North Country Women Honored at 2022 Women of Distinction Awards

On April 28, Assemblyman Billy Jones hosted his sixth annual Women of Distinction Awards at the Stafford Centre Theatre.

The Women of Distinction Awards recognizes and honors eight remarkable local women in categories such as health care, volunteerism, education, and military service.

“The North Country is home to many remarkable women who help our neighbors in need and make our communities even better places to call home,” said Jones. “The Women of Distinction Awards is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate local women who dedicate themselves to community service and betterment. This year’s celebration was an overwhelming success and allowed us to honor eight exceptional women who do so much for us all.”

Community Service and Civic Affairs

Beverly Cook, a Family Nurse Practitioner, is currently serving her third consecutive term as Chief of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe and was awarded the Community Service and Civic Affairs award.

Previously, Cook was a clinic coordinator for Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Health Services.

Cook also serves as a representative on the National Indian Health Board, National Institutes of Health Tribal Advisory Committee, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Technical Tribal Advisory Committee.

Cook was also recently asked to serve as co-chair of the National Congress of American Indians Climate Change Summit Committee.

North County Neighbor

In the category of North Country Neighbor, Rebecca Boire-West won the award. Borie-West is the owner of Body in Balance Therapy in Plattsburgh.

Before her career as a medical massage therapist, functional nutritional health coach, and personal trainer, Borie-West worked in the pharmaceutical industry in various positions.

Borie-West is a graduate of the Center for Natural Wellness and Massage Therapy in Albany, Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York, Functional Nutritional Alliance, and has multiple certifications. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from SUNY Empire State.


The award for Healthcare went to Melissa Gooley. Gooley is the Northern Regional Practice Leader for Hudson Headwaters Health Network and Health Foundation in Clinton, Franklin, and part of Essex Counties.

Gooley graduated from Chazy Central Rural School and received her Nursing degree from Clinton Community College. She then received certificates in Executive Healthcare Leadership and Healthcare Change Management from Cornell University.

Gooley has a passion for helping her community and can be described as always having a “can do” attitude whether it be through her career, volunteering, serving on local boards such as Champlain-Mooers Volunteer Ambulance Service and Northern Tier Housing, being an officer in Champlain- Rouses Point Kiwanis, or a member of the Catholic Daughters of St. Mary’s Parish.


Dana Fast won the Volunteerism award. Fast was formerly a medical researcher for the Trudeau Institute and the Walton A. Jones Cell Science Center.

Fast recently released a memoir, Good in the Midst of Evil, detailing her invaluable first-hand narrative of Holocaust survival in Poland.

She is now a tireless volunteer in the community serving at the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center, the Saranac Lake Free Library, the Village Improvement Society in Saranac Lake, and as a master gardener volunteer through Cornell Cooperative Extension Franklin County.


The Education award was given to Shantell Manor. Manor is currently a teacher’s aid at Northern Adirondack Central School.

She goes above and beyond at her job and volunteers to tutor students who are in jeopardy of failing their classes and also helps children with special needs, Jones said.

If Manor doesn’t know the material a student was learning, she teaches herself on her own time so she can provide assistance.

Military Service

In the category of Military Service, Robin Caudell took home the award. Caudell is a U.S. Air Force Veteran who served our nation from 1986 to 1990, earning the rank of Sargeant as a Strategic Air Command Warrior. She was awarded the Air Force Training Ribbon, Air Force Good Conduct Medal, and the John L. Levitow Award during her service.

After leaving the military, Caudell began working for the Press-Republican where she still works 32 years later as an award-winning staff writer and videographer.

She has been featured in Dr. Anastasia Pratt’s Distinguished Women of the North Country as a trailblazer and is a founding member/trustee of the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association and Museum and a founding member and docent of the Plattsburgh Air Force Base Museum.


Jean McGibbon Goddard received the Perseverance Award.

McGibbon Goddard was born near London, England, and lived through the bombings of World War II as a young teenager. She met and married her husband, a U.S. Army soldier with the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), and moved to Westville in 1946 to start a family farm.

When her husband became ill, McGibbon Goddard had to raise three small children and run the farm with only a single hired hand.

McGibbon Goddard has served as the Town of Westville historian for 20 years and almost singlehandedly accessioned the Westville Historical Organization – WHO’s collection and set up the new archival room.

She is dedicated to recognizing and honoring NorthCountry veterans for their service and is responsible for tracking down the nearly 100 names in the town’s collection.

Community Service

The community advocate award was presented to Chelsea Scheefer. Scheefer was paralyzed from a snowboarding accident at the age of 17 and has been a tireless advocate for the disabled community ever since.

While a student at SUNY Plattsburgh, she volunteered at local schools and worked for the Advocacy and Resource Center with youth with developmental disabilities and adults living independently.

During graduate school, she worked at the North Country Center for Independence, NCCI, and ran a mentoring program for those with disabilities. She then took a position with Champlain Valley Family Center to provide drug and alcohol prevention education, adventure-based counseling, and coordinating local volunteer opportunities for students at soup kitchens, nursing homes, and animal shelters.

Despite no longer working at NCCI, Scheefer has served on the board for seven years.


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