Voices in the Crowd From “There is No Finish Line: Defining Success through Passion and Purpose”

Becky Daniels, ED Discover Schenectady
I really loved the question posed to our table about motivation and the change that happens when you’re able to reframe your motivation from “working harder” to “adding value.” Coming from a previous job in a corporate environment, I struggled to feel like my contributions made a tangible impact on my company or community. Transitioning to a role with an organization where I can see every day that what I do is making a difference to my community has, without a doubt, made me want to work harder, rather than working more for the sake of working more. My new role as the Executive Director of Discover Schenectady aligns my professional skills and abilities, with my personal passion for growing and giving back to the community that I love and call home. Aligning my work with my values and passion has been a game-changer for me and I cannot imagine doing anything else.


Adrianne Rickson, Director of Career Services, Maria College
My mission in life is to motivate students, family, and friends to make their life their own; you can do anything, so take the reins, and do what you love to do.  There is only one person in this world that will take the very best care of us and that is us, so look in that mirror and have a conversation with that person.  When the speaker addressed Mission, Passion, and Purpose… My mission is to have passion and purpose in everything that I do, every single day…and to practice what I preach!




Alyssa Stevens
Marketing Major, Class of 2019
The College of Saint Rose, Huether School of Business
My biggest takeaway from the WBC event was the message of the guest speaker, Jaime Butler Binley. As a marketing student, I really gained insight into what success means, from a woman in business. I liked how she stressed that there is no finish line to success. We can have big goals that take years to fulfill, but if we set small obtainable goals to meet over time we are successful at every step of the way. For me, this was very helpful because I am often overwhelmed by my large goals, as a junior in college looking for internships I have faith that I will meet my goal of becoming a social media marketing manager through time. You are always learning and growing and it is important to never give up on your dreams no matter what stage of life you are in.

Voices in the Crowd Call For Entries

Have you ever been so captivated by someone’s personal story that it changed your outlook on life, the way you interact with others, how you conduct business, what goals you set for yourself? Join the Women’s Business Council for a captivating group of stories inspired by Moth Radio that will expose you to a powerful network of people in this Region who you may have never seen or heard from before!

Hear short, live stories relating to the business world presented by 7  “storytellers” who will voice their varying perspectives and personal journeys relating to their careers – some making brave, hard choices where other paths may have been paved by an aha moment. All stories will stir the fearlessness in you and leave you with actionable advice you can pack up “to go”!

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 November 13, 2018! Your story should be told from your heart, in a short concise manner, two minutes total. No cliffhangers please! Your story should in some way tie back to business in order to align with the true mission of the Women’s Business Council.

Story Theme: Risky Business

“If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done,” said author Tiffany Dufu. What story do you have that aligns with taking risks and reaping rewards in business? We want to hear it!

How to Share:

Call our Voices in the Crowd Submission Portal: 518-992-6511

Be prepared to share the following via voice message:

Name, Phone Number, Email Address, Your Story-In a Short 2 Minute Pitch

Deadline for Submissions:

April 30, 2018

Chosen “Voices in the Crowd” will be notified in June, 2018.

Here are some story telling tips and tricks from Moth Radio, our inspiration for this event!

WBC Annual Holiday Fundraiser Voices in the Crowd

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


Pictured: WBC committee members setting up for the Holiday Fundraiser.

On Tuesday, December 12th, the Capital Region Chamber Women’s Business Council ended the year on a high (and generous) note with their annual Holiday Fundraiser. Thousands of dollars were raised to benefit Whitney Young Health, the WBC’s 2017 Adopted Nonprofit.

As recapped in a previous blog, “A Year in the Life: Women’s Business Council 2017,” 2017 for the WBC was a wonderful year filled with lots of learning, networking and memories shared. Fellow WBC members spoke with their fellow colleagues, asking: What did you enjoy most about the WBC this year?

Carol H

“I love the non-profit they sponsored! Whitney Young Health is a great organization that provides critical services in our community, and I’m so appreciative of what the WBC did for them this year.” – Carol Hausamann, Marvin & Company, Member of the Board of Directors at Whitney Young Health.

Check out some more photos from the Holiday Fundraiser below. Don’t forget! The WBC is starting the year off 2018 with a program with Robbin Jorgensen, called “Ignite: Owning the Power to be You.” Get your tickets here.

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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

Women of Excellence Unplugged- What advice did you take away from these women?

At the event on Tuesday, Benita Zahn, the phenomenal moderator, asked the women several insightful questions that provided great advice to the audience made up of both women and men.

One of the two-part questions she asked the women was, “Do you ever think about reinventing yourself and how do you stay relevant?”

It was a question that I asked the lovely woman that I  sat next to, Dorcey Applyrs.  I believe you will see Dorcey on the dais in the future.  To me, she is a woman of excellence.  Briefly, she is currently the 2017 Ambassador for Girls, Inc.  She is the councilwoman for Albany’s First Ward and is the Faculty Program Director for the Public Health School of Health Sciences for Excelsior College.  Her answer below is likely the reason she is so accomplished.


Do you think about reinventing yourself?

“Yes, ALL of the time! I am innately introspective. I constantly think about ways to satisfy those inner thoughts and feelings that challenge me to live my best life and simply be happy. This requires me to think about who and where I am in the context of the present and future. My life experiences have taught me that evolution is a necessary part of living life to its fullest.  Failing to be intentional about change and reinventing myself can only result in stunted growth, complacency and not being fulfilled.”


For me, honoree, Dr. Suzie Mookherjee’s “live your truth” and Dorcey’s advice about failing to be intentional about change can only result in stunted growth are two of the many pieces of inspirational advice I took away from the event.

What struck you as being an eye-opener or made you nod your head in agreement?





Voices in the Crowd- Evolution of Women in Business- Advice from the Moderator and Panelists



Alissa M. Quinn- Moderator
Senior Vice President – Wealth Management
The Quinn Wealth Management Group at UBS Financial Services 

“My favorite question that the panel answered was how they balanced activism/feminism in helping create social equity. They shared how they have ‘earned the right to be at the table,’ and now ‘make sure their voices are heard,’ promoting equity for all.  The panelists stressed the importance of being good listeners and skillful negotiators, knowing your worth and not being afraid to ask for what you deserve.  Some pieces of advice that stood out most to me were ‘follow your passion,’ and ‘find something you love to do and do it!’ The panel suggested, don’t be afraid to try new roles, utilize your strengths, talents, and skills & continue professional training to make yourself more valuable.”

“The most important advice I would give to women in business is to set goals for yourself, write them down, have a plan, work hard, have the highest level of integrity, surround yourself with like-minded professionals, focus on your family and friends, stay connected, take care of yourself, give back to the community, have gratitude, be willing to ask for help, mentor others, and most of all, be your ‘authentic self.'”

“I have always lived by the motto, ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’  I believe in developing personal and professional relationships, one at a time, and cherishing those relationships over time.  On our business team, our role is to learn how we can best help others actively plan for their entire lives.  What helps our team succeed is spending quality time understanding our clients’ concerns, hopes and dreams and partnering with them to develop customized plans to help them achieve their goals and objectives.”


The Panelists:

Paula Stopera – President & CEO of CAP COM Federal Credit Union

“‘Success doesn’t happen by chance, it happens by choice.’  This statement should be very thought provoking for all of us.  How do we define success and how do we achieve it?”

“The simple truth is that success does need to be defined for you to realize what it will mean to you.  There will be times when success may be starting a family while continuing your career.  It may be working towards a specific promotion.  Or it may be finding more time to spend with loved ones.  All of this requires one of the most important skills in your life and that is planning.  Nothing will happen without a well thought out plan.

“Be careful of allowing fear to cloud your path.  When you are facing fear in moving forward with your goals, list on a piece of paper the pros and cons of the decision or choice you are trying to make.  Many times the fears we terrorize ourselves with are self-imposed.  Think about that for a minute.  Setting realistic outcomes and time frames are also critical.  Planning for career and personal success is one of the most important things you can do to achieve success.  I wish you luck!”

“Find an organization that you have an interest and a passion for and get involved.  Learn about what they do in our communities and find one that will allow you to contribute to meaningful change.  This will help you to learn what is really of importance in your life and allow you to grow as a professional.  People that are passionate get noticed.  Don’t get involved in just anything and spread yourself too thin for a resume builder.  Find programs or organizations that allow for real and meaningful change and then get involved with your body, mind, and spirit.  This will help you to find a real and meaningful career!”

Marcia White – Former President and Executive Director of SPAC

“Learn when to jump in, and when to jump out. Learn to say ‘no’ more often, so you can be present in the moment as often as possible.”

“Don’t take negotiations personally. Focus on the goal, and be willing to be the last person standing. But if you want to be the only winner, you’re not going to win.”

“Have the courage to decide whether or not your current professional situation is something you want to do. If you’re not in a position you’re passionate about, you shouldn’t be there. Life is too short.”

“Realize your strengths. Find out who you are. Develop your own leadership style. You are not like anyone else.”

Joanne Kugler – Senior Executive, Global Operations and Integration at GE

“My career in IT helped me get comfortable with being uncomfortable. This really served me in both my professional and personal lives, because it helped me understand what I love, and what I don’t. So get comfortable with being uncomfortable: know what you love to do, and also know what you don’t love to do.”

“Influence a decision that you can walk out of there and support. The decision that prevails isn’t always going to be the decision you absolutely want.”

“When you’re feeling like you’re in survival mode, step back, think, and talk about what’s really important to you. Take a time out, make a list, and study where you’re spending your time.”

“Early in my career at GE, I thought I had to wear a tie to work because that’s what everyone else did. In a way, we all have ‘ties’ we think we need to wear in our professional lives. But that can be so limiting. Never stop growing your skills, your network, or your experiences. If you do that, then by default, you’re going to grow your courage. Don’t be afraid to ‘take your tie off.’”






Voices in the Crowd- Bold In Business

Woman Up! Overcome the 7 Deadly Sins that Sabotage Your Success

Do you have the Kindness conundrum?  or the Affirmation addiction?

Author Aimee Cohen gave a lively and humorous presentation about what she terms as the “7 Deadly Sins.”  I spoke with one voice in the crowd who had a few great takeaways from the event that was held on October 28th at the Glen Sanders Mansion.

See if you agree with Ariana.

Ariana Wilson.jpg

Ariana Wilson -Media Communications Specialist, Colonie Senior Services Center, Inc.

“I would say that on any given day I can relate to the struggles that Aimee talked about in her presentation. I continuously, and consciously, need to remind myself to be the woman that doesn’t say, “I’m sorry” for circumstances I absolutely do not need to apologize for or let negative criticism be the only thing I hear about myself. I actually went back to work after the presentation and made sure I said, “thank you” to every compliment given to me instead of coming up with explanations as to why I received the compliment or passing the credit to somebody else. At the end of the work day, I felt like I had accomplished way more than if I had brushed off my own successes.  I also started a brag book in the form of a blog, as Aimee suggested doing.  Aside from keeping track of my successes, I think that this will eventually end up being a great way for me to blow off steam and take a step back and actually see the great things that I have accomplished!

As a young professional, it was inspiring to hear what Aimee had gone through early in her career as well.  It gives me hope and also inspires me to find something that I truly have a passion for. I couldn’t thank her enough for her wise words!”


Attendees received a free Woman Up! book.  If you did not attend, you can go to Aimee’s website to sign up for a free E-book.


Who we saw at the 2016 Women of Excellence Unplugged luncheon

On Tuesday, September 20, Women’s Business Council invited back its 2016 Women of Excellence winners for an unplugged session, led by moderator Benita Zahn and featuring a live Q&A from audience members

Hon. Helena Heath, Albany City Court (Excellence in the Professions), Fran O’Rourke, KeyBank, and Chelly Hegan, Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood (Excellence in Management), Denise Horan, Integrated Management & Sales Consulting (Excellence in Business Development), and Meredith Oakes, The Bank of New York Mellon (Emerging Professionals) took the stage in a living room style conversation to answer questions on how they dealt with adversity, what advice they would give their younger selves, and many other interesting topics that they could share with us as only women of excellence can!

The WBC communications committee members had the opportunity to speak with some of the people in attendance. Here is what they had to say about why they came to the WOE Unplugged event or what inspiration they came away with after the program.

“I missed the 2016 Women of Excellence luncheon sadly, so I’m here today to get to know the winners and hear their stories of what steps they took to become successful.”
– Sarah Johnson, CDPHP (pictured below with Wes Burton)

Wes Burton, left, with Sarah Johnson pose for a picture
Wes Burton, left, with Sarah Johnson pose for a picture

“I’m new to the Capital District, moving here from Alabama. I want to meet people who support women in business and I came to this event today to show my own support of women who have excelled in their fields of work.”
-Wes Burton, The Food Pantries of the Capital District




-Marsha Lazarus, Director of Workforce Development, Mental Health Association in N.Y.S., Inc

“I appreciated the honesty, the sharing by panelists that teaches us all that
Women of Excellence have their struggles and challenges too… I truly believe
that this kind of openness is a real strength of women who take on
leadership roles!”

“Benita Zahn was wonderful.  Her warmth and insightful follow-up questions
facilitated a very worthwhile discussion!”


“It’s inspiring to hear the stories and triumphs from the Women of
Excellence.  We have a strong community of women business leaders and I am
grateful to the Women’s Business Council for providing a platform for us to
gather, support, and learn from each other.  We have the power to shape our
region and if we work together we can achieve our vision.”

-Natasha Pernicka, The Food Pantries (Natasha asked the great question about the strengths of our region during Q&A)

“It’s wonderful to hear from so many successful women in our community and find the inspiration to keep moving forward in my own career.”
Shaina Kaye, Center for Donation & Transplant (on right in photo below)

“It’s very inspiring to hear about not only these women’s accomplishments but also the passion they have to achieve them. It’s also motivating to see that these women who’ve accomplished so much face the same kinds of challenges we all face.”
Lauren Quinn, Center for Donation & Transplant (on left in photo below)


fullsizerenderSarah Hansen, Esq. (right, in the green dress) is an attorney with Sunmark Federal Credit Union. She related to what Meredith Oaks had to say when she talked about planning ahead in order to prioritize. “Learning to say no is OK in order to create structure in my life”.

Audrey Stone (left) attended the Women’s Unplugged event to represent the Sunmark Foundation. Every year, the foundation raises approximately $30,000 to support local nonprofit organizations. Writing a check is not the only focus of the foundation. Volunteering for nonprofits and helping with tangible needs is their primary interest. Audrey says, “I took a piece of wisdom from each of the women today.”

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.

Voices in the Crowd: C-Secrets from the C-Level

On Tuesday, April 12, the Women’s Business Council hosted an armchair conversation with three powerful and influential women sharing their “c-secrets” from the C-level. Thanks to Denise Gonick, president & CEO of MVP Health Care, Audrey Zibelman, commissioner of the New York State Public Service Commission, and Dr. Nancy Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York, for sharing their insights with us. Here’s what our Voices in the Crowd had to say about the program:

What did Denise Gonick, Audrey Zibelman, and Dr. Nancy Zimpher say today that will stay with you?

“One of the top takeaways for me today was ‘You have to bring your authentic self.’ I’m going to take that statement to heart as I lead my organization forward.”

-Ashley Jeffrey Bouck, Girls Inc.

VITC-4 (2)
Natasha Pernicka of The Food Pantries and Meredith Chimento of United Way of the Greater Capital Region

“I really loved Denise’s comment about ‘You don’t have to master something before you put yourself out there.’ It really resonated with me and reminded me of my father’s advice to go for it when I wasn’t 100% sure I could do it.”

-Meredith Chimento, United Way of the Greater Capital Region

“I came to today’s event looking for inspiration and camaraderie. The speakers definitely inspired me and gave me confidence to reach out to people that I wouldn’t necessarily think of as a natural resource.”

-Natasha Pernicka, The Food Pantries

Kelly Klopfer of ENVISION Architects

“Today’s panel was very dynamic. I walked away feeling really motivated and energetic, especially having been surrounded by this amazing group of women who spark change. Hearing these successful women leaders talk about putting the right team in place, how to manage people appropriately, and empowering the growth and development of women in the workplace, are all topics that I think about constantly – and specifically how to deliver results effectively.”

-Kelly Klopfer, ENVISION Architects