Women’s Club’s Curatolo makes bequest to ensure Chautauqua’s sustainability

Third-generation Chautauquan Courtney Curatolo started her time at Chautauqua Institution attending Children’s School and Boys’ and Girls’ Club. It seems fitting that her activities at the Institution have matured along with her; she now serves as president of the Chautauqua Women’s Club.

Though she’s come far, Curatolo remembers her roots and doesn’t take them lightly. Her formative years at Chautauqua helped her discover the most important part of her life: her friends and family.

“The Boys’ and Girls’ Club had a huge impact on my life,” Curatolo said. “My lifelong friends are the friends that I met in Group 1 and the Boys’ and Girls’ Club.”

Curatolo cherishes the Institution because it gives her a chance to spend meaningful time with the people who matter to her.

“For me, one of the best parts of Chautauqua is spending time with my cousins and friends,” Curatolo said. “It’s just been wonderful spending that time with each other summer after summer, laughing and playing games and not having to worry about what’s going on in the world, and having the chance to enjoy each other’s company.”

Curatolo also appreciates the safety and freedom that the Chautauqua community affords her nieces and nephews. She takes comfort in knowing that “10 people would rush to their aid if they were to fall off their bikes” and that they have the opportunity to explore the woods, the ravines and other spots on the grounds.

Of course, Curatolo also enjoys the culture of the Institution. When she was a young girl, her mother insisted that she and her brother experience at least one cultural event per week during the season. Though Curatolo wasn’t too fond of the rule at the time, in retrospect, she’s thankful for her mother’s insistence, as it helped her develop a great appreciation for theater, ballet, the symphony and many of Chautauqua’s other arts programs.

“I can’t tell you the feeling of calm I get from just walking past the Amphitheater when the symphony is practicing,” Curatolo said. “And it just brings back wonderful memories of being with my family as a child and going to the symphony.”

Curatolo also admires the lifelong learning opportunities offered by the Institution. As a student working toward a doctorate in adult and community educational leadership, Curatolo finds that many of the Institution lecturers not only fascinate her, but also provide her with insights that she is able to incorporate into her own work.

Curatolo wants to repay the Institution for all of the experiences it has given her over the years, through both her service to the Women’s Club and also through monetary support.

As president of the Women’s Club, Curatolo is responsible for coordinating the club’s events, particularly the Contemporary Issues Forum, which features afternoon lectures each Saturday in the Hall of Philosophy. During the off-season, one of her primary concerns is to stay informed on current affairs, hopefully finding potential Contemporary Issues Forum speakers she believes Chautauquans will connect with.

She also works with several volunteers in planning other programming for the Women’s Club, such as the Professional Women’s Network, the Young Women’s Series and Chautauqua Speaks.

Her works helps provide an entrance point for Chautauquans to make connections in the community and to nurture the Institution’s lifelong learning environment.

Curatolo also helps to support the Institution financially. Each year since graduating college and entering the workforce, she has donated small amounts to Chautauqua. And last year, she made an even larger philanthropic commitment by deciding to include the Institution in her will.

“I think it’s important for us to enjoy the benefits of Chautauqua, but also to give back to Chautauqua,” Curatolo said. “My opinion is, 50 years ago somebody donated to Chautauqua, and that allowed me to go to the Boys’ and Girls’ Club and the Children’s School and to spend time at the Youth Activities Center. And I want to contribute in that same manner so that 50 years from now, someone can come to Chautauqua and have the experience that I grew up with.”

Chautauqua has played such a critical role in Curatolo’s life that she wants to do all she can to return the favor.

“Chautauqua made me who I am today,” Curatolo said. “The cultural and learning experiences, the relationships I developed here, the bond that I have with my cousins, because we were lucky enough to grow up here.”

“And so for me,” she continued, “it’s important for Chautauqua to continue to be a part of my and other families’ experiences. I have gotten so much out of Chautauqua that I want to give as much as I can back to this community.”

By including Chautauqua in her will, Courtney Curatolo has become a member of the Eleanor B. Daugherty Society, which recognizes those who have included the Chautauqua Foundation in their estate plans through a bequest intention, as beneficiary of a retirement plan, trust or gift of real estate. Daugherty Society members enjoy many benefits, such as a luncheon with a guest lecturer, entrance to the scholar-in-residence program, special facility tours with artistic directors and other special events throughout the season. For information on how you can become a member of the Daugherty Society, please contact Karen Blozie, Chautauqua Foundation’s director of gift planning, at 716-357-6244 or kblozie@ciweb.org.