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WCNY announces Makers: Women Who Make America honorees

WCNY is proud to announce its Makers: Women Who Make America honorees. Ten women were honored at the March 10, 2017 award ceremony held at the Women’s Rights Historical Park in Seneca Falls. The awards are sponsored by the Lockheed Martin Employees’ Federated Fund.

Diana Abdella, Onondaga County

Veterans Event Organizer

Abdella plans and executes the CNY Veterans Parade and Expo in Syracuse. The event is attended by thousands, and has grown to be an outstanding community demonstration of gratitude for the military services of veterans for the past nine years. The event also provides information about services and jobs available to veterans. Abdella is committed to honoring, recognizing, and supporting veterans and their families.

Mary Beer, Ontario County

Public Health Director

Beer has been focused on public health needs during her tenure as Ontario County Public Health Director. She worked tirelessly to adopt a local law prohibiting smoking, including the use of e-cigarettes, on County property – efforts that have reduced smoking rates countywide. She has developed programs aimed at decreasing obesity, managing hypertension, preventing suicide, and fighting the scourge of the heroin crisis. A leader in her field, she is an active member of the S2AY Rural Health Network working on national accreditation procedures for public health departments in the region. Beer serves on a number of local boards and is an active Hospice volunteer, dedicated Rotarian, and a bell choir member.

Laurie Black, Onondaga County

Public and Community Service

During her more than 20 years in public and community service, Black has worked with the Syracuse Boys and Girls Club, United Way of CNY, the Literacy Coalition of Onondaga County and board member of the Huntington Center. Laurie served as administrator to Syracuse 20/20 before her appointment to her current position as coordinator of the Early Childhood Alliance. She is the founder of the Book Buddies program at Seymour Elementary School. Community volunteers read one-on-one students to help them build strong literacy skills and achieve reading gains. This year more than 140 first and second graders met with their Book Buddies two to three times a week, growing academically while discovering the joy of reading.

Ruth Colvin, Onondaga County

Adult Literacy Pioneer

The story of the adult literacy movement cannot be told without underscoring the contributions of Colvin. It was 1961 when Colvin read a newspaper article highlighting the problem of illiteracy in Onondaga County: more than 11,000 adults in her community were “functionally illiterate.” In 1962, Colvin founded Literacy Volunteers, now known as LiteracyCNY, to put into action her mission and passion to arm adults in her community with the tools to learn how to read. In 1987, she earned the highest award for volunteerism in the United States, the President’s Volunteer Action Award. In 1993, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, and in 2006 she received the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom. Over the course of 50 years, Ruth and her husband, Robert, also provided literacy training to adults in more than 60 countries.

Sue Edinger, Onondaga County

Hospitality Industry Leader

As Chief Operating Officer of the Inns of Aurora, Edinger oversees 10 commercial properties and a team of 200 employees. Leading the company since its founding in 2003, she has managed the development of several multimillion-dollar projects within the National Historic District of the Village of Aurora, simultaneously restoring the village while creating good jobs for the community. Edinger has and continues to mentor men and women to rise to their potential. She developed and trademarked the “Leadership Job Chart,” a standard for communicating organizational core values and a model she uses today to inspire her team.

Laura Miller, Onondaga County

Manufacturing Industry Leader

Miller is active in the manufacturing industry, promoting manufacturing in Central New York by celebrating its rich tradition, craft, and work. She co-founded the “Making it in Central New York” initiative in partnership with the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. Her mission is evident in her tireless support for community members seeking jobs and training in manufacturing and in her participation on local boards and advisory councils, where she consistently lends support – and hands – to efforts that align with her mission.

Kylie Pierce, Oneida County

Arts Advocate

As development director of the Rome Capitol Theatre, Pierce has raised extensive funds to maintain, preserve, and improve the theater over the past decade, leading to an approximate 300 percent increase in theater programming. Similarly, she provides extensive support to the Capital Region BOCES, through which she is employed as a grant writer raising funds for educational programming. Pierce is also involved in supporting the local and regional arts community with professional development opportunities to local artists, encouraging tourism, supporting others in the field of nonprofit development. Through her work with the NYS Council for the Arts, she helps determine the distribution of funds to arts organizations throughout the state. She has also served as a Girl Scout troop leader and is a member of Zonta.

Karen Sammon, Oneida County

Business Leader

As CEO of Par Technology, Sammon works tirelessly at creating a future that not only positions PAR as an industry leader, but creates a winning work culture where employees feel valued and energized to make a difference at work and in the community. Whether it’s the opportunities PAR creates for employees to learn and grow, the new jobs being created right here in Upstate NY or the powerful environmental sustainability programs, she embraces the challenge of making a different as a leader at her company, in her community and in her family.

Mary Alice Smothers, Onondaga County

Community Advocate

For more than three decades Smothers has worked with low-income individuals in crisis. While working for the Department of Justice to reduce gang violence, she developed her innate ability to help people dealing with difficult circumstances. Smothers brought those skills to PEACE, Inc. Westside Family Resource Center, which she affectionately calls the “little white house of hope.” There, she advocates for families in crisis and focuses on critical needs like employment, hunger, housing and other basic human necessities. While she is a tremendous force in changing all people’s lives for the better, her passion is the young people of the neighborhood. She teaches children and teens that they are personally responsible for their behavior now and their success in the future.

Christie Waters, Cayuga County

STEM Education Leader

Waters is the division chair of Cayuga Community College’s science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) program, and is recognized for her leadership in creating pathways for local women and first generation college students in the fields of applied science and technology. She has taken the lead in partnering with local industry leaders to build and nurture two-year degree programs that provide a pathway to high-wage jobs in the advanced manufacturing industry. She was instrumental in the development of the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) program for Auburn Central School District students.

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