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The Ivy Young Willis and Martha Willis Dale Award Ceremony and Reception

Each year, the History and Political Science Department recognizes a woman who has made a noteworthy contribution to the civic life of her community; local, regional, national, or international. She is invited to Cabrini to speak to our students and receive the Ivy Young Willis and Martha Willis Dale Award.

Rep. Jennifer O'MaraThis year’s recipient, PA State Representative Jennifer M. O'Mara, is being honored for her creative, innovative and progressive contributions to public affairs.

                     Thursday, September 14, 2023, 3–5 pm,
                     VIP Reception starting at 2:30 pm
                     Woodcrest Mansion, Cabrini University Campus

Register by Sept. 7 to ensure your seat. 

Award History

The Ivy Young Willis and Martha Willis Dale Award Ceremony and Reception was initially established in 1992 by William G. Willis to honor Ivy, his late wife, and modified in 2014 by John Dale to honor Martha, his late wife and daughter of Ivy and William.

Ivy Young Willis was a teacher, administrator and reading consultant. She was a pioneer in the design of a curriculum for the teaching of reading on television at WQED in Pittsburgh, the country’s first public television station.  In her honor, the award ceremony was established at then Cabrini College, now Cabrini University, to honor a woman who made an outstanding contribution in the field of public affairs. 

Martha Willis Dale, former alumni director at Cabrini University for 26 years, modeled her mother’s teaching through her life of service to students, alumni, and the community. This series is dedicated to their memories and strong beliefs that women have a unique talent for improving the climate and conduct of public affairs.

Past Honorees


Tarana Burke
Founder of the Me Too movement and social justice activist


Beth E. Sturman
Executive Director of the Laurel House


Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, PhD
Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Public Policy and Administration, Rutgers University

2016 Carla Clanagan
Founder of In His EyesOutreach
2015 Gloria Richardson
Civil Rights Pioneer
2014 Simone Campbell, SSS 
Executive Director of NETWORK
2013 Joan M. Buzzallino ’66
Vice President of Human Resources for IBM’s Global Industries
2012 Risa Vetri Ferman 
District Attorney of Montgomery County
2011 Pat Ciarrocchi
CBS 3 News Anchor
2010 Jane Golden
Executive Director, Philadelphia Mural Arts Program
2009 Cokie Roberts
Political Commentator for ABC News and Senior News Analyst for National Public Radio
2008 Lisa Johnson Nutter
President, Philadelphia Academies, Inc.
2007 Kathleen McGinty 
Secretary of Environmental Protection for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
2006 Reneé Amoore
President of The Amoore Group; Healthcare and Political Activist
2005 State Senator Connie Williams (D 17th, Haverford & Montgomery)
Political and Civic Leader and Philanthropist
2004 Catherine Baker Knoll 
Lieutenant Governor, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
2003 Trudy Rubin
“Worldview” Columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer
2001 Mary Beth Senkewicz ’76
Deputy Insurance Commissioner, State of Florida
2000 Happy Fernandez
President of Moore College of Art and Design
1999 Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins
President of The League of Women Voters of the United States
1998 Buntzie Ellis Churchill 
President of the World Affairs Council
1996 Ada Deer 
Native American Activist and Scholar
1995 Chai Ling 
Tiananmen Square Leader and Business Entrepreneur
1994 Mary Frances Berry
Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History at University of Pennsylvania
1993 Violetta Barrios de Chamorro
President of Nicaragua
1992 Constance Clayton
Superintendent of Schools, Philadelphia School District