Welcome Dr. Angela Pearson

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Angela Pearson as the new President of the Board of Directors at The Food Pantries for the Capital District!

“I wanted to join the board at The Food Pantries for the Capital District because the mission exemplifies my cause and purpose to support the community in ensuring every person who needs food receives it,” said Dr. Pearson. “Food is a necessity for families to feel safe and this organization ensures this happens. I am thankful for The Food Pantries and the opportunity to serve as the new President of the Board of Directors.”

“We are incredibly grateful to the Women’s Business Council for connecting us to Dr. Pearson! Since then she has volunteered at our member food pantries, our programs, and on organizational development initiatives through her company OD Synergistics Consulting. Looking forward to what we can accomplish together!” – Natasha Pernicka, Executive Director of The Food Pantries for the Capital District.   

Elevating from Workplace Wellness to Workplace Well-Being

From the desk of Joelle Monaco

When we think of workplace wellness, what comes to mind? If you’re like most individuals and organizations, your mind and programming go directly to the traditional ideas; walk programs, gym memberships, nutritional education, diabetes awareness, or smoking cessation programs. However, when we consider workplace well-being, there is much more to consider than that. Suppose we are ensuring inclusivity and the engagement of our entire workforce. In that case, it is essential to broaden our perception from wellness to well-being and how we support individuals in the workplace. As we wrap up June, National Employee Wellness Month, let’s explore how we can elevate programming to support our workforce. 

What is well-being, and how does it differ from wellness? Simply wellness is about a healthy lifestyle that typically refers to a state of physical health, inclusive of eating right, physical activity, and sleep. In comparison, well-being is a more holistic view and approach to prevention and health promotion. 

Let’s start with the why

Why workplace well-being, well why not? Organizations’ most significate asset is their workforce are their people. When individuals have resources to focus on their well-being, they experience higher levels of happiness and satisfaction, which ultimately increases organizational success. On average, adults spend at least 1/3 of their life in the workplace, so considering that we spend a significant amount of time there, it’s safe to say the workplace and its culture influences our wellness. Not to mention that individuals with increased well-being are almost twice as likely to be engaged and enjoy their work, according to Quantum Workplace.

Additionally, let’s not miss out on the organizational benefits of having a workforce that takes care of themselves and has their basic needs met. Harvard Business Review has reported that every $1 invested into employee well-being programs yielded $6 in health care savings. Considering direct and indirect expenses, organizations can experience impacts related to; health care costs, short and long-term disability, compensation claims, presenteeism, absenteeism, and talent attraction and development, to name a few. 

Creating Change

When you think of workplace well-being, consider the eight dimensions of wellness and the social determinates of health; in doing so, we can recognize the varying differences of our workforce and ensure programming meets various needs and wants. 

Initiatives that you can put into action today are financial education and resources, providing community resources, transportation education or options, accessible food options, housing support, caregiving resources, or stress management, to mention a few ideas. 

Moving Forward

No need to toss your current well-being plan out the window or feel overwhelmed with new programming to include; take a step back and ask your workforce what would they benefit from, need, and or enjoy? Create a questionnaire asking how individuals feel about the workplace and what current programs are beneficial. Additionally, you can provide some examples of new programs for the workforce to rank based on their interest and need. This will provide you with a general understanding of what is worth continuing and where to channel your future work and resources. 

Most important, don’t forget you don’t have to have all the answers or expertise; many community partners can support you in creating an inclusive workplace well-being program. 

Keep up the great work engaging individuals and teams of tomorrow,

Joelle M. Monaco


The Side Hustle

From the desk of Leslie Foster

Consultant, trainer, entrepreneur, multi-level marketing; the side hustle. I am fascinated when I meet women who work in mid to high-level positions and who have a side hustle.  I always want to understand what drives them to reinvent themselves outside of their 9-5 or maybe even more so when they have made the leap from the 9 to 5 to working fully for themselves. 

My admiration is great, but sometimes, I feel like I am on the outside looking in and wondering, how did they do that? Did it take a leap of faith?  What was their journey like? Was it a found passion that they started to dabble in, and it grew? Or was it a back-against-the-wall scenario where it was a matter of survival? 

My friend and co-member at the WBC, Karen Lombardo, told me once that going out on her own was the best thing that she had ever done and she has since expanded her website design business into writing peoples’ wedding vows!  Visit Karen’s website for web design, content writing, and of course, wedding vows.

Our VP of Member Services, Marna Redding, unbeknownst to me, started her side hustle a few years ago, and she says, “I’ve been living the faster way lifestyle for almost 2.5 years and have been coaching for 2 years. It’s a lifestyle game changer- sounds overwhelming at first, but it’s the most sustainable lifestyle I’ve found with amazing results. See below!”

The FASTer Way to Fat Loss is a 6-week program that includes meal guides, digital workouts, and me as your coach! We offer LIVE workout videos on-demand training that you will have access to at your fingertips! These on-demand workouts are so amazing! The quick on the FASTer Way is this- it’s an intermittent fasting lifestyle where we cycle in different macro days- low carb, regular macro, and we eat between the hours of 12pm-8pm (or whatever 8hr timeframe works in your day).

Check out my website, and I hope you’ll consider joining me on August 30th for my next round! Register today and get ready to change your life! Just think where you COULD be in 6 weeks!

Emily Dessingue, who currently is the co-chair of the Engagement Committee, was working a full-time job when she started working in real estate on nights and weekends.  Eventually, she made the exciting and nerve-wracking jump to realize her dream and to work solely as an agent, and she hasn’t looked back.  Contact Emily at Berkshire Hathaway.

5 Things(hats) Moms Have Been Wearing During the Pandemic

From the desk of Karen Lombardo

Salary.com is a new Chamber member, and they recently shared two blog posts about how much a mom’s salary value is worth. The pandemic has been in the news and talked about for over 15 months now, but the story has not changed significantly. COVID-19 created a significant setback for women.

According to mckinsey.com,

“The pandemic had a near-immediate effect on women’s employment. One in four women are considering leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers versus one in five men. While all women have been impacted, three major groups have experienced some of the largest challenges: working mothers, women in senior management positions, and Black women. This disparity came across as particularly stark with parents of kids under ten: the rate at which women in this group were considering leaving was ten percentage points higher than for men. And women in heterosexual dual-career couples who have children also reported larger increases in their time spent on household responsibilities since the pandemic began.

Despite companies’ efforts to support employees during the crisis, women are feeling more exhausted, burned out, and under pressure than men are, according to the 2020 Women in the Workplace study. This suggests that companies need to do more to adjust the norms and expectations that lead to these feelings.”

How Much is a Mom Really Worth? The Amount May Surprise You.

In their article, salary.com states, We all know that moms are the ultimate multi-taskers, juggling lots of different responsibilities all day, every day, but it doesn’t really sink in until you see the full list. This year’s study gave consideration to traditional roles – like housekeeper, dietitian, and facilities director – and newer roles – like network administrator, social media communications. In the end, the mom role includes more than 20 different positions.

We took the salary.com articles and spoke with some local moms who listed the top 5 jobs (hats) a mom is wearing now in 2021.

Chief Financial Officer. Moms in conjunction with a spouse or partner manage the day-to-day finances and financial health of the family. In cases where the family was reduced to a single income, this role became particularly challenging.

Chief Operating Officer. This position requires more than a magnetized refrigerator calendar. Moms balanced part-time school days, last-minute quarantines (parents or kids), lack of daycare, and creating a work-life-school time balance.

Chief Technology Officer. How many laptops, tablets, and phones can one internet router support? Hmm, many found out the hard way. Moms became experts with Zoom, Google Meet, and setting up Wi-Fi printers.

Human Resources Manager. Moms have always been experts in conflict management, but COVID challenged even the best negotiator.

Doctor/Nurse (medical, psychological, and Ph.D.)  A mom’s medical experience was challenged beyond running noses and the stomach bug. We tip our hats to moms who themselves had COVID and managed the family and those with kids who had COVID and kept the rest healthy. Mom’s became teachers of many subjects, nutritionists, and counselors.

We are not dismissing dads

With Father’s Day around the corner, we are not dismissing dads or their roles, commitments, and support of their families, spouses, or partners. The documented impact has been significant on women in the workplace, and the long-term effects of this on our economy are yet to be known.

Special thanks to salary.com for their posts on prnewswire.com and salary.com.  

Many thanks to mckinsey.com for their insight and article.

The Alzheimer’s Association Northeastern N.Y. Offers 5 Ways to Restore Your Mental Well-Being:

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month (ABAM). Worldwide, 50 million people are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. While Alzheimer’s and dementia affects so many different individuals, there are statistics showing that women are more affected by dementia.  In the United States, approximately 11 million women are either living with Alzheimer’s or caring for someone who has it.  Approximately two-thirds of caregivers are women; more specifically, over one-third of dementia caregivers are daughters. 

To help promote brain health, the Alzheimer’s Association Northeastern New York offers these five suggestions to restore your mental well-being: 

  1. Recommit to Brain-Healthy Basics 

Evidence suggests that healthy behaviors took a back seat for many Americans during the pandemic. Gym memberships were put on hiatus, social engagement became more challenging and many Americans swapped out healthful eating for their favorite comfort foods, take-out meals and frequent snacking while working remotely. One study published recently found participants gained nearly 1.5 pounds per month over the past year, on average.

The Alzheimer’s Association — through its U.S. POINTER Study — is examining the role lifestyle interventions, including diet, may play in protecting cognitive function. Right now, many experts agree that people can improve their brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline by adopting healthy lifestyle habits, preferably in combination, including: 

  • Exercise regularly — Regular cardiovascular exercise helps increase blood flow to the body and brain, and there is strong evidence that regular physical activity is linked to better memory and thinking. 
  • Maintain a heart-healthy diet — Stick to a meal schedule full of fruits and vegetables to ensure a well-balanced diet. Some evidence suggests a healthful diet is linked to cognitive performance. The Mediterranean and DASH diets are linked to better cognitive functioning, and help reduce risk of heart disease as well.
  • Get proper sleep — Maintaining a regular, uninterrupted sleep pattern benefits physical and psychological health, and helps clear waste from the brain. Adults should get at least seven hours of sleep each night and try to keep a routine bedtime. 
  • Stay socially and mentally active — Meaningful social engagement may support cognitive health, so stay connected with friends and family. Engage your mind by doing activities that stump you, like completing a jigsaw puzzle or playing strategy games. Or challenge yourself further by learning a new language or musical instrument.
  1. Return to Normal at Your Own Pace 

Many Americans are eager for a return to normal life following the pandemic, but others are anxious. In fact, one recent survey found that nearly half of adults (49%) report feeling uncomfortable about returning to in-person interactions when the pandemic ends. For those feeling anxious, the Alzheimer’s Association suggests taking small steps. It may also be important to set boundaries and communicate your preferences to others in your social circles. 

  1. Help Others 

There is evidence to suggest that helping others during the pandemic may not only make you feel better, but it may be good for you as well. Research shows that helping others in a crisis can be an effective way to alleviate stress and anxiety. One study published during the pandemic found that adults over age 50 who volunteer for about two hours per week have a substantially reduced risk of dying, higher levels of physical activity and an improved sense of well-being. To help others and yourself during June and throughout the year, volunteer in your community, run errands or deliver meals to a home-bound senior or donate to a favorite cause, such as supporting participants in the Alzheimer’s Association’s The Longest Day event on June 20. 

  1. Unplug and Disconnect 

Technology has dominated our daily lives during the pandemic like never before. While technology has kept us connected through COVID-19, it has also created fatigue for many Americans. Experts warn that excessive stimulation coming from our phones, computers, social media sources and news reports can add to our already heightened anxiety levels. To avoid technology overload, experts advise setting limits on your screen time, avoid carrying your phone everywhere, and disconnecting from digital devices at bedtime. 

  1. Control Your Stress Before it Controls You

In small doses, stress teaches the brain how to respond in healthy ways to the unexpected, inconvenient or unpleasant realities of daily life. Prolonged or repeated stress, however, can wear down and damage the brain, leading to serious health problems including depression, anxiety disorders, memory loss and increased risk for dementia. Reports indicate that Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers are especially vulnerable to physical and emotional stress. The Alzheimer’s Association offers tips to help manage caregiver stress. Meditation, exercise, listening to music or returning to a favorite activity you have missed during the pandemic are just some ways to manage stress. Do what works best for you.

WEB: https://www.alz.org/northeasternnyFREE 24/7 Helpline: 800.272.3900

New York State Food Summit

Thank you to everyone who participated in or joined us at this year’s New York State Food Summit presented by SEFCU! We had over 300 people join us virtually from all over the country to take part in the NYS Food Summit this year and we greatly appreciate all your time, insight, and your patience with us at our first virtual conference.

For a full list of participants, see the event program on our website here: https://bit.ly/3ixnyMy

As a reminder, please use our Food Connect Statewide Map to help connect people to community-based food assistance programs and basic resources throughout New York State. This map and its data are available for any person or organization to use to help more New Yorkers and can be accessed here: https://map.thefoodpantries.org/

And if you have not already, join us in the New York State Community Food Assistance Network as we collectively elevate the voice of hunger relief programs. We are a chorus of friends, neighbors, families, an entire community, and the community-based food assistance providers who help make sure all New Yorkers have access with dignity to high-quality nutritional food. To find out more call 518-458-1167 or email pantries@thefoodpantries.org.

The recordings from the NYS Food Summit are available on the event platform and The Food Pantries’ YouTube Channel here:


Speakers & attendees can continue accessing the NYS Food Summit online to retrieve resources or connect with other attendees and speakers on the streaming platform. The event will remain accessible until May of 2022 here: https://bit.ly/34GKPnj

Working together we can continue to root a food-secure state in a way that treats everyone with the dignity and respect they deserve. We are all stronger because of your input and participation and honored to partner with all of you in this work!

The New York State Food Summit

Join the 3rd biennial New York State Food Summit presented by SEFCU! Hosted by The Food Pantries for the Capital District, the NYS Food Summit convenes food-thought leaders, service providers, and stakeholders in order to share best practices, research, and innovations in hunger relief efforts.

The NYS Food Summit is a collaborative effort hosted by The Food Pantries for the Capital District in partnership with Hunger Solutions New York, Feeding New York State, Siena College, United Way of the Greater Capital Region, and our NYS Community Food Assistance Network members made up of Rockland Community Against Hunger, Comfort Food Community, Concerned for the Hungry, Hunger Coalition of Otsego County, Hunger Action Network of New York, Broome County Council of Churches\CHOW, and Westside Campaign Against Hunger.

The Summit will feature a keynote address from Luis Guardia, President of the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). The Summit will feature FED talks, including a presentation by Katie S. Martin, author of Reinventing Food Banks and Pantries: New Tools to End Hunger and remarks by Susan Zimet (NYS Food & Anti-Hunger Policy Coordinator), Janet Poppendieck (CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute), U.S. Senator for New York Charles Schumer, Owner & Executive Chef of Allie B’s Cozy Kitchen Kizzy Williams, U.S Senator for New York Kirsten Gillibrand, CEO of Hunger Free America Joel Berg, and others!

Register on our website here:  https://registration.socio.events/e/nysfoodsummit

View the agenda here: https://www.thefoodpantries.org/food-summit-agenda.html

Voices in the Crowd- Moving Beyond Unconscious Bias

The Women’s Business Council recently hosted a discussion on identifying your own unconscious biases and ways to actively change the way you approach the world to create a more inclusive and equitable environment.

What was your key takeaway from the event?

“The event was so refreshing and motivating. My main take-away was to think about language and writing in regard to unconscious bias. Every panelist had a story that they shared of their own experience with unconscious bias and that made the conversation and topic more relatable. I think this will help me to be reflective about how I am speaking, writing, and even thinking. I really liked how Angela equated it to being better humans. It really comes down to that and we all need to do the work. You can always be better and learn.”

Leslie Foster, Business Development Manager, Siena College Research Institute

“As a Branch Manager and member of the Capital Region Diversity Equity and Inclusion committee with Key Bank, I thoroughly enjoyed the insights and recommended reading from the panelists.  I look forward to additional discussions and am truly grateful for today’s authentic and inspirational messages.”

Anita Otey, Branch Manager, Key Bank

“I think my key takeaway is the idea of being more willing to have the conversation. If someone does something that is offensive, we should talk with them about that. If they don’t know, then they can’t change it. I see it as us having an obligation to say something, but in a way that can be received.”

Jillian Gecewicz, Director of Training and Research, Northern Rivers Family of Services

Some resources shared by the event’s panelist included;

Waking up White, by Debby Irving. This book offers profound and practical reflections at the end of each chapter.

Courageous Conversations: How to Talk About Race with Kwame Christian and Dr. Lara Pence, A Ted Talk, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlI6hCXb8Ok

For upcoming Women’s Business Council events, please visit https://capitalregionchamber.com/networking/womens-business-council/

Theresa M. Skaine – Women of Excellence, Excellence in the Professions

What is one thing that has inspired you in life that you think might have led you to be named a Women of Excellence?

I have certainly been inspired throughout my whole life by people who have supported me and my community, wherever that may have been.  I am lucky to have had parents, guidance counselors, professors and work colleagues who have believed in me and who have supported my personal and career goals.  I have also been blessed with an amazing network of women in the Capital District, many of whom have become friends, who have helped me direct and refine those goals and who have helped make me a better lawyer and community servant. 

Sign up for the Women of Excellence event https://members.capitalregionchamber.com/eventcalendar/Details/30th-annual-women-of-excellence-307845?sourceTypeId=Website

For more information contact Debbie at derck@capitalregionchamber.com

Drue Sanders- Woman of Excellence, Excellence in Business

What is one thing that has inspired you in life that you think might have led you to be named a Women of Excellence?

It was my passion for art and creativity. Reflecting back in time, after completing my master’s degree in jewelry design, I took that passion of art and creativity with me, which led me to my career of designing, making and selling jewelry. For me, it’s the design that makes each piece special. I still have the joy of finding inspiration everywhere I am: from types of art, architecture both modern and historic, along with varying types of sculpture. Jewelry is wearable art. My jewelry runs from one of a kind creations, to full collections. I create jewelry that can be subtle and understated, to elegant and remarkable. Now, 46 years after opening my first store, I still live that same excitement and passion of art and creativity in jewelry. For me it is being responsive to each customer, listening and being sensitive to their budget, whatever it may be, and grasping the understanding what they want expressed in their jewelry item. Jewelry says a lot about a person. I provide a creative jewelry experience for every customer, whether for their personal use, or a gift for a special person or occasion. Jewelry items with my name, Drue Sanders, become a part of someone’s treasured life memories.

Sign up for the Women of Excellence event https://members.capitalregionchamber.com/eventcalendar/Details/30th-annual-women-of-excellence-307845?sourceTypeId=Website

For more information contact Debbie at derck@capitalregionchamber.com