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2019 Commencement with Speaker Marisa Geitner, May 12

Published May 10, 2019

Nazareth College celebrates its 92nd Commencement on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12, at the Blue Cross Arena, starting at 9:45 a.m. The College is honored that Marisa Geitner, a ‘92, ‘95G Nazareth alumnus, Nazareth board of trustee member, and the president and CEO of Heritage Christian Services, is the College’s 2019 Commencement speaker. The Class of 2019 is comprised of more than 1,000 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students.

Since 2013, Geitner has been CEO of Heritage Christian Services, a nonprofit agency based in East Rochester, N.Y., that supports 23,000 people. A 25-year employee, the former executive vice president and chief operating officer succeeded the agency’s founder, providing an added motivation to protect a rich legacy of providing support with compassion, dignity, and respect.

Geitner has been lauded for her work at the agency. She received one of Rochester Business Journal’s Forty under 40 awards in 2007—the same year the Pieters Family Life Center, what she considers what she considers one of her most fulfilling professional accomplishments, opened in Henrietta. With consultation from Shirley Szekeres, Ph.D., former dean of Nazareth’s School of Health and Human Services, Geitner helped design and develop the state-of-the-art community wellness center that welcomes people of all abilities to its fitness room, therapy pool, and studios for art, dance, and music.

A former adjunct professor at Nazareth for 10 years, she taught the graduate seminar in developmental disabilities. Geitner talks to her new employees about the interdisciplinary experience she received at Nazareth, one that nurtured a passion for independent learning.

“My appetite for learning really skyrocketed once I really understood what I wanted to do,” said Geitner. “It’s really been a full-circle experience for me.”

In 2011, she was nominated by the Rochester Business Alliance’s Women’s Council for an Athena Award, and in 2018 she was honored as a Women of Influence recipient by the Rochester Business Journal. When off the job, she serves on the boards of several other philanthropic organizations.

The Nazareth tradition is continuing. Geitner's daughter now attends Nazareth.

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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 2,300 undergrads and 700 graduate students. Nazareth is recognized nationally for its Fulbright global student scholars and commitment to civic engagement. Rigorous programs, an uncommon arts and sciences core, experiential learning, career skills, and a global focus prepare graduates for not just one job, but for their life’s work.