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Women Who Make A Difference

Here in the Central New York region, women are continuing to fuel the trend of closing the gender gap and they are rising to leadership positions and key roles in the community.  Whether it is in education, business, health care or human services, women continue to set the standard in providing outstanding leadership and vision. This feature package looks at many of the female movers and shakers in the community who are making a difference by increasing our quality of life. They not only share where they are professionally and some of their outstanding accomplishments, but also offer a glimpse into their personal lives. We hope you enjoy!

Interviews by Lou Sorendo, Deb Jeanne Sergeant and Mary Beth Roach

Stacy Alvord

Tania Anderson

Inga Back

Margaret N. Barclay

Barbara Bateman

Faye Scott Beckwith

Debbie Bilello

Randi Bregman

Christie Casciano Burns

Mary Canale

Pamela Caraccioli

Janet West Clerkin

Elizabeth A. “Betsy” Copps

Megan Coleman

Diane Cooper-Currier

Kathleen “Casey” Crabill

Karrie Damm-Stewart

Heather DelConte

Linda Eagan

Lynne Eggert

Lisa Emmons

Sara Errington

Karen Ferguson

Meghan Florkowski

Leila Giancone

Karen S. Goetz

Leah Haggerty

Kathleen Randall Henry

Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham

Evelyn C. Ingram

Farah Jadran

Brittney Fiorini Jerred

Linda M. LeMura

Jamie Leszczynski

Suzie Lobdell

Joanie Mahoney

Marie Mankiewicz

Rachel May

Kayla McKeon

Deana M. Michaels

Pamela Murchison

Tricia Peter-Clark

Elizabeth Fallon Quilter

Patricia Ritchie

Amy Robbins

Maryann Roefaro

Mary Kate Rolf

Jennifer D. Sanders

Irene Scruton

Jillian Shaver

Honora (Nora) Spillane

Linda Thomas-Caster

Katie Toomey

Kimberly Townsend

Chena L. Tucker

AnneMarie Walker-Czyz

Robin Warren-Philips

Kerrie Ann Webb

Margaret M. Weigel

Ruth S. Weinstock

Tammy Lynn Wilkinson

Teresa F. Woolson

Stacy Alvord
Stacy Alvord

Stacy Alvord

Commissioner, Oswego County Department of Social Services

Lives in: Scriba.

Spouse/Children: Husband Mark Alvord.

Education: SUNY Oswego, Bachelor of Arts degree in public justice (1980); Syracuse University, Master of Social Work (1997).

Proudest accomplishment: I am proud and honored to work with an amazing team of colleagues at DSS. Together, we can do what not one of us can do alone. Joining in mission, especially one so compelling, is an extraordinary experience. I am inspired every day by the courage and resilience of our most vulnerable citizenry. I give my thanks to the Oswego County Legislature for providing me this opportunity to serve.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field? Embrace mission. This is a field that takes grit and it takes heart. We serve the neediest of the needy and the poorest of the poor. We serve children and families in crisis. Keeping mission at the forefront keeps us grounded and moving in the right direction.

When I’m not working, I’m: Enjoying all the events and the natural wonders of Oswego County. There is so much to do and to see across our county. Tourists come from all over the world to enjoy what is in my back yard. My favorite place to walk with my dog Mindy is Fort Ontario.

I can’t get rid of: My grandmother clock, a wedding gift from my dad. It chimes on the hour and reminds me how precious time is on this earth.

My wishful super power: I wish I had the power to add more time to my day. I never seem to have enough time.

Would like to meet: Jane Addams is known as the “mother of social work.” She was an activist for the poor and began the American Settlement House movement in the late 19th century. She was a social worker, public administrator, author and championed women’s suffrage in the United States.

This may surprise people: The largest state in the U.S. is the state of poverty. There are 46.7 million U.S. citizens who live below the federal poverty limit, which is $25,100 a year for a family of four.

My hidden talent: I take people where they are at without judgment. I understand that we are all doing the best we can given the opportunities afforded us.

What is your main strength as a professional: I have a heart for mission and feel called to be a social worker. When you love what you do, it brings incredible joy to life. My mom and dad would often tell me to find something I love to do for a career in life. They would be proud to know that I did.

Favorite nonprofit: I have been a United Way donor for over 35 years. The United Way assures that donations target programs that have high impact to a community’s most pressing social issues. The nonprofits that receive United Way dollars are well-managed and are showing good outcomes, or they would not receive an award. I know my donation to the United Way makes a difference in my community.

Tania Anderson
Tania Anderson

Tania Anderson

Chief executive officer, ARISE

Lives in: Syracuse.

Children: Daughter, Eliza.

Education: Syracuse University, Bachelor of Arts degree in English and magazine journalism; master’s degree in media administration, juris doctorate.

Proudest accomplishment: My personal and professional lives seem to have culminated in the opportunity to lead ARISE. My work as a reporter engaged me in the community and honed my writing. My work as a lawyer taught me advocacy and problem solving. My 17 years on the board of ARISE laid the foundation for the CEO role. My role as Eliza’s mom pulled it all together in ensuring that people with disabilities have the services and supports they need to be successful and included in our world.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field? Embrace change, because human services are changing rapidly in terms of funding and regulations. Listen actively to everyone around you and you will learn so much. Keep the mission of your organization in your heart, because that is why you are working so hard. Have fun and laugh, so the inevitable stress doesn’t wear you out.

When I’m not working, I’m: Running.

I can’t get rid of: Eliza’s baby clothes.

My wishful super power: Snow removal with the snap of my fingers.

Would like to meet: Mr. Rogers.

This may surprise people: I was an avid swing dancer for years and helped organize and manage a nonprofit devoted to promoting the dance in Central New York.

My hidden talent: Cooking, very hidden.

What is your main strength as a professional: I’m able to analyze situations quickly and keep an open mind.

Favorite nonprofit: ARISE, of course!

Other leadership positions: President of Inclusive Alliance Independent Practice Association; director of CNY Care Collaborative; Oswego County Workforce Development Board member; NY Association for Independent Living; LIFEPlan Care Coordination Organization; CNY Behavioral Health Care Collaborative.

Inga Back
Inga Back

Inga Back

President, Zonta Club of Oswego

Lives in: Oswego.

Spouse/Children: Rick Back, professor at SUNY Oswego; three children, Clara, 14; Tommy, 16; and Nick, 19.

Education: Master of Science degree, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Master of Science degree in public health, SUNY Albany.

Proudest accomplishment: I’m very proud to be leading the Zonta Club of Oswego during a time of such proliferation and success. We’ve increased our membership by about 30% over the past year and our events and activities have been extremely successful and impactful. We also have several new projects on the horizon that we are looking forward to. I attribute this success to the amazing group of women in our club who are all committed to the Zonta ideals — empowering women, achieving equal rights, and eliminating domestic violence. Our members are leaders in their own right and give their time and talents for the good of the club and community. I am very fortunate to be part of this.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: We all have our strengths — find yours and exploit them. Work hard. Nothing happens in the absence of that. Know that it’s the journey that’s more important than the destination. To quote Amelia Earhart, who was an early member of Zonta, “The process is its own reward.” Finally, always listen and try to be kind.

When I’m not working, I’m: Sleeping. Free time seems to be a rare commodity.

I can’t get rid of: My favorite books. I love to pull them out and re-read them.

My wishful super power: Everything Wonder Woman can do.

Would like to meet: Michelle Obama.

This may surprise people: Though I was born and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and am a Packers’ fan, I do not own a cheese hat.

My hidden talent: I can make a lovely Christmas ornament out of a beer (or soda) can.

What is your main strength as a professional: Harnessing the talents and energy of those around me.

Favorite nonprofit: Zonta Club of Oswego.

Other leadership positions: At work, I manage several medical practices for Oswego Health. I serve on the board of the County of Oswego Council on Alcoholism & Addictions, have completed Leadership Oswego County and the Health Leadership fellows program through the Health Foundation of Central & Western New York. I was also secretary of the Kingsford Park Home and School Association when my kids were there and organized the KPS Triathlon for many years.

Margaret N. Barclay
Margaret N. Barclay

Margaret N. Barclay

Executive director, Oswego Health Foundation

Lives in: Pulaski.

Spouse / Children: Husband Will; sons Harry and George.

Education: St. Lawrence University, bachelor’s degree.

Proudest accomplishment: Our two sons. Raising money for the Ethan Lindberg Foundation and running the Boston Marathon with Team Frannie. The Ethan Lindberg Foundation supports families with children with congenital heart disease. Our son, Harry, was diagnosed with congenital heart disease as a toddler. He has had two open heart surgeries and has been asymptomatic and healthy.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field? In development and philanthropy it is important to work for a nonprofit that you believe in and support. Surround yourself with people that you enjoy and balance your strengths and weaknesses. Laugh and enjoy your work.

 When I’m not working, I’m: a mother to our two sons, running with friends, walking our dog Hank and spending time with family and friends.

I can’t get rid of: Sweaters that my mother knit for my father that I remember him wearing proudly.

My wishful super power: Flight. 

This may surprise people: I’ve been laughing at my husband’s jokes since 1996.

Favorite nonprofit: Oswego Health Foundation!

Other leadership positions: I am on the board of the Richard S. Shineman Foundation and the Council for the Women’s Fund of CNY.

Barbara Bateman
Barbara Bateman

Barbara Bateman

Vice president, branch manager, NBT Bank

Lives in: Oswego.

Spouse: Robert Bateman. Children: Jolene Liegl of Florida, Kristen Kelly of Oswego and Ryan Bateman of Brooklyn.

Education: Onondaga Community College, Cayuga Community College, AIB degree.

Proudest accomplishment: My proudest accomplishment was being recognized by United Way with the “Spirit of Community Award.” Early in my banking career, I was asked to manage the new Oswego County Savings Bank branch that was being built on the west side of the city. That was one of my proudest moments in banking. Since then, being made senior vice president with Alliance Bank was pivotal. When we became NBT Bank and I was asked to continue and be “the face of NBT Bank” in the Oswego market, it made me feel appreciated and needed. Personally, becoming a wife, mother and grandmother are right at the top of the list.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Making sure that you find your passion with any career is important. Surrounding yourself with people that care about the things that you care about is key. And first and foremost, get involved with your community.

When I’m not working, I’m: Spending time with my family and friends.

I can’t get rid of: Old photographs of family are important things to hang on to. I never thought I would get rid of the papers from my children’s childhood, but recently my husband and I have downsized again and this time, I’ve separated the piles for each child and will be sending them to them.

My wishful super power: The power to heal would be a wonderful super power.

Would like to meet: Oprah Winfrey. She is an amazing woman. She is generous, kind, intelligent and has overcome many challenges.

My hidden talent: I was a rifle sergeant in the Oswego Black Nights Drum Corp and could spin and toss the rifle and saber pretty well.

What is your main strength as a professional: Customer service is definitely my main strength. My customers have been so important to me over my 33 years in banking, and I have loved making and growing those relationships.

Favorite nonprofit: This is a tough one. I have so many that I have worked with over the years. My recent passion is being the chairwoman of the Oswego Health Foundation. Oswego Health is such an important institution in this community, and they are doing so many necessary things to bring valuable and much needed services to this community.

Other leadership positions: Currently chairwoman of Operation Oswego County and member of Zonta Club of Oswego. Past chairwoman of the Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce; past board member of Oswego Health (but still sit on committees); past Red Cross board member and past advisory chairwoman of the Oswego Salvation Army, to name a few.

Faye Scott Beckwith
Faye Scott Beckwith

Faye Scott Beckwith

Owner, licensed real estate broker, Freedom Real Estate

Lives in: Hannibal

Spouse/children: Husband Jack Beckwith; three grown children, three children-in-law; and six grandchildren; we are excited for our first great-grandchild in February.

Education: Earned four nationally recognized professional designations; certified residential specialist; graduate of the REALTORS Institute.

Proudest accomplishment: Our family is my favorite accomplishment. Also I was named New York State Residential Specialist of the Year several years ago.

What is your advice to a young person entering the field? Learn something new every day and don’t let the job beat you down. Above all else, be nice.

When I’m not working, I’m: Planning. I’m always planning what to do next, whether it’s learning a new song or where we might travel. There’s always a new adventure on the horizon.

I can’t get rid of: Stuff. I’m trying to simplify, but with four jobs, papers and ideas accumulate.

My wishful super power: I would wave my magic wand and our home would be in perfect order from top to bottom. That’s my selfish wish. My serious wish would help everyone to flourish with love.

Would like to meet: My Scottish and Irish ancestors.

This may surprise people: My husband Jack and I eloped 55 years ago with only $300. And yes, I was a child bride.

My hidden talent: I’m hoping to discover this soon! Jack and I are enjoying performing music together.

What is your main strength as a professional? Perseverance and sincerity.

Favorite nonprofit: Samaritan’s Purse.

Other leadership positions: Past president, Christmas Trees Farmers Association of New York; past president, Oswego Board of Realtors; teach Zumba fitness.

Debbie Bilello
Debbie Bilello

Debbie Bilello

Administrator, Fort Brewerton/Greater Oneida Lake Chamber of Commerce

Lives in: Central Square.

Spouse: Lou Bilello; children Brian, Mike and Justin.

Education: Bryant Stratton College, associate degree in accounting.

Proudest accomplishment: I think my proudest accomplishment is having built a successful business on my own. I was an employee in office administration and management in a variety of fields my whole life. After being downsized from two consecutive jobs I realized that I had skills that were marketable to small businesses who needed some guidance in that administrative role. Business owners are really good at focusing on their business. Sometimes they need someone to help them steer the ship from an administrative standpoint. That role isn’t specific to any one industry, but needed in all industries. Being brave enough to dive into business on my own has been life changing.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: My advice to young people is be fearless. Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity. Take one step and then take the next step. You will learn what to do next after you’ve taken a few steps. If it makes your heart sing, then find a way to pursue it and be successful at it.

When I’m not working, I’m: Quilting, paper crafting or enjoying time with my kids and grandchildren. Grandchildren are the perfect reward for raising children.

I can’t get rid of: A quilt that was made for my mom for her 70th birthday. It holds the signatures and handprints of her children and grandchildren. She has since passed. The quilt is a treasured heirloom.

My wishful super power: I would like a kindness magic wand that I could wave and make people be kinder to one another.

Would like to meet: Jesus Christ.

This may surprise people: Some days I miss being an employee. As much as I love being a business owner, some days I’d like to be an employee and work 9 to 5.

My hidden talent: I’m not sure I have one. I’m pretty much an open book so not too many things are hidden.

What is your main strength as a professional: The ability to see a big picture and identify the parts needed to reach the big picture.

Favorite nonprofit: BSA Scouting. All three of my boys are Eagle Scouts.

Other leadership positions: No other current leadership roles but multiple former roles. Former youth leader at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Liverpool; former chairperson of the Cooperative Youth Ministry in the Central Crossroads Conference; former chairperson of the Central Crossroads Conference Volleyball Marathon; held multiple positions in the Boy Scout organization including committee chairwoman, treasurer, den leader, district commissioner.

Randi Bregman
Randi Bregman

Randi Bregman

Executive director, Vera House, Inc.

Lives in: Manlius

Spouse / Children: Husband Ted Gottbrecht; daughter Sonja Gottbrecht; son Carl Gottbrecht; and two wonderful grandchildren Sorin and Bryce.

Education: Bachelor’s degree from SUNY Albany, Master of Social Work degree from Syracuse University.

Proudest accomplishment: My proudest personal accomplishment would have to be raising my amazing children and then helping to raise my wonderful grandchildren. My proudest work accomplishments would be the merger of Vera House and the Rape Crisis Center, “together for hope and healing”, and the overall growth of our programs and services. I am particularly proud of our efforts to reach marginalized communities and our commitment to prevention work, attempting to change the culture that allows violence and abuse to occur.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: I think you need to start by knowing how to take care of yourself and having a good work/life balance. Then you can pour your passion into the work without losing yourself. Also, know that it is okay to fail or make mistakes – that is where a lot of our best learning comes from.

When I’m not working, I’m: relaxing with my family and friends, usually eating healthy comfort food.

I can’t get rid of: My kids’ old things.

My wishful super power: Bring peace.

Would like to meet: Tarana Burke.

This may surprise people: I love to eat snow (it has to be clean though).

My hidden talent: Calligraphy.

What is your main strength as a professional: I am deeply committed to the mission of Vera House and try to live my life promoting Vera House’s vision — a world free of violence and abuse. I engage our community in difficult conversations that are essential for us to grow and change.

Favorite nonprofit: Vera House, but I love many others.

Other leadership positions: I serve on the NYS Coalition Against Domestic Violence policy committee and am on the Steering Committee of the Human Services Leadership Council.

Christie Casciano Burns
Christie Casciano Burns

Christie Casciano Burns

News anchor, author, WSYR-TV, channel 9

Lives in: East Syracuse.

Spouse / Children: Husband, John; daughter, Sophia; son, Joey.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism, SI Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University.

Proudest accomplishment: Raising two wonderful children, being recognized with an Emmy Nomination and Edward R. Murrow Regional Award for “Heroin, Too Close To Home” series; writing a monthly column in USA Hockey Magazine and authoring four published books.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: For aspiring anchors, remember the news should be told, not read. You are real news. Daily rebuild the trust of the people.

When I’m not working, I’m: at a hockey rink watching my daughter play.

I can’t get rid of: my children’s first pair of tiny hockey skates.

 My wishful super power: Teleportation, to be able to travel to any place at any time.

Would like to meet: Paul McCartney.

This may surprise people: I had two total hip replacements.

My hidden talent: I love to figure skate. I can do one mean waltz jump toe loop combination.

What is your main strength as a professional: Passion.

Favorite nonprofit: Make A Wish Foundation.

Other leadership positions: Newsroom mentor to young reporters.

Mary Canale
Mary Canale

Mary Canale

Vice president for development and alumni relations, SUNY Oswego

Lives in: Oswego.

Spouse: Steven. Children: Christine Brown, Ali Scanlon, Michele Canale and Marissa Canale.

Education: SUNY Oswego, psychology.

Proudest accomplishment: Partnership with my husband and raising four wonderful children. Inspiring philanthropy support at SUNY Oswego.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Don’t be afraid of failure, or the word “no.” Have a strong connection to the pulse of your charitable institution. Know what will tangibly be transformed — for the greater good — as you ask others for philanthropic support. Then, go out and represent your institutional mission with confidence, and conviction.

When I’m not working, I’m: cycling, walking and spending time with family.

I can’t get rid of: My books.

Would like to meet: Michele Obama and Andra Bocelli.

This may surprise people: I am a crime show Nexflix junkie.

What is your main strength as a professional: Determination.

Favorite nonprofit: Feed the Poor and Oswego College Foundation.

Pamela Caraccioli
Pamela Caraccioli

Pamela Caraccioli

Deputy to the president for external partnerships and economic development, SUNY Oswego

Lives in: City of Oswego.

Children: Jack, 15; Matthew, 16; and our family dog, Olive.

Education: University of California at Santa Barbara, bachelor’s degree in law and society; Maxwell School at Syracuse University, master’s degree in public administration.

Proudest accomplishment: It would be tough to consider my proudest accomplishment without sharing that I’m most proud of my two sons. They’re pretty cool guys who surprise, ground and inspire me daily. On a professional level, I need to give a shout out to my entire team on (and off) campus, where we build partnerships and create opportunities for our students and our community. Two great, local examples of this include our Leighton Learning Community at Leighton Elementary School, and our Agricultural Testing and Analysis Labs at the Port of Oswego Authority. I’m fortunate to be able to collaborate with many local and regional leaders as well as our campus departments to help build these partnerships.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: I would tell any young person that higher education is an incredible space to work in. It is tremendously rewarding to mentor students, and there are endless opportunities to continue learning, develop new skills, and gain perspectives across cultures and other enriching areas.

When I’m not working, I’m: In motion with two busy teenagers, but we also intentionally carve out time to catch up, watch movies and play lots of ping pong. We also enjoy travel, playing golf, running, cycling and kayaking.

I can’t get rid of: I rescued my great-grandmother’s writing desk about 25 years ago. It’s been refinished and is a beautiful piece that I hope will also be cherished by my sons and their families.

My wishful super power: Like any busy parent, I wish I could be replicated so that I could cover all my bases at a much slower pace.

Would like to meet: I’ve been lucky to meet some important and cool people, but I would love to re-meet my parents and grandparents, who are all deceased. They were incredible people and I would enjoy knowing them again.

This may surprise people: I followed the Grateful Dead throughout the 80’s and into the 90’s, and my last show with Jerry Garcia as lead was in 1995 at RFK stadium in Washington D.C. for my bachelorette party. This was also the year he died. I was lucky to see their farewell show in Chicago in 2015, which was both fun and nostalgic, and it marked my 49th show.

My hidden talent: I’d like to think that I try to find the humor in most any setting — from flight delays to long meetings.

What is your main strength as a professional: I’m pretty intentional about hiring good talent and I can appreciate that they often know more than I do.

Favorite nonprofit: Locally, my favorite nonprofit is Oswego County Opportunities. I cannot image what our community would be like without the work they do. Similarly, but on a more global level, I think the highest nonprofit bar is set by the Gates Foundation. I subscribe to Bill and Melinda’s blogs and try to keep up with them. They’re an incredible team who attach to lifting the most vulnerable populations across the globe.

Other leadership positions: I’m fortunate to sit on many councils, task forces and committees at SUNY Oswego. I’m also a trustee with Fulton Savings Bank and enjoy sitting on the boards for Upstate Medical’s Biotech Accelerator, the NYS Economic Development Council, the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board, and Syracuse City School District’s Partnership Council.

Janet West Clerkin
Janet West Clerkin

Janet West Clerkin

Tourism and public information coordinator, Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism & Planning

Lives in: Parish.

Spouse/Children: Husband Kevin; children Brendan, Sean and Mary Katherine; one grandson, Leland James Clerkin.

Education: SUNY Oswego, Bachelor of Arts degree in English and history, and several marketing courses.

Proudest accomplishment: On a personal level, my proudest accomplishment is raising our three children with my husband, Kevin. We strived to raise them to be responsible and compassionate adults and exposed them to a variety of experiences while they were growing up. Brendan is an oncology nurse in Syracuse; Sean is a sales rep for a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, software firm, and Mary Katherine is an account rep for a market research company in Rochester. Family time is very important to me.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field? No matter how insignificant it seems, approach every job as an opportunity to learn something new. My first job out of college was as a proofreader for “The Palladium-Times.” I knew that position wasn’t my career goal, but the skills I learned from my co-workers were invaluable and opened many doors for me. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help or advice. Take risks and accept new challenges.

When I’m not working, I’m: Cooking, tending our vegetable garden, knitting and spending time outdoors. We tent and canoe camp as often as possible, and take a backcountry camping trip every year. In the winter, I try to get out and cross-country ski or snowshoe.

I can’t get rid of: A Hohner diatonic accordion that belonged to my French-Canadian grandmother.

Would like to meet: Both of my grandfathers, Dexter Slack and William West, passed away long before I was born. I would love to have met them.

This may surprise people: I have an identical twin, Jane, who lives in the Albany area.

My hidden talent: I don’t know if it’s a talent but I play accordion and clarinet.

What is your main strength as a professional: That’s a tough question. I try to look at the big picture and be open to other viewpoints. I always enjoyed writing, and I learned as a newspaper reporter to write under pressure and stay focused. I try to use these skills to help raise awareness about the many positive programs taking place in our community.

Favorite nonprofit: I have enjoyed being involved in several community organizations, but my favorite nonprofit is the Oswego County Pioneer Search and Rescue Team. I joined the team three years ago. It’s made up of dedicated and highly trained volunteers who make themselves available to search for missing persons at all hours of the day and night. We also educate the community, especially youth groups, about how to prepare for a hike and stay safe if they are lost in the woods.

Other leadership positions: I recently stepped down after serving more than 10 years as secretary of Friends of Fort Ontario. The fort is near and dear to my heart and the Friends group is a wonderful group of volunteers that supports educational programs and other projects at the fort. I also served as president of the Oswego County Professional Association, the labor union that represents middle management and professional positions across several departments of county government.

Elizabeth A. “Betsy” Copps
Elizabeth A. “Betsy” Copps

Elizabeth A. “Betsy” Copps

Senior director of operations, Oswego County Opportunities, Inc.

Lives in: Fulton.

Spouse: Husband Chuck. Children: Kenny, 31; and Auger, 27.

Education: SUNY Oswego, bachelor’s degree in English writing arts and history.

Proudest accomplishment: Staying at home with my children during their early years. I was fortunate to have freelance work and some part-time writing assignments until the youngest started school. Investing in their lives back then means I have to work longer before I can retire but to me, nothing has a more powerful influence on our future than bringing up kind, decent human beings who can make a difference.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Jump in with both feet. Be yourself — your best self. Be a sponge: soak up and learn from as many experiences as you can. Listen twice as much as you speak. Don’t burn any bridges; you may need that person’s recommendation someday.

When I’m not working, I’m: Spending time with family, serving in the faith community, devouring books, spoiling my golden doodle, following Syracuse Crunch hockey, crafting or cooking.

I can’t get rid of: Christmas decorations made by our kids, and some old and pretty ugly ornaments that belonged to parents and grandparents. Garish or falling apart, they still go on the tree.

My wishful super power: To be able to breathe under water and survive the tremendous water pressure. Our planet is 70% water and there’s so much that remains unknown and unexplored.

Would like to meet: I thought hard about this one, because I don’t follow celebrities or pay much attention to famous people. What I’d really like is to meet someone who is born 100 years from now, and find out how the work we do today has informed the world they live in.

This may surprise people: While in high school I was privileged to drive a 1961 Ford Thunderbird — until I got into a fender bender. So I actually did have “fun, fun, fun ‘til Daddy took the T-Bird away.”

My hidden talent: I’m a musician. I play and sing as a worship leader in local churches, and I have written a few of my own songs — all since losing hearing in my right ear in 2001. Also, my husband and I are National Anthem singers.

What is your main strength as a professional: My ability to leverage every scrap of learning and life experience together to carry out my work responsibilities with skill, compassion, and excellence. I’ve come a long way toward becoming a fully integrated person, allowing my best professional, personal, spiritual, mental and emotional attributes to be expressed in everything I do.

Favorite nonprofit: I believe in the mission and role of nonprofits in the community, and I also believe in supporting their work, financially and through service opportunities, on the local, national and global levels. I work to support my family and be able to give to help others.

Other leadership positions: Founding member, Lakeside Christian Ministries; board member, Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County.

Megan Coleman
Megan Coleman

Megan Coleman

TV news anchor, WSTM-TV, CNYCentral

Lives in: Manlius.

Spouse / Children: Husband Richard, children: Olivia, 9; Henry, 7; Hudson, 4.

Education: Syracuse University, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism.

Proudest accomplishment: During the course of my broadcast journalism career, I have had the privilege of telling many stories about Central New Yorkers. One of my proudest achievements was winning two New York Emmy Awards alongside my incredibly talented and passionate team.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: You are entering this industry at a most crucial time. It is critical to remember the vital trust the public places in you and to report the news with honesty, objectivity and integrity. Never lose sight of that responsibility. Keep your eyes and ears wide open. There are hidden gems in every story. Read often and find diverse sources from which to stay up-to-date and educated.

When I’m not working, I’m: Spending time with my family, including my husband and three children. Traveling to nearby and far off places. Immersing myself in arts and culture.

I can’t get rid of: My daily cup of Illy coffee, chapstick, body lotion and nice glass of sauvignon blanc to end the workday.

My wishful super power: As a working mother, I know all too well the challenges of juggling multiple hats. If I had a super power, it would be able to clone myself so I could be in multiple places at once. Ideally, I would be anchoring and reporting the news while shuffling kids to their after school activities, making dinner for my family and simultaneously being in the school auditorium for a class performance.

Would like to meet: From politicians to rock stars, I have had the great fortune of interviewing many famous faces over the years including rocker Alice Cooper and actor Richard Gere as well as former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. If I could go back in time, I would love to meet Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony and Harriet Tubman. I would also enjoy the opportunity to interview astronaut Buzz Aldrin and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As for being star struck, I would love to meet actor Matt Damon.

This may surprise people: When I was 15-years-old, I traveled abroad to live with a family in a small town in Spain. Such an adventure may have seemed daunting to some, but for me it was an experience that I was eager to embrace. As a result, I learned how to take a leap of faith, learn about a foreign culture and embrace a new language. It left me with an even greater confidence to take on the unknown.

My hidden talent: Thanks to my experience studying abroad as a teenager and again during my college years in Spain, I have become proficient in the Spanish language. It is a skill that I have relied on many times throughout my professional career.

What is your main strength as a professional: Listening. Most people see me reporting the news, but I think my most valuable skill is the ability to listen to others, understand their concerns and use that to inform myself and the community as I tell the stories of issues impacting Central New Yorkers.

Favorite nonprofit: There are so many nonprofits making a difference in Central New York. As a news organization, we have proudly teamed up with the Food Bank of Central New York for an annual telethon each year understanding that no one should go hungry. I am also incredibly passionate about supporting the arts including the Museum of Science and Technology (MOST), the Everson Museum, Syracuse Stage, Symphoria, Broadway in Syracuse and the Landmark Theater. I am also proud of the work done by Vera House, the McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central New York to help children and families across Central New York.

Other leadership positions: I previously served on the board of trustees for the Museum of Science and Technology and Temple Concord.

Diane Cooper-Currier
Diane Cooper-Currier

Diane Cooper-Currier

Executive director, Oswego County Opportunities, Inc.

Lives in: Scriba.

Education: Master of Social Work degree, Syracuse University.

Proudest accomplishment: I led a project with other community leaders in examining the issue of runaway and homeless youth in Oswego County. As a rule of this work, we were able to obtain funding for runaway and homeless youth services in Oswego County. This provided the first-ever safe emergency and transitional housing alternative for youth to turn to when they were pushed out or left their family.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Stay focused on the mission and the reason why you chose to enter the helping profession. Keep in mind that people do things for their own reasons and in their own time, not for your reasons or in your time frame. If you have a personal vision of advancement, pay attention to your present-day experiences, learn from them and carry that knowledge into the future.

When I’m not working: I’m relaxing any way possible! I particularly enjoy traveling, gardening, walking and watching my two goofy dogs play together.

I can’t get rid of: A piano that my mother gave her mother with her earnings from her first job. It is now ruined because of a recent flood in my house but I can’t part with it.

My wishful super power: To evoke kindness, caring and acceptance on to everyone.

Would like to meet: Abraham Lincoln.

This may surprise people: I am a closet introvert and find it a challenge to speak before groups of people.

My hidden talent: I don’t think I have any hidden talent. If I do, they are hidden from me as well.

Favorite nonprofit: Oswego County Opportunities, Inc., of course.

Other leadership positions: I have been a member of many local, regional and state nonprofit boards and have held officer positions on several of them.

Kathleen “Casey” Crabill
Kathleen “Casey” Crabill

Kathleen “Casey” Crabill

President, Onondaga Community College.

Lives in: Camillus.

Children: Daughter, Katy.

Education: Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Skidmore College; Master of Science degree in teaching English as a second language and an a Doctorate of Education degree in curriculum and instruction, both from SUNY Albany.

Proudest Accomplishment: Raising a wonderful daughter and finding meaningful work. Every graduation ceremony fills me with hope and pride.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: For young people interested in entering higher education, I recommend that they push through and complete their graduate work, find passion in their research, and get teaching experience early. This will help them build a strong foundation connected to something they care about.

When I am not working, I am: wondering why I’m not working because there is plenty to do. I like spending time with friends and traveling.

I can’t get rid of: I have too many sets of china from various relatives.

My wishful superpower: The ability to grant wishes.

Would like to meet: Eleanor Roosevelt.

This may surprise people: When I retire, I want to travel the world to study wine.

My hidden talent: A decent cook.

What is your main strength as a professional: At this stage, I would say strength comes from experience, a strong network and the ability to remain level during stressful times.

Favorite non-profit: Onondaga Community College.

Other leadership positions: Chairwoman of the Central New York Community Foundation board.

Karrie Damm-Stewart
Karrie Damm-Stewart

Karrie Damm-Stewart

Executive director, Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County

Lives in: Scriba.

Spouse / Children: Husband Craig; one child, Kaylee; four step kids: Stef, Jessie, Cody and Abbi; four grandbabies, and too many to count furbabies.

Education: Syracuse University: Dual Bachelor of Science degrees in biology and psychology; master’s degree in marriage and family therapy.

Proudest accomplishment: My proudest personal accomplishment is maintaining my integrity and relationships in a tough world. My proudest professional accomplishment is building a permanent home for the CAC that will be a beacon of hope for abused children and their families for generations.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field? Know yourself. Find your voice. Speak up when someone gives you the microphone because it’s a privilege not afforded to everyone.

When I’m not working, I’m: traveling to fun places with my family and swimming with my kids and grandbabies.

I can’t get rid of: Old Christmas ornaments that symbolize something important that happened that year. I’ve been collecting them for 30 years.

My wishful super power: To clone myself. There are too many things I want to do and not enough of me to do them all.

Would like to meet: The Dalai Lama or Pope Frances. How they keep their faith in trying times is a piece of knowledge I’d like to learn.

This may surprise people: I’m a huge nerd. I love books and reading and math and science.

My hidden talent: I make an amazing chocolate cake.

What is your main strength as a professional: My resilience. I am able to see the good in people, maintain compassion, and bounce back after a disappointment.

Favorite nonprofit: After the CAC, the Girl Scouts.

Other leadership positions: Treasurer of the New York State Children’s Alliance; former president and board member of the New York Association for Marriage & Family Therapy. I’m also a member of the Oswego County Child Protection Advisory Committee.

Heather DelConte
Heather DelConte

Heather DelConte

President, Oswego City School Board of Education; legislator, Oswego County Legislature

Lives in: Black Creek Farms, Volney.

Spouse/Children: Scott J. DelConte; daughters Danielle, 19; Nicole, 17; and sons Joseph, 15, and Jack, 13.

Education: Bachelor  of Science degree (1995), Master  of Science degree (1997), Cornell University.

Proudest accomplishment: I can’t really take credit for what I am most proud of — my marriage and children. However, I can take credit for intentionally choosing a life of service, both as a professional and volunteer. Over the years, I have worked extensively with countless youth programs, dedicated time to numerous community organization boards, taught agricultural programs in the schools and in public forums, and helped run global and local outreach initiatives through our church. Stepping out into the often-complicated world of elected public service was a significant challenge for me. However, every conscious choice to use my time, talents, and education for the benefit of others has resulted in a positive ripple effect that is both reciprocal and exponential. I am very proud of that.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: To participate in elected public service positions. Most importantly, you have to know yourself, fully understand your value system, and be willing to work humbly and sacrificially. Once elected, never forget you are a servant to the needs of your constituency and external pressures should never overshadow your personal moral compass. Lastly, don’t let anyone tell you don’t belong. Everyone, regardless of political affiliation, place of birth, or socioeconomic status should have a chance to serve in this capacity for their own growth and the benefit of the community.

When I’m not working, I’m: Still working. Our family manages a small beef farm, raising mostly registered breeding stock. Although we work together, there is always more to do. We spend a lot of time as a family fixing fences, training calves and managing manure.

I can’t get rid of: There isn’t any material item I am attached to. I like to keep life simple.

My wishful super power: I wish I had the ability to see and understand everyone else’s perspective.

Would like to meet: Harriet Tubman.

This may surprise people: I was living with my family in New Delhi, India, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated (Oct. 31, 1984). The riots and terrible events that ensued had a tremendous impact on me.

My hidden talent: I tear and glue tiny pieces of old magazine pages to create artwork depicting nature, pets and landscapes.

What is your main strength as a professional: I am creative and really enjoy developing solutions that exist outside traditional boundaries.

Favorite nonprofit: 4-H and Future Farmers of America.

Other leadership positions: 4-H leader, Oswego County; junior livestock and educational superintendent, Oswego County Fair.

Linda Eagan
Linda Eagan

Linda Eagan

Administrative director, Fulton Block Builders

Lives in: Volney.

Spouse/Children: Husband Mark; daughter Cathlin and son-in-law Sermet, who have two beautiful sons Ashton and Jack; Son Micheil, engaged to Kristen; and son Alan, married to Ashley with a sweet daughter Ava.

Education: Bachelor of Arts degree in social work and criminal justice, Anderson College; master’s level guidance counseling coursework, SUNY Oswego.

Proudest accomplishment: My family is hands-down what makes me beam with pride. But I’m guessing you want me to talk about Fulton Block Builders. In November, I was selected as one of nine American Association of Retired Persons’ Purpose Prize fellows in the United States. This is a great honor and brings with it a year of technical assistance that will catapult FBB from a start-up to a replicable, sustainable organization.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field? Don’t let labels prevent you from moving forward and doing new things. Fulton Block Builders is a neighborhood revitalization program that helps homeowners and property owners recover part of the cost of their property improvements. After a career in human services helping teens and families build on their strengths, I started Fulton Builders as a neighborhood revitalization program bringing neighbors and communities together. But this is not my training or field of study. Skills are transferable.

When I’m not working, I’m: Hanging with family and friends, gardening, hiking, entertaining and playing with my dog.

I can’t get rid of: A glass water pitcher my mother received as a wedding gift. She was always afraid she would break it and therefore used it rarely if ever. I love it and use it at almost every party.

My wishful super power: Healing, both of the heart and the body.

Would like to meet: Unfortunately, I have lost a lot of my family. I would definitely like to meet and talk with each of them again.

This may surprise people: I don’t live in the city of Fulton and I have no formal education in community development.

My hidden talent: It takes years to complete but I make Christmas stockings for my family members. Right now, I’m three behind for grandson Jack, granddaughter Ava, and future daughter-in-law Kristen. They take forever but are a labor of love.

What is your main strength as a professional: Confidence, in others and myself.

Favorite nonprofit: Fulton Block Builders, of course.

Other leadership positions: Oswego County Health Department, compliance program administrator and HIPAA privacy office; OCO, Inc., adolescent family life coordinator; Oswego County, adolescent pregnancy prevention and services coordinator; NYS Council on Adolescent Pregnancy, president; Oswego County Youth Bureau, board member and program committee; CNY Council on Adolescent Pregnancy, president; Reach CNY board, president; Weston T. Hyde Educational Foundation, president; Integrated Community Planning of Oswego County, board member and budget committee.

Lynne Eggert
Lynne Eggert

Lynne Eggert

Associate leader, wellness and emergency services coordinator, Novelis, Inc.

Lives in: Oswego.

Spouse: Jeffrey Eggert; children: Eric, Amanda and Rachel Morris.

Education: Roberts Wesleyn College, bachelor’s in nursing; Community General, NYS nurse practitioner certification.

Proudest accomplishment: Raising three wonderful children with proudest moments being my son enlisting in the United States Army, working at Walter Reed Hospital, caring for our injured soldiers and vets; my oldest daughter graduating from Northwestern Law as an attorney and my youngest daughter graduating from Yale University with a Master in Public Health degree.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Nursing is not just a profession; it’s a passion to help others. Although many nursing responsibilities have changed over the years and as a whole have become more technical with advanced medicine, one thing has not: making a difference in someone’s life. My career as a nurse has made me a better person.

When I’m not working, I’m: golfing, cooking, reading and traveling.

I can’t get rid of: My piano.

My wishful super power: To be able to travel in time and witness important events in history.

Would like to meet: Malala Yousifazi.

This may surprise people: I love ballet and classical music.

My hidden talent: Figure skater.

What is your main strength as a professional: I would consider my professional strength as being dedicated to my work. I have a strong sense of support and loyalty to our employees and company.

Favorite nonprofit: SCPA.

Other leadership positions: Farnham board member; Oswego Health board member, Oswego Health Business Relations Committee, member.

Lisa Emmons
Lisa Emmons

Lisa Emmons

Owner, Mother Earth Baby Boutique and Diaper Service and Curious Kidz

Lives in: Oswego.

Spouse: Husband Nathan Emmons. Children: Alex, 20; Daniel, 17; Olivia, 11; and Sam, 8.

Education: SUNY Potsdam, bachelor’s degrees in psychology and dance; Syracuse University, Master of Social Work degree with a concentration in gerontology.

Proudest accomplishment: First I’m so proud to be the mom of four fantastic children. Next, being married to the love of my life for nearly 20 years (this January). Nathan and I met about 28 years ago in college and I wouldn’t want to work, live or play beside anyone else. Finally, I’m so incredibly proud of our business being self-employed. This is not where I would have expected to be, but so thankful for the path that brought us here today.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Starting your own business and being self-employed takes an enormous amount of flexibility, persistence and patience. Things don’t happen overnight and things also aren’t always great or perfect. I’ve found that one of the most important things I’ve learned is to listen to my customers. Meaning always keeping your ears open, showing compassion and truly understanding what they are looking for and what is helpful to them. Service is the top priority and something that above all else is the reason why people come back to you.

When I’m not working, I’m: Working. Ha,ha! Really, my husband and I often think about the times way back when we had a weekend off or an evening where we were faced with the question, “What do we want to do?” We have many things we juggle on a daily basis from homeschooling our two younger children, to evening activities such as dance classes, Boy Scouts, high school performances for one of our older sons who is involved in marching band, chorus, concert band and the school theatrical performances, to the many volunteer opportunities we participate in. Oftentimes most nights we don’t sit until about 11 p.m.

I can’t get rid of: Many things! Ha,ha! I tend to hold on to more than I should. My employees always laugh at me and tease me that my basement is like Mary Poppins’ purse. I can always find just about anything I need. But really, the one thing I absolutely love and enjoy still playing with to this day with my children is my collection of vintage Fisher Price Little People. I have dreams one day of bringing them out to share with my grandchildren one day.

My wishful super power: To clone myself. Oh, imagine the possibilities.

Would like to meet: My husband over coffee. Ha,ha! Seems simple, but never happens just for fun.

This may surprise people: So many people are surprised to know about what I did before starting my own business. I received my master’s in social work and worked about 14 years with at-risk youth. I started at a CNY nonprofit right after graduating and worked in many positions. My final position was as a director of multi-dimensional treatment foster care. I had the opportunity to start this program from the ground up. What an amazing experience. I left that position and moved to another local nonprofit working as a manager for the home and community-based services waiver program, providing wrap-around mental health services to keep youth home and in the community and out of the hospital or a higher level of care. We started our business after the birth of our daughter. I think we were surprised that it went well and that is when I was faced with an extremely scary and difficult decision to leave my career.

My hidden talent: Dance. I danced my whole life. I loved it so much I took it as a second major in school. After graduation, I never took an organized class again until about five years ago (age 40) when I started back up when my daughter started dancing. One style though that I never took was tap. I always wanted to learn so I figured I better just do it and not waste one more day. Three years ago, I took my first tap class and loved it! Dance is my one outlet and the one activity where I don’t think about all the things I still have to do.

What is your main strength as a professional: I think I have a great desire to help people. I naturally am a problem solver and love to process solutions with people.

Favorite nonprofit: New York Milk Bank. It collects and processes human milk from donors to be able to provide for the most medically vulnerable babies who need this milk to survive. I am a breastfeeding advocate and support for breastfeeding moms and is probably the one thing I am most passionate about.

Other leadership positions: Board member Oswego County Breastfeeding Coalition; volunteer licensed by the New York State Health Department as a Milk Depot for Milk Depot for the NY Milk Bank; board member Integrated Community Planning; founding member Shop Oswego Live Oswego; member Downtown Oswego Energetic Retailers; former founding board member and First 40 member Children’s Museum of Oswego; awarded Oswego County Forty Under 40 (2014); former member Oswego Rotary Club; former member Zonta of Oswego County; retired La Leche League Leader.

Sara Errington
Sara Errington

Sara Errington

District chief, Syracuse Fire Department

Lives in: DeWitt.

Spouse / Children: Husband Mark Trodden. No kids.

Education: Ph.D., Brown University; Master of Arts degree, Brown University; Bachelor of Arts, Mount Holyoke College.

Proudest accomplishment: Finishing my Ph.D. was a proud moment, but nothing beats becoming a district chief in the Syracuse Fire Department. This is my dream job and I worked extremely hard to earn it.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Stay out of trouble, study hard and get strong physically and mentally. Learn a trade, and work on becoming self-disciplined and self-motivated. Make reading a regular part of your life. It will come in handy when you are learning the history and strategy of firefighting.

When I’m not working, I’m: Finding new restaurants and bars to try.

I can’t get rid of: Old keys. I will never figure out what they open, but I can’t bring myself to throw them away.

My wishful super power: Super strength combined with ridiculous martial arts skills.

Would like to meet: Harriet Tubman.

This may surprise people: I’ve never seen the movies Forrest Gump or Top Gun.

My hidden talent: I may be one of the world’s heaviest sleepers. I’m not sure if that’s a talent or a curse.

What is your main strength as a professional: Persistence and strong organizational skills.

Favorite nonprofit: Planned Parenthood.

Karen Ferguson
Karen Ferguson

Karen Ferguson

LIFT Oswego County coordinator, Oswego County Opportunities

Lives in: Oswego Town.

Spouse: Husband. Children: Stacie and Christopher.

Education: SUNY Oswego, Bachelor of Science degree; certified fundraising professional

Proudest accomplishment: Learning to manage being a mom, wife, friend, grammy and a fulfilling career.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Read, read some more, learn and stay on top of new ideas. Fundraising and not-for-profit management is ever changing and success lies in being flexible enough to learn, grow and change.

When I’m not working, I’m: Reading.

I can’t get rid of: A comfortable but very worn pair of jeans.

My wishful super power: To make a kinder world.

Would like to meet: Simone Joyaux, Barack Obama.

This may surprise people: I ride a motorcycle (Spyder).

My hidden talent: None that are hidden.

What is your main strength as a professional: My flexibility and willingness to mentor or others.

Favorite nonprofit: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Other leadership positions: President, CNY Chapter Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Meghan Florkowski
Meghan Florkowski

Meghan Florkowski

Director, WISE Women’s Business Center

Lives in: Fayetteville.

Spouse: AJ, three children.

Education: United States Military Academy; engineering psychology, minor in systems engineering.

Proudest accomplishment: Taking very calculated risks to include on my husband. We’re approaching 15 years, so I think I got it right. In all seriousness, everything I’m most proud of was born out of not sitting idle and the willingness to get a bit uncomfortable.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Sounds clichéd, but remain flexible. My career journey has been all over the map both literally and figuratively while serving in the military and as a military spouse, so for many years, I had to remain flexible out of necessity. My constant reminder is a quote visible in my office, “You should be stubborn about your goals but flexible in your methods.”

When I’m not working, I’m: With my family, ideally outside and most often on the soccer field.

I can’t get rid of: I have a very goofy print with a dog on it that says, “smile.” It has traveled from my son’s bedroom to my office and now it’s back in the house in the bathroom. It really does make you smile so that’s why I keep it around.

My wishful super power: To let the little stuff bounce off more often than it does.

Would like to meet: My great grandparents.

This may surprise people: I don’t do so often now, but I love going on spontaneous adventures. The best trips for me are those that are not over planned, probably because my day to day is so planned and down to the minute.

My hidden talent: Hmm…being able to tell a joke that nobody gets.

What is your main strength as a professional: Appreciating the talents of those I work with and I would say the ability to keep it simple if needed and detailed when required.

Favorite nonprofit: This answer changes with my season in life. Right now, my favorites are organizations my kids are involved with so it’s tough to share just one. Our local rec soccer program and Scouts for starters.

Other leadership positions: A few past ones: assistant director of employer relations, Le Moyne College; director of Entrepreneurship Programs, Institute for Veterans and Military Families; platoon leader and Battalion S-1, U.S. Army.

Leila Giancone
Leila Giancone

Leila Giancone

Communications lead, Novelis

Lives in: Baldwinsville.

Spouse/Children: Husband Michael, daughter Estella Giancone.

Education: Binghamton University, undergraduate degree, English; The New School, Master of Science degree in management, with concentration in corporate social responsibility.

ProudThest accomplishment: I’m not sure if it counts as an accomplishment per se, but I’m proud of my daily commitment to be a kind person. I appreciate that every day is a new opportunity to accomplish acts of kindness and compassion.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field? Be open. Listen, ask questions, understand purpose and commit to learning, doing and collaborating with your peers, leaders and community.

When I’m not working, I’m: Enjoying time with my family and friends, hiking, skiing or cheering on my favorite sports teams.

My wishful super power: The ability to grant wishes. It would be such an incredible superpower to help people make their dreams come true. That or teleportation because then I’d never be late to get to where I’m going.

Would like to meet: My grandfather. He passed away when I was a baby but his legacy lives on through his friends and family. He was an incredible person who not only worked hard but smart. His values and purpose significantly shaped my mom’s values and purpose and my mom significantly shaped mine as a result.

What is your main strength as a professional: Listening.

Favorite nonprofit: There are so many wonderful philanthropic organizations that are making positive impacts in our communities. It’s hard to pick just one. If I had to pick just one, it would be the American Cancer Society. The ACS is leading the way in research and patient care for a disease that affects far too many people.

Other leadership positions: Current: Chairwoman of the ACS board of advisors; member, ACS Upstate NY Leadership Board; member, advisory council for the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce; co-founder of “Oswego Going Global” scholarship program; former: vice chairwoman of the Downtown YMCA board of managers; member, communications council for the American Red Cross (sub-committee of the board).

Karen S. Goetz
Karen S. Goetz

Karen S. Goetz

Executive director, Richard S. Shineman Foundation

Lives in: Syracuse.

Spouse: Jeff Rea, five sons.

Education: Indiana University, Bachelor of Science degree in education.

Proudest accomplishment: Utilizing my 28 years of entrepreneurial for-profit business experience and applying that to my work at the Shineman Foundation. In 2013-2014, I was honored to serve on the foundation’s initial board of directors, and I have been executive director for the past five years. During that time, I have worked with our board to steer the foundation through the start-up phase and into its current growth and outreach phase. In just seven years, the Shineman Foundation has provided a total of 250 grants to 118 organizations totaling over $7 million.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Surround yourself with positive, smart people who can be your mentors. Listen more than talk. Keep learning. Always do your best, be ethical and treat others as you would want to be treated.

When I’m not working: I’m doing stuff with my husband like yoga, taking walks, going to the movies and working on projects at home. We also love spending time with my kids, grandkids and friends.

I can’t get rid of: My kids’ old Christmas ornaments.

My wishful super power: To clone myself so I could be in multiple places at once.

Would like to meet: Meryl Streep.

This may surprise people: I have a degree in education. I got into the business world when my first husband’s business failed in 1985. I learned how to start, grow and run a business via on-the-job self-training with excellent mentors advising me.

My hidden talent: I have a memory like an elephant.

What is your main strength as a professional: I think like a coach. I focus on and utilize people’s strengths and always encourage them to keep learning and doing the best they can. I continually look for ways our foundation can have more impact in our community.

Favorite nonprofit: The Richard S. Shineman Foundation, of course.

Other leadership positions: Founder & CEO of Inforia, Inc. 2000-2014; electronic health record company founder & CEO of TickestLive 1986-1999 (first international software ticketing company to create truly live internet ticketing); founding member of the Syracuse Chapter of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO); served on the boards of: NY Funders Alliance, Housing & Homeless Coalition of CNY, LIFT Oswego City and LIFT Oswego County (anti-poverty) Collaborative, Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, MOST Foundation Board.

Leah Haggerty
Leah Haggerty

Leah Haggerty

President, licensed real estate broker, Century 21 Leah’s Signature Inc.

Lives in: Granby.

Spouse/Children: Husband, Thomas Haggerty; children Meagan Keib and Patrick Haggerty.

Education: Tunxis Community College, SUNY Buffalo.

Proudest accomplishment: My proudest accomplishment is to have been the mother of two wonderful children and now to be a grandmother of two beautiful grandchildren.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field? Affiliate with a good brokerage. Learn as much as you can. Go to as many training classes (online or in person) as you possibly can. Listen, listen, and listen to your clients and customers. And always dress up, show up, be consistent every day.

When I’m not working, I’m: Usually involved with family activities.

I can’t get rid of: I purge my house regularly, but you could ask my husband that question.

My wishful super power: If I had a super power, I would want to be able to feed all the hungry children.

Would like to meet: Zig Ziglar.

My favorite quote: A quote that I read and firmly believe in is, “Leadership is not about being in charge; it is about taking care of people in your charge” (Simon Sinek).

My hidden talent: Professionally, when storms are all around, people see only calm in me.

What is your main strength as a professional: After 30 years in the real estate business, I believe my main strength is my ability to negotiate. I believe my negotiating skills are enhanced by the fact that I truly care. I truly care about my clients and customers. I truly care about the professional real estate agents who are affiliated with me.

Favorite nonprofit: Oswego County Opportunities PATH Program (Program to Assist Teenage Homeless), which we have supported for the last 23 years.

Other leadership positions: Past president, Oswego County Board of Realtors; past chairwoman of the Greater Fulton Chamber of Commerce; Realtor of the Year; currently serving as a director on the Fulton Housing board of directors; currently serving on the Fulton Downtown Revitalization Initiative local planning committee.

Kathleen Randall Henry
Kathleen Randall Henry

Kathleen Randall Henry

Vice president, Mitchell’s Speedway Press

Lives in: Scriba.

Spouse: John Henry. Children: Megan, 29, lives on Long Island, and Tyler, 25, is your local Fed Ex delivery driver.

Education: Mexico High School, some college.

Proudest accomplishment: Raising two healthy and happy children while being able to successfully run a small business for over 30 years.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Two words: kindness and empathy. You must start with kindness toward yourself first. You are going to make mistakes, so learn from them and move forward. Have empathy toward your employees and your customers. You must understand the needs of your customers, and the only way to do that is by truly listening to them. Your employees need to feel like they are heard as well, and valued.

When I’m not working, I’m: hiking in the Adirondacks. I became a 46’er at age 50, and my passion for the mountains has only grown.

I can’t get rid of: 10 lbs. of belly fat.

My wishful super power: To cure cancer.

Would like to meet: The Dalai Lama.

This may surprise people: I am a teetotaler. I completely stopped drinking alcohol in 2015 and never felt better.

My hidden talent: Endurance hiking, longest so far 21 miles in 12 hours.

What is your main strength as a professional: Organization.

Favorite nonprofit: National Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

Other leadership positions: Many, including Girl Scouts, Harborfest, Salvation Army, Home and School Associations, various professional boards and foundations, and they all made me the person I am today. “One to whom much has been given, much is required” are the words I live by.

Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham
Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham

Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham

Founder and president, Women TIES, LLC

Lives in: Syracuse.

Spouse: Scott Higginbotham. Children: Thomas Higginbotham and Adam Higginbotham.

Education: SUNY Oswego, Bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Proudest accomplishment: Writing and recently releasing my first book “Under the Rose-Colored Hat” sharing my personal medical journey with alopecia that made me a bald woman at age 54 and the compassion and kindness witnessed during that time.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: I wouldn’t become an entrepreneur right out of college but rather gain 10 years of experience in your chosen field, learn and make contacts and then create a business unique to your passions and talents utilizing your education and work experience.

When I’m not working, I’m: Running, kayaking, biking and visiting my sons in New York City.

I can’t get rid of: My downhill skies given to me by my dad in 1979.

My wishful super power: Instant teleportation to places where my loved ones are and where I can do good in the community.

Would like to meet: Dave Matthews of the Dave Matthews Band.

This may surprise people: I appeared on the Oprah Show in 1998.

My hidden talent: Extremely witty.

What is your main strength as a professional: Promoting, supporting and uniting woman-owned businesses across New York state.

Favorite nonprofit: 261Fearless (Global nonprofit); Maureen’s Hope Foundation (local nonprofit).

Other leadership positions: Since 1987, I have supported SUNY Oswego as a board member of the Oswego Alumni Association and Oswego Business School; served as advisory board member of the New York State Women’s Business Center since 2005; past board member of Maureen’s Hope Foundation; and past president of Khorus Performing Arts for Kids.

Evelyn C. Ingram
Evelyn C. Ingram

Evelyn C. Ingram

Director of Community Relations, Wegmans Food Markets

Lives in: Syracuse.

Spouse / Children: Husband Chino, son Austin, 11th grader.

Education: Syracuse University, Bachelor of Science in public relations; LeMoyne College, MBA.

Proudest accomplishment: The birth of my son. I also am very proud of the community service reputation Wegmans has gained in the Central New York market under my leadership.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Be flexible. Learn how to go with the flow. Don’t be so focused on achieving career goals that you don’t take time enjoy life. Know how to speak and write proper English.

When I’m not working, I’m: Spending time with my husband and my son. Traveling. Shopping.

I can’t get rid of: My son’s baby clothes.

My wishful super power: The ability to read minds.

Would like to meet: Actress Angela Bassett.

This may surprise people: I always wanted to host my own talk show.

My hidden talent: I know how to cornrow braid hair.

What is your main strength as a professional: The ability to build relationships with others.

Favorite nonprofit: I love them all as they all do great work and serve a significant purpose.

Other leadership positions: CenterState CEO board of directors, first vice chairwoman; Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation, board of directors; Salvation Army of Great Syracuse, board of directors, 2019 Civic Luncheon chairwoman; United Way of Central New York, board of directors, Leadership Giving and Women United chairwoman; WCNY Public Broadcasting, board of directors; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Syracuse Graduate Chapter President; Links, Inc., executive committee member; Central New York Community Foundation, board of directors, two terms; Crouse Hospital Foundation, board of directors, two terms; Hillside Work Scholarship Connection, board of directors, three terms; American Heart Association -Go Red for Women, campaign chairwoman, 2015 and 2017.

Farah Jadran
Farah Jadran

Farah Jadran

News anchor, CBS 5 This Morning and CBS 5 News at noon, CNYCentral

Lives in: Syracuse.

Spouse / Children: Niko Tamurian, sports director at CNYCentral.

Education: Master’s degree in magazine, newspaper and online journalism, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University.

Proudest accomplishment: I grew up watching Chicago newscasts and reading Chicago area newspapers. Since I could talk, I wanted to be a broadcast journalist. Since I could read and I write, I knew I also wanted to be a newspaper and magazine journalist. I have been blessed to make all those dreams come true. I helped launch Central New York’s first and only standing women’s magazine in January 2011 — Syracuse Woman Magazine. More than five years ago, I then transitioned to TV news, which is where my journey is currently. Anchoring the morning and noon news for CBS5 WTVH in Syracuse is a great privilege and honor.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Sharing other people’s stories is a great privilege — one you cannot take for granted. Being a journalist means being fair, balanced and objective. No matter which field you enter, be yourself. Remember, that it is your dream and your path — no one else will decide it for you. As you become more and more successful, be sure to pass on knowledge to others and mentor when possible.

When I’m not working, I’m: fitting in a run on the streets of Syracuse or spending time with my husband Niko and our three dogs, Jack, Bear and Bogey.

I can’t get rid of: all my old running ribbons, medals and track shoes from my biggest races.

My wishful super power: I wish I could speak every language in the world. For now, I speak English and Spanish.

Would like to meet: Malala Yousafzai.

This may surprise people: I enjoy playing Fantasy Football and I am a red belt in Hapkido, a Korean martial art.

My hidden talent: I memorize movie and TV show lines without even trying.

What is your main strength as a professional: I am a team player who can easily adapt in a changing environment such as daily news.

Favorite nonprofit: Many nonprofits are close to my heart, and a few of them include Hope for Heather Ovarian Cancer Awareness, Vera House, Helping Hounds Dog Rescue, YWCA, Ophelia’s Place, WBOC, Arc of Onondaga and Front Row Players.

Other leadership positions: Current: President, Vera House board of directors; media spokeswoman, Hope for Heather Ovarian Cancer Awareness. Past: board of director, WBOC and Ophelia’s Place; advisory board, WISE Women’s Business Center

Brittney Fiorini Jerred
Brittney Fiorini Jerred

Brittney Fiorini Jerred

Media relations, NYS Assembly / Assemblyman Will Barclay (R,C,I,Ref-Pulaski)

Lives in: Fulton

Spouse/Children: Husband Benjamin Jerred, daughter Mary Jerred, 15, son Henry Jerred, 10.

Education: SUNY Oswego, English major/business minor.

Proudest accomplishment: Recently, it was being a part of a core group of volunteers that developed the winning Downtown Revitalization Initiative application for the city of Fulton. Learning we were awarded $10 million was one of the most exciting days of my career, and I will carry the enthusiasm and positive energy that was in that room at the announcement for a long time. There is a revitalization movement afoot in Fulton and I am hopeful for its future. The DRI attaches something tangible to the efforts already being made by many who wish for our city to move beyond years of economic downturn.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field? Be kind. Find your passion, collaborate with others who have similar goals and set small, obtainable goals that help you succeed to reach the big-picture goals together. Always do your research too and be open to working with people who have similar passions but can offer a different viewpoint, talent or skill set. Show appreciation along the way. The phrase “stronger together” often comes to mind when I think about projects or efforts that make a difference.

When I’m not working, I’m: Enjoying spending time with my family, friends, reading, working out, working on various projects at home or finding ways to improve the community. I love the people here and for too long, Fulton has not recognized or showcased its strengths. We need to change that and while the DRI will help, it is the people, businesses, residents, parents, and families who live here that have the opportunity to use it as a catalyst for real change.

I can’t get rid of: My cello. I enjoyed playing in an orchestra and one day I hope to get back to that.

My wishful super power: Healing powers.

Would like to meet: Mother Theresa. Seeing old videos of her and reading her writing is inspiring.

This may surprise people: I worked on my parents’ farm every summer growing up.

My hidden talent: Sewing/quilting.

As a professional, what is your main strength? Collaborating with others.

Favorite nonprofit: Fulton Footpaths.

Other leadership positions: Co-founder of Fulton Footpaths; past editor of monthly, weekly and daily publications.

Linda M. LeMura
Linda M. LeMura

Linda M. LeMura

President, Le Moyne College

Lives in: Syracuse.

Spouse / Children: Lawrence Tanner, Ph.D., professor of environmental science systems at Le Moyne; daughter Emily Tanner.

Education: Summa cum laude graduate of Niagara University; M.S. and Ph.D. in applied physiology from Syracuse University.

Proudest accomplishment: Raising a thoughtful, kind, generous, smart, confident and hardworking daughter. Emily is an energetic young professional who has her priorities in the right place. What’s more important, she’s a loyal friend and a loving family member. I attribute many of her qualities to the fact that she’s Jesuit-educated.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Have an insatiable curiosity. Be a voracious reader and a life-long learner who works to master your own discipline and understands the power of studying economics. Crave meaningful dialogue and consultation. Appreciate those with whom you may disagree.

When I’m not working, I’m: Spending time with my family.

I can’t get rid of: Any of my daughter’s artwork and her homemade cards.

My wishful super power: Being able to transport back in time to meet some of the great intellects and spiritual leaders since the birth of Christ.

Would like to meet: Leonardo da Vinci, so I could converse with a rarified genius. This would be particularly energizing to me as his expertise in so many fields is truly inspirational. And it would be incredibly fun to spend time with him. I’d have a million questions I’d love to ask. Maybe more.

This may surprise people: I was a good athlete in my youth. I was a varsity athlete in high school and college and continue to dabble in sports to this day.

My hidden talent: I am a fantastic gardener and love landscape design.

What is your main strength as a professional: Equal parts curiosity and energy.

Favorite nonprofit: Jesuit Refugee Services and Catholic Charities.

Other leadership positions: I am a member of the Regional Economic Development Council, a trustee at the College of the Holy Cross and on the Executive Committee of the International Association of Jesuit Universities.

Jamie Leszczynski
Jamie Leszczynski

Jamie Leszczynski

Senior director of communications, Oswego Health

Lives in: Oswego.

Spouse: Michael Leszczynski. Children: Maddie, 11; Tanner, 7; and Caden, 3.

Education: SUNY Oswego, Bachelor of Science with a marketing degree.

Proudest accomplishment: After losing my brother to suicide when he was only 16, I set out to try to make a difference and partnered with a national nonprofit, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE). In 2010, my committee of volunteers became the first US charter for SAVE and for the past nine years, we have raised over $100,000 and engaged over 15,000 people to raise awareness surrounding mental health.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Make sure you have professional goals. Even if it’s identifying where you want to be in just five years from now. Then immediately create your own personal board of directors. Identify influential people who can help coach and guide you to success. Success is something you have to work toward. By surrounding yourself with influential people that can help you network and build your own brand, you’ll get to where you strive to go in your career.

When I’m not working, I’m: Being a mom of three very busy children.

I can’t get rid of: Old greeting cards, especially the funny ones, but I love them all.

My wishful super power: I wish that I had the power to immediately brighten someone’s day. To make them smile when they’re sad. To make them laugh when they think they didn’t have it in them. To have the power to never allow someone to have the feeling that they are alone or depressed. That suicide was never a thought that crossed their mind.

Would like to meet: If I had a chance to meet someone influential, I’d probably choose Sheryl Sandberg. She currently is the COO of Facebook and has been an advocate for women in the business world.

This may surprise people: One day I’d love to write a children’s book about mental health and self confidence and travel around the country, reading it out loud.

My hidden talent: I love doing silly voices and accents when I read books to my kids at night.

What is your main strength as a professional: I consider myself to be a very dedicated individual. Dedication teaches discipline, passion and time management. All are vital to success. I can truly say that I’m dedicated to my employer, my employees, colleagues and our patients.

Favorite nonprofit: SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education)

Other leadership positions and accomplishments: chairwoman of SAVE Central NY since 2010. Received Leadership Oswego County’s 40 Under 40 award at the age of 25. At the age of 32, listed with BizEventz 40 Under 40. Graduate of Leadership Greater Syracuse, Class of 2014. Past president of Central New York’s Sales and Marketing Executives, 2014 -2016. Coach for Girls Leprechaun League.

Suzie Lobdell
Suzie Lobdell

Suzie Lobdell

Assistant vice president of customer experience, HealthWay Family of Brands

Lives in: Clay.

Spouse: Vinny, three children.

Education: LeMoyne College, Bachelor of Arts in sociology, human services; Bryant & Stratton College, certified paralegal.

Proudest Accomplishment: I’ve recently completed my second half marathon and I’m proud of the hard work and time that I’ve put into my running in the last year and a half. Running has become something I really enjoy, and it keeps my body and mind healthy. I’ve also made some great friends through running; the running community can be somewhat of a support group.

Advice to a young person entering this field: Don’t be afraid to take on projects that you are not familiar with; you will learn new things and grow as a professional, and individual, by challenging yourself with new tasks.

When I’m not working, I’m: Traveling! I travel often for work, but we really enjoy traveling with our family and friends too. One of my favorite quotes is: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page,” St. Augustine.

I can’t get rid of: Handwritten cards. I keep Christmas cards, birthday cards, etc, from my friends and family. For example, I’ve kept all my birthday cards from my grandparents, who have since passed, and look back at them occasionally. It reminds me they’re always close.

My wishful superpower: Healing. I am so blessed and grateful for my health, I wish I could share that with others who need it.

Would like to meet: Malala Yousafzai.

This may surprise people: I’ve been to 11 countries.

My hidden talent: I can play chopsticks on the piano.

What is your main strength as a professional: Organization. I’m pretty detail oriented and like to be very organized.

Favorite non-profit:

Other leadership positions: Board member, ConnextCare since April 2018. I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve the community with an organization that is truly dedicated to providing quality and affordable health care to our area.

Joanie Mahoney
Joanie Mahoney

Joanie Mahoney

Chief operating officer, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Lives in: Dewitt.

Spouse / Children: Married 25 years to Marc Overdyk, four sons.

Education: S.U., bachelor’s degree in marketing; SU College of Law, Juris Doctor degree.

Proudest accomplishment: By far I am most proud of having raised four awesome sons with my husband. It was a priority for us that our boys be kind and considerate and we are happy and proud of the men they have become. Nothing else comes close.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Figure out how to actually get things done. Ask questions and keep moving the ball forward. And resist meetings.

When I’m not working, I’m: spending time with my family.

I can’t get rid of: The artwork the boys made in school, especially the pieces that include their handprints.

My wishful super power: To stop time and be able to spend more of it with my family.

Would like to meet: Harriet Tubman.

This may surprise people: I’ve been a vegetarian since 1992.

My hidden talent: Backflips off the high dive.

What is your main strength as a professional: A willingness to do the right thing, no matter what it takes.

Favorite nonprofit: That’s a tough one because there are a lot of people doing great work. NAACP does a tremendous job in the community. I’m currently working on the Red Kettle campaign for the Salvation Army, the Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation is among the most generous and the Boys and Girls club are changing lives. There are too many to pick just one favorite and I am grateful for all of them.

Other leadership positions: Former Onondaga County executive and currently chairwoman of the New York State Thruway Authority.

Marie Mankiewicz
Marie Mankiewicz

Marie Mankiewicz

Co-founder, Fulton Footpaths

Lives in: Fulton.

Spouse/Children: Husband David Mankiewicz; son Michael and daughter Rimma.

Education: Master of Business Administration, human resource management, Chapman University; Bachelor of Science degree in management/human resources, SUNY Empire State College.

Proudest accomplishments: As a graduate of Leadership Oswego County, I have spent the past several years offering my business skills to the Fulton community in several ways: by co-founding a nonprofit organization, Fulton Footpaths (focused on constructing multi-use walking trails); researching and writing grants for CNY Community Arts Center (focused on providing all arts for all ages in Fulton) and for the city of Fulton (grants for Safe Routes to School sidewalks and the multi-use walking trails feasibility study and construction). I also worked extensively on updating the city of Fulton’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program plan. My proudest accomplishment, though, is as a core member of the city of Fulton’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative committee. Our team applied for this $10 million economic development grant four years in a row beginning in 2016 and in August  the city of Fulton was presented with this transformational downtown revitalization award. As a core team member, I was able to provide research, public input and grant writing services and I am happy to be continuing my DRI involvement as a member of the local planning committee that will be helping to establish a strategic downtown investment plan for Fulton.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field? My advice to young people regardless of what field they are in or what job they are pursuing is the same: Bring your best self to work every day. Be committed to what you are doing. Be passionate about your work. If you have chosen a career or job that does not give you energy, find one that does. Life is too short to not love what you are doing every day.

When I’m not working, I’m: Enjoying local cultural events, especially the many regional and community theater productions available to us.

I can’t get rid of: My father’s childhood desk that has been lovingly used by both of my children.

My wishful super power: The power to influence my environment to effect positive change.

Would like to meet: Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook and author of “Lean In: Women, Work and The Will to Lead,” an excellent book on women and leadership in the workplace.

This may surprise people: I am living in the house I was born in. However, even though I have lived in Fulton my entire life, I love to travel both in the United States and abroad.

My hidden talent: I have strong organizational skills that started as a child when I would spend time organizing and cataloging the books in my home library.

What is your main strength as a professional: With 30 years of experience at Niagara Mohawk/National Grid working in human resources, marketing and customer service, my main strength is my ability to work with people both as a team member and as a team leader. Much of my work has centered on the value of the employee and the enrichment of the work environment through people. As a result, I have spent a majority of my professional career focused on employee input and research, communications, employee recognition and team building. Today, my work in research and grant writing continues to use my professional strengths of collaboration, teamwork, good communication and leadership.

Favorite nonprofit: In addition to my organization Fulton Footpaths, my favorite nonprofit is the CNY Community Arts Center in Fulton. This amazing nonprofit organization led by Nancy Fox is celebrating its eighth year in Fulton. It started with a small group of people operating out of a local church basement and last year, the organization was able to purchase and renovate a building in downtown Fulton to become a fully functioning arts center with a state-of-the-art theater, art gallery, classrooms and culinary kitchen. The most remarkable thing about them is that they have been and continue to be run by an all-volunteer dedicated group of people whose passion and energy is limitless and inspiring. I encourage everyone to take advantage of the many activities and events offered by this organization.

Other leadership positions: Senior human resources consultant; director, customer impact assessment; visiting assistant professor, SUNY Oswego; board of directors and secretary, CNY Arts Center; board of directors, Fulton Historical Society.

Rachel May
Rachel May

Rachel May

Senator, 53rd Senate District, NYS Legislature

Lives in: Syracuse.

Spouse / Children: Tom Brockelman, husband; daughter Sophie.

Education: Stanford University Ph.D. (Russian language and literature); SUNY-ESF master’s degree in environmental science.

Proudest accomplishment: I am proud to have raised a daughter who is a strong, open-minded, curious, adventuresome and kind person. And I’m proud to have stepped out of my comfort zone, and run a grassroots campaign for office, based on ideas and ideals rather than on negativity or personal attacks. Since taking office I’ve been able to follow through on most of the promises made during the campaign, both in terms of policies enacted and of changing the culture of Albany to be more open and responsive to New Yorkers. I’m especially proud of my exceptional staff and the way we work together to solve problems for constituents, listen to everyone who reaches out to us, and develop good policy proposals.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: If you want to run for office, first make sure you are doing it because you care about issues and your community, not just because you want the title or the public recognition. There are lots of ways to get involved in government and civic engagement without running for office, and it’s good to try some of those first, to see if you like it and to build up your networks. I reached out to my mayor and asked to serve on the boards of agencies that interested me, and I volunteered for several community organizations. I also got involved in Toastmasters, which was immensely helpful with improving my public speaking.

When I’m not working, I’m: taking long walks or bike rides in the environs of Syracuse, or if the weather’s uncooperative, I like to sit home, listen to an audio book, and knit.

I can’t get rid of: a collection of large seashells my grandmother gave me.

My wishful super power: I wish I could restore stability to the earth’s climate.

Would like to meet: Michelle Obama. I honestly think we’d have a lot to talk about.

This may surprise people: I was named for my grandmother Rachel Garza, who was a trailblazer among Tejanas (Texas women of Mexican descent).

My hidden talent: I’m fluent in Russian.

What is your main strength as a professional: I’m an active listener and try to make everyone feel respected and heard.

Favorite nonprofit: Every day I learn about wonderful nonprofits in our community, but I’ll go with one I’ve admired for years: Onondaga Earth Corps, which trains young people to care for the urban forest and install green infrastructure (such as rain gardens that capture water before it floods the storm water system). They get work experience, often advance to leadership/supervisory roles, all while beautifying the community and making it more resilient.

Other leadership positions: Within the Senate, I chair the committee on aging and the legislative commission on rural resources, and I’m on the board of the Legislative Women’s Caucus.

Kayla McKeon
Kayla McKeon

Kayla McKeon

Manager of grassroots advocacy, National Down Syndrome Society

Lives in: Syracuse.

Education: Onondaga Community College pursuing my associates degree.

Proudest accomplishments: Becoming the first registered lobbyist with Down Syndrome in the nation; obtaining my NYS driver’s license as a person who happens to have Down Syndrome; Special Olympic World Games athlete receiving a silver and bronze medal in Athens, Greece; Law Enforcement Athlete of the Year; 40 under 40 Leaders in CNY.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Persevere and don’t give up on your dreams.

When I am not working, I’m: taking college classes, doing homework, training for Special Olympics and reading books.

I can’t give up: some of my old jewelry.

My wishful superpower: is to get rid of celiac disease.

Would like to meet: Ellen DeGeneres, Matthew McConaughey.

This may surprise people: When they see me driving.

My hidden talent: I like to make people feel good about themselves.

What is your main strength as a professional: I don’t take no for an answer.

Favorite nonprofit: National Down Syndrome Society and Special Olympics.

Other leadership positions: Congressional member and Global messenger for Special Olympics NY; 40 under 40 leaders that Rock in Central New York; Wall of Distinction, Cicero-North Syracuse High School; Co-liaison of the Self-Advocate Advisory Board of NDSS; Self-advocate of the year in 2016 with NDSS.

Deana M. Michaels
Deana M. Michaels

Deana M. Michaels

Mayor-elect, Fulton Branch manager Pathfinder Bank

Lives in: Fulton.

Spouse/Children: Married to Kevin since 1995; sons Geoffry, 22, and Ryan, 18.

Education: Graduated from Stonier Graduate School of Banking at University of Pennsylvania (2016); received a leadership certification from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (2016); graduate of the 2017 American Bankers Association Campaign School for Banks (2018); graduate of Women’s Campaign School at Yale University; graduate of the CNY Political Leadership Institute.

Proudest accomplishment: My proudest achievement is being a mother to my amazing sons, Geoffry and Ryan. They have always been the center of my world and the highlight of my life accomplishments. My husband and I take pride in watching them grow into the young men they are becoming.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: We need more young individuals interested in local politics. They are the future leaders and we need to show them the way. I would encourage our youth to get involved by contacting their local elected officials, attending public meetings, volunteering in the community and having a voice in the decisions of their community. It’s their community to inherit; they should help pave the way.

When I’m not working, I’m: Enjoying traveling with my family, attending sporting events, visiting with my parents to play cards, volunteering throughout the community or simply relaxing in the comforts of my home.

I can’t get rid of: My Bumpa’s cowboy boots.

My wishful super power: I wish I had the power to stop time. There are some moments I wish we could hold on to for a bit longer.

Would like to meet: I believe that everything in life happens for a reason and those we cross paths with are meant to have purpose in our lives. That being said, I hope to some day cross paths with Jon Bon Jovi.

This may surprise people: When I order an ice cream cone, I ask for the sprinkles to be put in the bottom of the cone.

My hidden talent: My son tells me it’s my cooking but no one knows because I only do it four times a year.

What is your main strength as a professional: As a leader, it’s important to admit when we are wrong and to always keep learning. It’s important to surround ourselves by experts in their fields who can help us to become the best version of ourselves.

Favorite nonprofit: There are so many wonderful nonprofits that serve the community to enhance the quality of life for all. They all have a special place and purpose. It would be difficult to choose just one.

Other leadership positions: I am a proud graduate of Leadership Oswego County 2008; I serve as the vice president for the Oswego County Opportunities board; I serve on the board for Towpath Towers; I serve on the business relations committee for the Oswego Health Foundation; I serve on the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce advisory council; I served as an adviser for Stonier Graduate School; I am the co-chairwoman as well as an instructor for Pathfinder Bank’s “Money Smart” program, a seven-course financial health and wellness curriculum.

Pamela Murchison
Pamela Murchison

Pamela Murchison

Executive director, Symphoria

Lives in: East Syracuse.

Spouse / Children: Husband, Matthew, no children, three kitties.

Education: West Virginia University, Doctor of Musical Arts.

Proudest accomplishment: With my family by my side, I leaped into a huge life change in 2015 when I began to work full time as a development officer. While the work was still in the field of music (I had been primarily a professional flutist up until that point), the challenges of a new career path were much bigger than I realized, even in the first few years. I’m proud of my ability to change and adapt, and so very grateful to the family and friends who helped me. I couldn’t have done it without them, and I’m so happy that the path has brought me here to Symphoria.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: A very good friend once said to me that the people who thrive are the ones who are best at sifting through the nonsense and frustrations of our day-to-day lives. Commitment to focusing on the positive things that happen each day and practicing gratitude help me in so many ways. If what we focus on is what we grow, I recommend focusing on joy.

When I’m not working, I’m: Reading, exploring, spending time with friends, watching the Great British Baking Show.

I can’t get rid of: A broken Christmas ornament from my grandmother.

My wishful super power: Patience.

Would like to meet: Mr. Rogers. I grew up in Pittsburgh and have always adored him and his message.

This may surprise people: I know all of the words to all of the songs in “Grease 2” — it’s one of my favorite movies.

My hidden talent: Perseverance.

What is your main strength as a professional: I hope it is empathy.

Favorite nonprofit: Symphoria, of course.

Other leadership positions: I was the drum major in my high school marching band.

Tricia Peter-Clark
Tricia Peter-Clark

Tricia Peter-Clark

Executive vice president / chief operating officer, ConnextCare

Lives in: New Haven.

Spouse: Jason Clark. Children: Ethan, 12 and Isabel, 8.

Education: D’Youville College, Bachelor of Science degree in health services with a concentration in health education and operations; St. Joseph’s College, Master of Business Administration; American College of Healthcare Executives, board-certified in healthcare management.

Proudest accomplishment: Early on in my career I am most proud of the accelerated growth I led in the Cancer Services Program, providing hundreds of men and women with essential cancer screenings, which resulted in formal recognition from the NYS Department of Health as a model program. During my tenure at ConnextCare, I am most proud of bringing together disparate operations and cultures, from the five acquired practices into one unified and efficient primary care practice network throughout the Oswego County. Subsequent to the integrated practices, I am proud of the leadership I provided during our re-branding campaign that led to our new name, ConnextCare, which truly signifies the magnitude of reach we have, without limiting our potential for future growth. Receiving the 40 under 40 award from the CNY Business Journal in 2018, joining the list of other young distinguished leaders is also a true highlight and an honor.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Never underestimate the potential in any role. A demonstrated hard work ethic and notable outcomes will undoubtedly lead you to a bright future, in a position that you love. Build strong relationships along the journey, stay optimistic and true to yourself, while never compromising your credibility and integrity for anyone. Be strong, be confident and always stay in control.

When I’m not working, I’m: usually driving my kids from one activity to another, and then watching them do what they love.

I can’t get rid of: A chair that once was in the living room of my great aunt’s house.

My wishful super power: I wish I had the superpower of healing.

Would like to meet: Alex O’Loughlin.

This may surprise people: Despite the suit and heels, I most enjoy jeans and burly boots, with a very fast and muddy ride on the ATVs at our camp up east.

My hidden talent: I was recruited to play basketball in college and led my team to two championship titles. This talent now offers my 12-year-old a real challenge on our home court and has taught me many things about teamwork that I rely on today.

What is your main strength as a professional: Trustworthiness.

Favorite nonprofit: Make-A-Wish.

Other leadership positions: Director, Central New York Care Collaborative; director, Operation Oswego County; director and secretary, Mexico Tiger Sharks; fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives; member, Oswego County Health Department Professional Advisory Committee; member, New York State Association for Rural Health.

Elizabeth Fallon Quilter
Elizabeth Fallon Quilter

Elizabeth Fallon Quilter

Consultant/non-profit strategist,

Lives in: Baldwinsville.

Spouse: David.

Child: Jack.

Education: Boston College, Human Development.

Proudest accomplishment: I am proud to be mom/stepmom to three great men. I am proud of the work I do with nonprofit organizations to help them thrive. I am proud of the nonprofit organizations that I have helped in some way as a volunteer, donor, staff, board member, or consultant over the past 30-plus years. I am proud of my marriage: 22 years and counting many more.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Build relationships. Stay connected. Keep listening and learning. Take care of yourself.

When I’m not working, I’m: Reading and/or on or near big water, particularly on the northeast coast.

I can’t get rid of: The rocking chair my late father gave me on the day I was born.

My wishful super power: I would like to be able to fly.

Would like to meet: Bruce Springsteen.

This may surprise people: I have been sober for more than 13 years.

My hidden talent: Finding great travel destinations and deals/planning and accomplishing epic road trips.

What is your main strength as a professional: I am a connector.

Favorite nonprofit: Horizons for Youth (Chicago); Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County (Fulton); Women’s Fund of CNY.

Other leadership positions: currently chair of the Leadership Council of Women’s Fund of CNY.

Patricia Ritchie
Patricia Ritchie

Patricia Ritchie

State senator, NY-48th Senate District, New York State Senate

Lives in: Oswegatchie.

Spouse/Children: Husband Tom, three children and four grandchildren.

Education: Mater Dei College and SUNY Potsdam.

Proudest accomplishment: My proudest accomplishment, other than my family, is having the opportunity to represent the hardworking people of the 48th Senate District. The people I meet every day amaze me and I cannot thank everyone enough for their support and continued trust in me to represent them.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field? We need more young people to be engaged and active in government, and I would encourage any of them with an interest in the field to get involved. Start by attending local government meetings, keeping up on current events affecting your community and talking with those who are in positions you might someday like to hold. To those already in the field, but just starting out, I would encourage them to work hard and to listen to all they represent. It goes without saying that you also have to develop a thick skin  if you’re going to be in politics. You will never be able to make everybody happy all of the time, but it’s important you try your best to do so, take criticism you might receive in stride and most importantly, learn from it.

When I’m not working, I’m: Spending as much time as possible with my grandchildren.

I can’t get rid of: From birthday cards to my children’s report cards from when they were young, little things like this always have sentimental value to me, and I can’t get rid of them. That also goes for handmade Christmas ornaments from my kids. My tree is filled with decorations they made throughout their grade school years, like my personal favorite — a little reindeer made out of clothespins.

My wishful super power: It breaks my heart to see people who are so young, with so much life ahead of them, struggling with illness. If I could have one super power, it would be to heal sick children.

Would like to meet: One of the people who I admire most is Marlo Thomas because of the role she plays as the national outreach director for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I have always been in awe of the amazing work St. Jude does on behalf of sick children.

This may surprise people: I do not like to have my picture taken. But as an elected official, it is oftentimes part of the job.

My hidden talent: I like to think that one of my biggest hidden talents is my ability to be a mediator. I pride myself on always listening to others’ points of view. Throughout my career, this has allowed me to successfully mediate and help those with opposing outlooks find common ground.

What is your main strength as a professional? I believe my main strength as a professional is my eagerness to listen. Whether it’s a constituent who reaches out to me with a concern, or a colleague from across the aisle, I believe one of the most important roles of an elected official is to listen to those they represent, as well as those they work with.

Favorite nonprofit: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, again for the important work they do to help those with childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases, along with their families. I also admire the work of the Make-A-Wish Foundation for its efforts to brighten the spirits of critically ill children.

Other leadership positions: Ranking member of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee and ranking member of the Local Government Committee. In addition, I also serve as a member of a number of other committees, including elections; finance; health; veterans, homeland security and military affairs; Legislative Commission on Rural Resources; Legislative Women’s Caucus

Amy Robbins
Amy Robbins

Amy Robbins

Morning radio personality, 93Q FM

Lives in: Cicero.

Spouse / Children: Husband Mark, No children, two cats named Riley and Kantishna.

Education: Ithaca College, bachelor’s degree in Communications, emphasis in Broadcast Journalism.

Proudest accomplishment: My proudest accomplishment is to be able to say that I have broadcast for the same radio station, with the same morning show partner (Ted Long) for the last 31 years! It is very unusual to have that much longevity in the radio field, let alone at the same radio station. We are honored to entertain generations of Central New Yorkers and hope to continue to do it for a number of years.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: My advice would be to get your foot in the door at whatever career you want to pursue. Whether it’s an unpaid internship, or a position that may not be your “dream job”, let them get to know you. Be enthusiastic, show that you want to be there and you’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen.

When I’m not working, I’m: working out, napping, snuggling in front of a fire with my cats, reading, cooking.

I can’t get rid of: My old Ithaca College sweatshirts. Every time I go through the closet to pick things to donate, I have to pass those by and hang on to them.

My wishful super power: to be able to take really annoying drivers and SAFELY deposit them elsewhere on a road in Central New York. Tailgating? Blink! How did I end up on route 481?

Would like to meet: Ellen DeGeneres.

This may surprise people: I really don’t like driving or and am not good at left turns, but I do drive a standard vehicle.

My hidden talent: I already used being able to drive a stick shift. I can also recite the names of all 50 states in alphabetical order. And I’m an awesome bartender as I did that all through college.

What is your main strength as a professional: I am extremely (or try to be) very empathetic and very kind. I try to make that come across to my listeners but also to the people that I work with face to face and those who I connect with outside of the building as well.

Favorite nonprofit: It’s tough to pick one. I love the Food Bank of CNY, I’m a big fan of everything animal organization and we work a lot with those who provide services and research for Breast Cancer.

Other leadership positions: I was on the board for the Syracuse Press Club. Ted and I have also been the voices of the New York State Fair since 2011. We also emcee the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Downtown Syracuse every year. We were just inducted this Fall into the New York State Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame.

Maryann Roefaro
Maryann Roefaro

Maryann Roefaro

Chief executive officer, Hematology-Oncology Associates of CNY

Lives in: Camillus.

Spouse: Tom Carranti. Children: Casey Prietti and Angela Franz; stepsons: Pio and Joe Carranti.

Education: Albany College of Pharmacy, Upstate Medical University, American Institute of Holistic Theology.

Proudest accomplishment: My proudest accomplishment is looking at my two daughters and knowing that they are bright, authentic, kind and hard working adults. I am also very proud of my career achievements, starting as a medical technologist in the Microbiology Laboratory and becoming a supervisor, laboratory manager, healthcare administrator, VP of Crouse Hospital — and saving the best for last–the CEO of Hematology-Oncology Associates (HOA). The culture at HOA is one of incredible excellence and compassion. I’m also very proud and rather surprised at having completed five marathons from 55-59 years old.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Do not compromise your integrity for anyone or anything. Believe in yourself and know that you are only limited by the boundaries you place on yourself. Accept that there are no failures, just redirections. Be honest and work hard. Pay attention to detail and autograph everything you do with excellence. Love what you do and most especially, love who you are.

When I’m not working, I’m: Spending time with my family (including Millie, my precious dog), running, writing, or reading.

I can’t get rid of: All my running/race medals.

My wishful super power: To transform all bullies into nice people. To wave my wand and have wonderful people who struggle financially come home to find all of what they need and most of what they want.

Would like to meet: My future grandchildren.

This may surprise people: I cherish alone time and running means a great deal to me.

My hidden talent: I am an excellent hypnotherapist.

What is your main strength as a professional: I think I possess high level leadership skills. I have a very high emotional quotient. I understand people and how to put them together to develop great functioning teams. I love surrounding myself with people far more skilled and smarter than I am.

Favorite nonprofit: CancerConnects, Inc. and Hospice of CNY.

Other leadership positions: co-founder and president of CancerConnects, Inc. I’ve been in leadership positions since I was 24 years old — that’s 36 years of practice.

Mary Kate Rolf
Mary Kate Rolf

Mary Kate Rolf

President and chief executive officer, Nascentia Health, Bridgeport.

Spouse: Jim Rolf.

Children: Janet Szilagyi, Jennafer Rolf and Jaime Rolf.

Education: SUNY Polytech, Master’s Health Service Administration, and Master’s Business Administration.

Proudest accomplishment: My proudest accomplishment in my current role has been the expansion of Nascentia Health Options, our Managed Long Term Care Plan, across 48 Upstate New York counties. When I started out, we were a Home Health Agency Serving Onondaga County. Now we are able to provide care and services to over 8,000 residents in Upstate New York in some of the most remote and rural parts of the state.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Take in as much as you can from those willing to teach you, and do so with active listening skills. Even if you feel that information is not helpful, or that you already know it, be respectful and considerate of that person’s time and experience. It is important in building positive relationships and networking, as you never know when in the future that same person could become someone that you may need to work with or need assistance from.

When I’m not working, I’m: Enjoying time with my family, and whenever possible, I will be snowmobiling with my husband.

My wishful super power: My intuition. Whenever I get an instinctive/gut feeling about something, it usually turns out to be accurate.

Would like to meet: Ellen DeGeneres because she is sincere, honest, and willing to put aside personal differences and accept and love people simply for who they are as people.

This may surprise people: I love the snow and the winter weather.

My hidden talent: My hidden talent is still hiding.

What is your main strength as a professional: My main strength as a leader is my ability to remain positively focused on the vision, and keep my team and the organization inspired to achieve that vision collaboratively.

Favorite nonprofit: Why Nascentia Health, of course! This year, I will say the runner up is the American Heart Association, as I am the 2020 Go Red For Women Chair for the Syracuse region. With hypertension typically having no symptoms, it can lead to a heart attack, stroke and kidney failure, so check your blood pressure regularly.

Other leadership positions: member National Advisory Committee on Rural Health & Human Services; chair of the Visiting Nurse Association of America Board of Directors; and board member of: The (National) Leading Age; Centerstate CEO; and the American College of Healthcare Executives CEO Circle.

Jennifer D. Sanders
Jennifer D. Sanders

Jennifer D. Sanders

TV anchor, NewsChannel 9, WSYR-TV

Lives in: Syracuse.

Spouse / Children: None.

Education: Texas Lutheran University, bachelor’s degree in communication studies and Spanish; University of North Texas, master’s degree in broadcast journalism.

Proudest accomplishment: My proudest accomplishment to date is defying the odds to live out my wildest dreams as a journalist. In my early years in the industry, I was told “you’re not good enough,” “you’re not pretty enough,” “your skin is not light enough,” “you’ll never be a reporter.” Despite it all, I made it. Now I just strive to be the person I wanted (and needed) to see on television when I was younger.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Be authentically and unapologetically you. Find at least three mentors in the industry (at least one should be in a senior level management position). Have thick skin. Be well-versed in every aspect of broadcast and digital news. Reading and writing are key. Question everything. Consume news. Most importantly, immerse yourself in the community you are reporting on.

When I’m not working, I’m: investing in my community.

I can’t get rid of: my guitar from college

My wishful super power: To ban winter.

This may surprise people: I love to watch and study documentaries and take at least one page of notes per documentary.

My hidden talent: waking up at 2:30 every morning during the week. Does that count?

What is your main strength as a professional: storytelling and mentoring.

Favorite nonprofit: Vera House, Inc.

Other leadership positions: Career coach/mentor at Institute of Technology at Syracuse Central; mentor/volunteer, Syracuse City School District; board member, Vera House; capital campaign co-chairwoman, Good Life Foundation; founder/president, NexJeneration, Inc.; technology chairwoman, The Links, Inc., Syracuse chapter; technology chairwoman, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Syracuse chapter; adjunct professor, Syracuse University.

Irene Scruton
Irene Scruton

Irene Scruton

Assistant dean, director MBA programs, School of Business SUNY Oswego

Lives in: DeWitt

Child: Brian

Education: St. John Fisher Ed.D; Syracuse University M.B.A.; SUNY Buffalo B.S. Business

Proudest accomplishment: I have no one accomplishment that is “the one” because there have been many moments over the years , in career and in family, that have stood out. One was recently: As a first generation citizen and first generation student, education and lifelong learning has been a value of our family. It was very special for me to have my dad and mom, my son and his wife and my grandson at my doctoral dissertation defense. My dad passed away shortly thereafter, so it will always be a special moment that he could be there for that accomplishment. Career-wise, my proud moments over the years are connected to watching employees flourish, grow and achieve more than they ever thought possible.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Higher education has an incredible variety of career pathways and inclusive opportunities for a young person to consider. The most satisfying part of higher education is the opportunity to have a positive impact on the growth, development and careers of the students we serve. Higher education provides the perfect combination of meaningful work and career growth for persons of diverse backgrounds.

When I’m not working: Caretaking or visiting family members, reading, walking the dog (Bella) or driving.

I can’t get rid of: Old scarves. They’re memories of places I’ve been.

My wishful super power: Being fluent in any language.

Would like to meet: Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO or any one of the top 20 global women leaders or someone like the Wojcicki sisters of YouTube and 23andme.

My hidden talent: Whiteboard artist.

What is your main strength as a professional: There are two: enthusiastically serving the people I lead and working with people to bring an idea to reality.

Favorite nonprofit: Just elected to the Board of Directors of the Food Bank CNY and their mission is one we should all be behind. My other favorite is the NY-Penn Girl Scouts. As a former board member and former Girl Scout, I saw first hand what the organization does to develop leadership skills in young women.

Other leadership positions: Many leadership roles over the years both in the private and public sector. My career started in banking, where I had the opportunity to rise to senior executive levels over 20 year in Buffalo and Syracuse. I then joined the nonprofit sector as an executive director of an Upstate New York organization. In 2010, I was appointed to the inaugural board of the newly established public authority, the Syracuse Regional Airport Authority, where I served for six years through 2016 and chaired the governance committee. I served my town as an elected official for 12 years, chairing many committees and was a member of the town’s Police Commission for six years. I was also on the NY-Penn Girl Scout board of directors helping to consolidate five independent counsels into the new organization. Between 2003 and 2010, I was a member of the board of directors and the Executive Committee of the Onondaga Community College Foundation, chairing the scholarship committee. I’m currently on the board of directors of Microwave Filter, a manufacturer of components for the cable and satellite industry. In September, I was elected to the board of directors of the Food Bank CNY which serves 11 counties in the region.

Jillian Shaver
Jillian Shaver

Jillian Shaver

Executive director, Children’s Museum of Oswego

Lives in: Oswego.

Spouse/Children: Husband Jonathan, and children Andy and Madeleine.

Education: Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and child development, The George Washington University (2006).

Proudest accomplishment: Receiving the Zonta International 2019 Amelia Earhart Woman of Achievement Award

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: My advice would be to consistently seek connections. Community-based organizations thrive on social capital. If you feel stuck, chances are there is someone in your network with the experience, advice or resources that you need to move forward. There is a lot of power in people helping people; we all have something to offer.

When I’m not working, I’m: Spending time with my family, traveling, running.

I can’t get rid of: My children’s artwork.

My wishful super power: Endless energy.

Would like to meet: Ruby Bridges.

This may surprise people: My husband and I own and manage 42 real estate units and 55 commercial and residential tenants.

My hidden talent: I studied Japanese for seven years.

What is your main strength as a professional: The ability to roll with the punches. Things don’t always go as planned and with each year of experience in my field, I find myself increasingly able to focus on solutions rather than problems and not dwell on things I have no control over.

Favorite nonprofit: CMOO, of course! I also feel very passionate about the work that the St. Baldrick’s Foundation does to find a cure for pediatric cancer.

Honora (Nora) Spillane
Honora (Nora) Spillane

Honora (Nora) Spillane

Senior director of business and economic development, CenterState CEO

Lives in: Syracuse.

Education: Graduated cum laude from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in communications and from Syracuse University, a juris doctorate and a Master of Public Administration.

Proudest accomplishment: It’s rewarding to see the work with small businesses I’ve been fortunate to be a part of over the past decade evolve into regional strategies. In my new-ish role at CenterState CEO, I can take the lessons learned from my local work in Syracuse and share best practices with the region.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Economic development is a lot of listening and troubleshooting. Every day is a different challenge and your ability to be nimble, creative, and patient will absolutely determine how effective you will be. Your job is to help other people succeed often at some of the most challenging times they or their business will ever face, but when you pull it off, it’s a great feeling.

When I’m not working, I’m: probably tinkering with a recipe in the kitchen or watching one of the million Netflix cooking show options.

I can’t get rid of: A jewelry box my nephew made for me when he was 4 years old.

My wishful super power: The ability to instantly travel. I’m not a huge fan of traveling, but I love exploring new places.

Would like to meet: Sirius Black.

This may surprise people: I’m fascinated by WWII history.

My hidden talent: I can name a song usually within five seconds.

What is your main strength as a professional: I like to think that I am efficient which enables me to handle several different types of projects at the same time.

Favorite nonprofit: Volunteer Lawyers Project.

Other leadership positions: On the Syracuse Board of Zoning Appeals.

Linda Thomas-Caster
Linda Thomas-Caster

Linda Thomas-Caster

Licensed associate real estate broker, Howard Hanna Real Estate

Lives in: Town of Volney

Spouse/Children: Husband Douglas Caster; six adult children and nine grandchildren

Education: Nyack College and St. Thomas Aquinas College, Bachelor of Arts degree in English, secondary education and teaching

Proudest accomplishment: Providing for and raising my family of three children as a widowed mother and seeing them all succeed; providing my expertise to many of Central New York’s finest people — my clients past and present — to help them reach their goals, whether buying or selling real property; as a past president of the Greater Syracuse Association of Realtors, being able to initiate a collaboration among the Onondaga, Oswego and Cayuga County board of realtors and help implement a transition to merge all three into the Greater Syracuse Association of Realtors; transitioning the Ladies Home of Oswego along with its board of directors to a closure for economic reasons and finding a suitable buyer to love and care for the historical building with an unprecedented legacy never to be forgotten

What is your advice to a young person entering your field? Work hard, never stop learning, always be trustworthy, always be kind, always be respectful and you will love what you do! It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing!”

When I’m not working, I’m: Volunteering, traveling, and visiting family

I can’t get rid of: Of course, we all have things we love and surround ourselves with, but I don’t think I am attached to anything I could not give up. As long as I have family, loyal and trustworthy friends and faith to sustain through all difficulties, I am the richest lady in town.

My wishful super power: Bring joy and contentment to all situations within my power

Would like to meet: My creator

This may surprise people: One of my first jobs was a gas station attendant — Yep, pumping gas and checking oil!

What is your main strength as a professional: Commitment to whatever it takes to accomplish the necessary outcome for positive results

Favorite nonprofits: I have always had a soft spot for The Ladies’ Home of Oswego and it saddened me, solely due to economics, to have to be part of the end of its 147-year existence. I love Fulton Block Builders and their vision for making neighborhoods a better place to live by uniting homeowners’ efforts one block at a time. I also support The Family Resource Center and its tireless commitment to helping those in our communities. I mostly enjoy supporting local nonprofits that benefit and enhance day-to-day living in our communities here in CNY.

Katie Toomey
Katie Toomey

Katie Toomey

Executive director, Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce/ CenterState CEO

Lives in: Oswego.

Children: George, 6, and Patrick, 4

Education: SUNY Plattsburgh, Bachelor of Science degree in communication studies; Iona College, Master of Science in public relations.

Proudest accomplishment: I am proud to be the first executive director to lead our chamber after the integration with CenterState CEO in 2017. I have had the honor of introducing our mission, vision and portfolio of services to our community in a meaningful way. As a result, our member retention rates are above 90%, existing members are investing further in our organization and we are on-boarding new members each week. As a team, we have introduced new programming and demonstrated value that membership provides. We have hit our stride and remain committed to listening, learning and finding new ways to provide additional value. We will continue to celebrate the milestones and achievements of our business community. My personal success would not have been possible without the leadership of CenterState CEO, the support of my team, our advisers, membership and community partners.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: The recipe for success is simple: Be authentic while acknowledging and accepting constructive criticism. Far too often, people try to be who they think they should be rather than embracing who they are. Early in my career, I spent a lot of time and energy trying to be something that I wasn’t. It was exhausting. The truth is, you will not grow in any area of your life without failure, and relationships are vital. Focus on your strengths. Surround yourself with people who are willing to share the good, the bad and the ugly. Then, reflect, adjust and grow.

When I’m not working, I’m: Enjoying time with family and friends. I also enjoy working out, cooking and eating pizza.

I can’t get rid of: The endless pile of random Legos, action figures and socks at the bottom of my purse. (Thanks, boys).

My wishful super power: The ability to have my entire life figured out at once. (That statement will make those closest to me laugh out loud).

Would like to meet: Tina Fey.

This may surprise people: I am a homebody.

My hidden talent: I am a good cook.

What is your main strength as a professional: I am good under pressure. I ask questions, listen and find the humor in challenging situations.

Favorite nonprofit: The GOFCC and CenterState CEO.

Other leadership positions: Oswego Health Foundation, board of directors and annual giving committee co-chairwoman; city of Fulton Downtown Revitalization Initiative local planning committee; Oswego County economic advancement plan, steering committee and marketing subcommittee chairwoman; Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Museum, board of directors; Friends of Fort Ontario, board of directors; Oswego County Workforce Development Board, business development committee; Oswego County Airport master plan, advisory committee; Oswego County Tourism, advisory committee.

Kimberly Townsend
Kimberly Townsend

Kimberly Townsend

President and CEO, Loretto Health and Rehab

Lives in: Syracuse.

Spouse/Kids: John Gruninger, and 6 children ages 16 to 34.

Education: Bachelor in business administration, a master’s in business administration, a juris doctorate and an Executive Master of Public Administration degree, all from Syracuse University;  a doctorate in executive leadership from St. John Fisher College in Rochester.

Proudest accomplishment: Personally, seeing our children grow up and have their own children, and all they are accomplishing while being great people. Professionally, the honor of leading a great team every day here at Loretto. It’s the extended Loretto family of caregivers, residents and their families that make every day extraordinary.

Advice to young people entering the field: Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity to get started in your career. Just get going! Don’t let the urgent—today’s crisis—crowd out the important, which is always people. Finally, change is the only constant. Work on being resilient and open to change, and comfortable with uncertainty.

When I am not working: I’m with family.

I can’t get rid of: old photos. Even after I digitize.

Wishful super power: The ability to create a more inclusive and just world.

Would like to meet: Barack Obama. Whether you agree or disagree with his positions, he’s a highly effective leader that communicates a vision that energizes people.

This may surprise people: that I am an extroverted introvert.

My hidden talent: Paddleboarding.

Main strength: I am a strategic thinker and when things get hot, I keep my cool.

Favorite non profit: Loretto, of course.

Other leadership positons. Because of my passion for community service, I have help numerous leadership positions in local, regional and national non profits.

Chena L. Tucker
Chena L. Tucker

Chena L. Tucker

Director, Office of Business and Community Relations (SUNY Oswego). Executive director, Workforce Development Board of Oswego County

Lives in: Oswego.

Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts in design studies from Marylhurst University in Oregon; completion of Master of Business Administration degree at SUNY Oswego (spring 2020).

Proudest accomplishment: My proudest accomplishment is that I am able to give back to my community in a way that I had never imagined that I could. I am also proud of my career and furthering my education. I try to demonstrate to my daughter that with perseverance and hard work, she can achieve any goal she sets for herself.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field? You can never ask too many questions. If you’re interested in something, pursue your passion with enthusiasm and a sense of wonder. Never stop learning. Be self-reflective, but not self-critical. Failure is the best teacher. Hard work DOES pay off.

When I’m not working, I’m: Spending time with family and my dog Whitney or studying for my MBA at SUNY Oswego.

I can’t get rid of: My design boards and drawings from when I was in college for my BFA. They are huge and take up a lot of space but I cannot bring myself to get rid of them. Every couple of years, I pull them out and am again inspired by the design process and concepts.

My wishful super power: The ability to stop time, so I could get more things done in a day.

Would like to meet: I am a huge fan of Jane Goodall and would love the opportunity to meet her. She was truly ahead of her time and has devoted her life to one cause. She remains steadfast, determined and I am in awe of her commitment.

This may surprise people: I participated in a 500-mile motorcycle rally along the Pacific Northwest coast and through parts of Canada.

My hidden talent: I am very intuitive and good at assessing the intentions of others.

What is your main strength as a professional: To always remember that leadership is not about me; it’s about service to others and to our community.

Favorite nonprofit: I support any group that seeks to improve the lives of Oswego County residents.

Other leadership positions: New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals Leadership Council; former chairperson of Harborfest board and children’s committee; Oswego County Poverty Task Force; Operation Oswego County board member; advisory council for the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce.

AnneMarie Walker-Czyz
AnneMarie Walker-Czyz

AnneMarie Walker-Czyz

Chief nursing officer, St. Joseph’s Health

Lives in: Syracuse.

Spouse/Children: Married with two children.

Education: St. Joseph’s College of Nursing, Associates Degree in Applied Science with an RN; Upstate Medical University, BS in Nursing; Upstate Medical University, MSN and Clinical Nurse Specialist (graduation with distinction); St. John Fisher College, Doctorate Degree of Education in Executive Leadership.

Proudest accomplishment: I am very proud and honored to have served St. Joseph’s Health’s patients and colleagues for over 20 years. The community has set high standards for us, and I’m grateful to have learned how to best meet those expectations in a way that aligns with our mission. I’m also humbled to have partnered with our doctors and committed colleagues to overcome significant challenges to achieve a higher level of care every day. This partnership has created a culture of continuous quality improvement to achieve milestones like Magnet designation and re-designation, LeapFrog ‘A’ Safety Grade, Baby Friendly designation and numerous service line awards in orthopedic and cardiovascular services.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: My advice to a young person entering healthcare is to commit to reflecting every day on how to improve and a be vessel for patients and the needs of those to be served. Always seek to build positive relationships with self, colleagues, and those to be cared for. Prioritize healthy living to ensure a life time commitment, so that caring for others is possible.

When I’m not working, I’m: Enjoying my family.

I can’t get rid of: My first Bible.

My wishful super power: To be invisible/invisible shield to serve and protect.

This may surprise people: I enjoy riding dirt bikes with my children.

My hidden talent: I see the talent and endless possibilities in others.

What is your main strength as a professional: My main strength as a professional is my unwavering commitment to mission, vision, and values, the ability to make decisions in difficult circumstances, and a fearless approach to our work because with God all things are possible and failure is never an option.

Favorite nonprofit: New Hope Family Services and Vera House.

Other leadership positions: Recently served as the chief operating officer and chief nursing officer for St. Joseph’s Health.

Robin Warren-Philips
Robin Warren-Philips

Robin Warren-Philips

Owner, manager, designer, chief bucket washer, Designs of Elegance Florist and Wedding Planner

Lives in: Pulaski.

Spouse: Bryan; children Brandon, Robert and Cassidy.

Education: SUNY Oswego, Bachelor of Arts.

Proudest Accomplishment: Never taking the easy way out. Working hard to earn a honest living and raise a family and a business while giving back to the community that raised me.

Advice to a young person: Skip retail. Society is evil. Run! Seriously, if opening a business in Oswego County, run your numbers and know your customer base. Don’t worry about your competition, let them worry about you.

When I’m not working: I am spending time with my family or my close circle of friends. My children are very active in athletics and they all race go karts. We enjoy DIRT racing as well and never miss Super Dirt Week or Daytona in February.

I can’t get rid of: My husband says I am the least sentimental person he knows. This is a tough one.

My wishful super power: I already have a magic wand to “make the magic” everyday so asking for one more would just be greedy.

Would like to meet: Condoleezza Rice.

This may surprise people: Based on the House impeachment proceedings, my attorneys have advised me to invoke the 5th Amendment.

My Hidden Talent: Classified.

What is your main strength as a professional: My sense of humor for dealing with the public.

Favorite Non Profit: PROP (Preservation Revitalization of Pulaski). I am a board member and have been for several years as well as past President and Admin a previous Main St. Grant. PROP, founded in the ‘80s by Mrs. Barclay, is the driving force for improvements and beautification in my hometown. We also organize the Farmer’s Market, Light Up Pulaski, Winterfest, Banner Program and foster several other community wide projects.

Other Leadership Positions: New Trustee to Halfshire Historical, Pulaski Alumni Board, Past President Women in Business, Community Grant Board Member, Retired Teleflora Board Member, Matron of Pulaski Puritan Chapter #159.

Kerrie Ann Webb
Kerrie Ann Webb

Kerrie Ann Webb

Chief executive officer, Oswego YMCA

Lives in: Oswego.

Spouse/Children: Four boys: Ben, 24; Turner, 20; Finn, 7; and Murphy, 5.

Education: SUNY Oswego, Bachelor of Science degree.

Proudest accomplishment: My proudest accomplishment thus far in my life would hands-down be my four boys. I am proud of the people they are. To see my older boys grow into the open- minded, caring, respectful men they are allows me to see I’m doing something right and to keep going that path with my younger boys. My sons are my biggest supporters; they always have my back and believe in me no matter what the situation. They create a space in my life for me to continue to grow and take risks professionally. I owe them so much for allowing me to immerse myself in my career and education, so that I can be the professional that I aspire to be.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field? My advice to any young person entering this field today or considering it would be to take the leap! Be prepared to change lives, and do not underestimate your ability to make an impact. Running a nonprofit organization is much different than what the perception is. We are still a business — there are budgets, strategic plans, and we too must pay bills, payroll and insurance. However, this is done on a tight budget with little room for change. So we must remain relevant, meet our changing community needs and identify new methods of sustainability.

When I’m not working, I’m: Typically spending time with my family and friends. I enjoy being outside and staying active. I take any chance I get to start a home project or craft! I find that having a creative outlet keeps me grounded.

I can’t get rid of: I have moved many times in my adult life and fewer objects seem to make the moves than before. However, I have a rocking chair that makes the cut each time. Every time I look at it, I see my grandma Turner sitting in it at Christmas with a big smile. She would perhaps be holding one of my sons, or have one of our dogs on her lap. The chair no longer matches or is even used much; however, it will always have a place in my home.

My wishful super power: I wish that the power of a momma’s kiss to a booboo carried through to working on adults and healing their pains or fears.

Would like to meet: I am a people person. I get so much out of learning about other people and their life experiences. It would be difficult to pick just one person. Of course, there are some very influential women in history that I would love to sit and listen to, such as Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I, Dr. Mary Walker, Jane Adams, Coco Channel, Maya Angelo, and Priscilla Chan are just a few.

This may surprise people: I was the first person in my family to graduate college. My parents were married and had me their senior year in high school. They were hard workers and always pushed us to do our best. I dropped out of college after my freshman year at the age of 19 and got married and had my oldest son. I returned to finish my education as a non-traditional student at SUNY Oswego. I worked three part-time jobs, had a 5-year-old and a 1-year-old at that time. It was not easy, but nothing worthwhile usually is. I look back at those times and don’t really know how we did it. The financial hardships that we went through forever changed me. Things like having our power shut off, paying for gas with change, hand-me-down clothes (not just for the kids but for me), Christmas shopping at the dollar store and so much more. It was a time to be humble, build character, and dig down deep to persevere. I would not change a thing, since it made me who I am and allows me to identify with my members at the Y that may hit a rough patch and need assistance.

My hidden talent: Cooking for sure! I love to cook, whether it be new dishes or old family recipes. The joy of feeding someone and having them smile and appreciate the food is a very special experience. I have great memories of cooking as a child in both of my grandmothers’ kitchens, or with my own parents. I have tried to pass this on to my sons and enjoy making new memories as well. Food always brings our family together no matter the occasion, and I am grateful for this.

What is your main strength as a professional? I would say my main strength is that I am a straight shooter and very genuine. I like to observe, and try to get a hands-on experience in everything I do. It’s important to me that I understand how things work in every aspect of a job. That may lead to some interesting experiences, and always an opportunity to learn and grow as a professional.

Favorite nonprofit: YMCA.

Other leadership positions: Advisory board chairwoman, Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce.

Margaret M. Weigel
Margaret M. Weigel

Margaret M. Weigel

Retired library director, Pulaski Public Library

Lives in: Pulaski.

Spouse: Charles (Marty) Weigel, three grown children.

Education: Pulaski Academy and Central School; Canton ATC, nursing.

Proudest Accomplishment: I am most proud of my family and their accomplishments. While I was involved in all their activities growing up, I helped impact many other youth in their school and community as well by volunteering.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Get to know your patrons. Reach out beyond the library walls and get involved in your community.

When I’m not working, I’m: Reading, gardening, sewing, camping.

I can’t get rid of: My grandmother’s diaries.

My wishful super power: To abolish all the trash along the streets and roads.

Would like to meet: Past – Mother Teresa; present – Bill Gates.

This may surprise people: I would never ask anyone to do something I wouldn’t at least try myself first (in the employment or volunteer arena).

My hidden talent: I can quietly identify and cultivate the gifts and talents of others to the benefit of the community.

What is your main strength as a professional: To encourage volunteers to be respected, recognized and for them to know they are appreciated.

Favorite nonprofit: Pulaski Historical Society.

Other leadership positions: Pulaski Village historian; PROP (Preservation Revitalization of Pulaski); Pulaski Academy and Central School Alumni Association; Economic Development Task Force, Park United Methodist Church.

Ruth S. Weinstock
Ruth S. Weinstock

Ruth S. Weinstock

Chief of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism, medical director, Joslin Diabetes Center

Lives in: Fayetteville

Children/Grandchildren: Two daughters. four grandchildren (ages 3, 2½, 8 months, 7 months)

Education: Smith College AB (Summa cum laude with Highest Honors in the Biological Sciences); Columbia University MD/PhD Program (MD from the College of Physicians and Surgeons and PhD in Genetics and Human Development from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences).

Proudest accomplishment: Overall I am proudest of my children. Professionally, I helped establish and continue to serve as Medical Director of the Joslin Diabetes Center at Upstate in Syracuse. We have the privilege of serving thousands of children and adults with diabetes and other endocrine disorders, and offer state-of –the art care using a team approach. We have also grown our research efforts in diabetes, with many ongoing research projects studying new medications, devices and approaches to improving the lives of people living with diabetes in our region. I am proud of our diabetes team, who are engaged in innovative ways to expand access and improve care.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Keep an open mind to new approaches for the evaluation and management of your patients, don’t be afraid to ask questions, be compassionate and try to treat every patient as you would want your loved one to be treated, be optimistic and honest.

When I’m not working, I’m visiting children, grandchildren and friends, walking/enjoying the outdoors, reading.

I can’t get rid of: my mother’s old sweater.

My wishful super power: I wish for end of prejudice, end of wars/conflicts and protection of our environment.

Would like to meet: relatives who may exist but I am unaware of their existence.

This may surprise people: I exercise almost every morning before going to work.

My hidden talent: My children love my chocolate cake.

What is your main strength as a professional: I believe in what I do, I work hard, and I enjoy my work.

Favorite nonprofits: American Diabetes Association and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Other leadership positions: I have served on many national committees, task forces and other initiatives/programs related to diabetes through the Department of Veterans Affairs, the American Diabetes Association, and other federal and state agencies and not-for-profits.

Tammy Lynn Wilkinson
Tammy Lynn Wilkinson

Tammy Lynn Wilkinson

Co-owner/float ambassador, Aqua Spa Float Center & Wellness Boutique.

Lives in: Minetto.

Fiancé: Terry LeRoi.

SUNY Morrisville, associate’s degree in journalism; SUNY Oswego, bachelor’s degree, communication studies.

Proudest accomplishment: Is yet to come, I’m sure of it! Stay tuned! Otherwise, I was the first in my family to go to college. As the oldest of five siblings, I hope I led by example.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Say yes to everything! Experience everything! You never know what may come from any given opportunity, paid or volunteer. There is knowledge to be gained from everything we experience. Step off the ledge. Get out of your comfort zone. Learn and grow.

When I’m not working, I’m: Making art. Supporting local artists. Working on myself. Physically, mentally and emotionally. Wellness is gold.

I can’t get rid of: My extremely eclectic earring collection.

My wishful super power: I fancy flight.

Would like to meet: Brené Brown, PhD LMSW, researcher/storyteller; Glennon Doyle Melton, author/activist) and Pink, pop icon.

This may surprise people: Once upon a time I was a little “raver kid” (techno dance scene).

My hidden talent: Empathy.

What is your main strength as a professional: Positivity. Unlimited passion.

Favorite nonprofit: Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Other leadership positions: Artistic director, Theatre Du Jour; lead director, LOC/CHW Productions/SUNY Oswego/SUNY Morrisville. Board of directors, producer, Oswego Players, Inc.; goldsmith (specialty in lost wax casting), LeRoi, Inc.

Teresa F. Woolson
Teresa F. Woolson

Teresa F. Woolson

President, VOW Foundation, Inc., Administrative coordinator, Operation Oswego County, Inc.

Lives in: Scriba.

Spouse: George.

Children: Angela Coville (Cortland), Sarah Gauger (Oswego) and Victor Woolson (in heaven).

Education: Oswego High School 1977 and several continuing education courses throughout my life.

Proudest accomplishment: Starting the VOW Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization formed to educate and advocate about synthetic drugs.

What is your advice to a young person entering your field: Do your very best. Keep doing what makes you happy and be proud of your work.

When I’m not working, I’m: Reading or spending time with family.

I can’t get rid of: Lots of things that have meaning — too many really.

My wishful super power: Saving Lives with education.

Would like to meet: Everyone, no one in particular.

This may surprise people: I grew up very, very shy.

My hidden talent: Numbers, anything to do with numbers.

What is your main strength as a professional: Listening and making connections.

Favorite nonprofit: My own, the VOW Foundation.

Other leadership positions: Chairwoman of Substance Use Disorder & Recovery; board member of COCOAA; steering committee member of the Oswego County Prevention Coalition, previous board member of Zonta Club of Oswego.