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Irene Keyes Memorial Fund

National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL)


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





Kayla Bowen, SUNY New Paltz


Kayla Bowen is currently a Digital Media Production student at SUNY New Paltz and serves as Public Relations Coordinator for a body positivity club on campus called Project HEAL (Help to Eat, Accept & Live). Kayla loves to keep busy and stay involved in her community. We first met Kayla in 2017 at the Live Your Dream Girls Conference where she served as a “Big Sister.” Leading the girls in games, sitting with them and women mentors, her enthusiasm and pleasing disposition was evident. She said she was so happy to see the girls open up and be inspired. She applied for the first time that year.  Kayla impressed us so much with her leadership skills, we invited her to reapply. Kayla is described as intuitively helpful, brilliant, fun-loving, dedicated, personable, compassionate and cooperative.  At Dutchess Community College she distinguished herself as a community-minded and motivated leader. She joined the Speech and Debate Coalition in its early days and worked to develop a team at Dover Plains High School. She is committed to building “an intellectual community of students” and not only develops her own skills but helps build the team by mentoring, motivating and coaching team members.  Kayla as SGA Representative encouraged others to become involved in Dutchess Community College campus governing.  As s a “Book Buddy” she reads to elementary students in Poughkeepsie, and she performed in a program to raise funds for Grace Smith House. Kayla is described as “exemplifying the best qualities we hope to inspire in our rising female leaders.”  

From her involvement in high school: the Math Honor Society, Mock Trial Team, National Honor Society, her support of the Pine Plains Food Locker and Cornell Cooperative Extension to her impressive work at DCC,  Kayla has demonstrated her desire to be a positive force for her community. She believes everybody has the ability to make a difference and describes herself at an “intersectional feminist super determined to make a difference.”


Alyssa Covell, Dutchess Community College


Alyssa Covelli’s spirit, enthusiasm and desire to attend NCCWSL simply bubbled off the page as one committee member commented.  Lori Scolaro, Co-Coordinator of the Live Your Dream Girls Conference, describes her as brilliant, fun-loving, helpful, compassionate and cooperative. As a student at DCC she has begun to truly expand her leadership potential.  When she joined the Live Your Dream Big Sisters she actively began conducting outreach to potential Big Sisters to coordinate firm commitments and training session attendance. Alyssa fully embraced this commitment herself, outwardly engaging in the formal training sessions and seamlessly stepping into a mentorship role with her fellow Big Sisters that established relationships long before the day of the conference.  She assisted in planning, preparing materials and outreach to bring girls to the conference from the Haldane/Cold Spring area.  In high school Alyssa was member of the Haldane Peer Leadership club which delivers Step 2 Character Education program to 8th graders and was a moderator in the peer mentoring program.   Alyssa began taking college courses during her senior year in high school. At DCC she is a Deans List student and she is a Student Ambassador at Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES.   Being involved in the Live Your Dream Girls Conference was for her a “life changing experience” as it made her “discover the desire to make a difference in the world and help other women succeed.”

Alyssa, who plans to transfer and complete an elementary teaching degree, has tutored in Kindergarten classrooms and has been a camp counselor working with children from birth to 12 years old. Alyssa’s zest for life and compassion is impressive. Alyssa wants to continue growing into a woman leader and feels at NCCWSL she can learn new strategies that will help her lead and “became a more impactful contributor to my community.”


2018 Recipient Katherine Murray, Marist College

The Poughkeepsie Branch AAUW has selected Katherine Murray of Marist College as the recipient of the Irene Keyes Scholarship to attend the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL). Majoring in Communication and Public Relations and Music and Video Digital Production, Katherine describes herself as a “work in progress.”  She is a firm believer in trying new things and pushing herself to grow.  She has a strong desire to attend NCCWSL because she wants to build upon her leadership skills.  As Marist Student Activities Manager, she has learned to lead meetings, oversee office and technical staff, and work on special projects with her supervisors.

She is described as a “dedicated individual, a good leader with strong communication skills,” and a team player who models positive behavior and is supportive of her peers. Katie has expressed her desire to be a “leader in the workforce so that I can be in control of my own happiness as well as a role model for others.” Music is a big part of her life as she was stage manager for Marist Singers productions and is organizing a Marist Student Music Society. As a member of the Campus Ministry she said she “loves participating in community service” projects. In high school she was awarded The University of Rochester Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony Award for Promoting Social Justice. Katie reapplied for the scholarship showing her strong motivation to attend the conference.  The committee is very pleased to select her to receive this year’s scholarship.  She will attend the conference being held at the University of Maryland from May 30 to June 2, 2018.

Experiences from NCCWSL by Katie Murray>>


Additional donations can be made to the Irene Keyes Memorial Fund by clicking on the button below.

More information on NCCWSL>>


Past Recipients of the Irene Keyes Memorial Scholarship>>



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 © 2001-2019 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 Mar 8, 2019