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  • At the ASPIRE community leadership dinner and awards ceremony, 10 individuals accepted recognition for their hard work in improving the lives of those around them.
    Dylan Roche
    At the ASPIRE community leadership dinner and awards ceremony, 10 individuals accepted recognition for their hard work in improving the lives of those around them.

ASPIRE Recognizes Community Leaders And Influencers

Gracie Fairfax
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April 4, 2017

Each year, the Association for Severna Park Improvement, Renewal and Enhancement (ASPIRE) honors community leaders, each selected by a local organization, for demonstration of “sustained, positive and visionary leadership” in the Greater Severna Park community. This year’s recipients were honored at an annual dinner and awards ceremony at Chartwell Country Club on March 29.

The first recipient of the evening was Joan Cunningham. Cunningham, nominated by the Berrywood Community Association, is an active volunteer and leader who takes responsibility for a variety of Berrywood Community activities. She is a longtime member of the Berrywood Women’s Club, and she headed the Welcome and Membership Committee for the past 16 years. Cunningham has ensured that all new neighbors are welcomed with a packet of community information in addition to an annual welcoming event.

“Joan willingly steps up to do whatever is needed. We feel that her contributions should be recognized for her long and dedicated service in making Berrywood a friendly place to live,” said Berrywood Swim and Tennis Club board member Lauren Mahon.

Ann Fligsten, executive director of Growth Action Network (GAN) of Anne Arundel County, was nominated by the GAN board. GAN started as a project under the Arnold Preservation Council in 2007, with assistance from Al Johnston, to convince county officials that they should have citizen input when creating the 2009 General Development Plan. In 2013, GAN became its own 501(c)3 under Fligsten’s leadership and has been instrumental in increasing citizen awareness and input into county growth. GAN helped increase developer impact fees, improve county code and is taking the lead on the update to the 2019 Growth Development Plan.

“Ann has had a tremendous impact on the Severna Park community and all of Anne Arundel County,” said GAN board member Elizabeth Rosborg. “She has been instrumental in educating residents on the issues associated with growth and development. She is GAN, and we thank her every day for making our quality of life better.”

A husband-and-wife world-traveling team, Charles and Andrea Germain were recognized for their roles with the Magothy River Association (MRA). After retiring from the scholarly publishing and food industries, the pair became active and engaged members of the MRA in 2010.

“Charles has been very active in starting a filming company, Chesapeake Clear Video, and has used his talents to lead the MRA Living History Project and recording vital histories of local residents,” said MRA President Paul Spadaro.

Andrea had a successful career as a small-business owner and loves painting and bicycling. She has served as the MRA’s public relations expert, writing press releases, letters to the editor and letters to elected officials.

“She successfully wrote and managed a grant to develop the kayak Water Trail map, and worked with the MRA team to highlight environmental, educational and historic components on a pocket-size map,” Spadaro said. “Charles filmed all of the video clips that go along with the Water Trail map. … The MRA is grateful to have the Charles and Andrea team.”

The Greater Severna Park and Arnold Chamber of Commerce elected Tom Lerario as the chamber’s 2017 ASPIRE Community Leadership Award nominee. Lerario served as president of the chamber in 2012 and as chairman of the board in 2013.

A member of the Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church staff since 2004, Lerario has also been a recipient of the Excellence in Education Business Award from Severna Park High School, a four-year concession manager at Severna Park High School, and an annual guest server for the Severna Park Community Center’s pasta dinner fundraiser.

“Tom has given so much time to the chamber, as president, chairman of the board, active with the July Fourth parade, golf tournament, and anything else he was able to contribute to,” said Linda Zahn, CEO of the Greater Severna Park and Arnold Chamber of Commerce. “He's truly a wonderful person and a great resource for the betterment of our community.”

Erin O’Neil, a Severna Park native who was baptized at Holy Grounds Youth Center when it was St. John the Evangelist Church, was recognized by the Greater Severna Park Council. O’Neil spent her early adult life devoted to being a mom and raising her four children. She lived in Florida, Minnesota, Belgium and California before returning home to Severna Park. Later in life, she started a career outside the home through working in real estate and health care at Anne Arundel Medical Center. She is currently with the Maryland General Assembly. She also brings her knowledge and skills in her role on the board of directors with the Greater Severna Park Council.

“Erin has tremendous work experience, and in particular has worked for District 33 Delegates Cathy Vitale and Michael Malone in the House of Delegates,” said Maureen Carr-York, president of the Greater Severna Park Council. “Her experience in government means she is our go-to person for road repairs and other capital projects. She is energetic and always willing to lend a hand. I’m not sure how we managed before Erin joined us,”

The next person recognized was Susan Origlio for her work with Partners in Care (PIC). “Partners In Care realized Susan Origlio was a born leader [in 2015] when she not only donated holiday stockings herself but rallied 50 plus of her friends via Facebook and word of mouth to join her in creating and donating stockings to brighten the lives of older adults in our community,” said Ashley Johnson, the member care coordinator at Partners in Care.

In 2016, Origlio named the project Elves for Elders and used her leadership and charisma to fill more than 120 stockings. Origlio assists in planning and organizing for the PIC Learning Series and works with the PIC Retired Senior Volunteer Program task force. She has also rallied friends and their friends to fund a new arm for someone who could not afford one, and she sent more than 200 pounds of coffee to a military group in Iraq with personal greeting notes. She is a member of Severna Park United Methodist Church and has done successful fundraising for National Children’s Hospital, Save the Bay and House of Ruth.

“Despite it all, friends say that Susan never feels as if she has done enough … Her gift of leadership and her ability to engage others goes far beyond PIC’s mission,” Johnson said. “We are grateful for having her as a part of Partners In Care!”

Paul Striffler, nominated by the Severna Park Kiwanis, has been a member of the Kiwanis for 23 years and has dedicated his life to service. Following his time in the U.S. Navy as a commander, he and his family moved to the Whitehurst Community in Severna Park. He has also served patients as a facilities manager for Aramark Corporation.

Striffler is a regular at Whitehurst community functions and Saturday Navy games. He is a family man who found his wife and best friend 40 years ago. During his time with Kiwanis, Striffler has served in a variety of roles — from president to treasurer to a new member trainer. He also leads and coordinates the Kiwanis’ participation in Meals on Wheels and oversees Anne Arundel County Teen Court programs – a justice program run by teens for teens.

“In our club, he’s our designated historian and trainer for new members. …Because of his dedication to the community and his neighbors, Paul is truly one of the reasons why people love to call Severna Park home,” said Krista Latchaw, former Kiwanis president.

Also presented at the dinner were the ASPIRE Heritage Awards. These awards recognized individuals and small groups of individuals for playing a significant role in contributing to the character of Severna Park. These awards are unique in that they honor those whose efforts have noticeably improved the quality of life in Severna Park. The awards may be awarded to living residents, or former residents who have moved away, as well as posthumously. The selection is made annually by the ASPIRE board of trustees.

Artist Joan Machinchick was the first Heritage Award winner. With a background in book design and illustration and a bachelor’s degree with honors in graphic design from Maryland Institute College of Art, the now semi-retired artist devotes her time to painting and design of artist’s books. She has owned Lake Claire Design Studio for more than 40 years. She has provided graphic design, illustration and calligraphy for a variety of clients including publishers, entertainment professionals, gourmet companies, health care facilities and a NASA/John’s Hopkin’s University research satellite. In addition, she produced monthly watercolor maps for Chesapeake Bay Magazine.

“Joan did a beautiful map of the Magothy River and the Severn River which many residents have framed and proudly displayed in their homes throughout these watersheds,” said founding chair and current executive director of ASPIRE, Pat Troy. “She served as the graphic designer and illustrator for the very well-received book, ‘My River Speaks,’ for which the author, Marianne Taylor, is very grateful.”

She has had artist’s books, invitations, articles and book reviews published in several books and magazines and she has exhibited in many solo, shared and juried exhibits in the Maryland, Virginia and Washington area, as well as in Arizona. Machinchick is a member of the Annapolis Watercolor Calligraphers Guild and Friends of the Arts. She currently serves on the book arts faculty of the Academy of Art Museum in Easton, Maryland. She has been a resident of Cape St. Claire since 1961.

The next honoree, Alberta Shelton Stornetta, was born to the fifth generation on her father’s farm in Princess Anne County, Virginia, which is present-day Virginia Beach. She graduated from the University of Mary Washington in 1953 with a degree in chemistry. She has been married to Wakefield Stornetta, a 1951 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, since 1953 and has five children. Over the years, the Stornetta family has lived all over the country.

She began her publishing career with “Hey Good News!” the monthly newsletter of Haygood United Methodist Church in Virginia Beach. She edited and published “Stornetta Stories,” a monthly publication of family genealogy and news stories from 1965-1999. She later became an editor and publisher of “Antiphon,” the American Guild of Organists monthly newsletter from 1988-1989. From 1988-2000, she served as the editor and publisher of “Asbury News and Views.”

After joining the Arnold Preservation Council (APC), she was inspired to write a history of Arnold. When the APC began beautifying the median strip of Ritchie Highway, people asked questions about the location and history of Arnold. Stornetta chaired the history committee and attempted to find the answers. The Maryland Archives has deeds and wills, but the bulk of the information came from the transcriptions of many taped interviews of living Arnold residents and old family photos people shared. Six years later, the findings were compiled into the published book “Arnold, Maryland and Neighbors on the Broadneck.”

The final Heritage Award went to Marianne Taylor for her book “My River Speaks,” documenting the history of the Magothy River. She has lived with her husband, Robert A. Taylor, on the banks of the Magothy River for more than 30 years. In the midst of her 22-year career as an English teacher, she served as a docent for the Baltimore Museum of Art where she discovered her passion for history. Taylor has four grown children, eight grandchildren and one great grandchild who all share a love for the Magothy and often fill her home on Ferry Point. She is a member of the Magothy River Association and served as a board member for the Gibson Island Historic Society and the Gibson Island Club.

“I think they have really taken the time to preserve our history in art form or written form,” Troy said of the Heritage Award recipients.

Congratulations to this year’s winners! Thank you for shaping our community and for making the Greater Severna Park community a great place to live.

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