Amy Torigian Parise '03MST

on behalf of Butterflies from Jodie,
Jeanne Morris (posthumously) and Jeanne Torigian '74 (posthumously)

Women of Achievement Award Recipient

Amy Torigian Parise ’03MST might have had no choice but to live and breathe all things Iona and is accepting this award to honor the legacy of her family and the impact it has had on Iona and the local community.

The legacy began with her grandmother, Jeanne Morris, who worked at Iona College for over 40 years, with posts in Athletics, Security and Business Services. She and her husband Michael “Red” Morris ’54 had seven Iona children who graduated from Iona, including Amy’s mother, Jeanne Torigian Neville ’74.

Jeanne Torigian-Neville ’74 was a pioneer of women’s sports, establishing with classmate, Janet Ghiorsi, the first ever women’s basketball team at Iona College in 1973. She also worked at Iona College, in Telephone Services for over 16 years. In 2012, the Iona College administration inducted Jeanne posthumously into the Iona College Hall of Fame on the 44th anniversary of Title IX. Jeanne and her teammates helped to pave the way for the thousands of female student-athletes who have followed in their footsteps.

In November of 2000, tragedy struck the Torigian family. Jodie, Amy’s 21-year-old sister, went into sudden cardiac arrest and passed away. It is believed that had an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) been on hand when Jodie went into cardiac arrest, her life may have been saved. Determined not to let the tragedy overpower them, Gary ’73 (Amy’s father), Jeanne and Amy started a foundation, Butterflies From Jodie: The Jodie Torigian Charitable Fund. With the unrelenting support they have received from family, friends and the greater community, they have been able to turn this tragic loss into a vital and giving organization. Since Butterflies’ inception, the AED distribution program has placed over 80 life saving devices in local schools, athletics programs, police and fire departments and public buildings. Butterflies has also donated close to $750,000 in “Butterflies” (cash gifts), to people and organizations facing extraordinary challenges.

Facing yet another tragedy, the 2011 passing of her mother, Jeanne, after a courageous battle with leukemia, Amy and her father dedicated themselves to make Butterflies From Jodie stronger than ever. Every November, they host an annual benefit and recently added a golf tournament in the summer. Both events provide direct support for their work in the communities they serve. The Torigian and Morris family are humbled and blessed for the support they have received and are pleased to help those in need and the greater community, while keeping Jodie and Jeanne’s amazing spirit alive.

Through her work with Butterflies From Jodie, Amy has been recognized by numerous local organizations including Sound Shore Medical Center (The Marie F. Vitt Humanitarian Award for Community Service), Coaches Cure CF, Songcatchers, Inc., Jean-Claude Lovinsky Fund, HOPE Community Services, New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce (Community Outreach Award, Women of Excellence) and the New Rochelle PBA.

Amy followed in her grandmother and mother’s footsteps and began working at Iona in 2000 while she obtained her master’s in education. She was an integral part of the advancement and alumni relations office for over 12 years and helped lead successful campaigns which raised nearly $100 million. In 2014, she journeyed to Iona Prep and today serves as their director of Alumni & Special Events.

Amy is married to fellow Gael Vin Parise ’00 and together they have three beautiful sons, Dylan (12), Cole (10) and Ryder (7.)