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May 24, 2011
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

Mary Nelson named ‘Women of Distinction’

SYRACUSE, N.Y.— Syracuse resident Mary Nelson has been named as the 49th Senate District’s “Woman of Distinction” as part of the New York State Senate’s 14th Annual 2011 Women of Distinction celebration. The announcement was made by New York state Sen. David J. Valesky (D-Oneida)

Nelson works in Upstate Medical University’s Department of Radiology.

“Mary Nelson’s commitment to her community, especially for children in need, is truly remarkable,” Sen. Valesky said. “Her continuing efforts deserve recognition, and I am pleased to honor her as a Woman of Distinction.”

Nelson has a long history of contributing to her community. She launched the Youth Day Barbecue in 2002, which provides free school supplies and backpacks, along with a barbecue dinner, to families in need in Syracuse. As many as 6,000 people have attended the barbecue, held in August each year.

In 2009, Nelson opened a Youth Center on Syracuse’s South Side to provide young people and families an positive environment to receive tutoring, or to participate in recreation programs and computer classes.

“When I opened The Mary Nelson Youth Center, my focus was, and continues to be service to the youth of my Syracuse community, so they will develop a love of learning and take their education seriously,” Nelson said. “When someone like Senator David Valesky takes notice, and recognizes that work, it empowers me, and fuels my determination.”

Nelson was honored last week with Upstate Medical University’s Individual Community Service of the Year Award for her community activities, including her most recent efforts against youth violence.

Nelson was honored today in Albany, along with other honorees from across the state.

The Senate’s “Woman of Distinction” program was created in 1998 to honor New York women who exemplify personal excellence, or whose professional achievements or acts of courage, selflessness, integrity or perseverance serve as an example to all New Yorkers. Past recipients have included City of Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and Onondaga County Executive Joanne Mahoney.

Since the inception of the program, more than 400 women have been honored as Women of Distinction. Nominees have included women from the worlds of business, academia and civic life, as well as those who have performed heroic or selfless acts, made significant discoveries, or excelled against difficult odds.

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