In honor of her exceptional community service, leadership and volunteerism, Ellis alumna Elizabeth H. Genter of Sewickley has been named the 2012 recipient of Sara Frazier Ellis Award.
Since 1980, The Sara Frazier Ellis Award has been presented annually to a woman who exemplifies the values of the School: community engagement, volunteerism, leadership, and professional accomplishment in one’s field. The Ellis School is the region’s only age 3 to grade 12 independent school for girls.
The Sara Frazier Ellis Award celebrates Genter’s volunteer service to organizations including the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission (from 2000 to 2012), which recognizes and rewards people for their heroic acts, where she served on the finance and executive committees. Since 2006, Genter has served on the Board of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, currently serving on the finance committee. Genter also volunteers on the nominating committee, which recommends deacons and elders, for the Presbyterian Church of Sewickley. Perhaps most importantly, Ms. Genter is in her second term as a Trustee of The Ellis School, where she serves on the Audit, Development, Finance, and Investment Committees.
Her volunteer service to Ellis started more than 20 years ago when she began raising money to support scholarships and activities for Ellis students. In that capacity she worked to bring extraordinary female speakers to Ellis, including author and journalist Madam Jehan Sadat, Anna Quindlen, and astronaut Sally Ride. Genter was then asked to serve on the Board of The Ellis School, where she deployed her background in investments and finance to strengthen the endowment of the School and to organize bond financing to allow for construction of the new Upper School building, which opened in 2000. Ms. Genter’s first round of board service took place from 1995 to 2003. She returned for a second board term in 2008, and by then was the mother of the three girls, Ellie (now at Quaker Valley High School), and Anna ‘18 and Isabelle ’16, who are both students at Ellis. Genter was instrumental in the complex negotiations involved in acquiring for Ellis the adjacent Armory in 2007, which presents a possible option for expansion of the landlocked urban campus.
Genter attributes much of her success to the skills she learned at Ellis. “I’ve been very well served by the education and confidence that Ellis provided. Knowing how to attack a problem through research and exploration of options, the team building I learned through sports and activities, and how to bring people together for a common goal are skills I attribute to my time at Ellis.”
Genter also notes that Ellis provided writing skills that serve her in professional and volunteer service. “If it weren't for the training we received in writing and communication, I could easily just have focused on crunching numbers in a back office somewhere, rather than on bringing people together to solve problems.”
Genter accepted the award at the Ellis 2012 Reunion, where she stated that her teachers at Ellis—especially Judy Callomon, John Miller, Emily Jarrett, and Bea Vasser—shaped her life and instilled lifelong values of honesty, hard work, excellence and creativity. “There is a special secret that each and every Ellis girl graduates with: the knowledge that she is ready and equipped to do anything she chooses,” said Genter.
BIOGRAPHY AND EDUCATION: Ms. Genter graduated from Ellis in 1977, then from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1982 with a degree in education. In 1991 she received her MS in education from the University of Pittsburgh. In 1997 she founded Schenley Capital, a Registered Investment Advisory firm based in Sewickley, Pennsylvania providing investment services—including money management, financial planning, and portfolio manager searches—and thoughtful, customized advice and advisory services to families and institutions striving to preserve and grow wealth. In 2005 she earned an Executive Certificate in Financial Planning from Duquesne University’s School of Leadership and Professional Advancement.
Genter is also a proponent and local community representative for Wilderness Ventures, a wilderness adventure organization that teaches young people leadership and self-reliance skills.