Women Involved in Scholarship and Emperment (WISE) Women of Blair County will honor seven local residents for their involvement in regional organizations that support WISE Women’s mission to empower women and eradicate racism through collaboration, service and education.
This year’s Tribute to Women Dinner pays homage to women selected in 2020 whose public tribute has been postponed due to COVID-19. The winners are: Marie Little in the Arts & Letters category; Jen Burgmeier, Business & Career; Donna L. Malone, community service volunteer; Dorey Marsh, Education; Pennsylvania Sen. Judy Ward, Nonprofit/Government; Julia Cacciotti, Rising Star, and Rev. Evelyn Madison for lifetime achievement.
Reservations for the Awards Dinner will be accepted through April 8th. Dinner is scheduled for April 20th at 6:00pm at The Casino in Lakemont. Reservations can be made by emailing [email protected] or via the wisewomenofblaircounty.org website
Former Blair County Commissioner Donna Gority has been involved with WISE Women since its inception in 2008 as the successor organization to Altoona’s YWCA. Honorees in the fields of arts and literature, business and professions, community service, education, and nonprofit/government are nominated by the public and selected by a committee, many of whom are past recipients. The WISE Women Board of Directors selects lifetime beneficiaries.
“Although many of these honorees are not household names, they were chosen for their work to improve their communities and are role models in their respected fields.” Said Gority.
Funds raised through advertising in the Tribute to Women Dinner Awards program booklet serve as the organization’s primary fundraising vehicle. WISE partners with the Central Pennsylvania Community Foundation and awards grants to provide workshops, educational events, training and direct service projects to empower women and eliminate racism. The organization also gives educational grants to women who have overcome adversity.
2020 Tribute Honorees to be honored at the 2022 Tribute Dinner:
Business and professional
As the owner and head trainer of The Groove Fitness Studio, Jen Burgmeier, 54, from Altoona brings a positive energy and light to her classes and is a leader in the fitness community. She was chosen because she empowers women by creating an encouraging atmosphere and celebrating achievements at all levels. She helps students improve their physical health and is a motivator, supporter and friend to everyone who walks through the doors of her studio.
Recently retired Dorey Marsh, 71, of Altoona, has spent her nearly 50-year career helping children and families in Blair County. In retirement, she continues to mentor the staff at the Home Nursing Agency Early Intervention and provides developmental screenings in the community. She has had a lasting impact on hundreds of children and families by bringing out the best in both parent and child through her dedication and innovative teaching. Dorey served as an Early Intervention Child Development Specialist for the UPMC/Home Nursing Agency.
Donna Malone, 63, of Hollidaysburg has lived a life of dedication and service through her involvement with the Hollidaysburg Area Public Library and the GFWC Hollidaysburg Area Women’s Club (General Federation of Women’s Clubs). For more than 30 years and in a variety of leadership positions, she has led many successful community projects, including being instrumental in raising funds for a new library in Hollidaysburg. She encourages her peers and is passionate about helping them become the best versions of themselves. Donna continues to serve her community and was named 2019 Hollidaysburg Citizen of the Year. In retirement, she continues to serve in her role as 2nd Vice President of GFWC Pennsylvania.
Julia Cacciotti, 21, from Altoona has a passion for community service. As a student with Bishop Guilfoyle, she excelled both in class and in her extracurricular activities. After undergoing life-enhancing surgery at Shriner’s Hospital, she became a dedicated patient advocate, sharing her story and encouraging others to follow a similar path. Julia has been a dedicated Girl Scout her whole life and has received Bronze, Silver and most recently Gold awards. This award was given after they worked tirelessly to complete a 3 year project to build a grotto in Bishop Guilfoyle. Julia credits her success to her family, her faith, and her drive to continue to leave the world better than she found it. Now a sophomore at Notre Dame University, she works as the team manager for the women’s basketball team.
Rev. Evelyn Madison, 70, of Altoona has served as a mentor, teacher, and source of support and comfort to women in their personal and professional lives. During her vibrant career in the faith community, she has led the charge and advocated for change and improvement in the lives of women and their families in our region. Her love for Blair County is evident in conversations rich in history, community, civic organizations and associations. She makes a conscious effort to be informed of opportunities and events and to share them with those she serves. She is a tireless worker and a constant source of strength, energy and inspiration not only to her current community but to all she has ministered to. Reverend Madison serves as pastor at Trinity UMC in Roaring Spring.
art and literature
Marie R. Little, 77, of Hollidaysburg is President of the Hollidaysburg Area Arts Council and continually strives to raise awareness of the arts among children, youth and adults in Blair County. She and her husband, John, founded the Hollidaysburg Area Arts Council in 1998, which organizes and sponsors adult classes, summer undergraduate arts camps, summer concerts, and community events involving various art forms. In 1999 she initiated the “ART AT THE ARC” Program to bring art experience to ARC’s young adults through courses offered by local volunteer artists. Marie was a constant innovator and a passionate art educator.
Pennsylvania Senator Judy Ward, 63, of Hollidaysburg, was elected state senator in 2018 — becoming the first female legislator from Blair County — and champions her constituents as she represents the 30th district. She is passionate about representing women in the community and being a role model. She is a board member of the PA Council of the Arts, the Blair Senior Services Board and the Hollidaysburg Veterans Advisory Council. She is active in the Food for Families soup kitchen.