You are invited to join the YWCA of Princeton for an inspiring evening honoring accomplished women in our communities. The 29th annual Tribute to Women Awards Dinner takes place Thursday, March 1, at the Hyatt Regency Princeton beginning at 5:15 p.m. Ten women will be inducted to the YWCA’s prestigious list of honorees who embody its mission of eliminating racism and empowering women, and the prestigious Waxwood Award for lifetime achievement will be presented.

“These women have transformed and enriched the lives of countless individuals and organizations in the community,” explains Diane Hasili, the YWCA’s chief marketing officer. “Some have broken through the glass ceiling, paving the way for those who follow, and others have used their talents to empower others. Our organization is proud to recognize them for all they have done and all they stand for.”

The award program was established by the YWCA Princeton in 1984 to honor women who have made significant contributions to their professions and the community in executive, entrepreneurial, professional, educational, elected, activist, and volunteer roles. Since then, the YWCA has honored more than 300 women, and the dinner has become the premier event in celebration of extraordinary women in the area.

This year’s program is extra special, as it falls during the YWCA’s 90th anniversary year, marking nine decades of being a voice for women. Jane Kelly, Esq., and Linda Richter of Personal Paperwork Solutions co-chair the event along with honorary chair Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The event has grown significantly with nearly 500 community leaders and business representatives attending the event in acknowledgement of these extraordinary women. This year the Scheide Fund serves as the Justice level sponsor, NRG Energy is a Freedom sponsor, and the Times of Trenton is a Dignity sponsor. Some sponsorship opportunities are still available.

Funds generated from the evening support YWCA Princeton programs and classes, including summer camps, aquatics, dance, gymnastics, martial arts, adult education, nursery school, after school programs, English language training, the Breast Cancer Resource Center, women’s and racial justice programs, community events, and much more.

Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling the 609-497-2100 ext. 333. The cost is $125 for individuals and $1,250 for a table of 10. Corporate sponsorship opportunities are still available. Full and half-page program book ads are also available for purchase by family, friends, and businesses.

This year’s honorees are:

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, honorary chair, is the fourth president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a position she assumed in January, 2003, after joining the staff in 2001 as senior vice president and director of the Health Care Group. She lives in Princeton.

Suzanne McCroskey, 2012 Waxwood Award recipient, has been a tireless volunteer for the YWCA Princeton for over a decade. She first became a volunteer due to her passion for the English as a Second Language Program (ESL). She joined the YWCA Board of Directors in 1998, assuming the leadership role of Secretary in 1999. She dedicated her time and talents on countless committees, including development, nominating, annual benefit, Tribute to Women, and Crafters’ Marketplace. She owns her own graphic design business, MSM Graphics, and resides in Princeton.

Pina Albo is the president of the reinsurance division of Munich Reinsurance America, Inc. Her responsibilities include developing and achieving the strategic and business plans of the division and enhancing Munich Re’s relationships and presence in the market. Albo lives in Princeton.

Nola Bencze, a Titusville resident, is a shareholder of Buchanan, Ingersoll, and Rooney, P.C. As the first in her family to graduate from college, Bencze has made it her primary goal to mentor young female attorneys throughout her career as a practicing attorney. She also serves on the board of trustees of PEI Kids, an organization dedicated to serving the needs of sexually abused children.

Gloria Frederick is the founder and executive director of the Institute of Wonderful Women Working for Empowerment (IWWWE). Dr. Fredrick also serves as a trustee of the Family Guidance Center Corporation and as co-founder and director of the Institute for Executive Leadership and Diversity at Rutgers University in the Office of Continuous Education.

Marilyn Grounds is a full-time volunteer, philanthropist and fundraiser. She has served on the board of New Jersey Young Audiences for 24 years and is an emerita trustee of Princeton Day School. She also serves on the board of the Planned Parenthood Association of the Mercer Area and HomeFront. She lives in Lawrenceville.

Nancy Healey, a Pennington resident, has served as Executive Director of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Central and South Jersey Affiliate since its establishment in 2005 and was previously director of the YWCA’s Breast Cancer Resource Center. She received the Myrtle Wreath Award for significant community outreach in 2010.

Marlene Lao-Collins serves as the executive director of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton. A leader in policy development and advocacy, she also co-founded the Mercer County Hispanic Association and the Latina Women’s Council. She serves on the board of the NJ Advocacy Network to End Homelessness; St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton; the NJ Regional Equity Coalition; the anti-poverty Network of NJ; and the NJ Immigration Policy Network. She resides in Trenton.

Ferris Olin, a Princeton resident, is founding co-director of the Rutgers Institute for Women and Art and co-curator of the Mary H. Dana Women Artists Series. An art historian and women’s studies scholar, she is a member of the board of directors of the Jersey City Museum, the Feminist Theorist Papers at Brown University, and the Neighborhood Narratives Project; serves on the Editorial Board for Visual Resources; and is past vice president and member of the Board of Directors of the College Art Association.

Deborah Shepherd, a Navy veteran, serves as managing director for the Merrill Lynch home office in Plainsboro. Shepherd currently serves as a trustee for Young Audiences of New Jersey and McCarter Theater and donates her time to the American Red Cross of Central New Jersey, the Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts. She resides in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Denise Taylor is the president and owner of Great Looks 4 Less Hair Salon, a multi-cultural hair salon in Lawrenceville. With over 20 years’ experience, Ms. Taylor opened her business in 2009 during tough economic times with the vision of serving everyone. A member of the Princeton Regional and Mercer chambers of commerce, she dedicates her time and talents to countless local nonprofit organizations including Womanspace, Susan G. Komen, and the American Red Cross. She is also a member of the Junior League of Greater Princeton, serves on the advisory board of the Women’s Initiative through HomeFront, and is active in the Lawrence Chapter of Women in Business. Taylor lives in Lawrenceville.

Melissa Tenzer is president of a CareersUSA franchise in Princeton. Tenzer has expertise in the human resource field mentoring, educating, and redirecting job seekers in New Jersey. She is actively involved in Mercer County, serving as the vice chairman of the board of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce and as the human resources chairman for Eden Autism Services. Tenzer lives in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania.

YWCA Princeton. 59 Paul Robeson Place, Princeton. 609-497-2100. See ad, page 18.

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