Kat Koppett – Woman of Excellence, Excellence in Business

Kat Koppett is a Woman of Excellence on Thursday, March 7, 2019, at CAP COM headquarters in Colonie, N.Y. (Cindy Schultz for the Times Union)

Kat Koppett talks about the turning point for her in her life that lead her to be named a 2019 Woman of Excellence:

In my early 20’s, I was temporarily paralyzed. Rather than pounding the pavement looking for work in New York, I found myself back in California at my parent’s house re-learning how to walk. Voices warred inside my head. I needed to get back! I was missing my life! I was an actor; I loved NY. I had been defined in my own mind – and the mind of most of the people I knew  – by that place and that vocation – for as long as I could remember. 
But secretly, in my heart, something else whispered. I was relieved. I had an out. Now, all I had to do was learn to walk. No need to audition. No need to find a crappy day job. No need to send out hundreds of pictures and resumes no one would ever open. Or to do free jobs in terrible shows to be maybe “seen”. 
Secretly, I hated auditioning. I wasn’t even sure I liked acting. I loved being part of a community that valued intimacy and expressiveness and collaboration and human connection. I loved telling stories and commanding attention. But I hated being judged on my looks, and being told I wasn’t … pretty enough, tall enough, old enough, blond enough, dark enough, ethnic enough. I hated spending 90% of my time competing for jobs so someone else could give me permission to do what I loved doing. I didn’t love being physically uncomfortable on location in service of selling insurance. 
I didn’t quit then. I wasn’t courageous enough. But the seed was planted. My illness literally forced me to stop and assess at a time when my impulse would have been double-down full speed ahead and ignore my inner voices.  Eventually, I chose to go to graduate school in Organizational Psychology and grow the applied side of my theatre and improv work, which is what led me here today. 
In improv, we talk about “Mistakes as gifts” I suppose you could say I could attribute being named a Woman of Excellence today to gifts I was given in the “mistake” of my illness.

Sign up for the 28th annual Women of Excellence luncheon on May 30th here.

For more information:

Email Debbie: derck@capitalregionchamber.com 

Experience American Milestones with the Albany Symphony

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Experience the beauty and artistry of the Albany Symphony at the American Music Festival: Sing Out! New York, a bold weekend-long festival of innovative concerts, NEW music, and artistic happenings around Troy, NY.

Sing Out! New York embodies a “revolutionary spirit.” while celebrating and exploring key American milestones —the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment, celebrating the passage of women’s right to vote and the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, a definitive moment in the LGBTQ rights movement.

Hear thrilling new works come to life and witness for yourself how the Albany Symphony and Grammy®-winning Maestro David Alan Miller are reshaping America’s musical landscape.

The Festival runs from May 30th to June 2nd in Troy, NY. Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony will also be featured during our Sing Out! New York Tour: June 6 – June 9 (multiple locations).

Get more information on this FREE event here.


Janine Robitaille – Woman of Excellence, Excellence in Management

Janine Robitaille is a Woman of Excellence on Thursday, March 7, 2019, at CAP COM headquarters in Colonie, N.Y. (Cindy Schultz for the Times Union)

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

“When I first started as Executive Director at IPH, we were a small organization with limited staff.  There was much to learn, but my biggest lesson was in humility.  The organization needed help, and I quickly learned that there were many people available for support if I just reached out.  Over the years, I have remained humble and honest with funders, the community, and my staff.  Recognizing limitations is just as important as recognizing strengths, and doing both has allowed me to establish and nurture supportive professional relationships that have helped my agency and myself, as an individual, continue to grow and achieve great success.”

Sign up for the 28th annual Women of Excellence luncheon on May 30th here.

For more information:

Email Debbie: derck@capitalregionchamber.com 

Submit Your Story for Voices in the Crowd


Submit Your Story!  

In preparation for our Voices in the Crowd event, we want to hear from you! 

Please share your story and you could be chosen to be featured as a speaker at our event on Tuesday, November 12th from 11:30am – 1:00pm at Wolferts Roost Country Club, 120 Van Rensselaer Boulevard, Albany.

This year’s theme is Rising Against the Tide. Your story should be told from your heart and tie back to business in order to align with the true mission of the Women’s Business Council. Your story should be 2 minutes in total. Call our Voices in the Crowd Submission Portal at 518-218-6622.

Daquetta Jones- Woman of Excellence, Excellence in Business Development

Women of Excellence
Daquetta Jones is a Woman of Excellence at CAP COM headquarters in Colonie, N.Y. (Cindy Schultz for the Times Union)

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 is difficult to select one thing or person as many people and things have contributed to my success. However, some choices and people that have inspired me in my life have led me to be named a Women of Excellence is my career path and work ethics that have helped change 1000’s of people’s life. To have the ability to help others enhance their lives, elevate themselves and see that the service combined with passion creates change for others in itself is inspiring. My son has always been my simple of motivation; inspiration to NOT give up no matter how challenging it may be or become. In addition, having a personal and professional support system, effective and passionate teams and people that believe in me, my purpose, life mission, passion and work ethic, inspires me to keep going! I’m inspired by the women that have elevated themselves and accomplished the impossible despite their plight.

It reminds me of my late grandmother Helen Chresfield words, “You will come against challenges in this world, but that doesn’t give you permission to give up!” Ana Rand once said, “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to STOP me!”

Sign up for the 28th annual Women of Excellence luncheon on May 30th here.

For more information:

Email Debbie: derck@capitalregionchamber.com 

Happy Earth Day and Arbor Day – Read on for Events in Our Area


From the desk of Lauren Axford, Executive Director of the Pine Hollow Arboretum

Happy Spring! We FINALLY have started seeing the long-awaited signs of spring. The bulbs I planted back in the fall (and forgot about until now) have started peaking up through the soil, I am awakened by the calls of migratory songbirds and my little kids are lulled to sleep by the chorus of spring peepers in our neighboring wetland. 

Despite the celebratory mood today’s weather has me in, I can’t help but think of how global climate change has already started to impact our lives.  As the director of a public arboretum with a large collection of Magnolia trees, I often get asked: “when is the best time to see the Magnolias?”  The truthful answer is, “I don’t know, I will keep you posted.”   For many years, the first weekend in April was when our early varieties started to bloom. Last year, it was the first weekend of May.  The year before that, we had little to no blossoms due to an erratic winter and unusually late hard frost.   Climate change is a critical issue that we, as inhabitants of Mother Earth, must address.  It is a global (and somewhat terrifying) issue that can easily feel overwhelming as an individual who wants to help alleviate the effects.  Luckily, there are 2 holidays coming up this month that provide ample opportunity for us all to take positive action on the issue of climate change for the benefit of future generations: Earth Day and Arbor Day!!

I wish you all a wonderful Earth Day AND Arbor Day and hope that we each find one small (or large!) way to celebrate and honor the “mother” that sustains us all!

International Mother Earth Day (aka Earth Day) – April 22, 2019

Earth Day has been recognized and celebrated around the world for many, many years. In 2009, the general assembly of the United Nations resolved to establish April 22nd as International Mother Earth Day.  Earth Day is an opportunity to reflect and honor the “mother” that provides all life and sustenance and is an opportunity to prompt a collective call to action for us all to be stewards and protectors of our planet.

There are many family-friendly Earth Day celebrations planned for the Capital Region (this list highlights just a few):

Earth Day Lot Clean Up – April 22nd – 11:00am – 4:00pm

  • 325 & 329 South Pearl Street, Albany
  • (Ice cream social at 3:00pm, please contact ACLB to register).

South End Earth Day Celebration – April 27th – 10:00am – 12:00pm

  • The Radix Center- 153 Grand Street, Albany
  • (Community projects from 10am-1pm and a block party at the Radix Center with live music, great food and great folks to celebrate with).

Earth Day in the Pine Bush – April 27th –9:00am – 12:00pm

  • Albany Pine Bush Preserve, 195 New Karner Rd #1
  • (Various conservation service projects, space limited, register atwww.albanypinebush.org/events).

Down to Earth: Practical Actions You Can Take to Heal Our Planet – April 30th – 5:00pm – 8:30pm

  • 405 Washington Avenue, Albany
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Arbor Day- April 26, 2019

Arbor Day was first established as a day to plant and call attention to trees by J. Morton Sterling in 1872 in a place not known for its trees- Nebraska. Mr. Sterling desired to plant trees in an attempt to improve the area’s aesthetics and environmental conditions in order to attract more settlers (it was then the Nebraska Territory). On the first official Arbor Day in 1872, it is said that Nebraskans planted 1 million trees! Since then, Arbor Day has become a nationally recognized holiday and is celebrated in all 50 states as well as in many other countries.

Trees provide so many benefits to our environment and our lives.  They improve air quality, they help to improve water quality and reduce storm runoff, they provide cooling effects in urban areas, they provide wildlife habitat, the list goes on and on.  Therefore, in my mind, Arbor Day is just as environmentally significant as Earth Day as trees are critical to combating the effects of global climate change for the benefit of generations to come.  As a mother, I especially appreciate this quote from the founder of Arbor Day:

“Arbor Day is not like other holidays. Each of those reposes on the past, while Arbor Day proposes for the future.”
– J. Sterling Morton

Here are a couple family-friendly events to celebrate Arbor Day in the Capital Region:

Arbor Day Celebration at the Historic Myers Residence- April 26th – 11:00am – 12:30pm

  • 194 Livingston Avenue, Albany
  • Join The “Albany Goes Green” collective, The Pine Hollow Arboretum and the Underground Railroad History Project as we plant a hedgerow of lilacs at the historic Myers Residence. No pre-registration required.

Arbor Day Celebration in historic Washington Park – April 27, 2019 – 9:00am-12:00pm

Sujata Chaudhry – Woman of Excellence, Excellence in the Professions

Women of Excellence
Sujata Chaudhry is a Woman of Excellence (Cindy Schultz for the Times Union).

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

“Reflecting on the question, I realize there isn’t one thing that has inspired me in life but many experiences that have shaped my passion for my work advancing Diversity and Inclusion within organizations, creating cohesive teams and promoting greater employee engagement.  Born in India, migrating to England then multiple locations in the United States, and growing up as one of three Indian children in rural Pennsylvania began the journey.  As a child of first-generation Indian parents of very humble means struggling to provide for their daughters, I strived to find an identity and a sense of belonging.  This challenge continued in my professional life as I found myself as one of the few ethnic women in my corporate positions.  My personal and professional experiences fueled my drive to want to assist others in similar situations by helping local and national organizations prepare for the challenges of incorporating diverse teams to work together in a collaborative, safe and rewarding environment. My passion and determination are what paved my way to starting Tangible Development, a diversity and inclusion consulting and training company. Tangible Development, my team, and all those that have supported, mentored, and believed in me have been my vehicle for positive change.  The journey and the people have led me to be named Woman of Excellence.”

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Sign up for the 28th annual Women of Excellence luncheon on May 30th here.

For more information:

Email Debbie: derck@capitalregionchamber.com