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  • Syracuse Commission for Women
    The Women’s Commission, first established in March of 1986 by Mayor Thomas G. Young, exists as an advisory body to the Mayor on women’s issues and interests. The Commission represents many professions, ages, and areas of the city. Women’s commission members are appointed by the Mayor to serve for a term of two years, and meet quarterly.
    The purpose and goal of the commission is “to realize the rights of women of all ages to equal opportunity and participation in the affairs of the community; to ensure women of all ages freedom from discrimination based on gender and to assure them of the benefits of equal opportunity and the full utilization of their talents to promote their educational, health, economic and social well-being.”

    4th annual Woman of the Year Award
    Mayor Stephanie A. Miner and the Women’s Commission will honor the 2014 Woman of the Year Award at a ceremony on Thursday, April 24th at 5:00 p.m. in the Atrium at City Hall Commons. Each year the Commission honors “An unsung heroine who has made a difference in her community, who has acted as a role model for other women, and who has otherwise enhanced the lives of the citizens of the City of Syracuse (must be a city resident, all professions are encouraged).”  


    Women's Commission Members
      Pat Body
    Pat is a native born Syracusan. She is a retired social worker who specialized in working with families who were experiencing a variety of difficulties. She currently serves as a Commissioner of Education for the Syracuse City School District, a facilitator for TNT Northside, and she is the chair of the Danforth-Pond-Butternut Task Force
      Peggy Chase
    Native of Syracuse. Registered Nurse, Graduate of SUNY Upstate College of Nursing and Doctorate in Education Administration from Syracuse University. Career included administrative and education positions in local hospitals. Recently retired. Member of State Education Department Nursing Board. Adjunct Professor of Nursing at Keuka College. Active in New York State Nurses Association. Chair of the 5th Ward Democratic Committee. Volunteer RN for the Northside Ministries Clinic. Member of Eastwood Neigbhorhood Association (ENA) and Tomorrow's Neighborhoods Today (TNT). Active member of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Eastwood.
      Victoria Coit
    Victoria R. Coit is a community activist committed to improving the quality of life for Syracuse residents.
      Linda Donalson
    Linda Donalson has worked for the Onondaga County Probation Department since 1999, currently as a probation officer for juvenile offenders. After losing her infant son, Kevin JaRon, in 2002, Linda founded KJ’s Angels for parents dealing with unexpected loss, to provide a network of support for grieving families and to raise awareness for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and give families a permanent place to honor their child’s memory. Since 2004, KJ’s Angels has assisted more than 150 families with burial and cemetery costs. Over the years, Linda has also volunteered her time serving as a youth basketball coach in the city with the Youth Enrichment Opportunity Program, the Valley Junior Athletic Association and the Salt City Shakers. Linda is a member of the Bellgrove Missionary Baptist Church, where she sings in the choir.
      Kristi Eck
    Kristi Eck is the Education Program Director with Say Yes to Education Syracuse. Kristi has been a part of the Say Yes to Education team since 2009 and a member of the Syracuse community since 2008. Kristi has a master's degree from Columbia University, Teachers College and a bachelor's degree from Colby College. Prior to moving to Syracuse, Kristi taught high school English at Emma Willard School in Troy, NY and lived and worked in Copenhagen, DK for the Danish Institute for Study Abroad. Kristi is honored to be a member of the Women's Commission and looks forward to continuing to develop meaningful relationships and programs with the Syracuse community.
      Dr. Joan Hillsman
    Dr. Hillsman has over 45 years of experience as a music educator holding a Bachelor and Master of Music Education and a Ph.D. in Musicology. She specializes in Gospel Music as a Minister of Music, church music clinician, and music for all occasions. Having served 50 years in the Washington, DC area, relocating to Syracuse, NY in 2009, she served on the Mayors Transitional Team for the Arts in Syracuse. She teaches private music lessons in piano, voice, theory and church music administration. She is the author of several books, her latest entitled, "Gospel Music: An African American Artform" (McGraw Hill Publishers). She was recently inducted in the legacy film industry. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, MENC, Phi Delta Kappa, Top Ladies of Distinction, the National Council of Negro Women, and the NAACP.
      Alice Honig
    Dr. Alice Sterling Honig, Professor Emerita of Child Development at Syracuse University has authored hundreds of articles & chapters and dozens of books for parents and child care providers to help children flourish. She is a licensed NY State psychologist in private practice and for 36 years she has led an intensive one-week national workshop at SU every spring, to promote Quality Infant/Toddler Care giving.
      Rita Paniagua
    Rita Paniagua was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and has been a resident of Syracuse since June of 2003. Since her arrival, she has been committed to working with the Latino community in Syracuse through the Spanish Action League. since 2007, Rita has served as La Liga’s Executive Director. Among her many responsibilities she serves on various boards, councils and committees: New York State Council of the Arts Board of Directors, Puerto Rico Empires State Trade Association (PRESTA) Board of Directors, Syracuse Chiefs Charitable Foundation Board of Directors, University College/SU Advisory Board, Power Radio Advisory Board, Human Services Leadership Council, Restorative Justice Council, Latino Upstate Summit Committee, Weed and Seed Steering Committee, HSLC - and Upstate Latino Alliance.
      Nancy Keefe Rhodes
    Nancy is a free-lance writer, editor and curator whose work covers film, photo and visual arts. She edits the Moving Images section for the annual Stone Canoe Journal and teaches film theory spring semesters in the Transmedia Program at Syracuse University. Nancy is an alum of the Goldring Arts Journalism Masters program at the Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University. She sits on the Syracuse Public Arts Commission, is a pre-screener for the Syracuse International Film Festival, and a member of the national Women Film Critics Circle and American Pen Women. She lives in the Hawley-Green neighborhood.
      Mary Alice Smothers
    Mary Alice Smothers is a coordinator for P.E.A.C.E. Inc. Westside Family Resource Center. Mary Alice was born in Maryland and has been a Syracuse Westside resident for 41 years. She has been employed with Peoples Equal Action Community Efforts for 6 years, her duties include coordinating programming and services to low income residents, working with them to make a plan to help them become self-sufficient, prior to that she served as Community Liaison for United States Department of Justice Weed and Seed Program and Parent Liaison for the Syracuse City School District. She is very active and well known in the community. She is a graduate of Leadership Greater Syracuse, Recognized by Sterling Registry 2011-2014 for Outstanding Professional Achievements and Contributions to the Community, Winner of “The Risk Takers, Dream Makers Award” twice by the Near Westside Initiative, Onondaga County Professional Youth Worker of the Year, TNT Facilitator, Mayoral appointee of the Syracuse Commission for Women; currently serve on the board of directors for Home HeadQuarters, Inc., The Near Westside Initiative, and Leadership Greater Syracuse as well as a host of many other community committees and groups to better her community. Her passion is working with youth, empowering them to succeed and giving them experiences and opportunities to broaden their horizons beyond the city limits. She teaches them social skills for success, does a lot of work advocating for and supporting youth both in and out of school, assist them in preparing for college and making a bright future for themselves. She may be contacted at  

    Honoring the Woman of the Year  
    Mayor Miner and the Syracuse Commission for Women honored Daryl Files as the 2013 Woman of the Year on March 27th at a ceremony in the Atrium at City Hall Commons. Photos | Video 
    Mayor Miner and the Syracuse Commission for Women honored Linda Donalson (Hicks) as the 2012 Woman of the Year on March 28th at a ceremony in the Atrium at City Hall Commons.
    The Women’s Commission presents the annual award to: “An unsung heroine who has made a difference in her community, who has acted as a role model for other women, and who has otherwise enhanced the lives of the citizens of the City of Syracuse.”   Woman of the Year 2011
    Other nominees were: • Daryl Files •  Lisa ChelenzaMargaret Charters Michelle Walker Sister Dolores Bush and Sister James Peter RiggeoVeronica Clanton Deborah Ann Willis

    The 2011 award was presented to Grace Flusche, an active volunteer with refugee children, and a founder of the Westcott Cultural Fair.
    Click here for more photos.