Guest editorial submitted on behalf of Niagara University
Coretta Scott King, activist, civil rights leader, and the wife of Martin Luther King Jr., once said, "The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members." Using that quote, and the work of Dr. Irene Elia as a barometer, we are truly in a great community.
You have to look no further than Irene Elia's academic career to see that her passion for education and health care fueled her commitment to help her community. After receiving her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Niagara University, Elia earned a master's degree in education from Canisius College and a master's degree in health administration from St. Louis University. She continued her education and earned her Ph.D. from the University at Buffalo.
Using these degrees and her unfailing energy, she committed her life to service in the Niagara County community. In the field of education, she served St. Peter's School in Lewiston as a member of the school board, as well as a member of the finance committee for both the school and the parish. She worked as the director of religious education for St. Leo the Great in Buffalo, and she was also the director of research and planning at Niagara University.
Elia's passion for health care in her community led her to take on a number of key leadership roles, including the director of nursing services at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, president and CEO of the Health Association of Niagara County (HANCI), and CEO at St. Mary's Hospital.
Despite a career of work for the good of the community, Elia felt a greater calling to public service and, in 1999, she was the first female elected mayor of Niagara Falls, a position she held until the end of 2003.
Elia's service to her community did not end with her working career, as she has continued to serve on a number of community boards, including the Department of Social Services advisory council, the Business/Educational Alliance of Niagara Frontier, the Private Industry Council of Niagara County, and the Main Street Business and Professional Association.
Her most recent endeavor has resulted in building and managing a senior housing project to support quality of life for that segment of the area's community.
For her lifelong commitment to the Niagara County community, Niagara University's School of Nursing is proud to present Elia with the 2018 Niagara University College of Nursing Alumni Award for Community Service.