YWCA Names Community’s 2022 Exceptional Women, Girls
Celebrating Thursday (at top from left) were Linda Fields, president of the YWCA Tri-County Area board of directors, Rising Star winner Kayla Massi and runner-up Rachel Rogers, and Stacey Woodland, CEO of YWCA Tri-County Area
POTTSTOWN PA – YWCA Tri-County Area awards for its 26th Tribute to Exceptional Women and Girls were presented Thursday (June 16) during ceremonies held at Meredith Manor, continuing its annual recognition of nominees selected “for their ability to lead by example in their careers and in their communities” in a variety of categories, it announced.
Womens award winners
Vicki Haller Graff, artistic director of the Reading Theater Project, who supports, promotes, and mentors women and members of the LGBTQ+ community. She received the Ethel Waters Arts and Culture Award, which recognizes women who foster arts or culture in significant ways within the community. Runner up is Marie Haigh, chair of Pottstown Community Arts, who encourages the community to grow and thrive through the arts.
Casey Fenoglio, manager of the Community Wellness Program at Pottstown Hospital since 2019, who has enacted a number of initiatives to promote health and wellness. She received the Virginia Margaret Alexander Health and Wellness Award, recognizes a woman for her outstanding and innovative contributions to health and wellness related fields. Runner up is Dr. Janine Darby, the founder of Lifestyle Changes, a physician-led weight management and corporate wellness practice.
Barbara Auris of Montgomery County Community College, who works to bring equity in education and career preparation to women and to non-native English speakers. She received the Mary Bethune Education Award, recognizing women in public or private education who inspire excellence and innovation. Runner up is Amy Auwaerter, director of Pottstown Campus Operations at Montgomery County Community College.
Meredith Jacks, of Styer Real Estate, who leads a brokerage firm that brings integrity, growth, and empowerment to her real estate team and to the community. She received the Community Service Award, which recognizes women who has demonstrate outstanding service to her community through volunteerism and other supports of time, treasure, and talent. Runner up is Diane Cornman-Levy, executive director of Women’s Way.
Karen Thompson, an employee of Merck Pharmaceuticals, who has worked on cardiovascular studies in children, as well as on formulations of several medications. She received the Katherine Johnson STEM Award, that recognizes an outstanding woman for their contributions to STEM-related fields including pure and applied sciences, engineering, life sciences, mathematics, or technology. Runner up is Gladys Rodriguez, a community health worker at Community Health and Dental Care.
Margarita Davis-Boyer, manager of prevention and family support at Belmont Charter Network, who oversees social services at the network’s schools. She received the Coretta Scott King Advocacy Award, which recognizes an outstanding woman who is an ‘Agent of Change,’ with an exemplary record of leadership and service to historically under-served and marginalized communities. Runner up is Laura Johnson, treasurer of the Pottstown School District board of education, who advocates for equitable funding among Pennsylvania’s public-school districts.
Kayla Massi, a junior at Lafayette College studying neuroscience and a graduate of Owen J. Roberts High School, who was active in creating OUT@Lafayette. She received the Rising Star Award, which recognizes a young woman who is making an impact early in her career. Runner up is Rachel Rogers, a mental health therapist who strives to reduce the stigma of mental illness and behavioral health treatment.
Erin Brown, known as The Concrete Cowgirl, who began her riding career at the Fletcher Street Stables and has been competing horses for nearly 30 years in both the hunt seat and stock seat riding disciplines. She received the Alice Coachman Sports Award, recognizing an outstanding female athlete who serves as an inspiration and role model by overcoming adversity and exhibiting extraordinary courage in their athletic performance. No runner-up was named.
The Rev. Kerry Pidcock-Lester, co-pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Pottstown, who has expanded the congregation’s service to community in her 28 years of leadership, providing support and resources to many community organizations, scholarships to Pottstown students, and outreach and educational events. She received the Mae Jemison Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing an outstanding woman who has devoted their life to making a significant impact and difference in the lives of others. Runner up is Gail Wellington, whose community volunteering extends into the Spring-Ford and neighboring school districts, the Spring-Ford Chamber of Commerce, ArtFusion 19464 in Pottstown, and other community projects.
Girls award winners
Nicole Lockey, a sophomore at Pottsgrove High School, who volunteers with “Falcon Friends” daily, where she spends her study hall with students with disabilities as a friend and a role model. She received the Inspiration Arts and Culture Award, which recognizes an outstanding student who has a love for art and the ability to express self-truth through artistic expression. Runner up is Dasani Armstrong, a student at Reading High School, who expresses self-truth through her poetry.
Josephine Podziomek, a seventh grader at Owen J. Roberts Middle School, who shows her passion for social and emotional wellness through her participation in the YWCA Girls In Charge program. She received the Radiance Health & Wellness Award, which recognizes an outstanding student who promotes, demonstrates, and encourages the importance of a healthy lifestyle either through fitness, wellness, or behaviors. Runner up is Qahira Jones, a student at Pottstown Middle School, who participates in the YWCA Great Girls Today group.
Island Saige Lewis, a junior at The Sanford School, who is vice president of the Black Student Union at her school, mentoring other students and working to ensure that the organization will be sustained after she graduates. She received the Trailblazer Education Award, which recognizes an outstanding student who inspires passion, excellence, and innovation. Runner up is Lily Guerrette, a junior at Pottsgrove High School, who advocates for herself and her peer students at all grade levels and all ability levels.
Celeste Dudek-Plummer, a home-schooled seventh grader living in the North Penn School District, who is an active participant in creating change. She received the Innovation STEM Award, which recognizes an outstanding student who has passion for, demonstrates, and takes initiative in Science, Technology, Engineering, and/or Math. No runner-up was named.
Madison Walker, a senior at Pottsgrove High School, who is a founding member and current president of the school’s Diversity Council. She received the Justice Advocacy Award for an outstanding student who demonstrates the ability to advocate, influence and make an impact in their community or among peers. Runner up is Leyna Johnson, a sixth grader at Pottstown Middle School and a member of the YWCA Great Girls Today.
Anna Lignelli, a senior at The Hill School, who was instrumental in planning and launching the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council at The Hill School, leading its Women and Gender Committee. She received the Junior Rising Star Award, which recognizes a young woman who is making an impact early in her career. Runner up is Sydney Smith, a senior at Owen J. Roberts High School, who has been organizing programs for more than 5,000 people and logging more than 100 volunteer hours each year for Green Allies.
Juliet Solensky, a home-schooled junior living in the Muhlenberg School District, a hard-working, skilled athlete who always provides motivating support for her teammates. She received the Champion Sports Award, which recognizes an outstanding athlete who serves as an inspiration and role model through extraordinary courage in athletic performance. Runner up is Tyonna Murray, a senior at Commonwealth Charter Academy in Pottstown, who is a role model for other students through her desire to help others in need.
About this year’s tribute
During the past 25 years, YWCA Tri-County Area has recognized more than 200 women and girls for their achievements by inviting community members to nominate women in several categories, ranging from arts and culture to lifetime achievement. This year, 43 women and girls were nominated.
The event’s keynote speakers included Keisha Hudson, chief defender of the Defender Association of Philadelphia; Arlene Cadogan, a Methacton High School freshman and entrepreneur who with her best friend founded Melanin Is Beauty LLC, a cosmetic business; and Jenna Armato, a growth and success coach who fosters businesses and organizations in leadership development and communication.
The Tribute to Exceptional Women and Girls was sponsored by The Gulati Family Foundation, Comcast NBC Universal, Limerick Generating Station, Wacoal, Herbein CPA and Consultants, Tompkins VIST, Dwells Ministries, Giant, Hobart’s Run, An Orphan Smiles, and Styer Real Estate.
Photos by Susan L. Angstadt Photography, provided by the YWCA Tri-County Area