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She is selected as the recipient of the region’s most prestigious award for businesswomen

Mary Stengel Austen ’86, president and chief executive officer of Tierney Communications, Philadelphia, has been selected as the recipient of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce’s 2010 Paradigm Award, the region’s most prestigious award for businesswomen.

The award is given annually to an influential chief executive of a for-profit enterprise with a strong economic impact on the region. The chamber will present the award to Austen on March 11 at a luncheon where she will designate $25,000 in charitable gifts provided with support from Ernst & Young.

A member of Lafayette’s Board of Trustees, Austen is well respected for her commitment to women and vision for future generations. She co-founded The Tierney Group in 1989, a predecessor to today’s Tierney Communications. With offices in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Tierney is one of the mid-Atlantic region’s largest communications agencies and a member of the Interpublic Group of companies. The agency serves clients representing a range of industry leaders including Bayer Environmental Science, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Independence Blue Cross, McDonald’s, PECO, the Pennsylvania Tourism Office, Sun Life Financial, TD Bank, and Verizon.

“Mary is a passionate Philadelphia business executive, committed to building her company and to enhancing the social fabric of our community through her energetic involvement in many activities and causes,” said Joseph A. Frick, president and CEO of Independence Blue Cross, who nominated her for the award. “She is a remarkable and inspirational leader with extraordinary personal and professional skills and accomplishments.”

“Mary is a phenomenal role model for women in business. Through her progressive leadership, Tierney has grown to be one of the most prominent communications agencies in the region. This is an exceptional feat in a very competitive marketplace,” added Rob Wonderling, the chamber’s president and CEO.

Tierney has won accolades for its pro bono and community involvement programs, including recognition from the national Stevie Awards for Women in Business in 2008 and from the Philadelphia Business Journal in 2008 and 2009.

Austen is devoted to mentoring and retaining talent through professional training at the agency’s “Tierney University” and committed to helping professional women achieve a work-life balance. Four of the seven members of Tierney’s top management team are working mothers.

The Philadelphia Business Journal named Austen a 2004 Woman of Distinction, and, in 2005, the City of Hope presented her with its Spirit of Life Award. Last year, she was recognized by the Pennsylvania League of Women Voters with its Civic Leadership Award and was chosen as the Woman of Heart Honoree for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Luncheon.

A member of the chamber’s executive committee of the board of directors, Austen has distinguished herself as a champion of the region and a key resource for bringing in new members. In 2009, she was co-chair of the search committee that identified Wonderling as the chamber’s president. She also serves on other boards including Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital (vice-chair), Main Line Health and Steppingstone Scholars, Inc. She is a cabinet member of the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s 2009 Campaign for Giving, and member of the Young Presidents’ Organization and the Forum of Executive Women.

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