A Mini Summer Guide from the WBC

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

While we all love the summertime, things are a little different than usual this year due to necessary standards, but that doesn’t mean we want to sit around and do nothing. 
So the big question is “what is there to do this summer?!” 
A group of our WBC members were able to share some ideas on how to keep busy, while staying safe: 
Go to an Italian, Greek, or Armenian Drive-Thru Food Festival! 
St. Sophia is having Greek Feast on July 10th, 11th and 12th.  
Check out the link for more details : https://www.stsophiaalbany.org/greek-feast?fbclid=IwAR2__tcScngwU2B_pIu5nuJ9BcqF19hbpnQdJ5wS5IfVdybzoJqAKp-11SE

Have Outdoor Competitions!  
Buy a corn hole set, ladder toss, KanJam, a giant Jenga tower, croquet, horse shoes or other similar fun outside games and have an all day tournament.

Take on a New Sport or Activity!
Kayaking rentals are still available  http://www.upstatekayakrentals.com/walk-up-locations.html, you can also find rentals in Mechanicville, Saratoga, and other areas.

Attend a virtual 5K Run, check out this link to see which ones you can join: https://www.runningintheusa.com/race/virtual/ 

Go on a Railbike adeventure in Lake George : https://www.revrail.com/ 

Go Camping!  
As of June 22nd all NYS Park Campgrounds opened so families can truly get away and enjoy the great outdoors whether it’s camping, renting cottages or cabins. It’s super easy to social distant and a chance to visit/explore a new part of our great state. People can make reservations here: https://parks.ny.gov/camping/ 

Go Raspberry/Blueberry Picking!
Indian Ladder Farms hours are: Tuesday-Friday 9am-1pm, Saturday -Sunday 9am-4pm, closed Monday , but please check the website for constant updates: https://www.indianladderfarms.com/ 

Go To The Drive Ins!
The drive ins are still open and are playing old classics to recently released films. Check out and see what Malta drive-ins is playing this weekend https://www.maltadrivein.com/ 
Along with other drive-ins near you.

Drive-in concert series! 
The Troy Music Hall is having drive-in concerts, check out when their next one is: https://www.troymusichall.org/


Changing Jobs During Changing Times

The coronavirus has had a huge impact on our lives and it has changed the way we work in really significant ways. So what if you find yourself starting a new job during this strange time? Two of our WBC members have found themselves in just that situation, so we asked them to share a bit about their experiences. 

Kimmy Venter started a new job as Director of Communications for Ronald McDonald House Charities® of the Capital Region in late April.  

I truly never expected to make a change like this in the middle of a pandemic, but so far it’s been a really positive experience. The conditions were certainly not ideal to start a new job with a completely new team of people I wouldn’t be able to meet in person. Luckily, my new colleagues have been extremely warm and welcoming and we’re finding lots of ways to make remote connections right now. 

Before my first day “on the job” I came across this article which offers some great advice: https://www.themuse.com/advice/starting-new-job-remotely-coronavirus. Now that I’m more than a month into my new role, I think I can safely say that all the tips about communication are key. 

The article recommends learning how your team communicates. More specifically, I’d say learn how your team communicates during quarantine! In my last job, people were spread across multiple locations, so technology was a key part of communicating even before the coronavirus. In my new role, I’m part of a very small team of staff who usually work together in person from the same place every day. During normal times, I imagine there’s not a huge need for group chats, video conferences or even lengthy email chains, because the people who need to connect with each other have ample opportunity to do so face to face.  

Obviously, things are different in quarantine. I’m learning how my new team communicates under the circumstances. And I’m doing my best to share some of the tools that have worked for me in the past to help make this easier for all of us. That said, I expect to have a whole new set of norms to learn when I finally get to join my new team in person full time. I don’t know exactly when that will be, but I am definitely looking forward to it! 

Emily Dessingue started a new job as the Regional Philanthropy Officer for the American Red Cross of Eastern New York in the beginning of June. 

Similar to Kimmy’s answer, I never thought I would be switching careers in the middle of the pandemic, but I saw this as a huge learning opportunity.  

I believe 2020 has been the ultimate year for problem solving. We’ve had to quickly transition our lives, while trying to keep everything afloat and running smoothly. Admittedly, I was nervous to start a new career because I’m a hands-on learner, and now I was going to have to learn everything virtually. 

Luckily, the American Red Cross has done a wonderful job with making me feel comfortable and supported, given the circumstances. Our Chief Development Officer constantly tells our staff ‘don’t suffer in silence” and “don’t feel like you’re alone on an island.” I found that to be impactful because a person can easily feel frustrated, overwhelmed, or defeated when learning something completely new online. So, my advice is to constantly ask questions, do things in repetition, reach out for help and most importantly, be patient with yourself. You’re not going to learn everything in a day, week, or probably not even in a few months, but always try your best, have open communication and be a problem solver.  

Author: Kimmy Venter & Emily Dessingue

The Food Pantries for the Capital District staying on as Adopted Nonprofit for 2021

The Women’s Business Council is pleased to announce that The Food Pantries for the Capital District will stay on as the Adopted Nonprofit for all of 2021.

“On behalf of our more than 65 food pantries and the 65,000 people they serve, thank you to the Women’s Business Council for supporting critical efforts to make sure people have food across the Capital Region.  Now, more than ever, coordinated food assistance efforts are helping people impacted by the pandemic and economic distress.  Together we can do more than anyone of us alone.  It is an honor to continue our partnership through 2021.  #localimpact #endhunger #strongertogether”

– Natasha Pernicka, Executive Director, The Food Pantries of the Capital District

The Capital Region Chamber is thrilled the Women’s Business Council is continuing to partner with The Food Pantries for the Capital District through the end of 2021 as their adopted nonprofit. We look forward to bringing more awareness and support to The Food Pantries for the Capital District through 2021!

– Marna Redding, Vice President Member Services, Capital Region Chamber

“It’s been a year of uncertainty for so many. I am so pleased to announce that the Women’s Business Council of the Capital Region Chamber is proud to have The Food Pantries for the Capital District as our 2021 adopted nonprofit. Now, more than ever, hunger crisis in America is at the highest to help those in need. Food Pantries for the Capital District help fill this need. The WBC is proud to support and help our nonprofit throughout the entire year. No one should ever go hungry!”

-Susan Zongrone, Chair of the Women’s Business Council

In a spirit of cooperation, The Food Pantries for the Capital District believes we can do more together than any one of us can alone. The Food Pantries is a coalition of more than 65 food pantries in Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, and Schenectady Counties. The Food Pantries’ vision is to end hunger in the Capital Region. Last year, their member pantries provided approximately 57,853 individuals with enough food for more than 3.2 million meals. Yet with more than 89,000 people (including 27,000 children) affected by food insecurity in Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, and Schenectady Counties, there is more work to be done.

To find ways to help this organization, please visit here.

5 Tips for a Nimble Online Business

From the desk of Anna Krusinski, owner of Willow & Birch Apothecary,

8 Steps to Building an Established Online Business

The pandemic has brought with it so many lessons. As a business owner, this is an eye-opening experience that has taught me the importance of being nimble and building flexibility into my business model.

No matter what type of business you’re in, you’ve probably already recognized the importance of having an online storefront. This has been especially crucial during the quarantine, and I’ll wager that having an online shop will continue to be a valuable tool for most businesses moving forward.

Here are a few ways to implement new online features to attract (and keep!) more loyal customers and clients. 

1. Create attractive shipping options. Many of us now do the bulk of our shopping online and most shoppers have come to expect free shipping. If you have a product business, consider offering free shipping, flat-rate shipping, or free local pick-up. Customers like having options, and they love saving money! 

2. Make it easy for shoppers to re-order. Create a subscription option with apps like ReCharge that enable shoppers to set up automatic re-orders of their favorite items or services. It’s an easy and effective way to build customer loyalty. It can also boost word-of-mouth as customers are more likely to become fans and will spread word to their friends and families.

3. Offer new ways to pay. In addition to standard credit card processing, platforms like Shopify make it seamless to accept payment from other providers like Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal. Services like Klarna and Afterpay also offer shoppers the ability to pay in installments, over time.

4. Create loyalty bonuses. You’ve likely heard the rule of thumb that it costs five times more to attract a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. That’s why building customer loyalty is huge, especially for small businesses with limited marketing budgets. What are some ways you can delight your customers or clients to thank them for sticking around? This can come in the form of discounts, free gifts, or exclusive bonus material. Get creative!

5. Reward referrals. Chances are, you already have at least a few fans of your work. So why not encourage them to help you spread the word? Offer referral rewards to customers and clients who bring you new business. This can be done simply by adding a “How did you hear about us” section at check-out and sending a discount or a free gift to anyone who brings you a new customer.

These are just a few of the tips and tools I’ve implemented to help my business stay strong during this rough transition. What are some ways you’re learning to remain flexible during the pandemic and beyond?

Anna Krusinski is the owner of Willow & Birch Apothecary, a Victorian-inspired apothecary and perfumery in Bloomville, NY where she creates natural bath, beauty, and fragrances for old souls and modern romantics. She is also a professional editor and writer and has been published in Upstate Life Magazine, Enchanted Living Magazine, and more. Learn more about her work at http://editsbyanna.wordpress.com/.

One thing you haven’t done in a while but have started to do since COVID.

From the desk of Karen Lombardo, Owner Put Another Way

Benefits of Self-Reflection - Zilvold Coaching & Training

As the Capital Region enters Phase Two of the reopening plan, we look ahead to returning to our offices, our events, meetings, and social gatherings. The self-quarantine and isolation mandates coupled with social distancing have provided us with time on our hands…. sometimes time well spent.

During a recent WBC Engagement Committee meeting the topic of discussion turned to remote living and working. Social distancing and society’s pause has been a blessing and a curse all at the same time. As the discussion deepened, we all began to share things that we have begun to do that we haven’t done in years. Here are some of the things we learned about each other that morning:

Laurie: I wanted to share with you that I have started coloring again! I was given a very large box of crayons a couple of years ago along with some cool coloring books and they sat on my bookshelf. I took them out one night and found its great anxiety reliever! I loved coloring as a kid and realized I still love as an adult.

Kimmy: As the weather gets nicer and we are still staying home for the most part, I’m getting more and more into running. I like to go on different routes for each run so I can explore and see new things around town. It feels like a little adventure every time!

Leslie: “I started running for the first time in a decade to keep my mind in a good place and I walk two miles every day with my 18-year-old HS senior which I would not have done if we had not been at home. I think that time is precious, and I am thankful for it.” 

Emily: I have been going for bike rides and riding through state parks looking for turtles, frogs, and other types of wildlife, which I haven’t done in about 10 years!

Susan: I purchased a bike and helmet…so fun!  I have not been on a bike since I was a kid!

Kate: I’ve been a huge fan of walking/jogging and so far, I’ve been averaging 5 miles a day for the last 2.5 months. I mostly walk through my neighborhood, but sometimes I mix it up and go somewhere like The Crossings and Lake George. It’s nice to get the fresh air and sun after sitting at my home desk 9-5 plus it gives some normalcy back.

Marna: I have enjoyed bike rides with my family, amazing games of Uno, and cooking and preparing what feels like 1000+ meals! 😊

Joslyn: I would say for me, being home has taught me better self-care and allowed me to slow down. It’s oftentimes hard when burning the candle at both ends. Being home has allowed me to catch up on things and focus on myself for a while.

Karen: I cannot believe it, but I am actually enjoying Vinyasa Yoga and Barre. The classes are a wonderful compliment to my usual outdoor cardio walking and running.

Kathy: Since spending so much more time at home I have had the opportunity to uncover my sewing table and get creative! It’s been a long time since I took the time to work on sewing projects.  

We welcome you all to find something that makes your heart soar, your face reflects a full-on smile, and your body to just feel good. We look forward to being together again soon, in person, and sharing the wonderful things we have learned about ourselves and each other.

Equality of Opportunity

The Capital Region Chamber will join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce national townhall event on June 25 where business and community leaders will discuss concrete actions that can be taken by government and the private sector to address inequality through education, employment, entrepreneurship, and criminal justice reform.

“As an organization, our Chamber works to ensure that the Capital Region is a vibrant place to work and live. We recognize the importance of diversity and equity and understand we must do more. We are committed to listening, learning and to being part of the solution to reverse disparities to ensure fairness and shared opportunity,” said Mark Eagan, Capital Region Chamber President and CEO.

Read more here: https://lnkd.in/exPPkXc

WBC Member Spotlight: Kim Siciliano, YWCA of NorthEastern NY

Kim Siciliano is the Chief Executive Officer of YWCA NorthEastern NY. Serving as the organization’s top leader since December 2016, she has been an employee of YWCA NENY since 2001. During her 19-year tenure at the agency, she has overseen all program areas, including child care, fitness, breast cancer awareness and prevention, housing, and domestic violence. As CEO she provides guidance and supervision to six Program Directors and 70+ employees. Siciliano firmly believes in YWCA’s mission work of eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. Outside of work she is currently the Secretary of the Schenectady Kiwanis Club and a Past President, the Immediate Past President of the Capital District Child Care Coordinating Council Board of Directors, the Vice President of Crossroads Center for Children, and a member of the Schenectady Business & Professional Women’s Club. Additionally, she is a member of the Schenectady County COVID-19 Coalition leadership team and co-chairs the Housing and Shelter Focus Group for moving forward/re-opening. 

What do you love most about what you do?

For 16 years, I was part of the YW team as a Program Director and as part of the Leadership Team steering the destiny of our organization. Now, in year 20 as the CEO, I work with an incredible group of professional staff members who all support the mission work we do at the YW every day. For 132 years, YWCA NENY has thousands of people who came together to support our community. The rich history of the YW reminds me that whatever I do, whatever we do, as a team and as individuals, creates our legacy and our place in history here. I am proud knowing how successful we have become in just three years of my assuming the core leadership role. Our team has struggled, been in despair, found solutions, succeeded and overcome challenges together. That is an amazing feeling. Walking in and being greeted by staff, residents and clients alike, is as if this is our home away from home and we are neighbors, friends and community change agents all in one. 

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?

Stay sassy! Always be yourself. Never try to be anyone else. Your success in life is directly connected to channeling the person you are meant to be into everything that you do. Trying to fit into someone else’s picture or mold of what or who you should be will only stifle your growth.  Try new things, meet new people and stand up for what you believe, even if you’re the only one talking. This too shall pass.  Life is a series of ups and downs, good days and bad days, stay the course and know that wherever you are right now is temporary. Whatever you do, do it with pizazz!

What is the best advice you have ever received?

Can’t think of just one thing! Some of the best advice I have received is that remember how you affect others, as the things you say and do may change their life and yours.  Always give support, a listening ear, and an open mind to any discussion.  Leave behind negativity and toxic situations and focus on your goals, but find time to recharge.

For more information about the YWCA, please go to: http://www.ywca-neny.org

The Food Pantries of the Capital District is Here2Help!

According to Feeding America, in Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, and Schenectady county, over 89,000 people are food insecure. Out of that number, 27,000 are babies and children. With the occurrence of COVID 19, the Food Pantries of the Capital District is now more than ever motivated to help. They are working hard to ensure that our local food pantries are prepared for these circumstances that are devastating to our most vulnerable community members. Please consider helping this amazing organization by one of the following:

  • Make a cash donation 
  • Donate food, personal hygiene, household products, and diapers to your neighborhood pantries.  Find your neighborhood pantry here. Please call ahead of time – that way they can tell you exactly what they need.
  • You can find their donation link here : https://thefoodpantries.z2systems.com/np/clients/thefoodpantries/donation.jsp?campaign=75&&test=true
  • Volunteer
    • ​They ARE still accepting individuals and groups looking to support our work via volunteering.  Individuals can submit your volunteer application here.  
    • Corporations, organizations or other groups looking to lend a hand, you can connect with Kathy Marco at 518-458-1167 x104.

If you’d like to learn more about the Food Pantries of the Capital District, please visit https://www.thefoodpantries.org/home.html.

Building a Culture of Success

From the desk of Sharon A. Burstein, President and CEO, Sharon Burstein International

Here’s a question for you. How would you describe the business culture of your company or organization? Business culture affects internal and external success. Many of you reading this may not even know your business’ culture. This is something vital and yet is often a guarded secret or so unknown that it causes eyes to glaze over.

The culture of a company combines, its communication, collaboration and innovation. It begins with a company mission statement. Should your company not have one, stop right here and work to create one (20 words or less). Your mission is a declaration of your vision, values, and who you are.

Look at successful companies and you will most often find a strong, transparent culture, that everyone knows. It is a first step to building effective teams. Look at the growth of a company and you find a direct correlation to business growth, employee, engagement, employee retention, job satisfaction and work performance.

As you grow your company and department, remember it is not just the skill sets you are looking to fill, it is about how people fit into your company culture, values and visions. Are they dedicated? Are they team players? Do they know and understand your company mission?

Associates in any organization enjoy working in a culture they believe in, respect and trust. Share your visions for now and the future. Looking to build greater success? Begin with a strong company culture at the forefront of where you are today and your visions for tomorrow.

International Women’s Day 2020: Insights And Inspiration From Women Leading The Way

Forbes writer, Moira Forbes writes, “Who inspires today’s most powerful women? As we strive for success in the decade ahead, the community of role models and collaborators around us can be instrumental in shaping new thinking, unlocking opportunity and closing the gap between ambition and reality. 

“On this International Women’s Day, I asked five female leaders who inspire me to share the entrepreneurs and changemakers who’ve been a motivating force in their own lives. Watch Zola’s Shan-Lyn Ma, Holly Ridings of NASA, SAP’s Jennifer Morgan and Katherine Ryder of Maven recount the wisdom they’ve gained from women they admire most, and remind us that when we lift each other, we lift all.”

Click here to watch the quick one minute video.