Woman of the Year

On November 12, 1975 the Poughkeepsie Branch held a dinner at the Vassar Alumni House to commemorate the International Women's Year and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of our branch. Eight women were honored for outstanding service to the residents of Dutchess County. Since that time, the Poughkeepsie Branch AAUW has selected a local woman to honor as our Woman of the Year. These women exemplify the goals stated in AAUW's mission statement:

The American Association of University Women advances equity
for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research.

We invite you to nominate candidates for consideration of this honor using the form linked below to print, fill in and mail. Your nomination will be in consideration for two years from the date you submit the form to one of the Woman of the Year Committee Co-Chairs: Margaret Ouart, 26 Broad St, Fishkill, NY 12524 or Mary Lou Davis, 125 Andrews Rd, Lagrangeville, NY 12540

Woman of the year Nomination Form>>


2019  Hon. Joan S. Posner

2018  Dr. Pamela R. Edington

2017  Mariel Fiori

2016  Krista Jones

2015  Mary Lou Davis

2014  Maureen J. Taylor

2013  Patti Peck

2012  Judith A. Lombardi

2011  Ann K. Armater

2010  Elizabeth Harrel

2009  Carole J. Wolf

2008  Eileen M. Hayden

2007  Diane Pedevillano

2006  Clara Lou Gould

2005  Eleanor Charwat

2004  Gail Webster

2003  Klara B. Sauer

2002  Anna Buchholz

2001  Margaret R Calista

2000  Ruth Stafford Peale

1999  R. Patricia Poggi

1998  Ceal Sommer

1997  Virginia A. Swartz

1996  Mary Moody

1995  Geeta Desai

1994  Gail Burger

1993  Gloria Rutgers

1991  Trudie Evangelou

1990  Marion "Chad" Patterson

1988  Earline Patrice

1987  Joyce Ghee

1986  Mary Lou Heissenbuttel

1985  Trudy Grundon

1984  Mary Keeley

1983  Helen Marchese

1982  Marie Tarver

1981  Patricia Braatz

1980  Lucille Pattison

1979  Dr. Eleanor Peck

1978  Marian B. Morse

1975  Ann Buchholz

1975  Bernie Fitchett

1975  Bessie Payne

1975  Dorothy Haight

1975  Edna MacMahon

1975  Frances Drace

1975  Margaret Race

1975  Hilda Bohmer

Mary Lou Heissenbuttel, Woman of the Year 1986

From The Branch, September, 1986

It is with great pride that the AAUW Woman of the Year Award is presented to Mary Lou Heissenbuttel.

Mary Lou is the first and continuing director of Grace Smith House, the first safe temporary shelter in the county for battered women and their children.

Mary Lou obtained her current job in part due to her extensive volunteer commitments and varied board experience. As Director, Mary Lou juggles many hats. A normal day is full of crises and emergencies. There is an ever-present need to ensure finances through fundraising and grant writing. She must advocate for women, children, and the poor. Legislation must be written and existing laws enforced. Perhaps the most stressful job is fighting bureaucracy. A crucial role is counseling women and listening with empathy. She explains options and helps them find solutions.

After graduating from college, Mary Lou married and had three children. She worked as a homemaker and did extensive volunteering. Some positions included first vice-president and legislative action chairman for the League of Women Voters, chairman of the Poughkeepsie Counseling Center, and an elected member of the consistory in her church.

When her husband had a serious heart attack, Mary Lou realized the need to seek a career. She began working part time on her Master's Degree in social work at Adelphi University. When her husband died, she became a full-time student. Her internship was in the Crime Victims Assistance Service at St. Francis Hospital, and she received her MSW in June, 1982.

Upon meeting Mary Lou, it is easy to see her energy and quiet, persistent strength. She has charm and faces tasks with devotion, a smile, and a bit of laughter. One of her most enduring qualities is the genuine love she has for people. Her eyes soften as she speaks about those for whom she cares, and they become bright as she talks about her continued commitment to her job and her family.

Poughkeepsie Branch, AAUW is pleased to salute Mary Lou Heissenbuttel May all of her hopes and dreams come true!


Content © 2001-2021 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 Dec 17, 2018