In recognition of her extraordinary accomplishments and commitment to helping children, families and students throughout the Geneva community, Mary Herlihy Gearan was among the outstanding women across New York State who were honored at the 2011 “Women of Distinction” ceremony held recently at the State Capitol. She was nominated for this honor by State Senator Mike Nozzolio (R-Fayette).
“It is an honor to recognize and pay tribute to Mary Gearan. Her dedication and commitment has made a tremendous positive impact on the young people of our region. She has shown an extraordinary willingness to give of her time in service to the growing needs of the community,” said Nozzolio at the ceremony.
Launched in 1998, the Women of Distinction program was created to celebrate the rich heritage of notable women from New York’s past as well as to honor outstanding women today who have followed their example.
As vice chair of the Happiness House/Finger Lakes Cerebral Palsy Association Board of Directors, Gearan has been a major force in the creation of the Happiness House Gala, which has raised more than $200,000 for children’s services in the Geneva community. She and her husband, president of Hobart and William Smith Mark D. Gearan, served as honorary chairs of the 2003-07 capital campaign and, as such, were instrumental in the efforts to raise $1.5 million toward a new Happiness House building in Canandaigua and a 4,500-square-foot expansion project in Geneva. In 2011, Happiness House presented her with the “Happiness is Helping” Humanitarian Award.
As an active volunteer with numerous local organizations in Geneva, Mary Herlihy Gearan works with the Boys and Girls Club of Geneva, the Geneva Public Library, the Geneva School District, Our Lady of Peace, the Women’s Conference, and the Annual Festival of Nations and Day of Service. In 2010, she was named Citizen of the Year by the Geneva Chamber of Commerce. In the same year, the Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes presented her with a Sharing the Light award.
The International Student Association at HWS also created an award in her name, honoring her longstanding commitment to recruit and provide support for students from abroad.
Gearan holds a B.A. in political science and economics from Emmanuel College in Boston and a JD from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
She worked for Congressman Robert F. Drinan in his Massachusetts District Office and Congressman Joseph Moakley on Capitol Hill.
Following the completion of her law degree, Gearan worked 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 then was named vice president at the Wexler Group, a government relations firm in Washington, D.C.