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  • Writer's pictureCatherine White

Southern Tier Life: Women's History Month

Read about the influences and inspirations of some current Southern Tier leaders


There are so many strong, inspirational women living, working, raising families and making the Southern Tier, New York communities they live in vibrant, creative, and successful. Southern Tier Life acknowledged a few of those leaders this month. One of the questions we asked our subjects (and others) was, who inspired and influenced their journey? Check out their responses below and, please feel free to share who your woman inspirations and influences are in the comments.


Who inspired or motivated me? As I pondered this question, I thought about the journey I have traveled, and with whom. From my childhood to high school friends, college professors, professional colleagues, friends, and family I’ve realized that each one of my acquaintances and/or relationships have imprinted on me in one way or another. Many have inspired and challenged me to the best I can be. Some have bruised me, not supported my journey in the professional world or my attempt to live my dream life to the fullest, but in the end, the realization is they all contributed to building the unshakable foundation I have. My self-determination, personal and professional drive, competitiveness, empathy and the sense to understand that without each and every one who crossed my path, I would not be the dedicated and passionate leader in the communities that I live, work and play in today.


Dawn Burlew, President Watkins Glen International (Photo courtesy of Dawn Burlew)


Dr. Connie Sullivan-Blum, Executive Director The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes (Video courtesy of Dr. Connie Sullivan-Blum)



Throughout my life’s journey and short existence, women have played pivotal roles in shaping my worldview and inspiring me. One such woman is Jacqueline Melton Scott, a fearless advocate for social and racial justice. Mrs. Scott's unwavering commitment to education of racial and social justice in the face of adversity, including her work in Boston, Massachusetts, starting her own school, is truly inspiring. Her courage sparked a regional movement for brown and black girls' rights, highlighting the transformative power of education. Additionally, the resilience and determination of women in my own life, such as my mother and several colleagues, have shaped my values and work ethic. These women embody strength, compassion, and perseverance, serving as constant sources of inspiration in my journey.

Samantha Little, Director of Athletics and Wellness for the Ithaca City School District (Photo courtesy of Samantha Little)




My mom is my greatest influence. When my brother and I were growing up, she worked outside the home while also taking on the traditional gender role that most mothers and wives took on in the 80’s … she cleaned, and cooked, she shopped … she did it all. While I saw so much strength in my mom, I also recognized at an early age that gender roles are unfair and knew I would fight against them when I grew up. And she always told me that I could do anything! Bethany Hammond, owner of Card Carrying Books and Gifts in Corning, N.Y. (Photo courtesy of Bethany Hammond)

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