Five St. Lawrence County women among 'Women of Distinction' nominees; winner to be announced Thursday
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 3:00 pm

Five St. Lawrence County women will be honored Thursday for their nominations for state's "Women of Distinction" award.

The ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. in Watertown.

Dr. Kiri Brandy, Dr. Kelly Chezum, Laurel Lee Roethel, Rhonda Lyn Roethel and Rose Edward will be honored by state Senator Patricia Ritchie, who represents a large portion of St. Lawrence County.

The annual event honors women’s history in the Empire State by recognizing outstanding leaders and everyday citizens from the present who are making a difference.

Thursday, one of the nominees will be announced as the 48th Senate District’s “Woman of Distinction,” and in May, will travel to Albany to be honored at a special reception at the state capitol.

The winner's photo and biography will also become part of a display that travels across the state to bring attention to the achievements of distinctive New Yorkers.

To learn more about the New York State Senate’s Women of Distinction program, please visit

About the nominees:

• Rhonda Lyn Roethel has worked behind the scenes for many years to make her community a better place to live. She is employed as a letter carrier for the US Postal Service, co-founded America 1 Realty, is a partner in NAC Logistics and co-owns Hotzenmore LLC. She is also a charter member and former president of the Lisbon Lions Club. Over the years, she helped organize the regional Lions Club Lumberjack Shows, Lions Children’s Carnivals, Polar Bear 5K Run/Walk, and helped found Ogdensburg’s Holiday Light Up the Night Parades. As president of the Lisbon Lions, she led the local effort to adopt soldiers in Afghanistan. She is a member of Pro Musica, plays percussion and vocals with New York State Fiddle Champion Don Woodcock, is active with Ogdensburg’s Octoberfest Committee, has been an active fundraiser for the Seaway Festival and was instrumental in re-lighting the Ogdensburg Harbor Lighthouse in 2011.

• Dr. Kiri Brandy is a general surgeon with a very busy practice in Ogdensburg at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center. A native of Massachusetts, Dr. Brandy came to Claxton-Hepburn in 2008. Along with her general surgery practice, she also specializes in breast health and wellness, and was the driving force in establishing the Breast Health Center at the medical center.

She often volunteers her time for breast exams and colon cancer screenings through a free program ordered at the medical center. Her years of schooling, diligence and passion for what she does have enabled Dr. Brandy to meet the demand sand time restraints of a thriving surgical practice with care, commitment and expertise given equally to each patient she attends to. In her spare time, Dr. Brandy enjoys spending time with her family.

• Growing up on a farm in rural Iowa, Dr. Kelly Chezum learned a lot about the values of entrepreneurship and hard work; qualities which have enabled her to achieve success in her career. In her 10 years at Clarkson University, Dr. Chezum rose to her current position as Vice President for External Relations, where she leads the college’s integrated marketing communications and long-range planning activities. She also serves as assistant secretary of the Clarkson University Board of Trustees. Dr. Chezumalso is involved in a number of community and volunteer activities including serving as a work group member for the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, and serving as past president of Hospice and Palliative Care of St. Lawrence Valley. She has received a number of awards for her accomplishments, including being recognized by Clarkson’s highest honor society, Phalanx.

• A resident of St. Lawrence County, Rose Edward’s life has been dedicated to volunteering. Rose began giving back by volunteering to help care for the elderly. Throughout her life, she has volunteered with Students for Action, Parent to Parent of Seaway Valley and the Salvation Army. Rose is also a former board member and parent liaison for NRCIL’s Families Together in the North Country. In the past she was very active in raising awareness of children’s mental health issues. Today, she has switched her focus to raising awareness and funds for type 1 Diabetes through the “Cure-iers”organization. Rose is married with one child.

• Ogdensburg’s Laurel Lee Roethel, has been serving the community and working on the Seaway Festival for decades. On St. Patrick’s Day, she waits on tables to raise money for the festival, organizes its karaoke show and selling buttons throughout the summer. As the owner of Roethel’s Fed Ex, Roethel’s Custom Graphics and River Rat Design, Laurel Lee Roethel is known as one of Northern New York’s most community-minded entrepreneurs. She is one of Toys for Tots’ top volunteers, helping to collect money and donations to make surreal most 4,000 children across St. Lawrence County receive Christmas presents each year. As a longtime volunteer for the Greater Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce, she is an active promoter of the Chamber’s Sportsman Show and other events throughout the year. She is a member of the Lisbon Lions Club, an organizer of Ogdensburg’s Light Up the Night Parade and the organizer of the festival’s annual Karaoke Show. With her sister and family, she helped red light the Ogdensburg Harbor Lighthouse