Happy Anniversary WBC!

Happy Anniversary WBC!

I’ve been thinking a lot about women’s history lately. It started while I was helping to plan the WBC’s 30th Anniversary celebration and it culminated last week when I took my kids to Washington, DC.

I had fun sifting through the Chamber’s archives and looking at the WBC photos and program materials over the past 30 years. I also enjoyed reading the “fun facts” that Leslie Foster of Siena College researched for us about women in business and other leadership roles between 1986 and today. Here are a few of my favorite stats:

  • In 1996, there were no female CEOs on the Fortune 500 List; today, 26 women head major firms.
  • In 1986, 25% of household breadwinners were women; today, that percentage is 39% of household breadwinners.
  • In 1985, women comprised 14.8% of legislatures; today that percentage is 24.2%.

In addition to thinking about this on a macro level, I started to think about this on a more individual level. I’m fortunate to work for a great company whose CEO is a woman and I happen to be the breadwinner in my family. On the political front, I was fortunate to spend a week in DC right before a historic election with a female presidential candidate. I was even more fortunate to get to sit in on a Supreme Court session in which the female Justices happened to be taking the lead. I was mesmerized watching them pose questions to the attorneys as they worked through the case.

And then I bribed my kids with ice cream and dragged them to a museum exhibit on the woman suffrage movement. In case you’re wondering what this photo is — it’s a statue of the courageous pioneers of the woman suffrage movement prominently displayed in the Capitol: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Lucretia Mott.

Speaking of courageous leadership, I hope to see you at next month’s program “Courage as the Currency Between Women,” featuring our very own WBC Advisory Board member, Corey Jamison. You can register here http://capitalregionchamber.com/events/courage-as-the-currency-between-women/>

The Importance of Community

I hope that everyone is getting to enjoy some lazy days of summer. I was fortunate to get ten magical days in Italy with my family recently. There are so many things to love about Italy that I could write an entire blog post on that topic alone!  In addition to the beautiful countryside, rich history and amazing food, my husband and I were impressed with the strong sense of community that we got to observe in several different towns. We enjoyed talking to locals and learning more about their lifestyle.

Coming home to the Capital District after this incredible experience led us to reflect upon the importance of community. My husband is from Troy and many of his friends and family members still reside in the area. My story is different with several moves, including a big move from California to Schenectady eight years ago. Knowing only two sweet senior citizens at the time (my parents), I set out to find a new job and cultivate a new community.

My Dad was involved with several different Chamber initiatives and encouraged me to get involved as well. He graciously took me to Global Business Network (GBN) events and eventually I stumbled upon my first Women’s Business Council (WBC) event. I still remember the warm welcome that Brandi Miller provided and how she kindly introduced me to several other WBC members. I was impressed with the caliber of the WBC programs and the diversity of its membership.

Since that warm welcome, I’ve had the pleasure of serving on the WBC program planning and communications committees and then most recently as vice-chair and chair. I have enjoyed meeting so many remarkable professional women and am grateful to have found a “soft landing place” as former WBC chair Paula Heller once said about the WBC.

I recently learned that the WBC is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. It has been fun going through some of the Chamber’s archives and thinking about the impact of the WBC on this community over the past 30 years. You’ll be hearing more about the WBC’s anniversary as we kick off our new programming year in September. I hope to see you all at Women of Excellence Unplugged – one of my favorite events!

What’s in a name?

Family dinners are a rare treat this month with both of my kids playing spring sports. I savor the chance to hear everyone’s highlights from the day and enjoy how our conversations can range from cat stories to current events. I recently asked my ten-year-old daughter over dinner if she wanted to attend the Women of Excellence event with me this year. This led to Q&A about the event and I showed her the latest issue of Women@Work magazine, which features this year’s Women of Excellence recipients.

Kate agreed to join me and I am excited that she will be able to hear the inspirational stories of these incredible women firsthand. Growing up, I didn’t know many women in business and only had one memorable female role model: my aunt Gerry Regan, who was an executive at Quaker Oats Company in Chicago. I am grateful to now have so many role models in my life and to be able to expose Kate at a young age to the many different types of career paths that are available to her.

During this same dinner conversation, my teenage son went on to say that the Women’s Business Council seemed sexist to him. We talked about the wage gap and other challenges that women in business have faced over the years. I reflected upon the WBC’s recent “C-Secrets from the C-Level” program, in which we discussed how it’s estimated to take another 100 years to close the wage gap at the current rate and what we can do to accelerate progress.

Then I thought about the importance of naming and how my son had a point – maybe a name like WBC makes some men feel like they’re not welcome. I told my son that it’s important for men and women to partner in business just like any other profession and asked him if he had any ideas of names that seemed more inclusive to him. Jackson thought about this for a few minutes and then suggested that the WBC be renamed to “Equal Jobs Council.”  I realize that the WBC is about so much more than jobs but appreciate the sentiment and told him that we’d consider it.

I look forward to seeing everyone at the Women of Excellence luncheon. If you haven’t already, subscribe to the WBC Voice blog so you that you can read more about our WOE recipients before the big event.

What’s energizing you this Spring?

Screen-Shot-2015-12-10-at-6.00.03-PMHappy Spring!  Even though this past winter was relatively mild, spring couldn’t come soon enough for me.  Blooming shrubs, chirping birds and extra daylight to run after work are just a few of the things that energize me this time of year.  Every spring, I get excited to take on new projects and eagerly start my “to do” list.  It doesn’t take long for my post-it notes to resemble the cover of Brigid Schulte’s Overwhelmed book, which is ironic because one of my “action items” is to finish the last few chapters of this great book (preferably before May 10th when the WBC will be discussing it during a brown bag lunch.

For those who missed Brigid Schulte at the WBC Bold in Business Forum, I encourage you to check out the resources on her website: http://www.brigidschulte.com.  I particularly enjoyed her New America Weekly article in which she writes,

“It’s time to Get Real. Time to break these so-called ‘work-life’ issues out of the Mommy Zone and into the Mainstream where they’ve always belonged.”

It’s encouraging to see progress towards “mainstreaming” these issues in the Capital Region.  In March, the WBC partnered with the Times Union’s Women@Work to sponsor a panel discussion about “The Blind Spot” research conducted by Siena College Research Institute.  I was glad to see both men and women in attendance at the event and that Ed Mitzen, president of Fingerpaint, joined Ruth Mahoney, market president at KeyBank, on the panel.

I look forward to continuing the conversation and hope to see you at future WBC events.  For more information, subscribe to this WBC Voice blog and visit the WBC page on the Chamber’s website.

What are you going to say no to this year?

Screen-Shot-2015-12-10-at-6.00.03-PMAs a California transplant, I struggle with Upstate New York winters.

When I moved here, I decided to embrace winter by learning to ski, ice fish and snow shoe. While it will probably never be my favorite season, I have come to appreciate the beauty of winter and the thrill of trying new things – even when 5-year-olds cruise by me on the ski slopes. As we make our New Year’s resolutions and gear up to try new things, I encourage you to check out all that the Women’s Business Council (WBC) has to offer.

The WBC is a dynamic council comprising more than 1,000 members that support women in business by planning thought-provoking programs, fostering networking opportunities and supporting a local nonprofit organization. This year’s Adopted Nonprofit is Capital Roots (http://www.capitalroots.org/), whose mission is to nourish healthy communities by providing access to fresh food and green spaces for all. (Read their introductory note here.)

I am honored and excited to serve as the 2016 Chair of the WBC and to continue the great momentum created by Susan Radzyminski and the 2015 Steering Committee. With the affiliation of the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber and the Chamber of Schenectady County, the newly formed Capital Region Chamber, provides an opportunity to expand the WBC’s reach throughout the region and to provide even more resources to women in the workplace.

Our 2016 program committee, chaired by Jackie Sheffer and Amanda Goyer, is already hard at work planning programs to educate and inspire us. We are kicking off the year with Albany Med Cardiologist, Dr. Suzie Mookherjee, who will challenge us to be more authentic so that we can balance priorities, deepen partnerships and embrace good stress. As a recovering people-pleaser and perfectionist, I can’t wait to hear what Dr. Mookherjee has to say. I have already started to think about what I need to say no to this year so that I can free up time to pursue what’s most important to me. I hope that you will join us next Tuesday and keep in touch right here on our WBC Voice blog.

Happy New Year!