For Release: February 25, 2009
Five prominent women who have served Oregon in extraordinary ways earned public recognition today from Marylhurst University at a special awards luncheon attended by more than 350 regional leaders at Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland.
Marylhurst President Judith Johansen presented the university's seventh annual Women of Distinction awards to Eloise Damrosch, executive director of the Regional Arts and Culture Council; Joan Austin, co-founder and board chair of A-dec, Inc.; Dr. Cecilia Ranger, co-director of the university ministry at Marylhurst University; Dr. Jill Ginsberg, co-founder of North by Northeast Community Health Center; and Dr. Nancy Wilgenbusch, president emerita of Marylhurst University.
"It is a tremendous honor for me to formally recognize the accomplishments of these five exceptional women," said Johansen. "Each of them has not only risen to the top of her field professionally, but made community service a priority of her personal agenda. Each has sought to push boundaries and explore creative solutions to the many challenges our citizens face. They truly are community heroes."
Ginsberg is a Kaiser Permanente physician best known as a co-founder of a health clinic in inner northeast Portland that provides a range of medical care to underserved residents, particularly those who lack health insurance. Austin co-founded a dental supply company more than 40 years ago that is now the largest of its kind in the nation and has international subsidiaries. Damrosch is a longtime arts advocate in Portland, and is widely regarded for helping create one of the best-known public arts collections in the country. Both Ranger and Wilgenbusch have long affiliations with Marylhurst; Wilgenbusch ended a 24-year tenure as the university's president last June, while Ranger has been an educator and spiritual leader at Marylhurst since 1992.
"As a leader who has personally benefited from accomplished female mentors, I can vouch for the incredible impact these women have had on a whole young generation of women and men," Johansen added. "They deserve tremendous thanks from all of us who are living in a stronger, more vibrant, more caring community because of them."
Marylhurst began formally recognizing regional "women of distinction" in the arts, business and service communities seven years ago. Previous honorees include Columbia Sportswear Chair Gert Boyle, former Portland Mayor Vera Katz, Portland arts advocate Arlene Schnitzer, and former Start Making a Reader Today CEO Mary Jubitz.
About the 2009 recipients
Eloise Damrosch has been a nationally recognized leader in local public art initiatives for more than 20 years. After 16 years of service as public art director for Portland's Metropolitan Arts Commission, Damrosch became executive director of the Regional Arts & Culture Council in 2004, which supports the regional arts community with an annual budget of nearly $7 million. She has helped create one of the best-known public art collections in the country, overseeing prominent public art installations at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts, the Oregon Convention Center, Doernbecher Children's Hospital and other visible local venues. Damrosch also advises public arts projects nationally and internationally, and is former chair of the Oregon Arts Commission.
Joan Austin is co-founder and co-owner of A-dec, Inc., the largest privately owned dental equipment manufacturing company in the United States. The company serves more than 100 countries and employs more than 1,000 people. Austin oversees many of the company's business functions, and also is president of Springbrook Properties, a subsidiary developing a 450-acre resort and housing project in Newberg. Long active in community and philanthropic activities, Joan is a member of the Kennedy Center's President's Advisory Committee on the Arts, a board member of the Oregon Business Council, trustee emerita at Linfield College and a lifetime trustee of the Oregon State University Foundation. She also was the first woman to chair the Associated Oregon Industries board of directors.
Dr. Cecilia Ranger is a member of the Sisters of the Holy Names and co-director of the university ministry at Marylhurst University. She has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to education and providing spiritual guidance through 17 years of service to Marylhurst University as a dean, department chair and leader of the campus ministry. Ranger was instrumental in the development of the Mary's Woods Retirement Center, the Interfaith Spiritual Center, and the master of arts in teaching program at Marylhurst. She has lectured broadly on theology and spirituality throughout the country, and has published articles in many national journals.
Dr. Jill Ginsberg is a Northwest Kaiser Permanente physician, and the co-founder and medical director of the North by Northeast Community Health Center. The clinic provides free health screenings and basic medical services to residents of inner north and northeast Portland, with priority given to low-income individuals without health insurance. More than 40 volunteers, including about a dozen doctors and nurse practitioners, operate the clinic. Ginsberg has spearheaded donations of equipment and supplies, and is active in fundraising and community networking to support the clinic. She has a long history of social justice activism, serving on the Commission of Social Action of Reform Judaism and working with the Portland Jobs with Justice Workers' Rights Board.
Dr. Nancy Wilgenbusch is president emerita of Marylhurst University. Nancy served Marylhurst for 24 years prior to her retirement in June 2008. She led the university through a period of unprecedented financial stability, curriculum development and enrollment growth. Wilgenbusch's community service record is extensive, and includes leadership on the board of the Council of Independent Colleges, PacifiCorp's regional advisory board, West Coast Bank board, and the Goodwill Industries of the Columbia-Willamette board.
About Marylhurst University
Marylhurst University, a private liberal arts university located one mile south of Lake Oswego on Highway 43, is regionally and nationally recognized for innovation and academic excellence. Marylhurst's small, seminar-style classes – offered weekdays, evening, weekends and online – provide convenience and flexibility for students with busy lives seeking professional certificates and undergraduate and graduate degrees.