As part of its annual March recognition of Women’s History Month and in honor of International Women’s Day, State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats) and his Senate colleagues Friday unveiled an exhibit in the Legislative Office Building in Albany honoring “Women of Distinction” throughout New York State’s history in the arts, sciences, government, military, labor, education, and social reform.

O’Mara said that the Senate exhibit features a tribute to the career and life of astronaut and Elmira native Eileen M. Collins.  The Senate first included Collins in its historical exhibit in 2007.  The historical exhibit also includes Susan E. Hall, who was raised in Tompkins County and is recognized as one of the first women in New York State to be accepted as a nurse in the Civil War.  O’Mara sponsored Hall’s induction in 2011.

Collins and Hall are included among a prestigious group of more than 100 notable New York women from throughout state history, including Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth and Eleanor Roosevelt.  The exhibit is on display in The Well of the Legislative Office Building in Albany.  It can also be viewed online on O’Mara’s Senate website,

“Eileen Collins is an American hero, one of our nation’s most distinguished citizens, and we’re extremely proud of her as a native of Elmira and New York State. It’s a remarkable career and an inspirational life,” said O’Mara.

Collins, who retired from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 2006, is honored for a long and illustrious career highlighted by her command of the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1999 — when she became the first female Shuttle Commander — and the “Return to Flight” Discovery mission in 2005.  She became the first American woman to pilot a space shuttle, the Discovery, in 1995. 

Collins is a member of the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls.

Hall was raised in the Tompkins County town of Ulysses and is recognized as one of the first women from New York State to be accepted as a Civil War nurse.  She served in field hospitals on numerous Civil War battlefields, including Bull Run and Gettysburg.  She was included in the Senate exhibit at O’Mara request in 2011 to coincide with the state and national observances of the 150th Anniversary of the start of the Civil War.

“Susan Hall is a worthy reminder of the selflessness, compassion and bravery that distinguish all great New Yorkers,” said O’Mara.  “It’s fantastic local history and I’m grateful that the Senate has this annual opportunity to honor it.  I’m pleased that the memory of Susan Hall’s place in our regional, state and national history will endure for the benefit and education of future generations.”

As part of the Senate’s annual observance of Women’s History Month, O’Mara also is accepting local nominations for the 22nd Annual “Women of Distinction” tribute to honor modern-day women making outstanding contributions to their communities.  More information and an online nomination form are available on The deadline for submitting a local nomination for this year’s program is Monday, March 18, 2018.