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Irene Keyes Memorial Fund


The goal of the Irene Keyes Memorial Fund is to provide an annual scholarship to a student to attend the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL). 

Questions:  Marcine Humphrey



Click on the graphic on the left for an application form to print, complete and mail





Click HERE to print the poster above.

More information>>


Additional donations can be made to the Irene Keyes Memorial Fund by sending a check payable to Poughkeepsie Branch of the AAUW, Inc., with “Irene Keyes Memorial Fund” in the memo line or by using PayPal/your credit card.  Details HERE>>                                                              

2016 Recipients, Ashley Clark-Bryant and Marrisa Zuleta

The following is a commentary from Marissa Zuleta one of this year’s recipients of the Irene Keyes Memorial Scholarship.

Marissa Zuleta and Sarah McBride

I have a tool kit in mind. It is a tool kit that will take me places.  Through encouragement and role models the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders echoed “We can do it.” With all the political, social, and cultural differences, the strongest characteristic was undeniable partnership.   A fellow attendee stated, “I will not tell you where to go, but I will help you get there.” This message resonated with me the most.

As this was my first time attending a conference and first time touring Washington DC, you can imagine how taken a-back I was by the enormous Abraham Lincoln statue, the Martin Luther King Memorial and the White House.

The generosity of the American Association of University Women afforded me the opportunity to hear heroic speeches.  Never in a million years did I think I would fulfill my dream of seeing my third grade idols.  I heard inspiring messages from women who fight for equality every day: women like Kelly Tsai who is striving in a world that too often says “no” and Marisa Demeo who validated my bicultural American Dream.  Franchesca Ramsey spoke on the importance of being a catalyst for change at both micro and macro levels.  In a room filled with people of all backgrounds, shapes and colors, Franchesca Ramsey spoke to the audience in their language.  She illustrated how shared experiences can bond us even though we originate from environments very distinct from one another. 

Surrounded by local, national and global injustices, my ailing heart carries empathy for marginalized groups.  Maintaining passion, persistent motivation, and self-care is more easily said than done.  Motivation to change the world does not come with a warrantee.  Learning skills to cope with the stressors of being a change agent is vital. 

NCCWSL gave me insight into empowering individuals.  My most significant takeaway is an articulation of leadership.  There are supervisors and there are leaders. A supervisor is someone who delegates responsibility. On the other hand, a leader is someone who has an objective and guides others towards the same objective. As I continue working for my MSW, I hope to pursue a career in community planning, specifically in the City of Poughkeepsie.

Yes, I have an ever-growing tool kit.

Thank you,

Marissa Zuleta


Ashley Clark-Bryant is  a Biology major at Marist College, where she will be a Resident Assistant next year.  Ashley has been developing her leadership strength since high school. She was selected for the Eileen Fisher Leadership Program which promotes leadership through self-empowerment, connection with others and activism in their communities. Ashley’s goal is to be a Physician Assistant in Pediatrics.  She is described as “one of the most genuinely motivated students on campus.”


Marissa Zuleta, a student at Marist studying Social Work, has already established herself as an active, socially conscious young woman with great leadership potential. Marissa, as a Fulfillment Fund Scholar, has counseled at-risk high school students.  Marissa says that “immigrant issues are a passion of mine.” Her professors observe her “passion for helping communities of all kinds” and her “strong social justice agenda.” 

Check back for their report on their experiences at NCCWSL!




From Laureen Scianimanico,  2014 Recipient

I did not know what to expect for the 2014 NCCWSL conference. All I knew was that it was in Maryland, I was attending a pre-conference activity, and Chelsea Clinton was speaking.  While those three things were really awesome, I did not know anything else I would be doing or learning about at the conference.

I had some experiences during the three-day trip that helped me feel that I was learning about myself and my capabilities.  My parents threw me on a train by myself from New Rochelle to Union Station, where I had to hop on two metros and catch a bus to the University of Maryland. This was a semi-terrifying experience because it was the first time traveling by myself and navigating around an unfamiliar city. However, I arrived at the campus safe but exhausted.

When I arrived, I was awestruck at how beautiful (and BIG) the campus was. I got lost, but found the dorm where I checked in, unpacked and cooled off. The first night was filled with ice breaker games. I met girls from all over the country who each had an interesting story. It was amazing to hear how one girl from Saint Louis, who had never left home before, got on a plane to come to the NCCWSL conference. She said, “I'm here and I'm glad to be here." She became one of my friends that weekend.

The next morning was the pre-conference activity.  I went to help out at The Wider Circle, a non-profit organization that aims to end poverty in the capital region.  At The Wider Circle, I helped organize book shelves and children's toys and unload a truck full of donated items. It was truly an eye-opening experience.

After the pre-conference activity, the actual conference started. Seated in "The Grand Ballroom," we listened to many wonderful speakers.  We were fortunate to hear Chelsea Clinton who spoke to us about how we need to take risks, and "Make a raucous" in order to be heard. In a society still often dominated by men, women's voices often go unheard or are not taken seriously. Her message was strong and well-received.

My personal favorite speaker was Deanna Zandt.  I had never heard of her prior to the conference. She is a woman who made a name for herself through public speaking and self-works. She shared her experiences of trying to be strong while fighting her mental illness. A lot of us appreciated her sharing that.  She called her mental illness "Little Demons" that come and take over her mind, demanding her to be perfect and worry about the future.  She reiterated that "Perfectionism is demon."  While she is not a pro at getting rid of the "Little Demons" she found her self-worth and thankfulness driving them away. She left a very powerful and awe-inspiring message behind that I will take with me.

I also attended some workshops that helped me learn about and form my beliefs on various topics, including women in politics and faith and how to be taken seriously as a woman.  One of my favorite experiences was the night-out in DC.  With my Saint-Louis friend, I also met a girl from New Jersey. The three of us explored the great capital and we had a blast. NCCWSL was an experience that brought me home glowing. I emailed a former professor, telling her about the trip. I told her how special the trip was and said her future students should be encouraged to attend. She has invited me to share my experiences with her classes. 

You do not have to be super-bubbly to attend the NCCWSL conference. You don't have to be a super-feminist either. I would highly recommend NCCWSL to anyone who is interested in learning about themselves, hearing others’ points of view while formulating their own beliefs, and experiencing life on another campus.  I definitely learned a great deal about myself. It is good to be surrounded by women who care so much about the future. I felt honored to be a part of something so awesome and empowering, and to be surrounded by women (and some men) from across the country.

Laureen Scianimanico is a graduate of Arlington High School and is currently a sophomore majoring in Communications Disorders at SUNY New Paltz.  The grant covered the registration fee which includes all programming, scheduled meals and housing.  The conference was held at the University of Maryland on June 5-7, 2014.

From Dana Liu, 2013 Recipient

Attending the 2013 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders at the University of Maryland, College Park was a fantastic and unique experience that easily surpassed any and all expectations I had had about the long weekend.  Before embarking on my adventure to Washington, D.C. I had absolutely no idea of what the conference would be like.  I arrived at the University of Maryland after a long day of travel by train on Friday evening, and was greeted by a beautiful, but quiet campus.  The only thing planned for the evening was an ice-breaker gathering with the other students who arrived a day early to the conference.  Since I had been sitting on the train all day, I decided I would take the free time to explore the campus and went for a run, inevitably getting myself lost again.  Once I figured out which brick building was my dorm, I showered and settled in for the night, looking over the schedule for the days ahead.  I was overwhelmed and excited by all of the intriguing workshops and inspiring lectures and decided which events to attend.

Over the next couple of days, I attended a viewing and discussion of the film, Makers: Women Who Make America, the opening session and group networking, the Women of Distinction Awards Ceremony and Reception, Keynote Speakers and workshop sessions.  Not only were the workshops and lectures engaging, my fellow conference attendees were as well.  They were all friendly, enthusiastic and genuinely kind.  It was refreshing to be in an environment filled with women who wanted to support each other.  This environment was exactly what keynote speaker, Rachel Simmons encouraged.  Of all the events organized by the conference, Rachel Simmons’ lecture was my favorite.  I enjoyed her honest, candid and funny discussion of the challenges of being a girl and how to overcome them.  Some of the takeaways from her lecture included how to overcome the pressure of being the “good-girl” and how to build an “inner résumé.”  Her tips on how to build that “inner resume” were as follows: listen to your inner voice, practice taking risks and start small.  After her talk, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to participate in a Q&A.

After attending the 2013 National Conference for College Women Leaders, I am excited to apply the myriad of invaluable lessons to my involvement on campus at Marist College, to my future career endeavors and to volunteer opportunities.  The conference completely changed my outlook on the effects of women leadership and has provided me with a more positive attitude on my own potential impact and with the tools to achieve and accomplish positive change.  This conference was empowering for me not only as a woman, but also as a young and passionate individual.


Dana Liu is majoring in Fashion Design and Environmental Studies. During her time at Marist she has been very involved in Student Government and has served on several advisory boards. She attends council meetings with the representatives of the other programs to discuss developments within the schools, and she assists in the planning of the Academic Quiz bowl and Annual Faculty of the Year and Shadow Day Liaison.  Dana has worked with the Honors Program Director to discuss honors curricula and course offerings. Dana’s professors praise her curiosity about life and learning as well as her commitment to advocacy. She has already exhibited  her dedication to diversity, integrity, service fellowship, and the spirit of inquiry.  Diana’s goals include working as a fashion designer in a company dedicated to environmental and social responsibility.  She hopes to “implement change in an industry that relies on the exploitation of workers and destruction of the environment.”

From Domonique Garrett, 2012 Recipient

My name is Domonique Garrett.  As the recipient of the Irene Keyes Memorial Fund grant, I attended the 2012 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL).  I will admit that I went to NCCWSL feeling nervous, overwhelmed, and without any idea of what to expect.  I read positive stories about student leaders that attended in the past, so I wanted to be sure to get the most out of the conference and have fun as well.

During the Conference, I attended several workshops, attended keynote speeches and viewed a documentary called The Invisible War, an investigative documentary about the epidemic of rape of women soldiers within the US military.  It was amazing to listen to Lilly Ledbetter, a keynote speaker and women’s equal pay activist, share her fight for equal pay at Goodyear Tire and Rubber.

NCCWSL has sparked a desire within me to join the fight to give women across the country the opportunity for fair wages. I also want to help lift up the voices of the men and women who fight for our country and are victimized and silenced by the military.  Networking with young likeminded women from all over the country empowered and inspired me to continue on in my educational and professional journey.

My experience at NCCWSL conference was extraordinary. My time on the University of Maryland’s campus was amazing and unforgettable.  I have made lasting connections with several young women. This experience taught me many lessons, but mainly, to strive for excellence.

I left the conference feeling confident that I am a better person and ready to pursue all of my dreams. I thank the women of AAUW for this opportunity.

In addition to her studies, Domonique Garrett is the Director of Youth Services for D.I.V.A.S. of Sister 2 Sister of Poughkeepsie.  She has co-coordinated Project S.W.A.G (Society at War Against Illegal Guns and Violence).  Involved in several community projects, she is committed to encouraging young people to be productive citizens, make responsible decisions, and avoid violence.



The Poughkeepsie Branch Board has established the Irene Keyes Women Students Leadership Fund in honor of our late past President, Irene Keyes.  Many branch members have made generous contributions, in honor of Irene, which were used to establish this fund.
The fund is used to support one or two young women to attend AAUW’s NCCWSL (National Conference for College Women Student Leaders) in Washington DC each year.  This conference brings together college-age women from around the country to participate in workshops focusing on advocacy, leadership, health and wellness, and “real-world” issues such as financial literacy and life after college.  Attendees hear inspiring stories from women who either broke through barriers themselves or are helping others break through barriers on behalf of women and girls, and participate in community service projects and skill building events.  Jessica Riley, a young member of our branch who attended the 2011 conference wrote, “Being around women with interests similar to mine, hearing them and relating to them, I couldn’t have asked for better inspiration and empowerment.” [Complete article, The Branch, Sept. 2011, page 3]
Irene Keyes, who was president of our branch from 2006 to 2008, passed away suddenly in July 2011.  Her leadership role enabled our local branch to earn the important 501(c)(3) tax designation.  She wrote grants to fund initiatives like the Girls' Conference and Leading To Reading projects.  She was highly committed to our long-term vision of achieving gender equity.

Irene Keyes (1949-2011)

Irene C. Keyes, passed away suddenly on Saturday, July 2, 2011.

Irene was born March 7, 1949 in Middletown, N.Y.  Irene was a graduate of Middletown High School in 1967, SUNY Brockport in 1971, and completed post-graduate work at Union College in 1985.

Irene is survived by her husband Richard J. Keyes, Jr. and their sons William E. Keyes, a senior at Carnegie Mellon University, and Brian P. Keyes a freshman at Rochester Institute of Technology. Irene was predeceased by her daughter, Jenny, in 1989.

Irene retired from the Spackenkill Union Free School District in 2004, after 33 years.  She taught mathematics, was instrumental in designing and implementing the computer science curriculum, served as mathematics department coordinator, as well as coaching cheerleading and advising the Computer Club.  She completed her teaching career as technology integrator at Nassau and Hagan Elementary Schools. After her retirement, she continued to share her passion for teaching by launching her business, "Play Math With Me," to instill a love of mathematics in children.

In addition to teaching, Irene actively participated in numerous area organizations. Her leadership role in the American Association of University Women enabled the local chapter to earn a 501(c)(3) designation, laying the foundation for their long-term vision to achieve gender equity. She wrote grants to create an umbrella program called "Equity For Life" to fund initiatives like the regional Girls' Conference, the "Leading To Reading" literacy project, and the "Let's Read Math" tutoring programs.

A dedicated member of the Arlington family, Irene worked tirelessly for the PTSA and the Arlington Band Boosters.  She ran "Reflections," an arts contest enabling Arlington students to compete at state and national levels, and she was instrumental in re-launching the Math, Science & Technology Expo. Her work on behalf of the marching band and other music programs brought joy to the thousands who participated. Additionally, she organized the Friends of Mills Mansion annual golf tournaments at Dinsmore Golf Course, and assisted Eagle Scout candidates from Boy Scout Troup 182. In all her endeavors, Irene was committed to helping others. Irene delighted in creating arts and crafts. Her artistic ability was evidenced in her sewing, her quilting, and her painting projects. Irene loved her home decorating and her gardening, especially her colorful irises. Irene was an enthusiastic supporter of the musical endeavors of her family. Yet, her greatest love shone in the creation of a wonderful family. Rich, her two sons, and their myriad accomplishments will be her finest legacy.

As part of her eulogy, Bonnie Fulmer said:
…But one of the things I really admired about Irene was that she not only wanted to make the world a better place, but she actively sought opportunities to do concrete things to make that happen.
… She was a woman who not only volunteered when someone else evinced a need, but she was also a leader who took the initiative to identify a problem, figure out a solution, and then execute a plan to fix it and make the world a better place.   Her death is more than a source of grief to all of us who love her; it is an irreplaceable loss to the whole community.
…Her untimely departure has left a huge chasm in countless lives, but thank God, we are all richer for having had Irene touch our lives and the wider world with her thoughtfulness, her dedication, her intelligence, and most of all, her love. 



Content © 2001-2017 Poughkeepsie Branch of the American Association of University Women, Inc, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization.
Website comments are welcome and may be directed to Mary King. This page last updated on Feb 11, 2017