Chair Chat – It’s a Must Read

From the desk of Amanda Goyer, WBC Chair and the Director of Community Engagement, CAP COM Federal Credit Union.


Photo by Nadi Whatisdelirium on Unsplash

Navigating Through Unplanned Change

In January, the WBC kicked off our annual programming with a panel discussion surrounding change management and leading through transition. Our expert panelists provided great insight into how they have led their organizations through vast facets of change with stride. We heard about understanding the “why” behind change and how that makes the biggest impact across the organization, we talked about planning for change, growth, rebranding, new partnerships, collaborations, and integrations. What we didn’t get to speak about was unplanned change and how you navigate unchartered waters that you never thought you’d be swimming in.

My personal and professional goal for 2019 is to take risks and be unapologetically authentic. In doing so I will share a story with you that I have not shared publically. I’ll share a story of the biggest unplanned change in my life and how that has impacted me professionally. These impacts will be shared by others who have transitioned through unplanned changes but also may be relevant for those that haven’t as well.

March 13, 2016, my parents arrived at my house unannounced. My husband and I were in our kitchen feeding our 2-month-old son Roen. My parents walked in and they didn’t have to say anything, I knew right then that my brother was gone. The words they said “Al’s gone” are all I remember from that morning and seeing my baby boy Roen looking up at me with those big eyes and smile, not knowing the devastation that had just walked through the door. I try to paint the picture of that moment for a symbolic reason. As a leader, even when your world crumbles with unplanned change, what remains constant is the people looking up to you. I didn’t make the choice that day, but I eventually made the choice to pick myself up, and I’ve been living each day since with a new perspective, zest for life and a purpose that would make Al proud.

This unplanned change has made me a different person, I could have chosen to go one of two ways. I’m grateful I had the strength to choose the path I did, a path that has led to great personal and professional growth as a result of the pain my family and I endured and still carry each day.

Here’s What I Learned from Unplanned Change:


Today in the workplace, I frequently find myself taking a step back to look at the big picture. I focus more on the “why” behind what I do and that provides me with great perspective on the direction I need to follow. Prior in my professional life, I use to get hung up on the details, details that did not matter. “Did my voice shake during those welcome remarks? OMG, I haven’t replied to that email from so and so in 2 weeks, surely they think I’m a failure! My baby is sick again from daycare and I’m going to miss another day of work, I’m going to get fired! I can’t tell my coworker “that”, it will hurt their feelings…” and the list goes on.

Today in my professional world, I realize that I’m not a surgeon. The work I do, although meaningful, is not life or death. One of the wisest mentors I’ve ever known once said the most insulting thing to me, “You’re not as important as you think you are.” Although I was initially insulted, it’s something that always says with me and reminds me to be more gentle to myself, a little kinder, and a little looser on the reins. I know my worth, as does my mentor so she was not trying to diminish me as a person, she was simply saying, IT WILL BE OK, you don’t have to be everything to everyone.


What I’ve found, like many people I’m sure who have lost someone or gone through something significant, health diagnosis, etc. is that many people that have not been there don’t know how to talk to you! Suddenly, you’re being avoided like the plague, people are looking at you like you just walked out of the bathroom with your dress tucked into your underwear all the time!

Through this transition, I’m proud to say I’ve become an Empathetic Leader. I lead heart first, then head. I have the ability to put myself in the shoes of others because I’ve been through something so significant and I’m still standing. I have always been driven by my heart, but honestly tried to block that and instead solely focus on data to make decisions because that was “easier” to justify. Today, I’m more proud than ever to lead with my heart first in my decision-making processes. This does not mean that I’m only driven by emotion, it simply means I understand humans, I understand when we fall when we rise and the journey in between. This wisdom gained through this transition in my life, I believe has vastly expedited my professional trajectory.


Everyone has probably heard of the term “YOLO,” and it’s true, You Only Live Once. There is nothing like loss that makes the people left behind think about their purpose in life. I spent a lot of time reflecting on what I want to do and where I want to be. I feel a sense of focus and purpose. I have clear set goals in my mind for where I want to be in a year, and in five years. I’m not like some that write their goals in a journal or share them with too many others, but I can see those goals actualizing in my head when I think about them, I can see my future success because I’m purposeful with every big decision I make while allowing the little things to fade into the background. I tell my team all the time, let’s focus on the BIG ROCKS, these are what we need to move forward to make an impact, don’t get hung up on the little stuff and don’t deter from the path that leads to our purpose together. This focus enables our team to hit and exceed our goals time and again.


I know today, there is no time left to be afraid to take risks and harness your power (hence my 2019 goal to take risks and be unapologetically authentic)! It has taken time but I’m ready after 3 years to make good on a promise I’ve made to my brother and myself. The only direction is forward, no going back, no regrets. I’ve learned in my career so far that there is power in taking risks, and risks I’ve taken in my career have led to the greatest reward. Today my inner power both personally and professionally is fueled by the constant reminder that I got through the worst time of my life, I CAN DO ANYTHING. At work, I take risks in the fact that I’m not afraid to fail, and I have great leadership that believes in me. My team and I take risks every year when we develop new programs that have never been done before, programs that have given us both great local and national recognition and awards. My point is simple, you can’t be afraid to take risks, because if you don’t you may never reach your potential. If it’s not going to harm someone, tarnish you or your company’s reputation, or bring your budget into the red, TAKE THE RISK and REAP the REWARD.

As I conclude writing this, I can say, I’m living life the way Al would have wanted me to, glass half full. I try to remember from all the bad, comes a lot of good too. This unplanned change was the worst moment of my life, yet, what I’m realizing today, nearly 3 years later is how this transition has led me on a very focused path in this journey called life, a journey that is uniquely my own.


 Self-Assessment Questions:

  1. PERSPECTIVE: What is one thing you are consistently holding yourself accountable for? Is that “weight” worth it?
  2. EMPATHY: In working with people, do you commonly put yourself in their shoes? If not, consider the power of being an empathetic leader. (LINK HERE:
  3. PURPOSE: Do you feel like your job aligns with your purpose? If not, what is the step you are going to take to realign?
  4. POWER: What is the biggest planned or unplanned challenge you ever overcame? Celebrate that, and don’t forget it. Use that moment will power you through.

Voices in the Crowd- Successfully Managing Change in the Workplace

In Susan’s closing remarks for the event, she mentioned some takeaways that she had.  We need to take the wins we have when we can, embrace the why and celebrate change. Was there anything that struck you as applicable to your work or your experiences?


IMG_2822 (1)


Lauren Axford, Executive Director at the Pine Hollow Arboretum

So much of what was said at today’s event really resonated with me, but there were 2  comments that I really identified with.  First, that change doesn’t happen overnight and that to get from point A to point Z, there may be several phases along the way.  The Pine Hollow Arboretum is 1 year deep into a major transition after losing our founder last January.  We have come a long way and there are many accomplishments to celebrate, but we still have a lot of work to do.  The second is that change in one’s personal life often prompts change in one’s professional life.  As a mother of 3 young children who works full-time, I am constantly trying to maintain that delicate balance between family life and professional life.  It was encouraging to me to realize that the equilibrium between my 2 worlds will be ever evolving and that down the road, new doors might open when the time is right.


Adam Migirditch, Membership Executive, Capital Region Chamber

The WBC event had a lot in it that I found applicable, both from a business and personal standpoint. With having started a new position here at the Capital Region Chamber and moving from Troy to Schenectady all in a matter of weeks, I’ve been dealing with plenty of change lately. I found the panel very insightful and the idea about celebrating change is something that really resonated with me. Overall great event.

Mark your calendars for the next event on March 13: Make Your Life an Exclamation! Not an Explanation- Sign up here.

epilepsy foundation

Throughout 2019, the WBC will raise money for its adopted nonprofit, Epilepsy Foundation of Northeastern New York. The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation of Northeastern New York is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives. Epilepsy can affect anyone with a brain, and anyone with a brain can affect epilepsy. The Epilepsy Foundation exists to #EndEpilepsy.
Help the WBC raise money for the Epilepsy Foundation of Northeastern New York. Learn more here

5 Things: Be Curious!

From the desk of Karen Lombardo, Owner, Put Another Way, LLC

This morning I attended the first meeting of the Tech Valley Young Professionals Network. (More to come on this super-group!) This was the kickoff for the Mentorship Program. The speaker, Robin Perry, Vice President Learning & Development at Bishop House spoke to an underlying theme of curiosity. As I sat there with my mentee, my mind began to race, and I thought let’s discuss 5 things/reasons for curiosity:

  1. It allows us to be exposed to perhaps a weakness or lack of knowledge without judgment. Asking someone a question is never wrong. It is a win-win for the expert giving the answer and to the questioner learning from the response.
  2. Curiosity killed the cat? I don’t believe that! I think that cat had other issues. Curiosity is good. Repeat it a few times, ”Curiosity is good.” It gets easier.
  3. Curiosity allows you to learn. The book, Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It, by Ian Leslie, speaks to the question of curiosity. I don’t want to be a spoiler so check it out. It’s a good read.
  4. As someone who is asked a lot of questions on a daily basis, I respect curiosity. Long since the days when my young children asked me 1000 times ‘Mom, why is….” Now I get to flex my life muscles as the questions become more complex, like, “Mom, how do I make lasagna?”
  5. Please don’t judge, squelch, or discourage curiosity. I hope my young mentee Allyson asks me 1000 questions and I can ask her 1000 back. Hey, she already shared her favorite Podcasts with me. I learned something new today.

Be curious. I know the internet allows us 24/7/365 answers to our most burning questions but let’s not totally remove the human factor. Meet someone for coffee, join a book club or fitness group and let’s spread our wings and open our minds a little.

And if this sparked your curiosity, check out Tech Valley Young Professionals and get involved!


If you have not signed up for the January 29th event, Successfully Managing Change in the Workplace, sign up here.  There is a great line-up of speakers.

For more information:


Kick Off the New Year with the WBC

Have you heard the panelists speak before?  This group of women is engaging and you don’t want to miss this event: Successfully Managing Change in the Workplace


Gif: Reddit
  • Chelly Hegan, CEO/President, Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood
  • Kathleen Jimino, former Rensselaer County Executive
  • Jennifer MacPhee, Market President, Bank of America
  • Alicia Ouellette, Dean & President of Albany Law School

The panel will be moderated by Ann Hughes, Director of Development, School of Public Health, UAlbany.

Sign up here for the event.  All genders welcome.

January 29th- 11:30-1:00                                                                                                            Albany Marriott Hotel
189 Wolf Road Albany, NY

For more information:


epilepsy foundation

Throughout 2019, the WBC will raise money for its adopted nonprofit, Epilepsy Foundation of Northeastern New York. The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation of Northeastern New York is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives. Epilepsy can affect anyone with a brain, and anyone with a brain can affect epilepsy. The Epilepsy Foundation exists to #EndEpilepsy.

Kudos to Lauren Axford



I am very excited to share that Lauren Axford, Executive Director of The Pine Hollow Arboretum has been selected as a fellow for the 2019 Emerging Nonprofit Leadership Accelerator (ENLA)!

The ENLA is a program of the University at Albany’s Institute for Nonprofit Leadership and Community Development, a collaborative of Albany Law School and University at Albany’s Schools of Public Health, Social Welfare, Business, and the Rockefeller School of Public Affairs and Policy. ENLA is designed to provide distinguished emerging leaders, program coordinators, and managers with professional development so as to strengthen their home organizations and grow a robust leadership pipeline throughout the nonprofit sector in the greater Capital Region. 

If you have any professional kudos you’d like to share about yourself or a colleague, please send it to Leslie Foster at

Call for KUDOS!
The Women‘s Business Council is made up of many talented professionals! If you have good news you would like to share, like speaking at a conference, receiving a promotion or award, etc., we want to hear about it!
Send your “kudos” to Leslie Foster so your accomplishment can be featured in an upcoming blog post.


Throughout 2019, the WBC will raise money for its adopted nonprofit, Epilepsy Foundation of Northeastern New York. The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation of Northeastern New York is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives. Epilepsy can affect anyone with a brain, and anyone with a brain can affect epilepsy. The Epilepsy Foundation exists to #EndEpilepsy.

epilepsy foundation

Get In Your Nominations for Women of Excellence 2019

images (1)

Nominations are currently being accepted for the 2019 Women of Excellence through Tuesday, January 29, 2019, at 5 p.m.

To nominate a woman of excellence, please go to the Chamber page below:


Emerging Professional (For-Profit or Nonprofit Sector) 

Excellence in Business (For-Profit or Nonprofit Sector) 

Excellence in Business Development (For-Profit or Nonprofit Sector) 

Excellence in Management (For-Profit or Nonprofit Sector) 

Excellence in the Professions (For-Profit or Nonprofit Sector) 

Distinguished Career (For-Profit or Nonprofit Sector)

Resolutions? Maybe Just 5 Things

From the desk of Karen Lombardo, President of  Put Another Way.

canva - yoga on the beach

It’s that time of the year when the gym is crowded, the diet food aisle in the supermarket is packed and intentions for change are high. In about 3 weeks, the gym will be back to the regulars, the diet items will be on sale, and so many people are left disappointed and frustrated with resolutions that could not be achieved. Why?

I have thought about this is great detail and found that with small attainable goals, I have been able to sustain these tweaks to my ‘self’ and removed frustration and disappointment.

So, here are 5 things to take as food for thought when making a new year’s resolution:

  1. Let’s start inside. Are you ready to make some changes in your health, work, or social life? Sounds simple but change can be stressful. Answer this question first and then you can fine tune your resolutions.
  2. Do something that makes you feel good. It will have a long-term positive effect on anything else you want to change. Take a yoga class, volunteer at a shelter. We have a great not for profit here at the Women’s Business Council. Come check it out!
  3. Now pick a resolution. Many choose to lose weight this time of year but let’s put a spin on that. How about getting healthy? No numbers and calculations are involved with that. Move more, eat a little less. Broad strokes and small goals.
  4. Be mindful. Ask yourself why you want to make this change. Look at your surroundings and amend them to set yourself up for success. Using your treadmill as a clothes hanger? Hiding those M&M’s in the freezer? (I do this) Start with these and feel a cathartic rush from beginning your journey.
  5. Don’t stress. Experts say it takes 2 weeks of repetition to make a change. If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up. Just start the clock over. Treat yourself when you ‘win.’ Purchase a heart rate monitor or a new water bottle and celebrate your success.

Resolutions can be fun and rewarding. Just remember, you are competing with yourself and no one else. Do you feel empowered and ready? I knew you would!

Don’t miss the next WBC event:  Successfully Managing Change in the Workplace on January 29th – Sign up here.

For more information:


Note: Interested in doing more and learning about how to become more active in your community? Contact Marna at and join a committee for the Women’s Business Council!

epilepsy foundation