Women are community leaders, role models
Compiled by Zonta Club of Grand Island
The Zonta Club of Grand Island has selected 10 outstanding women to receive the 2018 Yellow Rose award for leadership and service to the community.
The club is honoring women whose talent, dedication, determination and caring hearts have made a difference in the lives of others and inspired a new generation to achieve to their greatest potential.
The 2018 recipients are Gerrie Andolina, Cheryl Chamberlain, Denise Dunbar, Patricia Frentzel, Beverly Kinney, Linda Kutzbach, Seema Mojawalla, Jodi Robinson, Joan Schriver and Celia Spacone.
March 8 was designated as Yellow Rose Day by Zonta in 1999 to celebrate women's achievements through the beauty of a single yellow rose. Zonta is an international organization of professional women who work to empower women through service and advocacy. Now in its 60th anniversary year, the Grand Island Zonta Club has awarded $21,000 in scholarships to Grand Island women, provides financial assistance to many charitable organizations and is committed to the fight against domestic violence. The club's biggest fundraiser, the Spring Fashion Show and Luncheon, takes place starting at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, April 29, at the Buffalo Launch Club.
The Grand Islanders receiving this year's Zonta Yellow Rose award come from various professions, including real estate, education, business, government, journalism, music and psychology.
Gerrie Andolina, real estate
Gerrie Andolina has been selling real estate for Century 21 for more than 43 years. "I do sell everywhere in Western New York but feel so blessed to concentrate on the Grand Island market, where I grew up. It is truly wonderful to love what you do, and I feel very passionate about assisting sellers and buyers make their dreams come true."
She worked for Alt Chevrolet on Whitehaven Road for many years, starting out as a cashier when she was a junior at Grand Island High School and eventually becoming business manager. She then worked for a gas and exploration company in Hamburg, but continued to sell real estate.
"In 1998, I decided to focus just on my real estate career. I have been the No. 1 agent in the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors since 2005." She also is No. 1 in the country for Century 21 for units sold, the third time she has accomplished that.
"Since Century 21 is a global real estate company, we are ranked globally as well. I am ranked No. 4 this year," she said.
Andolina started with Century 21 McCarthy in 1975. "John McCarthy retired, and I am now with Century 21 Winklhofer right on Grand Island Boulevard," she said.
She has been married to Michael Amato for 34 years. They have two children, Michael and Julie Amato, who both went through the Grand Island school system.
"I have a beautiful granddaughter, and a grandson on the way," she said.
Cheryl Chamberlain, teacher
Cheryl Chamberlain has been teaching with the Grand Island Central School District since 2000 when she and her husband, Gregory, moved back to where he grew up to raise their daughters, Brooke and Sarah.
Chamberlain earned her associate's degree in applied science in retail business management at Niagara County Community College. From there, she attended Buffalo State College and earned her bachelor's in business and distributive education in 1992 and master's in educational computing in 2002. Before and during her college years, she worked in the private sector for a car dealership, a rental car company and the McGuire Group.
Chamberlain began substitute teaching in 2000 on Grand Island and as a teaching assistant for four years, working with Claire Cieslewicz and Carolyn Manzo as her mentors. In 2006, she took on a permanent position as business teacher and school-to-work coordinator, where she built the DECA business club from six members in 2006 to over 160 members today. She continues to build programs with the assistance of her fellow business teachers and the Grand Island School Business Alliance.
She has been instrumental in the re-establishing the school store, renaming it Casey's Corner after her friend, the late George Casey, who was a member of the school board. The success of the store has spurred the opening of a new concessions stand, Casey's Counter. The stores have been very successful and give back to the students through scholarships and funding of programs. Chamberlain has also been an active member in the community through membership at the Niagara Sailing Club, being co-president/treasurer of Region 12 DECA and the high school graduation coordinator. She also coordinates some of the volunteer work for the high school, building relationships with various clubs and organizations throughout the Grand Island community.
Chamberlain enjoys time at the gym and running as a pastime. She is proud that she has helped build a strong networking and business communications program for her students over the past 18 years and will continue to work for every student in the future.
Denise A. Dunbar, school principal
Denise Dunbar has been principal of Charlotte Sidway Elementary School since April 2006.
Prior to coming to Sidway, she was principal at Pembroke Primary School, Pembroke, New York, from 2004-06.
Dunbar started her career in LeRoy, New York, in 1986, as a first-grade teacher. She also worked as a pre-first, kindergarten and reading recovery teacher before becoming assistant principal at the Wolcott Street School, LeRoy.
She attended SUNY Potsdam, earning a bachelor's in psychology and teaching certification. She earned a master's degree in early childhood education at SUNY Geneseo. At SUNY Oswego, she earned certification in educational administration and supervision. She also received reading recovery certification through Monroe 2 BOCES and SUNY Brockport.
She is married to Mark Dunbar, and they are parents of two children: daughter Nicole Dunbar and son, the late Nathan Dunbar.
Denise Dunbar has been a member of the Zonta Club since 2012, serving on the board of directors as well as several committees. She is also a volunteer for the SPCA and John R. Oishei Children's Hospital.
Patricia Frentzel, town clerk
Patricia Frentzel, a lifelong Islander and Grand Island's town clerk since 2004, was genuinely humbled when she learned of her Yellow Rose recognition from the Zontas. "For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be someone who makes a positive difference. I take this to heart each and every day, and I can honestly say I love what I do." As town clerk, tax collector, registrar of vital statistics and records management officer, her dedication to her job and the Island is quite evident. A problem-solver and hands-on leader, her innovative thinking initiated many improvements and cost-saving measures for the clerk's office - accepting passport applications, becoming an E-ZPass retailer, providing 24/7 access to the clerk's office via the town's website, and accepting credit card payments, are just a few ways she has broadened the services offered to the residents of Grand Island. "Customer service is paramount to me and my staff. We are dedicated to professionally handling each transaction and making sure everyone who does business in the clerk's office feels welcomed and appreciated."
In 2016, Frentzel's achievements were recognized by her peers when she was selected as the Town Clerk of the Year in Erie County. This honor acknowledged both her management skills within the town's office as well as her contributions throughout New York state, where she simultaneously served as president of the WNY Town Clerk's Association and treasurer of the Tax Collector's Association. Always having a keen eye for greater efficiency, she successfully spearheaded the effort to merge these two associations into a unified organization dedicated to increasing proficiency, strengthening local government and promoting professional development. "Good ideas need action. My parents, Don and Barb Anderson, instilled this in me at a young age. I guess that's why I don't hesitate to help move good ideas forward." This goal-oriented work ethic was also evident when she served as the executive director to the National Kidney Foundation and the American Heart Association, where she is credited with raising sizable donations while also raising awareness regarding the importance of organ donation and a healthy lifestyle. Similarly, in her former capacity as director of the Grand Island and Niagara Falls Chambers of Commerce, she was completely action-oriented as she furthered the interests of businesses working together to improve the economic, civic and cultural well-being of the Western New York area.
Deeply rooted in the Grand Island community and following in the service footsteps of her parents, Frentzel's early accomplishments began with numerous activities within the St. Stephen School and church communities. Through the years, she managed or assisted with such events as the Lenten fish fry, the annual golf tournament and the construction of the school's playground. Today, she is an active member of the Auxiliary of the DeGlopper VFW Post No. 9249, the Ladies Auxiliary of the Grand Island Fire Co., the Grand Island Republican Committee as well as being treasurer on the board of directors for the Niagara Sailing Club. Additionally, she was involved with the Grand Island Alumni Association and the Women's BPW and was instrumental in the creation of the Grand Island School and Business Alliance. She summed up her many years of involvement this way: "Time is what you make of it. When I look back at my life, I want to know that my time was well-spent. For me, that includes being of service to others."
"In the end, any success I achieve is really a reflection of the wonderful people who support me. My husband, my children, my friends, my co-workers - they motivate me to give my best each and every day." She is married to attorney and Town Justice Mark Frentzel and has three sons, Lee, John and Justin, and two grandchildren (with one more on the way).
Beverly Kinney, town councilwoman
Beverly "Bev" Kinney is being honored with the Yellow Rose award for her numerous leadership roles throughout Grand Island in a variety of capacities for more than 25 years.
She is a hard-working and results-driven person who is determined to get the job done. Currently serving as a councilwoman on the Grand Island Town Board, she has been called "The Voice of Reason." For those who go to Town Board meetings or watch it live-streamed, they have seen Kinney weave herself through difficult Town Board meetings with grace and strength, always calm and always looking for the right decision based on facts and a tough kindness. She truly cares about Grand Island and the people she serves.
Maybe even more surprising then navigating Town Board meetings with its many difficult and sometimes contentious issues that face Grand Island is her achievements in a short two years on solar energy and clean energy initiatives for the town, gaining grant money for Grand Island through her work. She is currently working on a Solarize Grand Island Campaign that is an educational program for rooftop solar. When the program is finished, she will have obtained two additional grants totaling $12,000.
Kinney and her Technology Advisory Board brought back $67,000 to Grand Island through an audit done by Cohen Group while working on the Time Warner franchise agreement. She serves as liaison to a variety of town advisory boards: Technology, Economic Development, Parks and Recreation and the Golden Age Center. She is an active member of the Long Range Planning Committee, Parks and Recreation Master Plan Committee, and chamber committees for Light Up the Boulevard and KidBiz. Realizing the importance of a safe, family-friendly town has led to her involvement in many family-oriented events and organizations. She serves as vice president for Fairway Greens of River Oaks Board. She has been active with conservation and environment concerns and has attended many informational community meetings and events about environmental issues.
A graduate of Grand Island High School, she comes from a large extended family of five brothers and four sisters. She is the proud mother of Wayne, who resides in Orlando, Florida, with his wife, Dianne, and their two children, Sebastian and Grant.
Certainly one of her toughest battles started a little more than a year ago when she was diagnosed with cancer. She powered through three surgeries, weeks of chemo and radiation, all while showing up for Town Board meetings and doing her job for the people of Grand Island. One of her greatest achievements to date is being cancer-free.
Linda Kutzbach, real estate
Linda Smith Kutzbach says, "I truly love our beautiful Island." In fact, she has persuaded many people to make their homes here. As a Realtor, she knows that many hundreds of Islanders "buy and sell homes in our town as their needs demand."
She has lived on Grand Island since the early 1960s, when her parents, George and Mary Smith, moved here along the Niagara River with their five children. She eventually married an "Island boy," Don Kutzbach, with whom she renovated a 100-year-old farmhouse on Fix Road and raised their two kids, Donny and the late Amy. They have lived in a few spots on the Island and were thrilled to end up on the East River, across from Don's childhood home.
She is a graduate of D'Youville College and worked for many years in family businesses of construction and commercial real estate.
Kutzbach is a housing occupancy specialist, certified through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, who managed 50 apartment units. She also assisted in management and leasing of commercial properties. She became a residential Realtor in 1985 and was instrumental in the River Oaks and Park Place developments. She continues to be a very active local agent, dedicated to her clients, along with her full-time licensed assistant, Colleen Collier.
Kutzbach has consistently been in the top 10 percent of local Realtors in the Buffalo Association of Realtors, is listed in Who's Who in real estate by Buffalo Business First newspaper and is in the RE/MAX Hall of Fame.
A lifelong member of St. Stephen R.C. Church, she helped with the saving and restoration of "The Old Church" and was active at the school when her children attended. She is a past member of the Altar and Rosary Society.
She is also past president and a life member of the Grand Island Historical Society. She helped renovate and redecorate River Lea during her tenure as president. For many years, she has funded the education booklet for the schoolchildren studying Grand Island history. She also chaired the Grand Island committee for New York state and Cornell University, selecting historic sites of Grand Island.
She is a longtime Zonta member who in past years chaired Yellow Rose Day and co-chaired the club's fashion show, as well as serving on many other committees.
Kutzbach is a member of the Buffalo Launch Club who served on the House, Membership, Communications and Entertainment committees.
She helped found and fund-raise for Amy's Room at the Erie County Medical Center and Dylan's Room at Buffalo Women and Children's Hospital
She said her recipe for success comes from her dad, the late George Smith: "It's not work if you are doing something you love."
In her leisure time, she enjoys the company of her husband, family and two grandchildren, especially summer on the Niagara River. She loves dining out and "river walks." Her "other" favorite place is another island - in the Florida Keys - "Especially in January," she says.
Seema Mojawalla, businesswoman
When the Board of Directors at the Association of Mail & Business Centers needs a new idea, an out-of-the-box revelation, or a reality check, they turn to Director of Innovation Seema Mojawalla. "She has a unique viewpoint that is always fresh, forward-thinking, and focused," the board has said. "Her passionate dedication to our industry, association, members, and friends is pure, and she uplifts us all with her tenacious kindness and gentle spirit."
She has an eye for merchandising and a passion for finding the perfect products to sell at the "Spa of Shipping," Island Ship Center, 1879 Whitehaven Road. She co-owns the retail shipping center with her husband, Fahim.
The oldest of five girls, she was born and raised in Mercer County, Pennsylvania; her father, M.M. Ali, immigrated from India and worked for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for 30 years before he retired in 2010. She completed her education abroad in foreign language. She and Fahim met on a blind date arranged by her cousin in 1996; shortly thereafter, they got married and had five children.
Seema Mojawalla worked full time as a stay-at-home-parent until fully coming on board with Fahim at Island Ship Center in 2013. Every year since, she has been credited with increasing sales in the store through her merchandising and sourcing skills. And if co-owning a popular, growing, busy retail shipping spa, raising five exceptional children, and volunteering on the AMBC Board of Directors wasn't enough, she is also the co-owner of Social Media & Design Coaches, the owner of The Henna Salon and the founder of Seema Boutique, featuring Seema's Naturals, an exclusive line of natural, handmade body care products, which are sold at Island Ship Center and across the country at independent retail shipping stores.
With energy, talent, and an ability to stay calm in the midst of seeming chaos, her unique visionary approach to in-store design, product placement, and bold new profit centers allows her to sparkle and shine as a partner at SMD Coaches, working with graphic design for clients and providing them a unique approach to see the world, with creativity, charm, positivity and finesse.
Jodi Robinson, journalist, town historian
Jodi Hayes Robinson moved to Grand Island at 9 months old, so she's not technically a native. A Grand Island High School graduate of the Class of 1976, she attended SUNY Canton and received an associate's degree in business administration. She also attended Eastern Michigan University for two years, majoring in interior design.
Her business career began at age 11, working for her father at the old Clown House on Grand Island Boulevard and then at Helf's in Tonawanda. Restaurants and the hospitality business were in her blood, working for more than 25 years in Western New York and the Florida Keys. In 2001, she was hired by Isledegrande.com when it was in its infancy. Over the years, she worked as school liaison, reporting on school activities, town news, organization publicity and advertising. After the retirement of editor Teddy Linenfelser in 2013, Robinson took over as editor.
Her community activities include holding the position of town historian (2013) and membership in the Grand Island Alumni Association, the Grand Island Historical Society, Relay For Life, and the GIHS Class of '76 Reunion and Grand Island sesquicentennial committees.
She has resided on Warner Drive for 27 years, with her husband, Brad Robinson, raising her children, Liam and Zoe Dodd.
Joan Schriver, musician
Joan "Joanie" Marshall Schriver may be best known as an essential part of Ramblin' Lou's Family Band - after all, she was married to the late Lou Schriver and played lead guitar. But that's understating her place in Western New York music, according to the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, which inducted her into its Class of 2016.
She actually received her first invitation to go on the road before she even met Lou. Her father had already taken her to Nashville and Wheeling, West Virginia, where she had appeared on the Jamboree stage as a teen, the BMHOF reported.
She had already been playing professionally since about age 8, with the ability to master anything that had strings. She was concert mistress and violin player as a senior at Maryvale High School, and she studied guitar with Vince Blasio, another member of the local music hall of fame.
When country music superstar Eddy Arnold came to town, he brought a conductor with him, and members of the Buffalo Philharmonic were hired to play the string parts from his hit records. Joanie Marshall was hired to play electric guitar.
"He was in shock that a girl was going to come in and sit down with an electric guitar," she said. "I can remember overhearing, 'I hope she can read.' Well, not only could I read, but I knew all his songs without even reading them. After the first song, he was in shock, his conductor was in shock. I got to play things that weren't even on the music, and they loved it. After that, they wanted to take me to Nashville."
Joanie and Lou were partners in music and in family for over 50 years. "With the Schriver family and my husband, it was all about family," she told the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame. "My dad played in the band, and my mother would be the babysitter. In the early days, we played every weekend. My mother and father were always there to watch the kids, so nobody was left home with a babysitter. It was a family deal right from the beginning."
Eventually that meant their children joining the show, and now their grandchildren perform with the Family Band. "The music has kept my family together, and I like to see the people out there having a good time with what we're doing," she said. "You feed off the crowd."
Some of the highlights of her career have included:
•Playing the Erie County Fair every year for 52 years - and counting.
•When Lou proposed to her before they opened the show for Ray Price in Niagara Falls - a story country legend Price never forgot.
•Performing on a live weekly television show - one of the first in color in Western New York - on Channel 2.
•Performing multiple times on the Grand Old Opry.
•Playing with or opening for the likes of country music stars Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Buck Owens, Bill Anderson, Charlie Pride, Roy Clark, Kitty Wells, Grandpa Jones, Connie Smith, Mac Wiseman and Boxcar Willie.
Lou died early in 2016, but you'll still find Joanie playing with her children and grandkids in the Family Band, firing off the hot licks on "Guitar Boogie," making like Scotty Moore on "Blue Moon of Kentucky" or doing Chuck Berry riffs on "Johnny B. Goode," according to the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame.
Celia Spacone, psychologist
Celia Spacone, Ph.D., recently retired as the executive director of the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, where she enjoyed a 32-year career. As a licensed psychologist, she worked on an inpatient unit, in quality management, operations and eventually became the executive director in 2015.
Spacone was awarded the 2017 New York State Suicide Prevention Award for her accomplishments in making suicide "a never event" at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center.
Spacone believes in giving back to her community and helping others. She has been active with the United Way Campaign at the BPC for 10 years and chaired the campaign at BPC for two years, raising more than $100,000 for local charities.
A lifelong resident of Western New York, she moved to Grand Island in 2012. She earned her bachelor's degree at Buffalo State College. She went on to become a New York state licensed psychologist and earned her master's degree in education and her Ph.D. at the University at Buffalo. In 2003, she was named a Distinguished Alumni by the UB Graduate School of Education. She began her career as an educator in the Lockport schools, and it was tutoring troubled youth that sparked her interest in psychology.
Since retiring from the BPC, she was named as the coordinator of the Erie County Suicide Prevention Coalition. In that role, she will continue her passion for working on suicide prevention. She has been named to champion the Town of Grand Island Wellness Committee, whose goal is to promote a healthier community by increasing awareness of and solutions for critical issues such as opioid addiction and other substance abuse, suicide and mental illness. She is a member of the Erie County Opiate Addiction Task Force. She is working on the Grand Island Solarize Campaign and has been appointed to the Assessment Appeals Committee.
Spacone has been married for 37 years to her husband David Pratt, Ph.D. She is the mother of two: Justin, a mechanical engineer who graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology, and Andrea, a Ph.D. student at Fordham University in New York City.