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image of a compass Trailblazing Women of 2012

At the fifth Trailblazers Awards Luncheon, on Thursday, November 1, 2012, the Women's Fund of the Capital Region will honor three outstanding Trailblazing Women of 2012: Marri Aviza, Partner, Rumors Salon & Spa Ltd.; Cindy Phillippe, Community Volunteer; and Pamela Sawchuk Brown, Vice President for Community Development, Albany Medical Center.

These women were selected for this award because they provide leadership in philanthropy that challenges and inspires others to support efforts focused on women and girls; contribute substantial time, money and vision to issues affecting women and girls; demonstrate a long standing commitment and involvement in community initiatives; and act as a role model for women and girls.

Marri Aviza
Partner, Rumors Salon & Spa Ltd.

Photo of Marri Aviza

Internationally trained businesswoman, award-winning hair designer and business owner, Marri K. Aviza, is the founding partner of Rumors Salon & Day Spa and Rumors IV Men in Latham, NY.

A Colonie native, Marri graduated from the Albany County BOCES Cosmetology School, after beginning her beauty training at age 14, at Colonie High School. After graduation she received professional training at the prestigious Vidal Sassoon Academy in London and in 1986—at the age of 22—opened the full-service Rumors Salon & Day Spa. She and her business partner, Lisa Norgrove, then opened Rumors IV Men in 2002.

As President and CEO of Rumors, Inc., Marri is an accomplished professional with success across all aspects of business. She, Lisa Norgrove and their team have grown their business from $100,000 in annual sales to over $3 million. In 2006 Marri was recognized as a Woman of Excellence by the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Throughout the years, Marri has continued advanced training at professional academies worldwide and has lectured and trained others abroad on beauty industry products and programs. Rumors has been featured in Vogue and Elle magazines as well as various trade publications; Marri has also appeared on MTV.

Rumors, Inc. employs over 85 professionals and last July opened a new $3 million 10,000 square foot home for Rumors Salon & Day Spa, Rumors IV Men and a training/call center near their former location in Latham. The property also includes TALA, An American Bistro, operated by local restaurant entrepreneur Angelo Mazzone,

Marri is a passionate supporter of numerous local and national charities and with Rumors has donated over $1 million in funds, products, services and time to nonprofits, including: the Women’s Fund of the Capital Region (Founding 500 member), AIDS Foundation, Alzheimer’s Foundation, American Heart Association, American Red Cross, Arthritis Foundation, Gilda’s Club, Humane Society, Hurricane Katrina relief, Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Locks of Love, Muscular Dystrophy Association and MS Society. She currently serves on the board of the St. Anne Foundation, Park Playhouse (honorary board member) and the advisory board of the Times Union’s Capital Region Women@Work magazine. Marri lives in Guilderland with her husband and twin daughters.

Cindy Phillippe
Community Volunteer

Photo of Cindy Phillippe

Cindy Phillippe has been a long time resident of Schenectady County where she has served as a volunteer for 40 years with a special interest in philanthropy. She majored in economics and business at Skidmore College and worked for several years in the international division of a Wall Street bank prior to returning to the Capital Region to pursue a volunteer career.

Cindy has volunteered for over 25 community agencies and organizations and has held board leadership and fundraising positions with many of them. Most recently she has served on the Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady, the Niskayuna Community Foundation, and the Schenectady Community Home. She was instrumental in the establishment of the Niskayuna Community Foundation where she chaired the Steering Committee, served as President or Co-President for six years, and has been chairman of fundraising since its inception in 2000.

Some of the other organizations which have benefited from her volunteer service include Northeast Parent and Child Society, the PTO Council, the Women’s Fund, the Schenectady Symphony League, Haven Grief Counseling Center, United Way of Schenectady, the Friends of the Schenectady Museum, Capital District Hospice, the D.A.R.E. Advisory Board, Ellis Hospital Foundation, Mohawk Pathways Girl Scout Council, Niskayuna Community Action Plan, the American Red Cross, the Niskayuna Community Partnership, Girls Inc., First Reformed Church, and the YWCA Domestic Violence Shelter.

Cindy was the recipient of the Volunteer of the Year Award from both the Junior League of Schenectady and the United Way. She was also named to the Niskayuna High School Hall of Fame in recognition of her service to the Schenectady community. She was a member of the first Leadership Schenectady program of the Schenectady Chamber of Commerce.

Cindy lives in Niskayuna with her husband, Dick. She has 3 adult children.

Pamela Sawchuk Brown
Community and Civic Leader

Photo of Pamela Sawchuk Brown

Pamela Sawchuk Brown is one of Tech Valley’s most respected communications professionals. She has been involved in community development, marketing and public relations in the region for more than 30 years and has provided exceptional strategic communications counsel to many of New York State’s leading corporations, organizations, institutions and executives.

Since her appointment in October 2010, she has served as the vice president for community development at Albany Medical Center, the region’s only academic health sciences center and one of the region’s largest private employers. She is responsible for community outreach activities to establish partnerships and alliances that further Albany Med’s mission and strengthen the economic vitality of the region that Albany Med serves.

Prior to joining Albany Med, Ms. Brown spent 30 years at Sawchuk Brown Associates in Albany, which she founded in 1979, and with her late husband, David P. Brown, grew to one of the region’s most successful public relations agencies. The firm was part of the team that coined “Tech Valley” in the late 1990s.

Before founding her agency, which was recognized with many national, regional and local honors, Ms. Brown was an award-winning reporter and editor at the Albany Times Union and Knickerbocker News. She is active with a number of community organizations, including the board of trustees of the Howard & Bush Foundation and the board of directors of the Center for Economic Growth and Tech Valley Connect. She also serves on the Capital Region advisory board of KeyBank and the Business Alliance for Tech Valley High School and is a member of the Forum for Executive Women, which she helped create. She previously served on the board of directors of the Albany Institute of History & Art, the Albany Medical Center, the University at Albany Foundation, Proctor’s Theatre and the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce, where she served as chair in 2003.

She has received numerous awards, including the “Envoy Salute” of the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce; the “Communicator of the Year” Award of the Capital Region Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America; the Albany-Colonie Chamber’s “Woman of Excellence” and its 100 “Women of Excellence of the 20th Century” awards; Excelsior College’s “Salute to 20 Partners in Lifelong Learning;” and the Regional Food Bank’s anniversary award.

A graduate of Saint Agnes School in Albany, she attended NYU and graduated from the University at Albany. She has lived in downtown Albany for more than 30 years.