Commission for Women Honors 10 Outstanding Community Achievers

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Commission for Women Honors 10 Outstanding Community Achievers 

The Alexandria Commission for Women celebrated the hard work, dedication and community spirit of 10 Alexandria women at a ceremony March 31 at the Patent and Trademark Office. Among the honorees were two women who received posthumous awards: former City Manager Vola Lawson, who died in December 2013, and Ruthanne Lodato, a much-loved music teacher who was shot in her home by an intruder and died in February 2014.  

Accepting the Susan Lowell Butler Lifetime Achievement Award for his mother, Vola, Peter Lawson remarked on his mother’s love for the City and her determination to polish the City workforce. She personally knew persons working in the highest positions and those on the lower rungs of the employment ladder and she would often engage them in conversation on the street, he recalled. 

Ruthanne Lodato’s husband, Norman, and daughter, Lucia, accepted the Donna Bergheim Cultural Affairs Award. “Music was truly her gift to the girls and young women of our Alexandria community,” said Lucia. “In the past several weeks, my family has heard from countless students near and far who took piano lessons from my mother at some point over the last 30-plus years.”  Lodato, founder of the children’s program “Music Together Alexandria,” also served as pianist for Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church and gave private music lessons.  

Other award winners were:  Jen Walker (Marguerite Payez Award); Joyce Rawlings (Youth Community Services Award-Adult); Nancy Martinez (Youth Community Services Award--Youth); Joan Renner (Leadership in Business and Career Development Award); Jean Kelleher (Marian Van Landingham Legislation and Public Policy Award); Amy Creed (Making a Difference Award); Wendy Webb (Vola Lawson Award); and Cynthia Skinner (Rising Star Award).  All awardees were selected by an independent committee appointed by the Commission.