Meet 14 women from the Central New York region who are making remarkable contributions to their communities.
Congratulations to all these extraordinary women who were honored at the Women’s Rights Historical Park in Seneca Falls March 6.
Kimberly Boynton – Onondaga County – is the Chief Executive Officer at Syracuse’s Crouse Hospital. Kimberly played a pivotal role in bringing the hospital back from a very challenging Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding to its current position as one of the most financially and operationally successful hospitals in New York State. Kimberly’s civic leadership includes service on numerous boards including American Red Cross, McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Site, and United Way of CNY. A positive role model for other women, Kimberly approaches her work and community involvement with tremendous energy, a high degree of curiosity, integrity, and a contagious sense of humor.
Virginia Carmody – Onondaga County– serves as the Executive Director of the Literacy Coalition of Onondaga County, dedicated to 100% literacy for all persons. Ginny started the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program in Syracuse, which provides a free age-appropriate book, mailed each month to every enrolled child under the age of 5. Parents can take advantage of programs that are offered through the Coalition’s Literacy Champions, an example of Ginny’s approach to collaboration and the sharing of resources among literacy providers. Ginny’s efforts have gained national recognition from organizations including the Anne E. Casey Foundation and the national Campaign for Grade Level Reading.
The Honorable Bernadette T. Clark – Oneida County – has dedicated herself to a career of service in law. She was Oneida County’s first woman First Assistant District Attorney, diligently working to protect crime victims, especially women and children. She became the first elected woman judge in an Oneida County court of record where she shared her passion against domestic violence while protecting the lives of hundreds of children. She then became the first woman from Oneida County elected a NYS Supreme Court Justice. She is living proof that hard work, dedication to one’s career, and concern for the welfare of others can lead to opportunities to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.
Jean Harper Dean – Jefferson County – has over 40 years of community involvement and is someone who doesn’t do things half-way. As a 4-H club leader, she helped form two 4-H clubs whose main programs centered on dog obedience and horsemanship. She also created dog obedience programs for children and adults for the Jefferson County Cooperative Extension. Jean’s love of dogs has been a driving force in her life, leading her to start a rescue program for Weimaraners living in poor conditions. Training and feeding them at her own expense, she then found homes for them throughout New York State.
Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham – Onondaga County -became an entrepreneur in 1995 when she founded her Five Stars Event company. She applied that experience when she became the founder and president of Women TIES, Women Together Inspiring Entrepreneurial Success, to help women entrepreneurs expand their local, state and regional marketplace in New York State. She makes America stronger and more successful, one woman business owner at a time. Tracy has helped make other women full players in sharing in economic opportunity through her ongoing efforts to support women in business and to educate students on how to advocate for themselves in the workplace and to support other women.
Lorraine Kinney-Kitchen – Oneida County – is the Director of the Cornell Cooperative ChildCare Coordinating program. She has dedicated her entire career working to achieve the best possible care, emotional development ,and education for our most valuable resource – our children. She is a staunch advocate for child safety and their mental welfare. She is beloved by all who have received the benefit of her kind compassion and vivid imagination in ways to entertain and educate very young minds.
If there is one word to describe Dr. Mary Martin – Tompkins County – it is “caring” – for her family, friends, patients, and students. For over 13 years she worked as a small animal veterinarian before family tragedies inspired her to pursue laboratory animal medicine, and earn a Masters of Public Health degree. She created a residency program in laboratory animal medicine at Cornell University, where she is now Chief of Veterinary and Educational Services and an adjunct assistant professor. This year she served on a grant proposal committee for the National Institutes of Health and performed site visits of accreditation of animal care and use programs.
Mia Adams McSherry – Onondaga County – has been socially active for most of her life – raising funds and awareness of causes including AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, and breast cancer. Believing that everyone can be great, that being great starts with giving back and that education is the key, she created the Miss Central New York Scholarship Pageant. Seeking to reduce drop-out rates in area high schools and encourage achievement and intelligence, pageant activities include voter registration, fundraising for charities, and Junior Achievement workshops, making this pageant more than a beauty show.
Dr. Erica Miller is an assistant professor of inclusive education, inclusive Early Childhood/Elementary Education Program Director and Women’s Empowerment Group Advisor at Cazenovia College. She also is the CEO of an educational consulting firm. Erica is a woman who gives back to her community through her work including advocacy for women’s and transgender rights, socially just educational practices, and children in poverty. Losing her father to suicide motivated her to educate others through suicide awareness and prevention efforts. She is truly a game-changer and has used her position in her field to inspire and empower other women.
Teresa Mosher – Onondaga County – has been taking care of the elderly at Loretto Health and Rehab for 30 years. Her dedication to serving the elderly with dignity and respect is unmatched in healthcare today. When her mother was diagnosed with cancer, she passionately gave her the same care she has given to others. Her mother’s passing in 2014 has only served to inspire her to continue to provide quality care to the elderly in their final stage of life.
Jennifer Nadler – Onondaga County – an Onondaga Community College professor, speaks at colleges and community organizations to raise awareness about childhood sexual abuse. She tells her painful truth, the story of abuse that began when she was 12, with grace and dignity while allowing the audience to peer inside her soul. She takes listeners into the mind and heart of a survivor and compels them to experience the pain and complexities of this type victimization. Her courage and openness are an inspiration.
Virginia Robbins – Onondaga County – is a highly accomplished environmental attorney at Bond, Schoeneck & King and a leader in the environmental law community who has opened new paths for women by developing mentoring programs, educational events and networks to meet the needs of female attorneys. She is a strong public citizen, serving as a leader in a variety of environmental, educational, and arts organizations. She is the second female full partner in her law firm’s history and the first and only woman to serve on the firm’s management committee. As a female environmental attorney, Virginia is often the only woman in the room but has won the trust and recognition of her male counterparts with her knowledge.
Marietta von Bernuth – Oneida County – is president of the Chamber Music Society of Utica, now celebrating its 74th season. Her leadership is stellar and goes beyond chamber music. She has given thousands of volunteer hours to schools, churches, arts and conservancy councils, food pantries, and Hospice, demonstrating the passion and spirit by which she lives daily. Women like Marietta are those who, throughout history, have been responsible for the glue which not only has held the Chamber Music Society together, but has now made it stronger.
Wendy Washeleski – Oneida County – is the owner and operator of an Oneida County equine and yoga facility. She uses her skills as a horsewoman, trainer, and certified yoga instructor to make a difference in the world, not only for humans but for her equine companions as well. She guides young people not only in developing their horsemanship and communication skills, but also their understanding of commitment, hard work, and dedication, as demonstrated through their volunteer work. Through yoga, she takes students beyond stretches and moves to engagement in the practice of mindfulness, being present to the here and now and being a contributor to the space one occupies.