Each year the Zonta Club of Oswego celebrates and recognizes female citizens, especially those who have made a difference to the community and heritage with special emphasis on professional, business, leadership and volunteer contributions.
This year’s Women of Achievement Award presentation will be held on Friday, Oct. 28 to honor Mary Ciappa who has contributed to the community in a significant way. Ciappa represents the goals of Zonta; empowering women through education, community engagement, and through leadership. She has inspired and led the way for other women in traditional and nontraditional fields, has challenged existing norms, or made significant improvements or innovations in her field and in the community.
Ciappa was born in Oswego to Helen and Thomas Connolly. She attended St. Paul's Academy graduating from the ninth-grade in 1951.She went on to Oswego High School graduating in 1954. She pursued her college degree at LeMoyne College graduating with a bachelor of science in sociology after which she embarked on a career in education in 1960.
Ciappa continued to expand her background in education while beginning her teaching career at Red Creek Central School. In the fall of 1961 she accepted a position in Oswego at The Alice E. Mackin School and entered the field of special education, while at the same time attending classes at Syracuse University completing a certification program in the field. She remained at the school until June of 1970. Ciappa then moved on to elementary education at Kingsford Park School. At the same time as she was entering into this new arena she was concurrently finishing her master's degree in education at SUNY Oswego. In the years following she received her certificate of advanced studies in school psychology, also from SUNY Oswego. Ciappa retired from the field of education in 1995.
Throughout her professional years she has served on many public boards and committees that have affected the lives of many families throughout Oswego, both directly and indirectly. Ciappa was one of the first special education teachers in Oswego, she was charged with the responsibility of teaching students who ranged in age from 5-18 and with special needs. Her sense of compassion and nurturing continued when she transferred to third grade at Kingsford Park Elementary School. During the time when school budgets were cut, the library was one area targeted for closing. Ciappa was instrumental working with constituents campaigning for the library to become a private institution. Similarly, she was instrumental in raising money for the Salvation Army's capital campaign; whereby, there is a new Salvation Army building. Ciappa's continued determination and dedication is carried out in all that she does on the various boards in which she serves for the betterment of others in the community in which she lives.
In 1958 Ciappa married a fellow LeMoyne graduate, Tom Ciappa. In 1959 they welcomed the first of their two children, Conlee, followed by their second in 1960, Tom.
Today, she continues working closely with her family as the events manager at The American Foundry in Oswego, which is owned by her children and their spouses.