A Year in the Life: Women’s Business Council 2017

From the desk of Kate Renna, Development & Marketing Specialist at Whitney Young Health.

Can you believe 2017 is almost over with?

From guest speakers, to a panel discussion and to special events like the Women of Excellence Luncheon and Bold in Business, it has been an eventful year filled with lots of learning, networking and memories shared. With 2017 coming to a close, let us reflect on the incredible year the Women’s Business Council has had and all of the wonderful experiences we all shared together.

January 10th: New Year’s Resolution – Health & Well-Being First

The WBC  started the year off on a high-note with a presentation from Leigh Stringer, author of ‘The Healthy Workplace.’ The event highlighted the importance of businesses investing in health programs and healthy building to reduce stress and encourage healthy eating and exercise of their employees.

February 14th: The Evolution of Women in Business


In February, the WBC had the pleasure to hear from Joanne Kugler, Paula Stopera, Marcia White and Benita Zahn, four remarkable women and former Women of Excellence recipients, who shared their wisdom and expertise on how to be successful in the workplace, no matter what industry you work in.

April 11th: Improving Your BATing Average – Behaviors, Attiudes & Techniques


In March, Lorraine Ferguson, author of ‘Improving Your BATing Average,’ discussed with the WBC on how to not let your behavior, attitude and technique affect your professional and personal life.

May 16th: Inclusion Revolution

In May, the Inclusion Revolution took over! Sujata Chaudhry from Tanigble Development LLC spoke about how the meaning of inclusion in the workplace is rapidly changing due to the rise of millennials joining the workforce and how accepting all forms of diversity inspires creativity.

June 1st: Women of Excellence Luncheon

The biggest event of the year! The Hon. Victoria Graffeo, Suzie Mookherjee, MS, MD, FACC, Danielle Merfield, Kathleen Pingelski and Sarah Bowman, women from various walks of life, who have made incredible strives in their careers and the organizations they work for, were honored in front of friends, family and fellow colleagues.

September 19th: Women of Excellence Unplugged

After the awards were given out and we were able to get to know the five WOE award recipients the month prior, it was time for these women to share their stories on what inspires them, who are their role models and how they got where they are today.

October 4th: Member-Rita

When National Taco Day and networking come together, it brings the Member-Rita! This fun event was an opportunity for potential WBC members to connect with current ones while eating some great Mexican food and seeing fellow WBC member, Alissa Quinn show off her salsa skills!

October 13th: Bold in Business Annual Forum


We had the pleasure of Regina Calcaterra, author of ‘Etched in Sand’ and ‘Girl Unbroken,’ shared inspiring stories from her gut-wrenching childhood and how she was able to overcome and become an attorney, Executive Director of the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption and a New York Times Bestselling author.

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Check out more photos from WBC events from the past year above!

It’s safe to say this year was a great success for the Women’s Business Council! There is still time to join in on the WBC fun before the start of 2018. The Adopted Nonprofit Holiday Fundraiser will take place on Tuesday, December 12th at the Desmond Hotel & Conference Center. Get all of your holiday shopping done by taking part in the silent and live auctions, a wine pull, and a chance to win the Gift Card Tree with over a $1,000 worth in gift cards. All proceeds from the event go to Whitney Young Health, the Women’s Business Council’s 2017 Adopted Nonprofit.

You don’t want to miss this event! Buy your tickets here.

Then & Now: The Evolution of the Sports Bra

Have you ever thought about what life was like for active women before the invention of the sports bra? I, personally, took the thing for granted, until I saw ESPN’s mini-documentary on the subject earlier this year.

If you missed it, it’s worth 10 minutes of your time to watch: http://www.espn.com/espnw/video/16986423/

You’ll hear from three women – Lisa Lindahl, Hinda Miller and Polly Smith – about how they came up with the idea for the Jogbra. How before this invention, lots of women were simply didn’t participate in sports because it was either too uncomfortable or too embarrassing for them.

You’ll learn how the Jogbra came into popularity on the heels of Title IX, a piece of legislation widely considered to have had “a greater impact on American women’s sports than any other development in American history.” And how the sports bra just might be the next most important development for women in sports after that.

Pretty wild when you stop and think about it, right?!

The sports bra has been through quite an evolution since the Jogbra (just watch the ESPN video to the end to see what I mean). Nowadays, most women know the value of a good sports bra. And hopefully no girl is discouraged from athletic endeavors because she doesn’t have the right support.


Today, a sports bra ad from Under Armor reminds the world that women are unstoppable. And it sure doesn’t hurt to feel comfortable and supported while you’re taking on the world. So kudos to the innovative ladies who invented the Jogbra. They saw a problem that was limiting women’s potential, and they invented a solution for us all. 40 years later, it’s nice to see how far we’ve come.

Inspiration to Persevere

If you missed last week’s Women’s Business Council Program event, here is a testimonial from a past Women’s Business Council Women of Excellence recipient, Alissa Quinn.

“I listened to one of the most profound speakers, Regina Calcaterra, author of Etched in Sand, a NY Times best seller about her emotionally powerful story of how she endured a series of foster homes, abandonment and abuse living on the streets of Long Island with her four siblings.  My mind is spinning about all of the possible ways each one of us could do one thing to help an older child in foster care, incidentally a topic being tackled by the TV show, This is Us. Congratulations to the Women’s Business Council of the Capital Region Chamber for hosting such an inspiring and shining example of this exceptional professional woman who went on to become an attorney and Executive Director of New York State Utility Storm Preparation, appointed by Governor Cuomo. Calcaterra gives back to the community she survives, and is currently a partner of a law firm.”

Alissa Quinn
Alissa Quinn, Senior Vice President, UBS, The Quinn Wealth Management Group and Regina Calcaterra, Partner, Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP

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”.

7 Laws That Helped Women Make History in the Workforce

WBC event
Women’s Business Council- We are a force. 

As Women’s History month came to a close in March, I found this article on LinkedIn.  What caught my attention were the dates.  Take a quick look at the long history and recent history of the laws that have helped women in their fight for equality in the workplace.

  • Fair Labor Standard Act of 1938
  • The Equal Pay Act if 1963
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)
  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Action of 1978
  • The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993
  • Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994
  • The Affordable Care Act of 2010


om Spiggle, Principal at The Spiggle Law Firm
Published on March 31, 2017

“A woman baked cookies. She didn’t run marathons.”

No piece of modern health advice for both men and women is complete without the admonition to stay physically active. Experts now recommend 30 to 60 minutes of daily physical activity for optimal health. Images of women in exercise gear are everywhere, and entire clothing lines and stores are dedicated to women’s exercise fashion.

A look at women’s history shows that this is a fairly recent development.

When Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb requested a spot to run in the 1966 Boston Marathon, her application was denied with a terse letter. “Women aren’t allowed, and furthermore are not physiologically able,” the director of the race informed her.

Gibb ended up running the race as an unregistered entrant and finished the marathon in a time of 3:21:40. A historic picture shows her running in a swimsuit and shorts. She wore boys running shoes because no commercial women’s running gear was available.

Gibb 1966 Boston Marathon Getty Images
Getty Images: Roberta Gibb in the 1966 Boston Marathon

“People don’t really understand it now,” Gibb said in an interview in 2016. “It was so unbelievable that a woman could run the Boston marathon. A woman baked cookies. She didn’t run marathons.”

Following the introduction of Title IX in 1972, a larger portion of athletic budgets on college campuses was spent on female sports. The policy change would eventually lead to a 600% increase in the number of women playing college sports.

With spring just around the corner, many more runners are hitting the streets for their spring training. As women of all ages put on sports gear tailored for our bodies, special exercise bras, and properly fitting shoes, we have a lot to be thankful for. Not just for our health and strength, but also for those who took down barriers and dared to be different.

Tracking the trends in ‘blue’ vs. ‘pink’-collar jobs

As the Women’s Business Council celebrates 30 years of empowering women in business at every level, we’ve been taking a look back at how far we’ve come and thinking about what’s in store for the future.

When it comes to trends in jobs, it looks like things have changed quite a bit in the last 30 years. According to a recent article in the New York Times, lots of jobs predominantly done by men (like machine operator or welder, for example) have been disappearing, while occupations that employ mostly women are quickly growing.

If you take a look at the graphic in that NYT article, you’ll see a depiction of how the fastest-growing jobs, as predicted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are predominantly done by women, with only a few exceptions. Jobs in the healthcare industry in particular, from home health aides to nurse practitioners, are more than 80% female and are projected to grow significantly in the years ahead.

What seems crazy to me as a casual observer is that when men who enter these fields, which the story refers to as “pink-collar” occupations, they are paid more and promoted faster than women. Sociologically speaking, this trend is referred to as the “glass escalator.”

Perhaps that’s why this chart reflecting data from the Census Bureau for Albany, NY shows higher average salaries for men in common jobs including those most likely dominated by women:


On the bright side, I suppose, the NYT article notes that women enter into male-dominated fields more than men enter female-dominated fields. And those male-dominated fields tend to be well-paid. Yet on the flip side, other studies point to drops in pay, negative perceptions, and more health problems as women take over male-dominated roles.

So where does that leave us? I’d say we still have room to grow when it comes to promoting women in the workplace. But don’t take my word for it…

Join us for our next WBC program, The Evolution of Women in Business, on February 14 at The Desmond Hotel & Conference Center. Hear from a panel of past Women of Excellence Award recipients on how they predict women in the workplace will be propelled toward advancement in the future.

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/>

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.

Women in Business: Then & Now

This year, the Women’s Business Council is celebrating 30 years of promoting the role of women in the workplace! That got us thinking a lot about what life was like for working women in 1986, and we found some pretty interesting statistics…

chalabi-datalab-dearmona0205A post over at FiveThirtyEight explains that less than a quarter of women out-earned their husbands 30 years ago. Today, women are the primary breadwinners in 38% of heterosexual American marriages.

According to the Pew Research Center, just 20 years ago, there weren’t any female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Today, there are 26. That’s still a very small percentage (5.2), but at least there’s been some progress.

Young Women Outpacing Young Men in College CompletionYoung women were just beginning to outpace young men in college graduation rates in the late 80’s. Today, 37% of women ages 25-29 hold at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to just 30% of men in the same age range. And women today are more likely to continue their education, earning the majority of master’s (60%) and doctorates (51%) in 2012.

We found some great data in Working Mother’s 30th anniversary Best Companies report. For example: in the late 1980’s, only 5 out of Working Mother’s 30 Best Companies offered fully paid maternity leave. Today, all 100 Best Companies offer fully paid leave to full-time employees.

All 100 Best Companies also offer flextime and telecommuting, compared to just 7 out of 30 who offered flextime in 1986. Back then, only 2 Best Companies allowed employees to work from home.

The Narrowing of the Gender Wage Gap, 1980-2012Of course, women in the workplace continue to face a gender wage gap. And some reports suggest that men are going to keep out-earning women in America until 2058! But going back to Pew Research Center data, we find at least a few promising numbers:

First, we see that the gender wage gap is narrowing, especially for young women. In 1980, women’s hourly wages were less than 70% those of men. By 2012, that percentage had increased to 84% among all female workers, and 93% among female workers ages 25-34.

The Pew Research report also points out that (although men’s hourly earnings remain higher than women’s overall) wages are trending up for women and down for men over the last 30 years. Median hourly earnings (in 2012 dollars) were just $11.94 for women in 1980, compared to $14.90 in 2012.

Much of our fact-finding showed progress for women in the workplace over the last 30 years. But it also showed lots of room for continued improvement. As the Women’s Business Council celebrates 30 years in the Capital Region, it’s clear that we have lots of work left to do.

During our anniversary year, we’ll be looking back at some of the big moments and influential women who’ve shaped the WBC since 1986. Keep following the WBC Voice and join us at one of our upcoming events to come along on the journey!