The Geneva Rotary Club honored President Mark D. Gearan and Mary Herlihy Gearan with the distinguished Springstead Award, in recognition of their service to the City of Geneva and the community at large. The Gearans were presented the award at the Geneva Rotary ‘Service Above Self’ dinner on May 1 at Club 86. Retired Diocese of Rochester Bishop Matthew Clark will be the guest speaker at the event.
Established four years ago, the Springstead Award is named for the late Ralph Springstead, a longtime Geneva banker and Rotary member who supported community service in a quiet and sometimes anonymous way. Past award recipients include Carl Fribolin, the Rev. James Gerling L.H.D.’09, Rosa Blue P’72, P’77, P’84, L.H.D. ’12 and David and Brenda Rickey.
The Rotary also presented three Paul Harris Fellow awards, the organization’s highest honor, and Interacter of the Year and the Rotaracter of the Year awards at the event. The latter two are related to its youth organizations, Interact at Geneva High School and Rotaract at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
Ryan Sollenne ’15, a history major and sociology minor, was honored with the Rotaract award, which recognizes outstanding members. Sollenne served as the HWS Rotaract club president last fall. Under his leadership, the club raised money for the Beverly Animal Shelter in Waterloo and the Boys & Girls Club of Geneva, participated in a Seneca Lakefront cleanup, carved pumpkins for the Ontario County Pumpkin Walk, contributed to the October HWS Day of Service, visited with seniors in assisted living, and helped out with a local highway cleanup.
Assistant Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning Jeremy Wattles, Rotaract advisor, presented the award to Sollenne’s parents, Rob and Karen, as well as his grandmother Rose, as Ryan is currently participating in the study abroad program in Budapest.
Since Mark D. Gearan was appointed president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 1999, he has been an engaged and steadfast supporter of the Geneva community. When he first arrived, Gearan established the President’s Forum lecture series, which for the past 15 years has brought more than 120 national and international speakers to offer free public discussions for the greater Geneva community to enjoy. In addition to serving on many national and international boards, Gearan also serves on the advisory councils of the Happiness House Foundation, Ontario ARC and the Geneva Community Center and is a past member of the Board of the Geneva Free Library and Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes.
In order to further deepen the Colleges’ productive relationship with the City of Geneva, he developed the Geneva Partnership. Since then Hobart and William Smith have made a number of investments in the City of Geneva including direct payments to assist the City budget, donations to non-profit organizations, and support of civic projects. The Colleges contribute on average about $2 million each year to the community.
Under his leadership, the Colleges partnered with the Geneva City School District to form Geneva 2020, a collective impact initiative designed to assist the Geneva City School District on key initiatives including literacy, the graduation rate, and career and college readiness. The program has already helped move the local high school graduation rate from 70% in 2010 to 82% in 2013, and to increase the number of local high school students entering college from 74% in 2009 to 76% in 2013. This year, the School District increased its national standing in U.S. News and World Report moving from 141 to 114 in the list of public schools in New York State.
The Colleges’ commitment to the community, led by Gearan, has been recognized locally and nationally. In 2011, the Colleges were named Business of the Year by the Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce and were named for the fourth consecutive year to the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Gearan earned his B.A. in government cum laude at Harvard University and his law degree at Georgetown University. He is the recipient of 12 honorary degrees.
Since moving to Geneva in 1999, Mary Herlihy Gearan has been an active volunteer with numerous organizations. Since 2002, she has served on the board of directors of Happiness House-Finger Lakes Cerebral Palsy Association. As vice chair since 2007, she has been a major force in the creation of the Happiness House Gala, which raises funds for children’s services in Geneva. Together, the Gearans served as honorary chairs of the 2003-07 Happiness House-Finger Lakes Cerebral Palsy Association capital campaign and, as such, were instrumental in efforts to raise $1.5 million toward a new Happiness House building and a 4,500-square-foot expansion project. In 2011, Happiness House presented Mary Gearan with the “Happiness is Helping” Humanitarian Award.
As a member of the Geneva Festival of Nations committee for the past several years, Gearan has helped to establish relationships between local organizations, businesses, the school district and HWS, resulting in opportunities for HWS students, Geneva school students and the community to collaboratively celebrate their shared cultures during the event. Gearan also serves as adviser for the Geneva High School Interact Club, Multicultural Club and Martin Luther King Jr. Art and Poetry Committee.
Nominated by State Senator Mike F. Nozzolio, Mary Gearan was honored at the 2011 New York State “Women of Distinction” ceremony held at the State Capitol. Other honors recognizing service to the community include being named Citizen of the Year by the Geneva Chamber of Commerce in 2010. Also in 2010, Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes presented her with a Sharing the Light award. In 2012 the Lake to Lake Women organization honored her at their annual Women’s History Month celebration. Several HWS student organizations have recognized her engagement on campus including the Latin American Organization, Sankofa Black Student Organization and in 2008, the International Student Association created an award in her name to honor her longstanding commitment to recruit and provide support for students from abroad. She serves on the Board of the Geneva Music Festival.
She holds a B.A. in political science and economics magna cum laude from Emmanuel College in Boston and a JD from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Previously, she worked for Congressman Robert F. Drinan, Congressman Joseph Moakley and in the Office of the General Counsel at the Office of Personnel Management in Washington, D.C. She was also a fundraiser, national delegate liaison and California Field Desk Officer on the Michael S. Dukakis presidential campaign. She served as vice president at the Wexler Group, a government relations firm in Washington, D.C.