The Women’s Council, an affiliate of the Rochester Business Alliance, on Friday named 18 finalists for the 2011 Athena award, given annually to a woman who demonstrates significant achievements in business, community service and the professional advancement of women.

Jennifer Leonard, executive director of The Community Foundation in Rochester, was the 2010 winner. Other past winners have included Ursula Burns, the CEO of Xerox Corp., and former Rochester Deputy Mayor Patty Malgieri.

The 2011 winner will be announced at an awards luncheon Jan. 20 at the Riverside Convention Center. This is the 25th year of the program.

The finalists are:

Dr. Nancy Bennett, director of the Center for Community Health and associate vice president of the University of Rochester Medical Center; Dr. Mary Dombovy, medical director of the Spine Center and the Stroke Center at Unity Hospital; Dr. Deborah I. Friedman, professor of ophthalmology and neurology at the University of Rochester; Marisa Geitner, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Heritage Christian Services.

Pamela P. Heald, president and CEO of Reliant Community Federal Credit Union; Victoria G. Hines, president and CEO of the Visiting Nurse Service of Rochester; Norma Holland, news anchor and reporter at WHAM-TV (Channel 13); Dr. A. Gidget Hopf, president and CEO of the Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired, Goodwill Industries of Greater Rochester; Janet Lomax, anchor at WHEC-TV (Channel 10).

Angella Luyk, president and CEO of Midnight Janitorial Inc.; Lisa Marcello, vice president and chief financial officer of Episcopal SeniorLife Communities; Kathleen Cahill Murray, president of Net Sales Co.; Cynthia Oswald, president of the Livingston County Chamber of Commerce; Kathy Palokoff, founder and CEO of CUSTOMERicity LLC.

Kitty Van Bortel, president of Van Bortel Ford, Van Bortel Subaru and Van Bortel Used Car Center; Mary Whittier, executive director of the Bivona Child Advocacy Center; Dr. Bridgette Wiefling, president and CEO of the Anthony L. Jordan Health Center; and Joyce Zimkowski, senior vice president of Unity Health System.

Tickets for the luncheon are $75 per person or $650 for a table of 10.

Student tickets are $40.

Reservation deadline is Jan. 15.

For more information, contact Susan George at the Rochester Business Alliance at (585) 256-4612 or

Originally published in the Democrat & Chronicle on November 20th, 2010.