;
• Deana Porterfield, president, Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary;
• Sujatha Ramanujan, managing director, Luminate, NextCorps Inc.;
• Kelly Reed, president and CEO, Huther Doyle Memorial Institute Inc.;
• Arline Santiago, senior vice president, general counsel and director, legal, ESL Federal Credit Union;
• Sharon Stiller, managing partner, Rochester office, and director of the employment law practice, Abrams Fensterman.
The internationally recognized awards, which honor and empower women in business, will be presented Jan. 23 at the 34th Annual ATHENA International Awards dinner.
Finalists for the Young Professional Award, which recognizes emerging female leaders in the 30- to 45-year-old range who demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in their business or profession include:
• Julie Camardo, CEO and owner, Zweigle’s Inc.;
• Kesha Carter, chief diversity officer, Coordinated Care Services Inc. (CCSI);
• Lauren Deutsch, executive director, Worker Justice Center of New York Inc.;
• Mona Gandhi, associate professor, pharmacy practice and administration, Wegmans School of Pharmacy at St. John Fisher College;
• Kimberly Harding, associate, labor and employment group, Nixon Peabody LLP;
• Kristina Johnson, vice president and finance lead, digital enablement project, Constellation Brands;
• Sarah Knight, founder and director, Roc Girl Gang;
• Amanda Mari, director, strategic relations, Broadstone Real Estate Inc.;
• Amy Martin, senior director, communications, Constellation Brands;
• Jennifer Sahrle, senior director, operations, Trillium Health;
• Diana Solt, lead, strategy development, L3Harris Technologies; and
• Alexis Vogt, endowed chair and associate professor of optics, Monroe Community College.
Five local organizations have been named finalists for the 2020 ATHENA Organizational Award, which goes to a woman-owned or woman-led business that creates a culture encouraging women employees to achieve their full leadership potential and supports leadership development opportunities for women and girls in the community.
Those organizations include Butler/Till Media Services; Helen & Gertrude; Robert F. Hyland & Sons LLC; Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester, N.Y.; and United Way of Greater Rochester Inc.
Former Ibero-American Action League President and CEO Hilda Rosario-Escher won the 2019 ATHENA Award. Shaquana Divers, executive program manager at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, took home the Young Professional Award, while HCR Home Care, represented by CEO and founder Louise Woerner, received the 2019 ATHENA Organizational Award.
The Women’s Council of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce Inc. has extended the nomination deadline for its annual ATHENA Awards to Oct. 4, officials said this week.
The internationally recognized award program was founded in 1982 in Lansing, Mich., by ATHENA International Founder Martha Mertz. The award originally was established to honor the achievements of exceptional women leaders.
Since 1982, more than 6,700 women leaders in more than 500 communities worldwide have received the award, which supports and celebrates the mission of supporting, developing and honoring achievements of exceptional female leaders.
Former Ibero-American Action League President and CEO Hilda Rosario-Escher was the recipient of the 2019 ATHENA Award. Shaquana Divers, executive program manager at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, won the 2019 ATHENA Young Professional Award.
HCR Home Care, represented by CEO and founder Louise Woerner, received the 2019 ATHENA Organizational Award.
The program was introduced to the Rochester community in 1987 by the Women’s Council.
The award honors individuals who strive toward the highest levels of personal and professional accomplishment; who excel in their chosen field; devote time and energy to their community in a meaningful way; and who forge paths of leadership for other women to follow.
Nominees must demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in their business or profession; provide valuable service by contributing time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community and they must actively assist women in realizing their full leadership potential.
ATHENA winners demonstrate the following personal traits: authentic self, relationships, giving back, collaboration, courageous acts, learning, fierce advocacy and celebration and joy. Additional nomination information is available online.
Partners + Napier CEO Sharon Napier has been named the winner of the 32nd annual ATHENA Award.
Dixon Schwabl Inc. managing partner Kim Allen received the fourth annual ATHENA Young Professional Award, while Allen’s employer received the inaugural ATHENA Organizational Award.
The ATHENA Award is given annually to a professional female leader who has demonstrated significant achievements in business, community service and the professional advancement of women. The award is sponsored by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and its Women’s Council affiliate.
The ATHENA Young Professional Award recognizes emerging leaders in the 30 to 45 year old range who demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in their business or profession, while the Organizational Award goes to a woman-owned or women-led business that creates a culture encouraging women employees to achieve their full leadership potential.
Dixon Schwabl President Michael Schwabl accepted the organizational award on behalf of his wife, Lauren Dixon, who was unable to attend the festivities after an incident on a trampoline with her grandchildren.
“Wow,” Schwabl said. “I wasn’t prepared for this. But I’m glad to share the stage with my soul sisters. And yes, we believe very much in empowering women at Dixon Schwabl.”
Four of the company’s six-person leadership team are women. Women are encouraged to sit on boards to network and help the community thrive. Dixon Schwabl also offers a “make it happen” day to all employees, which includes eight hours of paid time off to volunteer in the community.
“This has been quite a night,” Schwabl said. “And stay off of trampolines after the age of 50.”
Dixon Schwabl’s Allen, during her young professional acceptance speech, said she was uncomfortable being recognized for her accomplishments; she felt more comfortable standing behind the successful pack and watch them shine.
“This is something. To stand among powerhouse women and be recognized in their company is humbling,” Allen said.
Allen was described as the consummate professional who knows the importance of building a team and people to be their best professional self, her nominators wrote.
Napier, in her acceptance speech, thanked her family, saying she was lucky to have them in her corner.
“Bob Napier, who is my rock and who is always there behind me. It’s not easy deciding you’re just going to buy a business and grow a business; they’re there behind me every step of the way,” Napier said in her acceptance speech. “And my beautiful adult daughters, who are making their own way in their lives and their careers. But what makes me so proud is that they’re kind and caring people. And when they were home for the holidays, they both told me—they’re in New York City now—that they want to return to Rochester.”
Napier served as president and CEO of the Wolf Group, and in 2004 she inspired 39 individuals to pool their money to start their own agency. Since its launch, Partners + Napier’s revenue has nearly tripled to $20 million, and its staff has grown from 40 to more than 125.
“I would be remiss to not recognize and thank the 14 ATHENA nominees, the young professionals and the amazing organizations that thrive under women leadership,” Napier said. “So as I stand here, I am thrilled. I am overwhelmed. I am humbled. And I am really, really, really honored to be an ATHENA recipient.”
She has broken glass ceilings, defied stereotypes, raised standards and served as a role model for hundreds of young women, Napier’s award nominators said. Her community service includes economic empowerment, education, health, arts and culture. Napier sits on the board of the National YMCA and the RIT President’s Council.
Napier said she was reminded of a lesson her father taught her early on. Her father was an Italian immigrant with a ninth-grade education.
“And he would tell us all the time: No one, no one is successful on their own,” Napier recalled. “I live this. I think of the women, and the men, that have believed in me and have been on this journey to create a nationally recognized agency right here in Rochester, N.Y.”
One of the criteria for the ATHENA Award is actively assisting others, particularly women, in realizing their full leadership potential.
“For me, this is the most important criteria of this award,” Napier said. “So, as you leave tonight think, today and every day we must empower each other, lead each other, by paving ways, opening doors and making space for more of us.”
Fifteen area women business and community leaders have been chosen as finalists for the 2018 Athena Award.
Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and its Women’s Council affiliate have chosen the following individuals as finalists:
Laurie Baker, senior vice president and COO, the Summit Federal Credit Union
Pamela Fennell Baker, finance director, Tom Reed for Congress
Cindy Becker, vice president and COO, Highland Hospital
Alice Calabrese, president and CEO, Lollypop Farm, Humane Society of Greater Rochester
Kristen Clark, partner, the Bonadio Group
Ann Marie Cook, president and CEO, Lifespan of Greater Rochester
Sitima Fowler, co-CEO, Capstone Information Technologies
Jodi Gaines, vice chairman and founder, CRFS LLC
Seanelle Hawkins, executive director, Wilson Commencement Park – Sojourner House
Wendi Heinzelman, dean, University of Rochester Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Sharon Napier, CEO, Partners + Napier
Marisol Ramos Lopez, commissioner, City of Rochester Department of Recreation and Youth Services
Mary Richardson, executive vice president, chief scientific officer and co-founder, iuvo Bioscience
Pam Sherman, president, Business Advantage
Deborah Stendardi, vice president for government and community relations, Rochester Institute of Technology
The Athena Award is given annually to a professional female leader who has demonstrated significant achievements in business, community service and the professional advancement of women. The 32nd annual Athena Awards dinner is slated for Jan. 25, 2018.
“The Athena Awards are the only international awards given in Rochester that focus on recognizing outstanding professional women in our area and that highlight the significant contributions they make professionally, to our community and to other women,” said Women’s Council President Wende Knapp in a statement. “The awards also reinforce the Women’s Council’s overall goal to recognize and empower women at every stage of their careers and to provide a platform for their personal and professional growth.”
Rochester Chamber and the Women’s Council also have chosen 10 area women as finalists for the 2018 Athena Young Professional Award:
Kim Allen, managing partner, public relations, Dixon Schwabl
Courtney Cotrupe, managing director, Partners + Napier
Rose Feor Cooper, lead planner for integrated marketing strategy, Martino Flynn
Susan Glenz, operating principal of Keller Williams Gateway and team leader of Susan Glenz team, Keller Williams Realty
Sharitta Gross-Smith, Rochester Institute of Technology assistant director, student development
Jessica Lewis, communications specialist, ROC the Future the Children’s Agenda
Angelica Perez-Delgado, chief compliance officer and vice president, administration, Villa of Hope
Natalie Sinisgalli, founder, president and photographer, Natalie Sinisgalli Photography
Maria Thomas Fisher, AFL-CIO chief of staff, Rochester & Genesee Valley Area Labor Federation
The Athena Young Professional Award recognizes emerging female leaders in the 30 to 45 age range who demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in their business or profession and who serve as role models for young women both personally and professionally.
Finalists for the Athena Organizational Award—which goes to a women-owned or women-led business or organization that creates a culture encouraging women employees to achieve their full leadership potential and supports leadership development opportunities for women and girls in the community—include Butler/Till, Dixon Schwabl, Latinas Unidas, Mirror Show Management and Willow Domestic Violence Center.
“All of the Athena Award, Young Professional Award and Organizational Award finalists are outstanding examples of the invaluable contribution of professional women in our community,” Rochester chamber President and CEO Bob Duffy said in a statement. “Rochester Chamber and our Women’s Council affiliate congratulate them and look forward to bestowing these international honors in January.”
The Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce will honor six Athena Award nominees and four Athena young professional nominees Nov. 17 at its 33rd Annual Canandaigua Athena Leadership Awards Dinner.
The event, being held at the Finger Lakes Community College Student Center, will honor women who exemplify the qualities of leadership in the 21st century: learning, authentic self, collaboration, courageous acts, relationships, celebration & joy, giving back and fierce advocacy.
The Athena Award nominees include:
• Vicki Mandrino, senior vice president-compliance officer, Canandaigua National Bank & Trust;
• Denise McKenzie, Community Care Pastor;
• Terrie Meyn, executive vice president/COO, Happiness House;
• Amy Pauley, director of development and government relations, executive director, FLCC Foundation, Finger Lakes Community College;
• Laurie Riedman, owner, Riedman Communications; and
• Patricia Schwarzweller, senior director of development, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
The Young Professional Leadership Award recognizes an emerging woman leader who is under the age of 40 and who demonstrates excellence, creativity and initiative in her business or profession, while providing a valuable service to improve the quality of life for others in her community.
The Young Professional nominees include:
• Stephanie Friel, quality improvement coordinator, Thompson Health;
• Marie Lopez, business banking officer, CNB
• Lauren Moore, executive director, Pioneer Library System; and
• Sayeh Rivazfar, investigator, New York State Police
A portion of the proceeds from the event will go to women’s scholarships. The awards are sponsored by the Canandaigua Athena Steering Committee, Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce and Professional Women of the Finger Lakes.
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