Creating the next generation of diverse leaders

Cheryl Speranza Leadership Institute

At Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women, we empower young women to unleash their potential through a vigorous pursuit of knowledge, service to others, a global perspective, and leadership opportunities. The Cheryl Speranza Leadership Institute helps us do even more. The Institute honors Cheryl Speranza, a 1965 Mercy graduate who passed away from pancreatic cancer in March 2018 and had a passion for serving others, including Rochester’s young women and youth. Prior to her passing, Paul and Cheryl Speranza created and funded the Institute through a generous gift of more than $1.2 million from the Speranza family and the Cheryl and Paul Speranza Foundation. Learn more about the inspiration behind the Institute by clicking here. Institute scholars are provided with the necessary tools to succeed in school and life:

  • Access to mentors, tutors, and youth advocates
  • Life and career assistance throughout college, graduate school and their careers
  • Creation of a “new girls” network that benefits the entire Mercy high school student body
  • Funding for emerging leaders from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, including those with limited financial and emotional support

The inaugural program kicked off in fall 2019. Each participant must meet Mercy’s criteria for need-based financial aid and demonstrate academic promise, natural leadership ability, work ethic, as well as provide the necessary teacher recommendations and other evaluations as determined by Mercy’s academic leadership. Over the three years of recruitment, the Institute welcomed 20 scholars into the program. At this time, it is no longer accepting applications for new scholars.

linda dickey

The Institute is chaired by Linda Dickey, MS. As Chair, Linda was responsible for building the Cheryl Speranza Leadership Institute from the ground up, including its development, implementation, analysis, and continuous improvement of the programmatic components. Linda received her master’s degree in Educational Administration from St. John Fisher College, and a master’s degree in Teaching and Curriculum with a concentration in Social Studies from the University of Rochester.

On November 9, 2018, we announced the Cheryl Speranza Leadership Institute to thunderous applause! Nearly 1,000 students, faculty, and invited guests crowded into Mercy’s auditorium to celebrate mass and witness history in action.

When we announced the launch of the Cheryl Speranza Institute on November 9, 2018, we had the pleasure of welcoming Dr. Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. Dr. King spoke about the importance of her father’s and mother’s work and how the Institute aligns with the efforts of The King Center. You can watch Dr. King’s entire keynote address by clicking on the image.

Experience the Circle of Mercy

To truly understand how life changing Mercy is, schedule a visit. Tour the campus, meet us in person, and talk to our students and staff. From information sessions and tours, there are many ways to learn about the Circle of Mercy.

Your Journey to Mercy