What is Business Casual for Women

Let’s face it, times have changed since the Women’s Business Council began over thirty years ago and so has the way women dress for work. Being in the sports industry, there are days I wear khakis and a polo and other days I wear a business suit. As health and fitness is becoming more and more intertwined in the workplace, there has been a shift in the way women dress for work. I thought it would be interesting to ask women in the Capital Region who are in the health industry what their sense of style is in the workplace.

I encourage you to interact with this post and comment below. What is your sense of style? How has it changed over the years? Is less more?

Here is what some Women’s Business Council members said about their personal style:

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Victora Carosella Baecker, Manager, Community Relations & Corporate Events, CDPHP

“CDPHP is causal five days a week. We allow our employees to dress how they feel most comfortable. For me that still means I am dressing each day for work. In my role I am meeting with people in the community mostly every day, so on the occasions I dress down and wear jeans is always paired with a pair of heels and a blazer. I think you can still be casual and look smart, professional and comfortable. My personal style has always leaned more towards the preppy side, so there is certainly a thread of that in everything I wear. ” 

Bo Goliber, Community Relations Fingerpaint Marketing

“I’m fortunate to work in a setting where the dress code is very relaxed, however, my role in community relations has me interacting a lot in public. One thing that’s always a priority for me is to make sure I feel like myself when dressing for an occasion. I’m just not the kind of person who would feel like “me” in a traditional business suit—so if I have to dress up, I always make sure I find the balance between looking professional but still wearing something that makes me feel true to my personality. Thankfully I’m able to have that option! And I also always try to wear a nice blouse or top if I’m wearing jeans so I don’t feel too casual.”

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Jeannine Trimboli, Strength Coach, Weight loss specialist, and Founder real [FIT] life
 “People think it must be great to get to wear workout clothes all the time, but to be honest, I get tired of them. I’m a girly girl even if I do spend most of my days around iron racks, barbells, and covered in lifting chalk.  I like to wear jewelry and I love dressing up.

When I’m working out, I definitely wear fitness clothes that I can move in and that are breathable. But when I’m coaching our real [FIT] life’rs I’ll wear pretty much anything, as long as I can squat in it. Stretchy leggings are perfect. Sandals too. We keep the studio cool for our members so I’ve been known to throw on a sweater or light jacket during our sessions. (It’s their workout, not mine!) I’m not partial to any particular fitness wear brands. If it’s cute, unique, and comfy, I’ll wear it.

I do love to dress up when I attend networking events.  Ann Taylor has been my go to for years. And when it’s open toe season, I’m a very happy girl.”

Deborah Merwitz Ruggiero, MS,RN, CWPM, Associate Director, Clinical Account Management, MVP Health Care

“I’m a big fan of a knit, unstructured dress-think Athleta. I can throw on a scarf or accessories to dress it up for meetings and then grab my sneakers for a walk at lunch.”

Sachi Vines, Director of Marketing and Promotions at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Athletic Department

“My attire is business, athleisure wear/ workout attire”.

Women of Excellence 2017: Kathleen Pingelski Recipient of Excellence in Business Award Shares her Wisdom About Resilience in the Workplace

I had an opportunity to gain some valuable insight from Kathleen Pingelski, this year’s recipient of the Excellence in Business Award, Women of Excellence. I am pleased to share it with our readers. kathleeen.jpg

“I think to achieve resiliency it’s important to stay positive in all situations, even when facing challenges. I encourage others to build healthy habits into their lifestyle, such as  meditation and exercise, to practice being present and to disconnect from technology on a regular basis.  Have laser focus on the goal or outcome you want to achieve and keep making forward progress.”

Kathleen Pingelski, President
MicroKnowledge, Inc. Computer Training and Consulting
ProKnowledge, LLC – Professional Development Training and Consulting


Caring Person

One way to help your child become a more caring person is to introduce the practice of doing Random Acts of Kindness for other people. Even the smallest act of kindness such as holding the door open for someone, complimenting a friend or talking to someone new at school can create a domino effect and improve the day of dozens of people!

good_deedNeed Inspiration? Here are some ideas to do with your family:

  • Start a Piggy Bank for a cause important to your child
  • Donate used books to a library
  • Donate food to your local food pantry
  • Pick up trash in your neighborhood or local park
  • Write a thank you note to a favorite teacher or bus driver
  • Thank a police officer for their service
  • Donate outgrown clothes or gently used toys
  • Pay for the drive-thru order behind you

2017 Women of Excellence Award Recipients

From the desk of Kelsey Carr and Alissa Quinn
Women of Excellence Nomination Committee Co-Chairs

Please join us in congratulating the following award recipients
for the 2017 Women of Excellence:

Distinguished Career
Hon. Victoria Graffeo, Harris Beach PLLC

Excellence in the Professions
Sulangna (Suzie) Mookherjee, MS, MD, FACC, Albany Medical Center

Excellence in Management
Danielle Merfeld, GE Global Research

Excellence in Business Development
Suzann Smart, Foundation for Ellis Medicine

Excellence in Business
Kathleen Pingelski, Microknowledge/Proknowledge

Emerging Professional
Sarah Bowman, PE, PTOE, CHA Consulting, Inc.

As we celebrate the 26th year of these awards and the 30th Anniversary of the WBC, we have no doubt that these ladies will lead to an empowering luncheon this Spring. We hope you will consider joining us on Thursday, June 1st, at the Albany Marriott.

Then & Now

Part II: How the Women’s Business Council Began 30 Years Ago

I had the pleasure of meeting Beverly Wittner Traa and Arlene Clements-Musante for coffee a few months back. Beverly was the first chair of the Women’s Business Council thirty years ago and Arlene followed her. It was a delight to have an opportunity to meet these two trailblazers who created a path for the WBC. Beverly and Arlene are generous, funny and brilliant, and it was an absolute pleasure to share some time with them over coffee.

Left to right: Beverly Traa, Arlene Clements-Musante and Ursula Garreau. Arlene is holding a bottle showing the label of a local grower.  They were discussing branding and business. This winter, Arlene and Beverly will spend some time together in Florida.

Beverly is enjoying retirement, spending time with her grandchildren and her rescue dogs. She had a very rich professional career holding a broad scope of leadership positions both in the profit and non-profit sectors. She worked primarily in public relations and business development. Although she experienced discrimination in the workplace, she found opportunities to rise above the challenges and find the silver lining. She remarked how far women have come in the past 30 years and she is noticing that the pendulum is shifting as the gender gap is closing.

Arlene is strong, funny and bold. Arlene’s Artists Materials moved to its current location in 1974 and it still remains the largest independently family owned art supply store in the Capital District. Her daughter currently runs the business. Arlene recalls turning away businessmen who insisted on speaking with the male decision maker. She would point to the sign on the store and tactfully turn them away. Arlene was the first woman elected to the Rotary Club of Albany. She wore a tie to her first meeting; she wanted to be treated equally. She didn’t want to be fined for not wearing a tie; she was serious about her membership and she didn’t want to be treated differently.

With Charlotte Buchanan as Chair of the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber, and Beverly at the helm as Chair of the Women’s Business Council (WBC), the chamber adopted the WBC as one of its official programs. Read more about that in a previous blog post here. Beverly’s strong fundraising and public relationship skills helped to increase the chamber’s membership base. She reached out to women-owned businesses, and spoke with executives in large industries. She encouraged high profile executives to elect women in their organizations to be members of the WBC. This strategy helped reshape opportunities for women in the workplace as companies considered women for senior level positions. Arlene advocated for women-owned businesses bringing awareness to affordable access to health care and continued to build the WBC’s membership.

Thanks to the foresight of women like Beverly and Arlene, the WBC continues to build networks, navigate job opportunities, and gain affordable health insurance for women in business. While the WBC has come a long way, it continues to grow and thrive. To learn more about the history of the WBC, and learn about what’s ahead, join our panel of powerful past Women of Excellence Award recipients to look back – as well as forward – at the evolution of women in the wide world of business.

CAP COM’s Holiday Tips

From the Desk of Amanda Goyer
Foundation & Public Relations Administrator

As we all race through these days of holiday preparation and celebration, I know that your own needs are the last thing on your mind. Taking care of others (and everything else) is what we ladies do.

So, I’m not even going to try and tell you to take some time out to relax during this crazy time. Keep pressing through! You are almost to the finish line.

However, when you finally do put up your feet, indulge in something sweet and make your New Year’s resolutions, add one to your list. Along with that renewed focus on your physical health, consider taking the time to evaluate your financial wellness, too.

  • Reflect on what worked last year and also what did not. What broke your bank and, also, what worked well? Understanding where your money went over the last year can help you budget more accurately for the year ahead.
  • Make a plan, even if you generally fly by the seat of your pants. What changes do you want to make in the coming year when it comes to your wallet? If there is a special purchase you want to make or a trip you’d like to take, know what it will cost and break it into smaller savings increments that make sense.
  • Evaluate your expenses for your house, and life. What do you really need to be happy? If you are over committed, think about taking a step back. If you are spending money on television channels you don’t watch, stop.
  • Make a dent in your debt. This may feel like the most overwhelming thing on your list. But, like anything that feels overwhelming, just take it one step at a time. Making at least the minimum payment on your loans and credit cards is what keeps you out of trouble when it comes to your credit. To pay it off faster, you have to hit it a little harder, but you don’t have to tackle it all at once. Choose one debt you can comfortably increase your payment on. Once it’s gone, you can add what you were paying on it to the minimum you’ve been paying another debt. Slow and steady wins the race.

There is a lot you can do to boost your financial health in the year ahead. But don’t forget to check in with a professional. Ask someone at your financial institution for a financial checkup. They can look at the big picture to determine if there are other ways to help you save. Maybe you aren’t getting the best rate on your loan or credit card. Maybe consolidating your debt will help you pay it off even faster.

Best wishes for a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Then & Now

Part I: How the Women’s Business Council Began 30 Years Ago

I have to admit, I was looking forward to meeting with Charlotte Buchanan and Ashley Jeffrey Bouck. I was the first to arrive at the coffee shop in Loudonville where we agreed to meet on an early Friday afternoon this past summer.  I found a table suitable for the three of us. Ashley Jeffrey Bouck was the next to arrive. If you haven’t had the good fortune to meet Ashley, she is the confident, brunette, and down to earth Executive Director of Girls Inc. and the current Vice Chair of the Women’s Business Council. She is expecting her first child at the end of the year and will be the Chair of the WBC in 2017. It was the first time the two of us met, so we quickly chatted before Charlotte arrived. Ashley had already discovered via email communications that Charlotte was not the first chair of the Women’s Business Council, as we assumed. She sent me a letter written five years ago by the first chair of the Women’s Business Council while we waited for Charlotte to arrive. If you are curious what the letter said, you can read it here. After all, this is the 30th Anniversary of the Women’s Business Council . This blog post is a first in a series called “Then & Now” which will recap Women’s Business Council’s history. Current members of the WBC will be interviewing the leaders from the past thirty years to hear their perspectives.

As Charlotte came through the doors, I recognized her right away. She looked stunning and classy as always with her signature blond bun and stunning blue eyes. We had a brief chat about the weather, purchased cold beverages and began the interview. Ashley naturally led the discussion since she is most recently acquainted with Charlotte. She supports the arts and I reminded her of our past encounter (seems like eons ago) in my previous role as the Executive Director of Albany Center Gallery. “We spoke on the phone five years ago, remember? I was able to assist you in securing Steven Rolf Kroeger, the artist you commissioned for the sculpture in Tricenntenial Park to commemorate Albany and Tula as twin cities.” “Oh, yes, thank you for that”, she said. She’s so gracious and polite. I blushed. Charlotte Buchanan is the founder of the Albany Tulla Alliance.

Charlotte confirmed she was Chair of the Albany Colonie Chamber’s Board of Directors thirty years ago. One of two of her main priorities as Chair of the Board was to adopt the Women’s Business Council as an Albany Colonie Chamber of Commerce initiative. At the time, the Chamber was operating on a shoe string and there wasn’t room in the budget for new initiatives. However, Charlotte believed strongly in the mission of The Women’s Business Council and felt WBC would spark economic growth in the region by increasing its membership base.  Although she was not the first chair of the Women’s Business Council as we alleged, Charlotte was able to confirm that Beverly Traa was the first chair and Arlene Clements followed. Update: I will be interviewing them in early October so stay tuned…

Our biggest takeaway from our meeting with Charlotte was hearing firsthand that the Albany Chamber of Commerce (Now Capital Region Chamber) has always been accepting of women members during a time when inequality was more prevalent in the workplace. Charlotte recalled that during the 80’s, even though she was a successful attorney and community leader, she ate lunch in the cafeteria while her male colleagues left the office for fancy lunches at men-only establishments. However, being a leader during that time didn’t discourage her from networking with a plethora of people regardless of race, age, gender or sexual orientation. Her advice was to broaden your network base in order to cast a wide net. That was the nugget of wisdom I took away from the interview. You never know where your next opportunity will be. Think big picture, and be open to all people.  Listen to those who have influence and take action to help to usher in change to spark growth and opportunity for the betterment of the community.

What I “C” in the WBC

From the Desk of Amanda Goyer, Foundation & Public Relations Administrator
CAP COM Federal Credit Union

As a mom and a woman in business, I know how hard it can be to find the right work-life balance. The Women’s Business Council is an affiliation with which I find value on both personal and professional levels. Here’s what I “C” as the valuable reasons to join this group of amazing women.

Connections: Most women find the connections formed at a Women’s Business Council event to be both professionally and personally uplifting. Networking is a key asset of each of our nine programs throughout the year. The council’s main objective is to get you connected with the right people to help you reach your goals.

WB“C” Moment: “To be in the room and have the opportunity to meet the amazingly supportive business women from the Capital Region. I have been attending regularly for the past three years and have built a support group that I can call on at any time for assistance, advice or fun,” said Jacqueline Sheffer, Financial Advisor at The Wagner Sheffer Group.

Content: The WBC provides educational information about hot topics in the business world. Programs members found memorable included C-Secrets from the C-Suite, where powerful women unveiled their trade secrets and the Women of Excellence event, honoring women in our Capital Region who are paving the way for business leaders of tomorrow. The WBC aims to inspire, empower and reinvigorate women (and men, too) so we can continue to climb the ladder together.Men are welcome to join us; we are all inclusive and hope to provide insight into how women in business think, relate and prosper, so we can work together to make a bigger impact.

WB“C” Moment: “I find the WBC programs and speakers are always relevant, interesting and inspiring.  Never do I leave a program without a take-away.  It might be an idea I want to implement in my personal or professional life, discovering the next must-read book for women or simply feeling connected to a room full of amazing and accomplished women,” said Nikki Caruso, MSW, Executive Director at the Colonie Youth Center, Inc.

Community: Perhaps the cherry on top of the WBC experience, is the annual adoption of a community organization to support. Whether it’s raising funds at our programs or digging in the dirt on the weekends, WBC members support the mission of the adopted nonprofit to bring awareness, funding support and volunteer efforts to life for these amazing pillars of inspiration and goodwill in our community.

WB“C” Moment: “Knowing that the WBC enables us to make it easy to support nonprofits in our community is an added benefit to being in attendance at these programs throughout the year,” said Diana VanAmerongen, Chief Banking Officer, CAP COM Federal Credit Union.

I hope you will come and be a part of this powerful circle of women – “C” what the WBC is all about! Stop by our next program, Women of Excellence Unplugged, on September 20 and join us at our upcoming Membertini this October where new members will mix and mingle (we will leave the “Tini” part up to you)! To learn more about the WBC or register for an upcoming event I encourage you to visit the Capital Region Chamber website.

Hope to “C” you soon!

My Top Five Takeaways from the May Brown Bag Lunch Discussion

This week’s Women’s Business Council’s brown bag lunch program at MVP Health Care was energizing and it gave me a new perceptive on how I define the ideal worker. Attendees discussed topics addressed in the book, Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has The Time, by Brigid Schulte.

Jacqueline Scheffer was the moderator at our table. Jackie and I also had the pleasure of discussing topics addressed in the book with Lynn Manning, Miriam Dushane and members of her team.  It was refreshing to sit in a casual environment with successful women executives. Being a fairly new manager, I am always striving to improve my skills and maximize my time. I gained some new tips from the ladies at my table on how to be an effective leader and smart worker. You may be surprised by this list, it’s not about coming up with a to do list late Sunday night, or making sure you are the first to arrive at the office and the last to leave.

  1. It’s a great practice to have an open door policy, however; schedule times when you close your door. This concept can also be incorporated into turning off email notifications by using that nifty do not disturb feature.
  2. Respond to emails during business hours only. There’s no harm in responding after hours; set it in draft mode and send it off the next day.
  3. Schedule at least one day a month to work from home to work through a project for 90 minute shifts without interruption.
  4. Schedule at least one day a month during the week for a day of play which gives you sharp focus when tackling challenges at work. It also gives you something to look forward to.
  5. Empower your team to make decisions and take on responsibilities themselves. This tip translates both at work and home.

    I thought this picture was fitting. Make time in your life for play. Get your hands dirty. Spend time with your children so you can be a part of these defining moments for them. This is my daughter seven years ago.  I remember taking this picture and sharing the joy she had with playing in the mud. Time is short. Make time for what you love.

C-Secrets from CAP COM’s C-Level Unveiled

CAP COM’s C-Level is driven by a powerful female leader who believes in 23 key priorities that drive both personal and professional success. These are called “Paula’s Principles” written by our President/CEO Paula A. Stopera. These principles are the foundation for CAP COM’s leading workplace culture and best-in-class customer service that is driven from the top down. I’ve gotten Paula’s approval to share these principles to inspire and empower more business women (and men) to drive change and take control of their goals and aspirations both personally and professionally.

This is a perfect opportunity to reiterate and add to what was brought to the table during the WBC’s April program “C-Secrets from the C-Level” led by a powerful and influential group of women who paved their own pathways to success and shared tips they learned on their journeys. The more we share, collaborate and build each other up, the better we will serve our families, businesses, communities and selves.

Paula’s Principles for Personal and Professional Success:

  1. Family comes first!
  2. Have a sense of humor.
  3. Balance your life.
  4. Is it life threatening? If yes, then commit as if nothing else matters. If not, don’t’ make it bigger than it is.
  5. Don’t fuel drama-and don’t be a martyr.
  6. Deliver plus one!
  7. Never make it about you. There are no egos in leadership positions.
  8. Communication matters.
  9. Be organized and control your time.
  10. Be able to prioritize and let go when it’s appropriate. You cannot control everything.
  11. Do your own dirty work.
  12. Tell the truth!
  13. Find the best in people-not the worst.
  14. Surround yourself with differences not comfort.
  15. Have fun.
  16. Be careful of negative energy.
  17. Lose the defensiveness.
  18. Get away from here and relearn.
  19. Have a friend.
  20. Never let them see you sweat.
  21. Set high standards for performance.
  22. Inspire and believe.
  23. And remember…it’s up to you!

2012 Paula Stopera