Member Spotlight: Megan Baker, Founder, CEO & President of Baker Public Relations

To further promote women, minorities, and veterans who are leading the way in our community, we are featuring Chamber member businesses that fall under these categories.

This week, meet Megan Baker, Founder, President & CEO of Baker Public Relations. “Located in Albany, New York and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Baker Public Relations, a New York State Certified Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE), is committed to providing the highest level of personalized service to its clients since its inception in 2007.” Their creative public relations and marketing campaigns tackle the challenges of an ever-changing media and social landscape.

Megan herself has been a communicator for more than 20 years and specializes in developing and leading media training programs for high level CEOs and executives, using her skills honed as a reporter to prepare clients for live events and aggressive media questioning

When you have 30 minutes of free time, how do you pass the time?

“Self-care is most important. When I have 30 minutes of free time, which is usually early morning before my kids wake, I meditate outside in my backyard next to my Koi pond. The sound of the waterfalls soothes me and helps to set the tone for the day. During the winter months, I make use of my sunroom where I can sit and focus on breathing and do some light stretching.”

What do you love most about what you do?

“I am a people person. What I love most about being an entrepreneur and communications professional is nurturing and growing a team, working with organizations and brands to help meet business goals and objectives, building long-term relationships in the community and mentoring young women. I also enjoy supporting my team professionally and personally. When they’re happy and find what they do meaningful, it brings me great satisfaction. I also enjoy sharing individual stories and am happy to be doing this through a video podcast series we launched over a year ago at Baker Public Relations called InfluenceHER. It’s a platform for women in our local communities to share stories about success, failure, overcoming obstacles, etc.”

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?

“What I would most like to tell myself at the age of 13 is to have confidence in who you are. I have four beautiful daughters and a son and I worry so much about what we/society are exposing them to at such a young age. In other words, don’t get wrapped up in what you look like, your shape or what you have, but build strong relationships and enjoy being a kid. Get dirty, feel the earth beneath your feet and don’t sweat the small stuff. Laugh and explore as much as possible.”

What is the best advice you have ever received?

“The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is to never take no for an answer. This advice came from my mom who spent years in sales in a male-dominated industry. It’s something that helped me as a young broadcast news reporter and anchor and translated to private business. Persistence is important and there’s always a way to reframe what you’re asking for. Sure, I’ve failed, but it made me work harder. Rejection happens and not everyone is going to cheer you on and that’s quite alright. It provides you a new opportunity to refocus on moving toward your goals.”

Virtually Attend the WBC’s “Wellness in the Workplace” Event in August

Article: Top workplace wellness trends that will dominate in 2020 ...

Feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or burnt-out? Let’s talk about it. Join us to discuss topics that focus on mental health and overall wellness.

The event will begin with a mindfulness exercise, followed by an armchair discussion with four distinguished speakers who will share their personal experiences. You will leave with strategies and tools to use in your day-to-day life, not to mention the peace of mind knowing you’re not alone!

Panelists:

Virginia Golden, CEO of Equinox, Inc.

Angela Pearson, President/CEO of OD Synergistics Consulting, LLC

Jennifer Bashant, Ph.D., CEO of Building Better Futures, LLC

Audrey Maiello Cunningham, Esq., Project Director, Regulatory Affairs for the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board

Moderator:

Jeannie Thomma, Senior Director Infant & Toddler Project at The Early Care and Learning Council

This will be a Zoom webinar. Information on how to log in will be emailed to you no later than 12 noon on Monday, August 3 after you register. To register, please visit HERE.

Member Spotlight: Jennifer Hendricks-Fogg of Aflac NY & the Logan Strong Foundation

To further promote women, minorities, and veterans who are leading the way in our community, we are featuring Chamber member businesses that fall under these categories.

This week, meet Jennifer Hendricks-Fogg, a Benefits Consultant at AFLAC NY and President of the Logan Strong Foundation, an organization with a mission to raise childhood cancer awareness and provide items of comfort and support for children and families while they are fighting cancer in and out of the hospital.

When you have 30 minutes of free time, how do you pass the time?

“Between working full time, having a special needs toddler, President of the Logan Strong Foundation and a Rotarian, I don’t get free time very often. So when I do, I like to do NOTHING! Sit on the couch or the deck with a nice glass of wine and just relax, or at least try to!”

What do you love most about what you do?

“Helping people! My entire life has been about helping people and paying it forward and now I get paid to do that. It’s a cliche but it’s true….do what you love and you will never work a day in your life. I LOVE my “job!” I get to meet new people all the time and help protect them from life’s mishaps!”

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?

“The two biggest things I would tell my 13-year-old self is to worry about yourself and be kind! It sounds like a contradiction but if you think about it; it means to worry about what’s important to you and focus on your life AND be kind to others and respect and appreciate our differences.”

What have you gained from being a member of the Women’s Business Council?

“Mentors, friendships, support! Women helping women is AMAZING!!!”

What is the best advice you have ever received?

“‘Make a change or make a change!’ Basically, get out of your own way. If something isn’t working, change it….it’s not going to correct itself.”

Submit Your Story for Voices in the Crowd 2020

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The Chamber’s Women’s Business Council wants to hear from you for this year’s Voices in the Crowd program!

The theme this year is “The Journey Through the Lens of Race, Class, and Culture; Inspiration for Hope and Change.” We are sharing stories from people in our community who have overcome adversity, seen something and said something, didn’t think they had a voice, and finally felt heard, or went from feeling invisible to being seen.

If you have a story to share, please click here for submission details: https://conta.cc/390RE4i#WBCVoice#voicesinthecrowd#shareyourstory

Member Spotlight: Nicole Snow, Darn Good Yarn

To further promote women, minorities, and veterans who are leading the way in our community, we are featuring Chamber member businesses that fall under these categories.

This week, meet Nicole Snow, Founder & CEO of Darn Good Yarn. Nicole “founded Darn Good Yarn in 2008 when she wanted to combine her passion for creating, and her dedication to helping others. Nicole has brought Darn Good Yarn from being a company run out of a small basement in Maine, to #599 on Inc. Magazines Top 5,000 Fastest Growing Companies of 2017.” Darn Good Yarn serves the $44B craft market by providing beautiful, lustrous handmade yarns and clothing to the creative lifestyle community.

When you have 30 minutes of free time, how do you pass the time?

“I like to paint with my daughter or make massively awesome tents with her. I also have a little bit of an obsession with online art classes.”

What do you love most about what you do?

“I love that I get to use my artistic creativity to solve complex problems that incorporate helping people and the environment while aiming for profitability. I also love tying systems together to create efficiencies or creative uses for them.”

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?

“Save and invest your money like crazy. Do not try to fit in. Just aim to get great grades.”

What have you gained from being a member of the Women’s Business Council?

“Insight and commonality amongst members. Authenticity is critical and experience shares are vital for personal development!”

What is the best advice you have ever received?

“‘It’s going to be survival of the fittest’. Told to me by my CFO, it was a call back to basics. Trimming fat in the business and being much more tactical as we traverse into the future.”

A Mini Summer Guide from the WBC

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

While we all love the summertime, things are a little different than usual this year due to necessary standards, but that doesn’t mean we want to sit around and do nothing. 
So the big question is “what is there to do this summer?!” 
A group of our WBC members were able to share some ideas on how to keep busy, while staying safe: 
 
Go to an Italian, Greek, or Armenian Drive-Thru Food Festival! 
St. Sophia is having Greek Feast on July 10th, 11th and 12th.  
Check out the link for more details : https://www.stsophiaalbany.org/greek-feast?fbclid=IwAR2__tcScngwU2B_pIu5nuJ9BcqF19hbpnQdJ5wS5IfVdybzoJqAKp-11SE

Have Outdoor Competitions!  
Buy a corn hole set, ladder toss, KanJam, a giant Jenga tower, croquet, horse shoes or other similar fun outside games and have an all day tournament.

Take on a New Sport or Activity!
Kayaking rentals are still available  http://www.upstatekayakrentals.com/walk-up-locations.html, you can also find rentals in Mechanicville, Saratoga, and other areas.

Attend a virtual 5K Run, check out this link to see which ones you can join: https://www.runningintheusa.com/race/virtual/ 

Go on a Railbike adeventure in Lake George : https://www.revrail.com/ 

Go Camping!  
As of June 22nd all NYS Park Campgrounds opened so families can truly get away and enjoy the great outdoors whether it’s camping, renting cottages or cabins. It’s super easy to social distant and a chance to visit/explore a new part of our great state. People can make reservations here: https://parks.ny.gov/camping/ 

Go Raspberry/Blueberry Picking!
Indian Ladder Farms hours are: Tuesday-Friday 9am-1pm, Saturday -Sunday 9am-4pm, closed Monday , but please check the website for constant updates: https://www.indianladderfarms.com/ 

Go To The Drive Ins!
The drive ins are still open and are playing old classics to recently released films. Check out and see what Malta drive-ins is playing this weekend https://www.maltadrivein.com/ 
Along with other drive-ins near you.

Drive-in concert series! 
The Troy Music Hall is having drive-in concerts, check out when their next one is: https://www.troymusichall.org/


 

5 Things You May Not Know About a Food Pantry

From the desk of Karen Lombardo, Owner Put Another Way

Food Pantries Amidst the Pandemic | WFUV

I have been honored to write the 5 things blog series for the Women’s Business Council for the past year or so. I have compiled 5 things lists from interesting interview questions to 5 ways to clean your office. Today, I would like to introduce you to our 5 things guest blogger, Natasha Pernicka, Executive Director of The Food Pantries for the Capital District.

The Food Pantries for the Capital District believes we can do more together than any one of us can alone and function as a coalition of more than 65 food pantries in Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, and Schenectady Counties. The Food Pantries’ vision is to end hunger in the Capital Region. Last year, their member pantries provided more than 65,000 people with enough food for over 3.9 million meals. Yet with more than 89,000 people (including 27,000 children) affected by food insecurity in Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, and Schenectady Counties, there is more work to be done.

We thought we would take this opportunity to shed some light and share 5 Things you did not know about a food pantry:

  1. Most pantries in The Food Pantries’ network have fresh produce available. Many also have meat, dairy, and eggs on hand.
  2. There are no income eligibility requirements for visiting a pantry. Many use pantries on a short-term basis in or in a crisis. Pantry use is based on expressed need.
  3. Food pantries and food banks are not the same. A food bank serves as a warehouse where food donations are sorted, stored, and distributed to front-line organizations. Food pantries are front-line organizations that distribute food directly to individuals and families in need. Food pantries order much of the food they need from food banks.
  4. Although food drives are essential, most pantries receive much of the food they distribute from their local food bank. Most food banks use a cost-share model. Much of the food available to pantries is obtained at $.16 per pound cost-share.
  5. Charitable contributions largely support food pantries. There is limited federal and state funding available. Donations from local individuals and companies are vital to funding food pantry programs.

To learn more about the Food Pantries and reach out to donate time or donations, visit the website at https://www.thefoodpantries.org/ .

Changing Jobs During Changing Times

The coronavirus has had a huge impact on our lives and it has changed the way we work in really significant ways. So what if you find yourself starting a new job during this strange time? Two of our WBC members have found themselves in just that situation, so we asked them to share a bit about their experiences. 

Kimmy Venter started a new job as Director of Communications for Ronald McDonald House Charities® of the Capital Region in late April.  

I truly never expected to make a change like this in the middle of a pandemic, but so far it’s been a really positive experience. The conditions were certainly not ideal to start a new job with a completely new team of people I wouldn’t be able to meet in person. Luckily, my new colleagues have been extremely warm and welcoming and we’re finding lots of ways to make remote connections right now. 

Before my first day “on the job” I came across this article which offers some great advice: https://www.themuse.com/advice/starting-new-job-remotely-coronavirus. Now that I’m more than a month into my new role, I think I can safely say that all the tips about communication are key. 

The article recommends learning how your team communicates. More specifically, I’d say learn how your team communicates during quarantine! In my last job, people were spread across multiple locations, so technology was a key part of communicating even before the coronavirus. In my new role, I’m part of a very small team of staff who usually work together in person from the same place every day. During normal times, I imagine there’s not a huge need for group chats, video conferences or even lengthy email chains, because the people who need to connect with each other have ample opportunity to do so face to face.  

Obviously, things are different in quarantine. I’m learning how my new team communicates under the circumstances. And I’m doing my best to share some of the tools that have worked for me in the past to help make this easier for all of us. That said, I expect to have a whole new set of norms to learn when I finally get to join my new team in person full time. I don’t know exactly when that will be, but I am definitely looking forward to it! 

Emily Dessingue started a new job as the Regional Philanthropy Officer for the American Red Cross of Eastern New York in the beginning of June. 

Similar to Kimmy’s answer, I never thought I would be switching careers in the middle of the pandemic, but I saw this as a huge learning opportunity.  

I believe 2020 has been the ultimate year for problem solving. We’ve had to quickly transition our lives, while trying to keep everything afloat and running smoothly. Admittedly, I was nervous to start a new career because I’m a hands-on learner, and now I was going to have to learn everything virtually. 

Luckily, the American Red Cross has done a wonderful job with making me feel comfortable and supported, given the circumstances. Our Chief Development Officer constantly tells our staff ‘don’t suffer in silence” and “don’t feel like you’re alone on an island.” I found that to be impactful because a person can easily feel frustrated, overwhelmed, or defeated when learning something completely new online. So, my advice is to constantly ask questions, do things in repetition, reach out for help and most importantly, be patient with yourself. You’re not going to learn everything in a day, week, or probably not even in a few months, but always try your best, have open communication and be a problem solver.  

Author: Kimmy Venter & Emily Dessingue

Member Spotlight: Catherine Hover, Founder of Palette Cafe

To further promote women, minorities, and veterans who are leading the way in our community, we are featuring Chamber member businesses that fall under these categories.

This week, meet Catherine Hover, Founder of Palette Cafe. Palette Cafe is “more than a cafe. It’s a place that celebrates culture, shared ideas, and connections. Palette Cafe is a space where everyone in the community is welcome. It’s a hospitable place to grab a great cup of coffee, a quick lunch, or a cocktail. We aim to inspire everyone who joins us through our well-designed space and local artist gallery wall. It’s a comfortable place to get work done, escape from the challenges of home, or connect and meet with a group of friends.”

When you have 30 minutes of free time, how do you pass the time?

“When I have 30 minutes of free time, I love to call my girlfriends or mom back home in New Orleans and catch up on life, it’s so therapeutic. I also like to catch up on my reading. I’m currently reading The Upside of Being Down by Jen Gotch and I am getting some really good stuff from it!”

What do you love most about what you do?

“I love meeting new people who have different experiences under their belt. Hearing stories and helping business owners get out of their own way to ultimately reach their business and life goals and become the best version of themselves is what I love to see. That’s what Palette is about, after all, leveling up in life and in career!”

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?

“I would tell myself that other people’s opinions of you are none of your business. Stay the course and keep doing what you feel is right and fun to do!”

What have you gained from being a member of the Women’s Business Council?

“I have learned so much about other women in business in the area. At Palette, we’re all about coming together and building a community of strong women leaders. The Women’s Business Council has opened my eyes to so many other kickass women in the region who I would love to get to know more.”

What is the best advice you have ever received?

“The best advice I have ever received, and something I often tell others, is to invest in yourself before you ever pour your time and energy into someone or something else. You are always your best work and should be valued and held as the highest priority in your life. Only then can you be of service to anyone else.”

Member Spotlight: Alex Jarvis, Co-Owner/Founder of Goldilocks Promos

Meet Alex Jarvis, Co-Owner/Founder of Goldilocks Promos.

Goldilocks Promos - Promotional Products, Awards, Engraving, and ...

To further promote women, minorities, and veterans who are leading the way in our community, we are featuring Chamber member businesses that fall under these categories.

When you have 30 minutes of free time, how do you pass the time?

“I’ll tell you what it should be: exercising. But usually, it’s more like 1. Eating 2. Reading Game of Thrones (so much better than the show, like most books are) 3. Watching mindless TV (such as anything on Bravo) 4. Browsing Instagram. I’m usually not one for social media but I’ve had so much fun with it with Goldilocks. We get to see what’s going on with every local business and we find so much inspiration from many talented people. We love posting pop culture references, engraving on food, and featuring our clients and the ways we have helped them.”

What do you love most about what you do?

“I get to be creative every day. Our job is making it fun and easy to order branded products while also making our clients look good. So what we do is never boring or stuffy. We love taking our client’s brands and running with them. We are also obsessed with playing with our laser engraver. It has so many applications and we love making custom and unique creations. Thinking of new things to engrave, personalize, or make from scratch is extremely fun.”

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?

“Learn how to take criticism now and have fun before adulthood starts because the real world hits you fast. Work really hard, learn as much as you can from people and listen to everyone. Also, you should really think more about those student loans for college before you take them, especially majoring in an art degree.”

What is the best advice you have ever received?

“Never be afraid to reach out to people or use past connections. It’s amazing how people I haven’t seen in years have been so supportive of me starting my own business. Every connection you have made professionally will be of use to you in your new venture. Also, trust your gut and don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone.”