By Ron Leir
Three West Hudson residents were among more than 30 women from around the county who were feted March 14 at Hudson County’s annual celebration of Women’s History Month.
They were Mary Ann Dunphy, of Harrison; and Sandra McCleaster and Kathy Moss, both of Kearny.
The event, held in the Conrad Rotunda of the historic Brennan Courthouse in Jersey City, was co-hosted by Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise and Bayonne Freeholder Doreen DiDomenico.
The women were honored for having “made a difference in our community and our world in the field of education or in support of expanding educational opportunity,” according to a county release.
The event also marked the centennial anniversary of the Girl Scouts of America.
“I am fond of saying that I was raised by women,” DeGise told the audience. DeGise’s mother and older sister raised him after his father’s death when he was still a small boy. “That is why I appreciate so much this chance each year to honor Hudson County women who have made a powerful, positive impact on our community,” he said.
DiDomenico, the only female on the county’s Board of Chosen Freeholders, said: “The National Women’s History Project, from whom the County adopts its annual theme, focused this year on access to college education for women. We chose to expand the theme of education and look at how it empowers women. We are honoring women who are school teachers, literacy volunteers, fundraisers, educational administrators, historical preservation advocates, business mentors, artists, counselors and legislators, all of whom through both professional and volunteer work, have inspired, empowered and assisted others through education.”
Mary Ann Dunphy has a B.A. in elementary education and a master’s in literacy education, along with a reading specialist certification and certificates from Seton Hall and Kean University in Holocaust education.
Having taught in Harrison for more than three decades, Dunphy has been an advocate for child literacy and, throughout the year, directs the children’s programs, including several summer programs, at the Harrison Public Library. Active in many community endeavors, she encourages her students to “give back” to the community.
Sandra McCleaster, a lifelong Kearny resident, is a career educator, having logged 30 years teaching in allied health education, currently as adjunct professor at Bergen Community College.
McCleaster is also a veteran respiratory therapist, educator and author. She is past president of the N.J. Society for Respiratory Care, a member of the Kearny Museum Committee and has served in the role of president/treasurer of the Literacy Volunteers of West Hudson since 2000.
Kathy Moss is starting her 15th year as an ELS tutor for the Literacy Volunteers of West Hudson, serving adult immigrant women. She helps prepare them for the U.S. Citizenship test, the TOEFL qualifying exam for university admission, and filling out applications for jobs and schools. She also provides background on American culture and navigates through any obstacles they run into living in their adopted land.
31 others from all over Hudson County were also honored as a part of the ceremony.