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The Mount Mercy Academy Alumnae Association will honor three graduates with Distinguished Alumna awards and two other graduates with Spirit of Mercy awards at a dinner Thursday at Romanello's South.

Recipients of the Catherine McAuley Distinguished Award, which honors alumna who have distinguished themselves in the areas of faith, family, community and career, include:

Kathleen Daley Dust, Class of '73, director of education for EduKids Inc., where she is responsible for the supervision of teachers and curriculum for all eight centers. She has bachelor of science and master of science degrees in education from the University at Buffalo.

Joan Klipfel Lillis, Class of '53, the first woman elected to public office in the Town of West Seneca. A graduate of the Mercy School of Nursing in 1958, she worked as a registered nurse until the death of her husband, Bernard, in a car accident in 1967. At the age of 31, with three young children, she switched careers when she sought to fill out her late husband's term of office on the Town Board. She later became town supervisor. After retiring in 1992, she became executive coordinator for the Erie County Medical Center Lifeline Foundation.

Assunta Campanile Ventresca, Class of '68, is director of Health-Related Services for the Buffalo Board of Education. She graduated from Trocaire College with a nursing degree in 1970. She later received a bachelor of science degree in nursing and a master of science degree in community health nursing from D'Youville College. She has been patient service manager for the Visiting Nurses Association and director of nursing for the Wyoming County Public Health Department.

Spirit of Mercy awards, which honor people whose family and professional lives exemplify mercy and compassion, will be presented to Sister Margaret Ann Coughlin, RSM, Class of '59, chaplain at Baker Victory Services, and Marianne Rathbun Russo, Class of '51, president of the Alumnae Board of Directors at Mount Mercy Academy.

Sister Margaret Ann entered the order of Catherine McAuley at the end of her junior year at the Academy. She has a master's degree in pastoral studies from Loyola University. A certified chaplain, she conducts grief groups, confirmation classes and counseling sessions for teens.

Russo, a licensed real estate agent for more than 15 years at Realty World in Orchard Park, is involved in numerous civic and church organizations and has become a familiar face and name at the Academy.

Mariah DuRant, a sixth-grader at the Dr. Lydia T. Wright School of Excellence in Buffalo, has been nominated to participate in this fall's Junior National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C.

Mariah, of LaSalle Avenue, will be part of a select group of sixth- and seventh-graders from across the nation. These students have demonstrated scholastic merit, maturity and responsibility, according to conference officials. Mariah is the daughter of Shelbert and Desiree DuRant and the granddaughter of the Rev. Sara Vickers Hopkins.

The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, governing organization of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, elected 14 directors for its board at its recent annual meeting.

Members of the board of directors include Steven G. Biltekoff, chair, art committee; Robert J. Bojdak, executive vice president, M&T Bank Corp.; L.N. Hopkins, M.D., chairman and professor, University at Buffalo Neurosurgery, and Thomas R. Hyde, partner, Hodgson Russ, LLP.

Also Seymour H. Knox IV; Jordan Levy, managing partner, Seed Capital Partners; Brian J. Lipke, chairman and CEO, Gibraltar Corp.; Judith C. Lipsey, marketing consultant, and Katherine McDonagh.

Also Margery Nobel, Frederic P. Norton, Frederick G. Pierce II, managing partner of Gatlord Smythe; Elisabeth Roche-Wilmers, principal, Roche and Co., and John N. Walsh III, chairman and CEO, Walsh Insurance Group.

Sally Gioia, owner of Smith & Company, and Dr. John B. Simpson, president of the University at Buffalo, were appointed to the board subsequent to the annual meeting.

Michael Jabot, Ph.D., assistant professor of education at Fredonia State College, and Aimee Nezhukumatathil, poet and an assistant professor of English, are the recipients of the 2005 William T. Hagan Young Scholar Award, an honor given annually to faculty members who have made outstanding achievements in research or creativity.

The award is named for William T. Hagan, Ph.D., a SUNY distinguished professor who specialized in the history of the American Indian. He taught at Fredonia State from 1965 until his retirement in 1988.

Jabot, a graduate of St. Bonaventure University who earned his doctorate at Syracuse University, has been an assistant professor of education at Fredonia State since 2001. He previously taught at Oneida High School in Oneida and has been an adjunct professor at Rochester Institute of Technology, Mohawk Valley Community College and SUNY Morrisville.

Nezhukumatathil, who received a master of fine arts degree from Ohio State University in 2000, has been an assistant professor at Fredonia since 2001. She was a Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin during the 2000-01 academic year. She won the ForeWordMagazine 2003 Gold Prize for Poetry for her book "Miracle Fruit" and the 2003 James Boatwright III Prize for Poetry for her poem "Small Murders."