Who Will the Storytellers Be?


At the next WBC event, Voices in the Crowd on Tuesday, November 13th at 11:15 am four individuals will be doing a story slam. They will stand up on stage and tell their stories unscripted.  Come to this unique and fun event to network with your peers and experience a lively, finger snapping, story slam.  All genders welcome.

The storytellers will share their captivating stories about:

  • Hitting the glass ceiling and pushing through to success
  • Turning a personal story of abuse into an opportunity to help others tell their stories and build an innovative and successful organization
  • Transforming a struggle to find meaning in life into a successful career opportunity 
  • Using challenges and insight to pave the way for an entirely new model for thinking about education

For more information, please contact Marna Redding, Vice President of Member Services at the Capital Region Chamber, at mredding@capitalregionchamber.com or reach out to us via the blog or Facebook.

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

Voices in the Crowd: Blindsided by the Blind Spot

On Tuesday, March 15, the Women’s Business Council joined forces with the Times Union’s Women@Work for a panel discussion about “The Blind Spot”. This interesting and informative study sparked great discussion about the ways in which CEOs’ perceptions of gender issues in the workplace differ from those of working women, and explored some possible reasons why this might be. Many working women – and some men, too! – were there.  Here’s what our Voices in the Crowd had to say about the experience:

Sandy Dedrick and Jerilee Beaudoin, Pioneer Bank

“I found the event extremely interesting and very relevant to today’s business women.  The presenters were refreshingly candid while providing valuable insight to those in attendance – great event!”

-Sandy Dedrick, Pioneer Bank

“I was a bit surprised at how significant the gap in perception is between male CEOs and the general public, and women in particular, especially in the areas of women in senior management, equality in compensation and the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace.  We’ve come a long way, but there’s still more work to be done.”

-Jerilee Beaudoin, Pioneer Bank

Alan Baker, Creative Marketing Concepts

“I came here today because I like to hear the opinions of all types of business people and owners. I want to understand what obstacles still exist with gender, race, and age in the workplace, and especially the working women’s perspectives, since I do business with marketing directors who are in a large part female.”

-Alan Baker, Creative Marketing Concepts

Sonya Young, Key Bank



“The presentation was well put together and addressed issues that many women face in the workplace yet may not openly discuss. Opening the discussion with statistics behind the issues provided additional relevancy to the topic. This also provided a solid framework for the panel to provide greater insight and personal experiences that many people were able to relate to. Women have made great strides in the workplace and by continuing to have an open dialogue about such challenges it provides the opportunity to make changes.”

-Sonya Young, Key Bank

Don’t miss the next WBC program – C-Secrets from the C-Level – on Tuesday, April 12. Click here to learn more and register!


Voices In the Crowd January 12, 2016

On Tuesday, January 12, Women’s Business Council hosted another inspiring presentation entitled “Speaking Your Truth, The Power of Authenticity” presented by Albany Med Cardiologist Dr. Suzie Mookherjee. She challenged us to explore the true power in being authentic. Starting with a new year and a clean slate, the program came at a perfect time. We are prioritizing and setting goals for ourselves which means sometimes we need to say “no” in order to come closer to our authentic self. I had the opportunity to speak with some of the women in attendance. Here is what they had to say about how they are making an effort to radiate their authentic selves.

“This year, I have pledged to be more organized. When I am more organized I know when to say yes, when to say no, and when to delegate. When I am more organized, I am more focused and active on committees I am passionate about. I enjoy mentoring women, especially in the area of finance.”
– Kim Rainey

Kim Rainey
Kim Rainey, Berkshire Bank and Women’s Business Council Steering Committee Member

“My goals for this year are to complete my degree and strengthen partnerships with local organizations in order to build on my professionalism, collaboration and leadership skills.”
-Kay Aviza


Kay Aviza
Kay Aviza is working on completing her Masters in School Counseling at The Sage Colleges this upcoming May



Kiki Wagner
Kiki Wagner, Merrill Lynch a subsidiary of Bank of America



“I am carving out time for my family and I making sure I have quiet time each day. I feel closer to my authentic self when I practice yoga, tai chi, or play Apples to Apples with my family.”
-Kiki Wagner

Courtney Buckley
Courtney Buckley, Palace Theatre

“I recently made a career change into my true calling in the nonprofit realm. I am grateful because I feel I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I am spending more time with family and making an effort to travel less. In my new role, I have the opportunity to showcase how the arts are revitalizing downtown. One of the many programs Palace Theatre has to offer is the arts in education program in collaboration with Park Playhouse. For example, there’s a great schedule lined up of family movies offered at no cost in the summer months.”
-Courtney Buckley

Jackie Shaffer
Jacqueline (Jackie) Sheffer, The Wagner Group and Women’s Business Council Steering Committee Member

“I have four buckets. If an opportunity presents itself and it’s not one of my buckets, I say no. My buckets are 1. Spending time with my husband. 2. Building my business. 3. Running (I’m a marathon runner) and 4. Sharks. (I love sharks).”
-Jackie Sheffer

Alicia Kelley
Alicia Kelley, Key Bank and Women’s Business Council Steering Committee Member

“This year, I am finding out who I am. I left my career behind in Tennessee three years ago and in the past, I wasn’t focused in one area because I was new to the area. This year I have pledged to focus on me and do the things that make me happy. My career makes me happy and I am working on advancing my career. I am learning to say no. My daughter doesn’t have to go everywhere and it is OK for her to spend time with her dad while I read a book. I also enjoy CrossFit. When I lift, it is just me doing the lifting. It gives me focus and I feel I am taking back my own power. My new focus has already made a difference and when I spend time with my family, I have more quality time with them.”
-Alicia Kelley



Voices in the Crowd: Bold in Business Event

Brigid Schulte, author of the best-selling book Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time presented a spirited plea for time serenity in her talk at this year’s Bold In Business Forum on October 22, 2015. Her message on the necessity of making time for play and leisure, despite everyone’s busy life, resonated well with the crowd gathered at the Marriott Hotel in Albany. We asked our “Voices in the Crowd” why they had chosen to attend and whether work-life balance was an issue in their life:

Megan O'Malley Stewart
Megan O’Malley Stewart, CPA–Teal, Becker & Chiaramonte

Why did you choose to attend today’s event?
“The topic of stress and feeling overwhelmed is a concern for many women. I look forward to hearing some practical advice from the speaker.”

Hollyanne Lupi
Hollyanne Lupi, Public Relations Coordinator, Gramercy Communications

What are your thoughts about the topic of today’s event – time management and work-life balance?

Hollyanne: “It is certainly something we all experience- being overworked and over-stressed and needing to find a way to balance. Hearing this message from the women of the Women’s Business Council is powerful and influential, at least personally for myself. I always enjoy coming to these events because there is so much I take away.”


Voices in the Crowd: Women of Excellence Unplugged

The profound insights shared by the panelists at the WBC Women of Excellence Unplugged luncheon this month — photos for which you can see here! — resonated well with the crowd gathered at the Desmond Hotel. Following brief remarks by New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, moderator Benita Zahn led a spirited discussion on the values and experiences of the individual, highly accomplished Women of Excellence from a wide range of industries and backgrounds. Our “Voices in the Crowd” shared why WBC events are such a valuable networking experience for them:

Karmel DeStefano, Colonie Senior Service Centers
Karmel DeStefano, Development Director, Colonie Senior Service Centers, Inc.

What do you particularly enjoy about this event?
“This is a wonderful opportunity to hear from other women and what they have achieved in their lives.  It’s also great to support the Chamber!”

Helen Carroll, Financial Advisor
Helen Carroll, Mussett Wealth Management

What is special about WBC events?
“I find that events such as this one are always very friendly. Because attendees come from so many different backgrounds, I have the opportunity to make many new connections. The events always combine good networking and seeing good friends, which makes for a good experience overall!”

Are you active in the Women’s Business Council?
Helen: “Yes, I am a member of the Program Committee, which gives me insights of what is going on.”

Venessa Colon, EYP
Venessa Colon, EYP

What are your impressions of today’s event?
“This is my second day in my new job. To be here today on my second day is a treat, but it also mirrors my company’s corporate culture. It is great to meet so many other accomplished women.”


Voices in the Crowd: Bernadette B. Fuller

fullerphotoCapital Region Chamber is a community with an even broad scope making the Women’s Business Council stronger than ever. We have the ability to work and grow together and with a greater voice to advance our region. This month’s Voices in the Crowd comes from one of our members, Bernadette B. Fuller, who is the Principal Agent and Owner of The Bradley Agency. She was born and grew up in Philadelphia and this is where she began her career in insurance. She Obtained her Chartered Property Casualty Underwriting Designation (CPCU) and worked for national insurance carriers before she relocated to the region after her husband was offered a job and where she ultimately settled into her career with The Bradley Insurance Agency.

Why is the WBC important to you?
The WBC is important to me because it offers a platform to networking with experienced women in business, provides opportunities to women new to the business community, offers useful programs of interest, referrals and ultimately leads to meeting new partners in business.

What is your favorite place to visit (restaurant, park, historic site, museum) in the Capital Region and why?
There are so many beautiful places in the Capital Region that I appreciate and enjoy.  If I had to pick one place it would be the New York State Museum.  I enjoy it for many reasons.  One of which is it speaks to so many segments of the community through art, science and history.  I find its exhibits diverse and educational.  It is a venue that lends itself to so many different organizations.  In my opinion it is truly a “place for the people”.  Whenever I go there, whether it is a function I am attending or to browse the exhibits, I come away learning something new.

What value do you think the WBC would have on a women who is just beginning their professional career?
WBC opens up doors of opportunity, develops professional relationships and helps to establish a “Circle of Influence”. The Women’s Business Council broadens the scope for personal relationships, and establishes opportunities to be a mentor or be mentored.  There is an exchange of ideas, opportunities to network, ability to obtain referrals, learn about business resources and gain exposure in the business community. I also find being involved broadens my knowledge of the marketplace.

What value do you think the WBC would have on a seasoned professional?Besides all of the benefits of being involved with WBC for all women who are members of the Capital District Chamber of Commerce, seasoned professionals can learn about new talent and new ideas in the business community.

Why are you mostly excited about the Capital Region Chamber’s new regional approach?
In this economic climate I believe conserving resources, i.e. money, talent, etc. and using them judiciously is key to long term success.  I wondered for a long time why there seemed to be multiple chamber organizations that shared similar goals and was in close physical proximity.  Many of the same businesses belonged to multiple Chambers.  The regional approach makes good economic sense in my opinion.  It gives our region a stronger voice on many levels.  I believe this approach is good for many businesses and the community at large.

Is there anything else you would like us to know?
I have been in the Capital District business community for 17 years.  Diversity has been a topic of discussion but the movement has been slow.  Diversity in the business community is still lagging especially at the management levels. As the Capital Region continues to grow and evolve diversity becomes more important.  From a business standpoint there are many reasons and benefits to keep the focus on diversity.

Voices in the Crowd: WBC Member-Tini

Thank you to all of the fabulous women who came out to our WBC Member-Tini this month at Lord & Taylor! It was a wonderful evening of fashion, food and fun, and we picked up some great tips about networking in style from our “voices in the crowd”…

Toni & Lisa
Toni Lebron, Sunmark Federal Credit Union and Lisa Steagall-Thurman, United Way of the Greater Capital Region

What do you get out of your WBC membership?
“This is my first event, so I’m looking to do some networking and find out if [my company] can be of assistance in any way.”
Toni: “I always look forward to [WBC events] because you meet a lot of new people. You also see people you’ve met in the past, and you get to know that you’re supporting women growing in their career.”

How would you describe your professional style?
Toni: “I would say usually I’m a little bit busy, but classic, if that’s possible.”
Lisa: “Professional and chic!”

Cheryl Richardson, Mary Kay
Cheryl Richardson, Mary Kay

How do you think women can benefit from being a part of the WBC?
Cheryl: “Networking is a big thing, but also all of the programming. I just think it’s a great group of top-notch women.”

How would you describe your professional style?
Cheryl: “Businesslike and professional.”

Meaghan Murphy, Lavelle & Finn & Yalitza Negron, Capital District YMCA
Meaghan Murphy, Lavelle & Finn and Yalitza Negron, Capital District YMCA

What interests you most about the WBC?
Yalitza: “I think what’s great is being able to surround ourselves with other amazing women of all ages and backgrounds and experiences that can really help build a network. We can all help each other out in some way, shape or form.”
Meaghan: “I love the forced interaction, because it makes it a little bit easier to break the ice and meet some fabulous ladies.”

How are you considering changing up your personal style after tonight?
Meaghan: “I’m convinced that I need a black sheath…Blair convinced me!”
Yalitza: “I think for me, it’s definitely about finding the right fit […] as I’m starting to get more and more into my field.”

Blair Brodar, Fashion Stylist & Image Consultant
Blair Brodar, Fashion Stylist & Image Consultant

What’s one of your favorite tips to share with the women you style?
I really emphasize the three “F”s: fit, feel and function. First, you want to make sure a piece fits you well and that it’s truly tailored to your body type. If it doesn’t fit your body, then it’s just not right for you. For function, always make sure that whatever you’re purchasing functions well both in your wardrobe and for your lifestyle. And finally, feel…make sure not only that the material feels good on you, but that you feel really beautiful in it. Whenever you go out shopping, just make sure you keep those three “F”s in mind!”

Voices In The Crowd


“I am here to celebrate all of the women being honored today, but especially Denise Gonick, our leader at MVP, who we are very proud of.” – Sarah Wiseman, MVP Health Care


“I came to the event today as a representative of the Girl Scouts and brought along some of the girls to help them see what kind of inspiring women we have in our area.” – Courtney Moore, Secretary, Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York


“I come to the Women of Excellence event every year because it’s motivational and it supports the women in our community.” – Nancy Gonzalez, MicroKnowledge, Inc.


What brings you here today?
“I’m so inspired by the winners. Last year I was nominated and I didn’t win but I love sitting in a room with the most amazing women.”

Maybe you’ll win next year.
“I know if I keep rubbing arms with some of the most interesting women it’ll happen. I just want to keep learning. I don’t want to miss a thing.” — Desiree Kelleigh, Alliance Worldwide Investment Group, Inc. 


What brings you here today?
“This is one of the first events I came to many years ago. I was actually part of the committee at one point for the Women of Excellence, so it’s one of my favorite things.”

Have you ever won?
“I have not won. They don’t have a category for ‘goddess.'” — Debby Goedeke, Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau