Take Five – Board Member: Marissa Minier Olles

This is the second in our new series of “Take 5” interviews designed to introduce you to the members of the Board of Directors of the Albion HS Alumni Foundation. We will highlight one board member at a time until we have introduced you to all of our members. This post will highlight Marissa (Minier) Olles.


Today we “Take 5″ with Marissa (Minier) Olles

AHS Alumni Foundation Board Member



Marissa graduated from Albion HS with the class of 2000. After high school, she attended St. Bonaventure University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Mass Communications in 2004. Her experience at St. Bonaventure was made better by the presence of several other Albion graduates who attended at the same time she did. Marissa has worked at the Lake Country Pennysaver for almost ten years, where she currently holds the position of Art Director. Although this is not the career path she envisioned, she loves what she does and the people she works with.

Marissa married AHS class of 2000 classmate, Patrick Olles in 2004 – she believes that they were the first two classmates to marry from the class of 2000. The couple has a 3-year-old daughter named Hannah. They also have a German Shepherd named Axel, two miniature Dachshunds named Daphne and Ginger, and a cat named Joe Dirt. They stayed in Albion and love their little house on Gaines Basin Road, where they enjoy being near family and town, but still have the quiet of country living.

Marissa’s hobbies include reading, spending time with family and friends, and enjoying the beautiful seasons of Western NY. Hannah loves to see animals, play on the playground, go to the mud bogs, and play dress up. Patrick and Marissa thoroughly enjoy watching their one and only grow up to be such a wonderful girl.

And, now for our interview:

1.    When did you join the board of directors and what is your role?

I’ve been on the board since 2009 and I’ve been Secretary since 2010. In 2013, when the Board created subcommittees, Sue Starkweather-Miller and I partnered up to lead the Visibility Team.

2.    What sparked your interest in being a part of this board and what do you like most about what the Foundation does and your involvement in it?

When I joined the Board, I was at a point in my life when I realized I wasn’t doing much to help my community through volunteering. I felt a void there and the opportunity to join the Alumni Foundation came along through Debbie Heuer. So why have I stayed involved? First and foremost, this is a great group of people. We are made up of community members of all ages, backgrounds, and personal and professional histories. We are business owners, school staff, retirees, parents, and more. This is a group of people I already respected and admired. It’s easy to love being a part of the Foundation. I enjoyed my school experience plus my parents, family, and friends are all graduates, as well. We share a common bond and it feels good to be proud of our school. Hannah will graduate from Albion and I want her experience at school and in our community to be a positive one. By acting as positive, energetic role models in this capacity, we’re teaching the children something valuable.

In addition, my connection to this group goes beyond volunteering on the Board. My mom, Meredith Minier, and I partnered with the Foundation to create the Dr. Lee N. Minier Science Scholarship in 2009. I lost my dad to suicide in 2007. He was a man who never stopped learning and he was, and continues to be, my inspiration to do well, whether it was in my studies or in my personal life. He is, in a way, living on through this scholarship that we award to students who we feel embody the same educational values he had. It helps us to keep him in our lives by remembering his devotion to learning. This scholarship keeps a crucial part of him alive. There are many other families doing this same thing through their scholarships and part of our role as volunteers in this group is to prove to them that their scholarships are as important to us as they are to them.

3.    Tell us about your experience at Albion HS and how your experiences influenced you either in school or in your life after school.

My experience at Albion as a student meant a great deal to me. I always felt that we were treated as individuals and encouraged to pursue what we enjoyed, whether it was sports, academics, music, volunteering, etc. The staff and administration were supportive and present in our academic, athletic, and other extracurricular activities. Teachers came early and stayed late, and many of them served as role models for me. From kindergarten through high school, I often think fondly of the teachers who made an impact on me. I could name so many! Joyce Cater, Jeff Evoy, Sandy Heise, Don Bemont, Dale Smalley, Gary Simboli – that just begins the list. They modeled the importance of doing the right thing and being a good person both personally and professionally, and that has always stuck with me. I hope I can transfer some of those lessons to Hannah.

4.     What motivated you to go into the career you chose and what led you to your higher education choices?

My career as Art Director at the Pennysaver is the result of many years of changes within my position there. I started as a part-time proofreader shortly after I got married. Then over the course of ten years or so I went from part-time to full-time, then picked up the Customer Service responsibilities, then after much more on-the-job training, I returned from my maternity leave to assume the role of Art Director. So in a way, the skills I retained both from my background in English at Albion and then my journalism classes at St. Bonaventure certainly helped to support my career up to this point.

 5.     What advice / words of wisdom do you have for our current students and recent graduates?

I don’t feel too qualified to offer any wisdom, but I can certainly share some things that have been helpful to me. One thing that has gotten me through challenging times, both personally and professionally, is to keep an eye on the bigger picture. Is this “crisis” really a crisis? Keeping a cool head by remembering the importance of living a full life is key. What really means the most to you? Is it your family? Your education? Keep your priorities in order and you’ll find that most difficulties are simply minor hiccups that you can handle. Also, never be afraid to ask for help. Your parents, family, teachers, and community leaders are always available to lend an ear. No question is unimportant.

Thank you, Marissa!

Watch in the coming weeks for more from our board members – the next featured member will be Shannon Eisermann Baron.

Posted by Kim Wright Pritt