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First Lady

  • Mary M. Iwanenko, OTD

    Mary Iwanenko

    Mary Mai (Molea) Iwanenko was born in Long Thanh, Vietnam to a Vietnamese mother and an Italian-American U.S. military pilot father. A first-generation college student, she completed a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Occupational Therapy at D’Youville College in Buffalo, N.Y., and some 25 years later, went on to receive her post-professional occupational therapy doctorate from Gannon University in 2019.

    Iwanenko currently serves Gannon University as the director of health services and the university health center. Additionally, she teaches as an adjunct in the Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences, guides student research in the department of occupational therapy, supervises student internship experiences in the public health program, and advises the men’s club lacrosse team.

    Prior to her roles at Gannon, Iwanenko co-founded and ran a multidisciplinary pediatric private practice and therapeutic preschool alongside her husband Walter Iwanenko, Ph.D., employing more than 200 therapists, teachers, and support staff. Successfully merging the private practice with a larger WNY human services nonprofit organization, Iwanenko was retained to serve as the agency's division administrator for the therapy and early education program. In that role, she was additionally responsible for assisting with the organizational change efforts that led the agency to achieve and receive certification from the Sanctuary Institute in the sanctuary model for trauma-informed care. At the same time, Iwanenko was also an adjunct professor at D’Youville College and SUNY at Buffalo.

    Iwanenko went on to serve as a hospital administrator at a regional trauma center in upstate New York from 2015 to 2019 where she directed the operations of an offsite community-practice pediatric therapy clinic and medical office. Her unit also provided home and community-based programming, care, and intervention for young children and their families across Erie and Niagara counties for the hospital system.

    Before joining the administrative team at Gannon University in 2021, Iwanenko was an assistant professor for health and human services and assistant director for new program development at Daemen College in Buffalo, N.Y. In addition to assisting with the development of innovative programs to include the Center for Interprofessional Learning and Simulation, she also dually functioned as the Center’s interim coordinator.

    Over the years, Iwanenko has earned honors including business owner of the year, citizen of the year, 40 Under 40, chamber person of the year, and outstanding advisor. She has close to three decades of clinical and leadership experience, with expertise in teaching and scholarship in post-secondary education, health and higher education administration, entrepreneurship, pediatric early intervention, early childhood development, and preschool special education services.

    Iwanenko is a resident of Erie and has been married to her husband, Walter, since 1994. Together they have three adult children: Alexandria, Ashley and Erek; and two granddaughters, Adamina, and Anastasia. Family time keeps them busy when they are not found engaging on the campuses of Gannon University.