Mendon resident Mary Therese Friel recently received two awards. Photo by Quinton Marchand

This month two outstanding accolades were bestowed upon Mendon resident Mary Therese Friel. As we congratulate Mary Therese, and before we launch into the specifics of these awards she has won, we’d like to let loose with a hardy shout-out to her husband Kent Friel. They are neighbors and good friends of ours, we have worked with them on multiple projects throughout the years, and there is not another couple out there that exudes the collaborative effort and teamwork shown by Mary Therese and Kent. So congrats to both of you! And here’s the inside scoop on the first prestigious award.

COMMUNITY LEADER OF THE YEAR ~ In early March Mary Therese Friel, President of The Mary Therese Friel Modeling Agency was awarded, “Community Leader of the Year,” by the Tops Rochester St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee.

Each year the parade honors individuals and organizations for their achievements and leadership in the Greater Rochester area, based on compassion, service to others and contributions to the community; qualities possessed by Saint Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland.

“Mary Therese’s leadership and example have inspired countless members of our community.” said Kate McBride, Parade Committee Vice-President. “For all her work in our community and for inspiring others, we are proud to honor Mary Therese Friel as our Community Leader of the Year.”

The 2023 Parade honorees were introduced at two separate press conferences, hosted by Rochester Mayor Malik Evans and Monroe County Executive Adam Bello. The honorees were also celebrated at a special Mass, presided over by Bishop Salvatore Matano, who then led off the parade in Rochester. Next, moving on to award #2 for Mary Therese…

WOMEN OF EXCELLENCE ~ Mary Therese Friel, President of The Mary Therese Friel Modeling Agency, is also being recognized by the Rochester Business Journal, along with a group of high achieving women, for their professional accomplishments, contributions to the community, leadership, and commitment to mentoring.

“The 2023 Women of Excellence are trailblazers. They are committed to professional excellence, and they enrich our communities by inspiring change and mentoring others,” said Suzanne Fischer-Huettner, managing director of the Rochester Business Journal/Bridge Tower Media.

Friel is a well-known Rochester native who won the title of Miss USA 1979 and had a successful international modeling career. For 35 years she has been leading the company she founded here in Rochester, sharing her expertise and making positive contributions to the community.

“I am very grateful for this acknowledgement,” said Friel. “It inspires me to continue on my life’s mission of making a difference and encouraging others to do the same, by being a role model and leading by example.”
Gretchen Gerbic, who has been a model with the Mary Therese Friel Modeling agency for 23 years said, “I have always looked up to Mary Therese for the level of commitment that she gives to her work and the positive energy that she brings every day. She encourages women to be ladies and men to be gentlemen, meaning to be examples of greatness in the world, both in beauty and poise, as well as humanitarian efforts. She demands the best from her models, and simply to make each person the best they can be.”

The winners will be honored at a celebration on May 2nd at the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center, 123 Main Street in Rochester. Networking and registration begin at 5:00 pm followed by dinner and the awards program at 6:00 pm.

ABOUT MARY THERESE FRIEL ~ Friel has been part of the advertising community in Rochester for 50 years. At age 11, she started modeling for Eastman Kodak and Champion Products. Friel worked her way to the very top of her field, winning the coveted Miss USA title and then modeling internationally for the prestigious Eileen Ford Agency. When she returned to her beloved hometown, Friel poured these experiences into the company that she founded.

Her career has had multiple roles including being a model, celebrity, goodwill ambassador, author, TV and radio host, consultant, producer, coordinator teacher, agent and manager. All these roles have positioned her as a uniquely qualified professional in Rochester. Today, her goal is to provide the best possible services and people that her company can offer to their clients.

Friel inspires everyone on her team to do their best, on every assignment, for each client. The quality of their service exists within the expertise that they offer, the manner in which they interact and conduct themselves with their customers, and the people that make up this company. Friel, however, prefers most, to be known for making a difference in her community and in the lives of others.

There is a saying that she has often repeated and shared… “Service to others is the rent we pay for our room in the hereafter.” Back in 1979 when she was Miss USA, Friel had the tremendous opportunity to meet Muhammad Ali. Talking with him privately for two hours completely changed the course of her life. Ali left Friel with the quote stated above. The idea that she had the responsibility to use her celebrity to do good things, to help people and to be a role model became a focal point in her life, from that point forward. When she opened her company, this philosophy became a cornerstone of the business and today is still the most important thing Friel values.

Through her company, “Mary Therese Friel, LLC” she commits a vast amount of resources to volunteering and fund-raising for non-profit causes and community initiatives and programs. Friel is committed to making a difference and instilling this philosophy into the lives of those around her. On her weekly radio show ROC Image Radio on WAYO 104.3 FM, Friel interviews guests who are affecting the Rochester community in a positive way. She ends each broadcast by asking this same question to each of her guests “What do you most want to be remembered for and why?” Friel’s answer is, “to make a difference in the lives of those I touch.”

To have won both of these awards in such close proximity is certainly an indication of what a blessing Mendon’s Mary Therese is to the greater Rochester community. She is obviously held in the highest regard. Her accomplishments to date have been outstanding and we’re sure she has much more in store for everyone. We’ll keep watching!

Mary Therese and Kent can be reached at 624-5510, their website at; and @MTFModels on Facebook & Instagram.

©2024 Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel

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