Ellen O’Shaughnessy, longtime AAUW Daytona Beach member was honored as the 2014 Woman of Distinction for Community Impact by the Girl Scouts of Citrus Council at their annual gala on September 27. The Women of Distinction Awards is recognized as one of Central Florida’s most prestigious awards for women.
In its 17th year, the Women of Distinction Awards pays tribute to women leaders who have made extraordinary contributions in their professions and their communities. The award winners are leaders in their fields, innovators of unique programs and services and lifelong advocates for promoting equality for women and girls everywhere.
The Women of Distinction Awards honors not only excellence, but also ingenuity and the ability to overcome barriers that still exist for women. The women selected for this honor represent a diversity of professional fields, personal characteristics and life experiences. There were seventy nominees for the five awards which were announced at a black tie event at Rosen Shingle Creek.
Ellen was nominated by AAUW Daytona Beach with recommendations from The Center for Women and Men at DSC and the Museum of Arts and Sciences. She was selected for her ability to build bridges between organizations to improve opportunities in the community for women and girls and to mentor others.
Ellen has served as President, Scholarship Chair, fundraiser and mentor for AAUW. She makes a real difference to our community, not just because of her commitment to the projects and organizations she supports, but also because of her ability to see opportunities to build connections between them.
She is a retired professor and the co-founder of what was originally known as the Center for Women at Daytona State College. Ellen along with a friend and colleague had a vision to create a program for displaced homemakers with little to no work experience, who because of divorce, widowhood, or a variety of circumstances had to suddenly seek employment. Their love for teaching and students led to the establishment of the Women’s Center in October 1976.
Because of Ellen’s vision and her continued support and efforts, 38 years later the Center has maintained its long history of successful service to the College and to the community. In 2012, when the Women’s Center recognized the changing needs of students and society, Ellen gave her full support as the name evolved into the Center for Women and Men. It is because of this change, the Center has been able to impact the lives of many students to include the young, non-traditional, and those who never envisioned they too could achieve the dream of higher education. Ellen continues to lend her knowledge and expertise in serving and working on the Center’s Advisory Board and several of our community outreach projects.
Because of her continued interest in Daytona State College, she has encouraged AAUW Daytona to support the Center for Women and Men AAUW provides two scholarships for women at DSC. Ellen was instrumental in developing those scholarships, which serve women returning to school and women pursuing STEM degrees.
Ellen has been a longstanding and committed member, volunteer and ambassador for the Museum of Arts and Sciences. Her volunteer work over the years has included being a docent tour guide, a member of the Museum Guild, and a participant on the Guild’s Halifax Art Festival Committee, serving as a past chair of the Student Art Exhibit and Awards committee.
Ellen has served as a Trustee on the Museum Board since 2007, including the offices of Assistant Vice President and Chair of both the Long Range Planning Committee and the Charitable Giving Committee. Under her leadership, the Museum instituted its new What is Your Legacy planned giving program.identified that a Community Action Grant given by AAUW might be a good fit for a local educational project and encouraged the Museum of Arts and Sciences to apply. This led to the partial funding of the Archeology Lab Project at the Burns School for Science and Math in Oakhill. With her encouragement, AAUW members were happy to volunteer in the project and to hear from the students about their processes and discoveries.
Ellen is a quiet and thoughtful woman, and a wonderful mentor for women of all ages. Not only is she an effective, respectful leader, but she also provides the behind-the-scenes support, which enables others to be a success in their leadership roles. She is welcoming and supportive of new members of our community. Her encouragement has been instrumental in the ongoing success of several organizations. If Ellen commits to a task or a project, you can be sure that it will be completed in a timely and professional and inclusive manner. Her calm presence helps others to see problems clearly and reach consensus for the good of all. She is generous in sharing her talents and abilities with others.
As she noted in her remarks at the awards ceremony, “The Girl Scouts taught me to paddle my own canoe and to build rope bridges.” She continues to build bridges in our community.