Who we saw at the 2016 Women of Excellence Unplugged luncheon

On Tuesday, September 20, Women’s Business Council invited back its 2016 Women of Excellence winners for an unplugged session, led by moderator Benita Zahn and featuring a live Q&A from audience members

Hon. Helena Heath, Albany City Court (Excellence in the Professions), Fran O’Rourke, KeyBank, and Chelly Hegan, Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood (Excellence in Management), Denise Horan, Integrated Management & Sales Consulting (Excellence in Business Development), and Meredith Oakes, The Bank of New York Mellon (Emerging Professionals) took the stage in a living room style conversation to answer questions on how they dealt with adversity, what advice they would give their younger selves, and many other interesting topics that they could share with us as only women of excellence can!

The WBC communications committee members had the opportunity to speak with some of the people in attendance. Here is what they had to say about why they came to the WOE Unplugged event or what inspiration they came away with after the program.

“I missed the 2016 Women of Excellence luncheon sadly, so I’m here today to get to know the winners and hear their stories of what steps they took to become successful.”
– Sarah Johnson, CDPHP (pictured below with Wes Burton)

Wes Burton, left, with Sarah Johnson pose for a picture
Wes Burton, left, with Sarah Johnson pose for a picture

“I’m new to the Capital District, moving here from Alabama. I want to meet people who support women in business and I came to this event today to show my own support of women who have excelled in their fields of work.”
-Wes Burton, The Food Pantries of the Capital District




-Marsha Lazarus, Director of Workforce Development, Mental Health Association in N.Y.S., Inc

“I appreciated the honesty, the sharing by panelists that teaches us all that
Women of Excellence have their struggles and challenges too… I truly believe
that this kind of openness is a real strength of women who take on
leadership roles!”

“Benita Zahn was wonderful.  Her warmth and insightful follow-up questions
facilitated a very worthwhile discussion!”


“It’s inspiring to hear the stories and triumphs from the Women of
Excellence.  We have a strong community of women business leaders and I am
grateful to the Women’s Business Council for providing a platform for us to
gather, support, and learn from each other.  We have the power to shape our
region and if we work together we can achieve our vision.”

-Natasha Pernicka, The Food Pantries (Natasha asked the great question about the strengths of our region during Q&A)

“It’s wonderful to hear from so many successful women in our community and find the inspiration to keep moving forward in my own career.”
Shaina Kaye, Center for Donation & Transplant (on right in photo below)

“It’s very inspiring to hear about not only these women’s accomplishments but also the passion they have to achieve them. It’s also motivating to see that these women who’ve accomplished so much face the same kinds of challenges we all face.”
Lauren Quinn, Center for Donation & Transplant (on left in photo below)


fullsizerenderSarah Hansen, Esq. (right, in the green dress) is an attorney with Sunmark Federal Credit Union. She related to what Meredith Oaks had to say when she talked about planning ahead in order to prioritize. “Learning to say no is OK in order to create structure in my life”.

Audrey Stone (left) attended the Women’s Unplugged event to represent the Sunmark Foundation. Every year, the foundation raises approximately $30,000 to support local nonprofit organizations. Writing a check is not the only focus of the foundation. Volunteering for nonprofits and helping with tangible needs is their primary interest. Audrey says, “I took a piece of wisdom from each of the women today.”

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