News

Nazareth Honors Nydia Padilla-Rodriguez as 2017 Woerner Kollmorgen Award Recipient

Published April 14, 2017

Nazareth College is pleased to honor Nydia Padilla-Rodriguez as the recipient of the 2017 Woerner Kollmorgen Award for Community Service. The award, now in its 10th year, recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the community, thereby improving the quality of life in the greater Rochester area. Honorees demonstrate a dedication to the values espoused by Nazareth College: a concern for and commitment to underserved individuals; ethical personal and professional behavior; leadership; and living a life of meaning. Padilla-Rodriguez will be honored during the ceremony at Nazareth College on Thursday, April 27 from 8-10 a.m.

Padilla-Rodriguez is the director of Community Partnerships for the Rochester City School District. During her 35-year career in education, community advocacy and dance, she has worked with thousands of youth to create and help them gain access to life-building opportunities in the arts, academics, culture and leadership development.

Creating and advocating for opportunities are skills she developed while growing up as the middle child in a family of 11 children. She acquired her certificate degree in educational administration, master's degree in education and bachelor's degrees in elementary education and dance at Brockport State University. She began her career at Action For A Better Community working with adults teaching math and science where several adults were hired as bilingual nurse's aides; and also worked at United Way of Greater Rochester as associate planning director; Monroe County Affirmative Action as office coordinator; and the Rochester City School District while working part-time at Hochstein School of Music & Dance.

Padilla-Rodriguez has volunteered for many community organizations over the last 35 years, including: Memorial Art Gallery Hispanic Family Day, ABC Project Unique, Leadership Rochester, Wilson Commencement Park, WDKX Women's Conference Planning Committee, Ibero Hispanic Scholars, United Way Hispanic Leadership Development Program, Soy Unica, Soy Latina Planning Committee, Facing Race and Equity, and Rochester Science & Museum Archives Project. Recently she's volunteered with the Do the Right Thing Program, La Cumbre and Rochester Broadway League Education Committee.

She is a firm believer in leadership by example as she has an extensive list of both professional and community accomplishments over the years, including:

  • She is an original member of the world-renowned Garth Fagan Dance Company (formerly known as Bottom of the Bucket, But!).
  • She served on the Rochester Children's Zone Steering Committee that developed a comprehensive strategic plan of community needs with a focus in the crescent of the City of Rochester.
  • She is a founding member of the "Go Green Scholarship Fund" to support RCSD students engaged in golf.
  • She is the founding member of the former Rochester "PENCIL Program" (Public Education Needs Civic Engagement in Learning), the first time the RCSD engaged more than 100 businesses to provide in-kind services.
  • She is a founding member of Latinas Unidas.
  • She served on the joint County/City Commission studying the need for a world-class performing arts center to be built in Rochester.
  • She is a founding member of the United Way Hispanic Leadership Development Program; co-founder of the Hispanic Consortium on Education.
  • She is a founding member of the Red Cross Middle & High School Hispanic Leadership Development Programs, now merged into a high school leadership development program
  • She raised $20,000 for 10 males & 10 females from James Madison Middle School to attend the International Basketball tournament in Rennes, France, where one female received the "Most Valuable Player Award."
  • She championed the RCSD United Way Campaign, raising over $285,000 for two years.
  • She is the Founder and Artistic Director of the first Hispanic performing arts group in Upstate New York, Borinquen Dance Theatre (BDT), Inc., serving over 1,000 youth. Two BDT students were awarded a scholarship to attend the renowned Ballet Hispanico School of the Arts. One dancer was accepted as a Garth Fagan Dance member. Padilla-Rodriguez has taught a Caribbean class for children at Hochstein School in collaboration with BDT since 1985.
  • BDT was recognized at the national level for its unique after-school program in the arts and was a semi finalist for the "Coming Up Taller Award"
  • BDT was recognized in the New York State Archives as a distinguished performing arts group in Upstate New York

Padilla-Rodriguez continues to devote her time and energy to young people through her endless hours of work and leadership.

The Nazareth College Woerner Kollmorgen award, founded in 2007, is made possible by a donation from Don H. Kollmorgen and Louise Woerner. Previous recipients of the award include Naomi Silver, Dr. Richard Constantino, Gary Rogers, Dr. Walter Cooper, Bob Wayland-Smith, J. Christine Wilson, Justin L. Vigdor, Thomas J. Cray, and Dr. T. Franklin Williams and Carter Catlett Williams.

Louise Woerner is the founder, chairwoman, and CEO of HCR Home Care, a Medicare-certified home health care agency that serves 22 counties across New York. The agency's non-profit HCR Cares conducts research and educational activities related to independent living. Her dedicated work has earned her many honors, including the Presidential Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence and induction into the Rochester Business Hall of Fame. Her work to advance nursing includes founding the Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research. She was the first non-nurse to be inducted into the American Academy of Nursing.

Don H. Kollmorgen has dedicated his life to public and community service. Over the past 37 years, he has held leadership positions at the U.S. Public Health Service, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the National Institutes of Health. Committed to improving the quality of life in the communities in which he lives, he is the founder of the American Chestnut Land Trust, was appointed by former Governor George Pataki to the board of visitors at the Industry School, serves as a trustee at the Strong National Museum of Play, and was a member of the Nazareth College board of trustees from 2007 to 2012.

Nazareth College's academic strengths cross an unusually broad spectrum of 60 majors, including education, health and human services, management, the fine arts, music, theater, math and science, foreign languages, and the liberal arts. The coeducational, religiously independent, classic campus in a charming suburb of Rochester, N.Y. challenges and supports 2,000 undergrads and 800 graduate students. Nazareth is recognized nationally for its Fulbright global student scholars and commitment to civic engagement. Rigorous programs, an uncommon core, experiential learning, career skills, and a global focus prepare graduates for not just one job, but for their life's work.