MUSIC | EDUCATION
Coming from a family of teachers, Rita R. Frady didn’t initially want to pursue education. She loved music, particularly piano, and wanted a career in that realm. Her husband suggested she combine the two, so Dr. Frady went back to school and found she loved it. She began as a K-6 music teacher for the Cherokee County Board of Education in 1991 and hasn’t looked back since. After 14 years in that role, Dr. Frady became a music teacher for the Hasty Elementary Fine Arts Academy of the Cherokee County Board of Education in 2005. She continues in that capacity to this day. During this time, she also served as an adjunct professor at Piedmont College.
Dr. Frady prepared for her endeavors by earning an EdD in teaching and learning education and an EdS in curriculum and instruction from Piedmont College, a master’s degree in early elementary education from Brenau University, and a Bachelor of Music in piano performance from the University of West Georgia. She attributes her success to ensuring she stays current in her profession by reading forums and articles and taking classes. Thus far, she had furthered her professional standing by earning a conversational solfege certification from John Feierabend, an educational first steps certification, a MIE certification, a P-5 teacher certification, a P-12 music educator certification T-7 from the state of Georgia, and a Microsoft in education certification. She also makes sure she never misses the Georgia Music Educator Conference.
Government | Economics
Always interested in other parts of the world, Irena Zubcevic has found the United Nations to be an amazing place to work. She has served the organization as the chief of the Intergovernmental Policy and Review Branch of Office of Intergovernmental Support and Coordination for Sustainable Development since April 2018, preceded by positions as the chief of the Ocean and Climate Branch of the Division for Sustainable Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and as a senior sustainable development officer. The sustainable development initiative includes 17 developmental goals that she considers to be the framework for the whole of humanity. Ms. Zubcevic’s branch recently hosted a big conference to find solutions to trash and pollution in the ocean. They are also working on public transportation in remote areas and on women’s safety on public transportation; the hope is that raising awareness of these types of problems will prompt countries to adopt policies to better the lives of their people, and through them, the world.
One of the things Ms. Zubcevic loves most about her job is being able to interact with people from all over the world. She finds it an enriching experience, and feels she has grown because of it. She understands and has a deeper appreciation for different cultures and the issues they face. Over the years, Ms. Zubcevic has come to speak a number of different languages, including English, French, Spanish, and Italian, and to have a working knowledge of German and Russian. She considers a highlight of her career to be participating in a group of countries discussing how they could move forward and form a framework for everybody to be prosperous enough to economically grow and have social responsibility, gender empowerment, and protection for children and youth. They worked for three years to help countries come to an agreement on these goals, and it was really validating to see that come to fruition.
Passionate about literature and poetry, Ursula M. Chirico-Elkins is thrilled to have spent her career surrounded by what she loves. She started her professional journey as a library assistant at Princeton University and at the David Sarnoff Research Center, and was promoted to senior library assistant of the latter in 1983. Ms. Chirico-Elkins then became the principal assistant at Rider University from 1987 to 1989 and again from 1990 to 1993, and a librarian at the St. Francis Medical Center from 1993 to 1996. She really appreciated the opportunity to aid library patrons seeking vital information in their field of occupation.
Over the years, Ms. Chirico-Elkins decided to contribute her own work to the field. She authored “Falling Snow,” “Michelangelo's Creation of Adam,” and “A Celebration of Poets” in 1998, and “Omnipotence” and “Unending Love” in 1999. Ms. Chirico-Elkins has also written “Universal Truth,” “Springtime,” “Great Poems of the Western World,” “Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled,” and “Freedom of the Spirit.” Her most recent publication, “Where Are We Going?” was published in 2017 by WestBow Press. She wrote the book because she wanted to help guide people back to the church in order to make their lives happier and more secure.
Music | Education
Motivated by her tremendous love of music, Marilynn J. Smiley has dedicated more than 60 years to advancing the field. She started as a public school music teacher in Indiana in 1954, and joined the staff of the Music Department at the State University of New York at Oswego in 1961. Over the years, she served the institution as a distinguished teaching professor and as a department chairperson, and was responsible for music history and literature courses for all eras and at all levels. Dr. Smiley’s area of expertise ranged from Ancient Greek to current music history and literature, which made her an invaluable resource for students. One of her favorite parts of the job was presenting subjects to students and watching them respond with their own concepts and ideas. She was also proud of having her department accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music and of creating a diverse curriculum. In 2014, however, she accepted the distinguished title of professor emeritus.
Besides teaching, Dr. Smiley was involved at the school through committees like the Library Council, the Graduate Council, the Women’s Caucus, the Task Force on the Future, and the Women’s Studies Advisory Board, and as the advisor of both Mu Beta Psi and Vega, the Junior and Senior Women’s Honor Society. She also conducted a great deal of scholarly research through grants obtained from the SUNY Research Foundation and the National Endowment for Humanities. Her main focus was Renaissance music and various types of American music, as well as women’s studies. Dr. Smiley loved the satisfaction of discovering new ideas, concepts, and correlations, all of which brought a greater understanding to her field. She shared her findings with her peers by writing articles for professional journals and by presenting papers at several musicology conferences of the American Musicological Society and the Society for American Music.
Recognized as a leader in her field, Fran P. Mainella attributes her ongoing success to the three C’s: courage, connections, and communications. She has spent more than four decades as a certified parks and recreation professional, steadily working her way up the chain. She jumped at every opportunity she came across and, over the years, built a vast network of colleagues and peers. Ms. Mainella’s journey culminated with her appointment as the 16th director of the National Park Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2001. She was the first woman to hold this position, and was nominated by then-President Bush. Previous employers include the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Recreation and Park Association, the Tallahassee Parks and Recreation Department, and the Town of Lake Park, Fla.
Now, Ms. Mainella is using her background to help others in the industry. She has been the president of Fran Mainella Consulting, LLC, since 2014, and a visiting scholar at Clemson University since 2006. She also lends her voice to presentations at venues like the upcoming League of Women in Government Annual Symposium. She is currently a board member for The Children in Nature Network and for Guest Services Inc. She also serves as the vice-chair of the South Florida National Park Trust, a philanthropic arm for the South Florida National Parks. In 2015, she presented the Pugsley Award to Senator Lamar Alexander, and in 2014, she spoke at the Massachusetts Park and Recreation Association’s Annual Conference. Additionally, she was the keynote speaker at the 16th Water Conservation and Xeriscape National Conference, the Designing Natural Play Areas Conference, the Tennessee Parks and Recreation Conference, the Indiana Park and Recreation Conference, the Great Lakes Park Training Institute, the Women as Leaders Certificate Program, and the Nebraska Park and Recreation Conference, among others.
Drawing and painting all her life, Honey Kurlander has garnered experience in a wide variety of subject matters and styles. She is inspired by what she sees and where she is, so for a while she focused on New York scenes. Ms. Kurlander would visit places throughout the city and sketch them, and then go home and paint. Her work also features a lot of flowers and people. Her preferred mediums are oil and acrylic, and her style encompasses a mixture of impressionism, surrealism, abstraction, and realism.
Over the years, Ms. Kurlander has built a strong reputation for her showings in art exhibitions and juried competitions. Some of her most notable solo exhibitions were at the Kaigado Gallery in Japan, Gallerie Marcel Bernheim in France, and the Frieda Marty Gallery in New York. In recognition of her success and acclaim, her work is represented in the permanent collections of the Dietz Museum in Germany, the C.W. Post College Art Center, Long Island University, Nassau Community College, and Grumbacher, Inc., among others. Further, one of her paintings was selected to be used in a television show, and her achievements have been highlighted in numerous editions of Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Education, Who’s Who in the East, Who’s Who in the World, and Who’s Who of American Women.
Health Care | Entrepreneurship
The pharmacist manager and owner of Biocare Pharmacy since 2008, Annie Truong is proud of her place in the industry. She and her husband, Chau Hong Phan, opened the independent company with the intention of serving the Vietnamese community regarding “specialty compounding medication formulations that are not readily available in the market.” Now, after a decade in business, they also offer consulting, medical prescriptions, beauty care supplies, food, and over-the-counter products. Ms. Truong attributes her ongoing success to the relationships she has built with her clientele and employees. She loves being able to use her passions to help others.
As a testament to her hard work and dedication, Ms. Truong was honored as Pharmacist of the Year by the Trademark Women of Distinction Honors Edition in 2018, and with a Certificate of Appreciation from the Disabled Veterans and Widows Relief Association between 2016 and 2017. She was also recognized as Pharmacist of the Year by the University of Houston Alumni Association and as the Medical Professional of the Year in 2016. Additionally, she was the recipient of the Houston Cam On Anh Award.
Celebrating more than five decades of professional excellence, Patricia E. Muir continues to thrive as a professional association administrator. She is currently lending her knowledge to her peers as a consultant and as a reading educator on the Social Justice Committee of the St. Andrews Church. In the past, Ms. Muir has garnered experience as a reading tutor at Fairview Elementary School, an office manager at the Federal Documents Clearing House, an assistant at the Independent Telephone Pioneer Association, and a traffic manager at the American Storage Company. She has also held numerous positions with the American Library Association; between 1977 and 1998, she served as the staff liaison of the Government Documents Round Table, the Armed Forces Library Round Table, and the Federal Library Round Table, and as an administrative assistant.
Ms. Muir considers the highlight of her career to be traveling to various conferences. She really appreciated the opportunity to meet and interact with people in her field. Her favorite destination was Hawaii, although she also loved New Orleans, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. Other ways Ms. Muir connected with her peers include contributing to The Independent Pioneer, volunteering with the St. Peter’s Inter Parish School Reading Program, and acting as the president and vice president of the Friendship House Child Development Center. Further, she completed coursework at the Washington School for Secretaries and The George Washington University and earned a diploma from Our Lady of Victory College.
Although Diane Elaine Pirlot didn’t initially want to be a teacher, she is thrilled that her path led her to education. She started out working at her family’s Michigan resort, Welker’s Lodge, Inc., and loved having the opportunity to meet all kinds of people. When Ms. Pirlot’s granddaughter was diagnosed with dyslexia, however, she saw that the teachers didn’t understand how to handle it and knew she had to do something to help. Now, Ms. Pirlot is thriving as a special education teacher and elementary teacher at the OUSD Ivey Ranch. Her main responsibility is to work with severely handicapped children and enable them to participate more in the world.
One of the highlights of Ms. Pirlot’s career was teaching a third grade girl with cerebral palsy and quadriplegia. The girl wanted to learn how to read, and by the time she got to high school, she was competent enough to move from special education to general education and ended up graduating with an “A” average. Ms. Pirlot is so proud of the difference she made in that student’s life, and in the lives of all of her students. Looking to the future, she hopes to be remembered as someone who was always there for others.
Education | COmmunity Development
Focused on ensuring inclusive environments for minorities, Sheila D. Ards is an expert at developing communities. She began her journey at the University of Texas at Austin as an accounting major, but discovered a passion for public policy during a summer program at Carnegie Mellon University. The institution offered her a full ride to earn a PhD from the School of Urban and Public Affairs, which she did in 1990. Her dissertation was on child abuse and neglect. She also wrote a major paper that looked at poor communities and ways to rebuild them.
Dr. Ards’ first professional position was with the University of Maryland, where she taught in the School of Urban and Public Affairs. She then joined the University of Minnesota for four years before accepting a wonderful opportunity to go to Benedict College in South Carolina. Eventually, however, the University of Minnesota recruited her to come back as the associate vice president for community engagement. She remained there until her retirement.