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José Coronas, Mary-Frances Winters honored for philanthropy

Staff reports

José Coronas received the Joe U. Posner Founders Award from the Rochester Area Community Foundation. Provided photo

José Coronas received the highest honor bestowed by the Rochester Area Community Foundation at its 2020 Philanthropy Awards, presented Sept. 23.

Mary-Frances Winters and Nancy Robbins also were honored. Teen Empowerment received the Community Foundation award for nonprofit excellence.

Coronas received the Joe U. Posner Founders Award. The Cuban-born Coronas came to Rochester for a summer job at Kodak and returned after graduating from college for a full-time job there. When the division he led was sold to Johnson & Johnson Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, he became its president.

After retiring, he and two others who spent their careers at Kodak started Trillium Group, to provide seed funding to new businesses. Coronas was on the board of Ibero-American Action League when it established a scholarship fund at the Foundation to support Hispanic high school students going to college. José and his wife, Karen, also created a scholarship at St. John Fisher College to support Hispanic students there.
Coronas went on to be a member and chair of the Community Foundation Board.

He and his wife split their time between Canandaigua and Florida.

Mary-Frances Winters

Winters started the Winters Group in 1984 after she left Kodak. She served on the Community Foundation’s board of directors and established The Winters Group Fund to Promote Diversity & Inclusion in 1996. That fund has awarded more than $200,000 in grants to support innovative efforts at nonprofits across the country to improve diversity and inclusion.

Winters also is a prolific author. Her latest book, Black Fatigue: How Racism Erodes the Mind, Body, and Spirit, was released just last week.
Winters was named by Forbes magazine as one of 10 trailblazers in diversity and inclusion in 2019.

The longtime Rochester resident lives in North Carolina.

Robbins, a native of Pennsylvania, was recruited in 1961 to be a buyer at the former Sibley’s department store. Throughout her life, she has volunteered on many boards, including serving as president of the now-defunct Women’s Education and Industrial Union. She chaired the downtown festival during Rochester’s sesquicentennial in 1984 and also WXXI’s auction.

Nancy Robbins

Robbins is best known for being the lead volunteer and fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House, which opened a few streets away from the Golisano Children’s Hospital in February 1990. She also served as that organization’s first board chair.

Robbins regularly involves her two daughters and five grandsons in recommending grants from the family’s charitable fund at the foundation.

The Center for Teen Empowerment, received the Ames-Amzalak Award for Nonprofit Excellenc. Teen Empowerment, which started in Boston in 1992, opened in Rochester’s southwest neighborhood in 2003 to helped urban youth hone their understanding of the social problems they face and use their talents and skills to create change in their own lives and in their communities.

Teen Empowerment brought youth voice to initiatives aimed at improving youth services, reforming public high schools, and improving relations between youth, police, and community. Youth organizers played a critical role on the Community Task Force on School Climate in the development of new discipline policies for the Rochester City School District that have resulted in a continued decline in suspensions, along with academic gains.

More than 30 years ago, the Ames-Amzalak Charitable Trust established the Ames-Amzalak Fund at the Community Foundation to honor the memory of immigrant businessmen Henry Ames and his brothers Semon and Daniel Amzalak and recognize innovative and effective local nonprofits. This award is given every other year and includes a $10,000 unrestricted grant.