Aminy I. Audi was finishing dinner and listening to the news in mid-March 2020 when she heard about the COVID-19 Community Support Fund. “I didn’t even have to think twice about contributing,” she said. “I was thinking, ‘How can I be enjoying all that I have without sharing it?’”
The impulse came naturally to Audi, CEO and chairwoman of the Manlius-based L. & J.G. Stickley furniture company and a longtime Community Foundation supporter. Growing up, she watched every New Year’s Eve as her father would go around her hometown and visit with widows and orphans who were alone for the holidays. She carried that tradition of generosity with her.
Audi teared up while talking about her father. “He always talked about how important it is to share, how important it is to know that whatever you have is a gift and that you’re measured not by what you have, but what you give and the difference that you make in people’s lives.”
She grew up in Lebanon, the third of nine children. When she was about 16, she started a summer school for children in her town. “It made such a difference in the lives of the students,” she recalled. “I saw the importance of dialogue and talking to each other and knowing how to resolve conflict and realizing that you can’t always win.”
She met Alfred Audi when he was visiting relatives in Lebanon. The couple married in Beirut in 1963, then moved to New York. There she worked as a freelance writer and reporter for the international broadcaster Voice of America and as a translator for the United Nations International School. “I met the most amazing people,” she said. “And I realized that the world is a beautiful mosaic of different people.”
In 1974, the Audis bought the Stickley company and moved to Fayetteville. In 1989, they revived Stickley’s Mission furniture line, which had been discontinued in 1919. Its popularity soared, and the Audis grew the business from 22 employees to more than 1,200. Alfred Audi died in 2007. Aminy carried on his legacy through her graceful transition to running the successful business on her own.
“The more you succeed, the more responsibility you have to share,” Audi said. “And that you don’t just rise, you make sure that others do as well.”
Her philanthropy supports issues close to her heart, including education, women’s opportunities, New Americans and hunger. She was a founding member of the Women’s Fund of Central New York, which we administer. Her family started a scholarship fund, which we also administer, for graduating high school students who are the children of full-time Stickley employees.
She set up a donor-advised fund with the Community Foundation in 2011, “I love seeing people enjoy gifts during my lifetime. The Community Foundation has the infrastructure, the expertise, and it’s very easy to set up. It’s a sure way to ensure that the things that are meaningful to me continue to be supported.”
Stickley succeeded thanks to community support, Audi said. Now she hopes her generosity will help others thrive as well. She encourages people to search their souls and consider, “What is it that I have been blessed with that I can share?”