12 Inspirational Irish Women Awardees Announced

A Philadelphia judge, an award-winning kids’ radio host, a decorated firefighter, and the regional president of the Sisters of Mercy are among the 12 women to be honored this year at the second annual Inspirational Irish Women Awards event on Sunday, May 22, at the Commodore Barry Club (The Irish Center) in Philadelphia.

Founded last year, the awards are given to women of Irish descent whose lives are an inspiration to others. Among last year’s honorees were Siobhan Reardon, first woman president of The Free Library of Philadelphia; Denise Sullivan Morrison, poised to become the next CEO of Campbell Soup Company; Rosemarie Timoney, founder of a school of Irish dance and longtime promoter of Irish culture; Emily Riley, executive vice president of the philanthropic Connelly Foundation; and Kathy Orr, Emmy-winning CBS3 meteorologist who will serve as emcee for this year’s event.

Two of last year’s winners, Liz Kerr, RN, a nurse on Temple’s transplant team, and Kathy McGee Burns, president of the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Observance Association, were part of the 2011 selection committee.

Proceeds from the event, an afternoon cocktail reception at the Irish Center, 6815 Emlen Street, Philadelphia, will go to the Irish Center.

For more than 50 years, the Center has served as a home away from home for thousands of Irish people living in Philadelphia. As a meeting spot for Irish cultural organizations, dance, and music groups, it has been the solid foundation of the city’s vibrant Irish community. Without this home base, many of the region’s Irish cultural and charitable organizations would be left without a meeting and event space; some would not be able to continue their activities without the crucial support that the Center provides.

This year, the Irish Center has launched a capital improvement fundraising campaign to repair its roof and to finish construction of an elevator—two jobs that will require a significant influx of cash.

The awards program is co-sponsored by the Irish Immigration Center of Philadelphia, a 501 (c)(3) organization that has been serving the needs of the region’s Irish immigrants since 1998. Through the Immigration Center’s fiscal sponsorship, donations, sponsorships ranging from $100 to $1,000, and the purchase of reserved tables is tax deductible.

Tickets to the event cost $40 and cover beer, wine, soft drinks, as well as various hot and cold appetizers. Table reservations are $450. No tickets will be sold at the door. Ads in the program booklet range in price from $25 to $100.

To purchase tickets, tables, or ads by mail, make checks out to the Irish Immigration Center of Philadelphia, and send them to the center at 7 South Cedar Lane, Upper Darby, PA 19082.

For more information on the event or to purchase tickets or tables online at a secure site, go to You can also send an email to

The 2011 Inspirational Irish Women Honorees are:

Sister Christine McCann, the Regional President of the Sisters of Mercy in Merion, serves as the Board Chair for Mercy Health System and the Coordinator of the Catholic Health East Sponsor Council. In addition, she is active on the Boards of Catholic Health East and Gwynedd- Mercy College. The Sisters of Mercy, an Irish order, is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.

Margaret Reyes is retired from the Department of Fire and Rescue Services in Montgomery County, Maryland, where she was a firefighter, emergency medical technician, and instructor in specialist rescue training. She currently works as a trainer/educator of the courts in Delaware. Ms. Reyes is also a nationally certified Swiftwater Rescue Technician Instructor and Hazmat Specialist. She was activated by FEMA to several natural and man-made disasters, including the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, and received a meritorious Service Medal from President Bill Clinton for her service there. She is now an activist on immigrant issues. She holds dual Irish and American citizenship.

The Honorable Pamela Pryor Dembe is the president of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and former president of the Brehon Society.

Kathy Fanning is president of the Philadelphia County Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians. This year, Fanning, who is a charter member of LAOH Division 39, received her national life membership from the LAOH.

Kathy OConnell is the longtime host of WXPN’s “Kids Corner,” a Peabody Award-winning radio show for children.

Anne McDade Keyser Hill, at 86, is still at the helm of two local companies, Plasti-Seal Corporation and John F. Keyser & Sons, in Huntingdon Valley. She was a female business owner at a time when she felt she had to sign her name with just a first initial because “men didn’t want to do business with a woman.” She was active in organizing and heading up parish-linked programs for singles (where she met her current husband, Joe, a retired teacher and writer).

Mary Ann McGinley, PhD, RN, is senior vice president for patient services and chief nursing officer at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Under her leadership Jefferson was granted magnet program status for nursing excellence in 2009, a designation granted to fewer than 5% of US hospitals. She is also recipient of many awards including The Clara Barton Award for Courage in Nursing, 1997 and The Distinguished Alumni Leadership Award from Gwynedd Mercy College in March, 2000.

Carmel Boyce, a mother of six from Letterkenny, Donegal, is, with her husband, Barney, a pillar of the Philadelphia Irish community. She serves on the board of the Irish Center, is financial secretary of the Donegal Association, and has been involved in countless charities. All of her children are actively involved in the Irish community, many in music and dance, helping to keep the culture alive.

Karen Boyce McCollum, Carmel Boyce’s youngest child, is a graduate of Drexel University. She is the associate director of corporate communications for Cephalon, an international biopharmaceutical company. She is also community relations director for and on the board of Irish Network-Philadelphia, a member of the Donegal Association, a singer (she sang at last year’s event), a former Rose of Tralee, and mother of two (soon to be three). She has been named one of the Irish Echo’s 40 Under 40.

Christine M. Coulter is an Inspector in the Philadelphia Police Department’s traffic divisions (special operations). For the past eight years, she has gone on yearly missions to El Salvador with the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus where she has worked on neighborhood projects, including building a bridge, a medical center and a library, as well as teaching computer skills and English to children. She also sponsors a child from the Honduras through Amigos de Jesus, a project founded by Philadelphia-based priest, Father Denny O’Donnell.

Posthumous Awards


Liz Crehan Anderson was a tireless promoter of Irish traditional music, dancing, and Irish-speaking in the Philadelphia area until her untimely death at age 54. The niece of Junior Crehan, the famed Clare fiddler, she was a familiar figure at session, house concerts and workshops and was playing and encouraging people to attend workshops until two days before she died.

Sister Peg Hynes SSJ, born in Philadelphia to parents from Galway, was director of the Heart of Camden Housing which helped Camden resident become homeowners. She was honored by the UN, the Fannie Mae Foundation, and many other organizations for her work to provide affordable housing for the poor. A two-time cancer survivor, she was killed in a tragic car accident in 2002.

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