Thirty-four years ago, Randy & Margaret Farnsworth initiated the Canandaigua ATHENA Leadership Awards program as the first ATHENA program in New York State and one of the first ATHENA programs in the nation. Since then, Canandaigua ATHENA has become a national role model and one of the premier events in the community put on by the Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce and the Professional Women of the Finger Lakes.
The two award recipients were announced at the 34th Annual Canandaigua ATHENA Leadership Awards on Friday, November 16, 2018. It was a night of celebration where ten ATHENA Leadership nominees and six ATHENA Young Professional Leadership nominees were honored for all they do in our community, their professional achievements and ways they mentor women. ATHENA recipients embody the eight tenets of the ATHENA Leadership model: Learning, Collaboration, Relationships, Fierce Advocacy, Authentic Self, Giving Back, Courageous Acts, and Celebration and Joy.
This year’s ATHENA Leadership recipient is Marge Donhauser.
For more than 30 years, Marge Donhauser has been the owner of Donhauser Nursing Services and an energetic volunteer in our community. Her nursing focused on hospice and geriatrics and she has dedicated her life to caring for the elderly and for people with disabilities. Her mission is to provide high quality, affordable at-home services to those who are less fortunate or are having financial difficulties. She takes pride in ensuring that the people she serves can live their remaining days with respect and dignity.
Marge is truly a “volunteer extraordinaire.” She is always first in line to donate or volunteer to support local non-profit organizations. She is a hands-on volunteer who sees a need and steps in to fill it. As one of her nominators said, “I am constantly amazed at all that Marge does and who she is. Marge is the real deal; she is a one of a kind soul. She is an inspiration and a role model for all. Her life revolves around giving back.”
And give back she does. A few examples…
For more than fifteen years, Marge has purchased holiday gifts for every participant Happiness House serves in its Traumatic Brain Injury day program – often over fifty individuals.
She is a long-time, active supporter of Bridges for Brain Injury/Wildlife Defenders. With her friend Natalie Ross, Marge was responsible for securing a kangaroo and a wallaby for the Donhauser-Ross Wildlife Education Center.
Marge has been involved with Light Hill Comfort Care Home since the beginning. The director describes her as “Canandaigua’s Angel”.
For more than a decade, Marge participates in the Canandaigua Freeze Fest “Polar Plunge”, always in a fantastic costume, to support local causes.
On the ATHENA theme this year of leadership, Marge says: “It’s possible to be a leader in quiet everyday ways. I’m just a farm girl. I worked hard. I’ve been lucky. By giving back, I hope I can inspire others and touch lives in a positive way.”
This year’s ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award Recipient is Jennie Erdle.
Jennie Erdle is the Director of Student Life at Finger Lakes Community College. She is a proficient regional and emerging national leader. Jennie serves on numerous local, regional and national boards and committees such as Finger Lakes Works Youth and Veteran’s Outreach, and is the only Community College representative on the Nominations & Leadership Committee within the National Orientation Directors Association.
Jennie’s passion for social justice is evident through her work with Habitat for Humanity where she served two terms as board president. She volunteers with 4-H Camp Bristol Hills and recently joined the development team of the FLX Woman’s program through Quest Potential Leadership Coaching. Jennie also serves as a guest panelist for the Ontario/Yates Fund for Women and Girls’ “Voices of Experience” focusing on at-risk youth.
The Women’s Initiative on Leadership program at FLCC, created and implemented by Jennie, is an acclaimed exploration of personal and professional development bringing students and business women together.