Women are formidable

From the desk of Julia Hayden, Director, Community Relations and Resource Development-Habitat for Humanity of Schenectady County

Often times women feel as though they have climbed a few mountains of “to do’s” before 5:00am!  Women start the day with feet to the ground and ready to move.  Today women have taken multi-tasking to a new height.   Climbing up mountains, climbing up corporate ladders, climbing to reach glass ceilings – all to summit, reach the top or breakthrough.  Women are formidable.  Across all sectors and walks of life, women are leading the way in action, fortitude, and inspiration.
This link is a woman’s experience as a professional climber, describing how she surmounted the stigma of being female (and pregnant) in a male-dominated sphere.
Read the article here.
                    Dakota Snyder

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.

Why Volunteer for a Committee with the WBC?

From the desk of Karen Lombardo, President of Put Another Way


Being a woman in business is challenging. Your tool bag should be stocked with desire, strength, stamina, vision, and guts. Yet you may also need resources and help so where can you go to get the help you need?

When I started my business last year I thought I was prepared. My tool bag was full, and I was ready to take on the world, yet I still needed that help and support. I was looking for women like me, and I found them in the Women’s Business Council (WBC) of the Capital Region Chamber. After getting my feet wet with some of the great networking events and luncheons, I looked to dig a little deeper and found there were committees available to support the infrastructure of the WBC.

So, I would like to share with you my top 5 reasons to volunteer on a committee with the Women’s Business Council:

Great minds think alike. The Communications Committee seemed like a perfect fit for me. I am a content writer and where best to use what I know that the Communications Committee? Are you a ‘woman about town’? Try the membership committee and gather new members while you’re out and about.

You will find resources and be a resource all at the same time. Are you a non-profit and need some help finding benefits for your team? Or you just found an office supply company that discounts non-profit companies. Join the Adopted Nonprofit Committee and be a part of some great resource sharing.

Build your resume. Have you ever written an event announcement or helped plan a party for say, 200 of your closed Chamber friends? Learn to do this by joining a committee that performs one of these functions and you have added a new skill to your list of talents!

You meet great people. Period. Nothing more to say!

It’s where you live. Joining the Women’s Business Council and subsequently joining a committee has expanded my footprint into the community where I work, live, raise my family, and spend my leisure time. I wanted to be a part of telling the greater Capital Region about this wonderful place with all the hidden gems, resources, and events that are here for the taking.

If you feel like this too, c’mon and join us! Bring a cup of coffee and come to a meeting to find out what we’re all about. You can also check out the Women’s Business Council’s page here.

For more information on joining a WBC Committee, 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.

Awards for Women in the Capital Region

In the Capital Region, there are many opportunities for women to be recognized for their achievements in business, for their passionate advocacy, and for the leadership and resourcefulness.  Women are leading the way today.

Here are some of the awards that recognize women’s accomplishments.

Women of Excellence

The Women of Excellence Award is an annual event that the Women’s Business Council of the Capital Region Chamber. The selection committee is comprised of former award recipients.  There are six women chosen each year and they are honored for the following areas, Excellence in Business, Excellence in Business Development, Excellence in Management, Excellence in the Professions (for profit or non-profit sector), Distinguished Career and Emerging Professional.  The deadline to nominate a woman for one of these honored awards is usually January 31. Award recipients are recognized at a luncheon in June an participate in the Women of Excellence Unplugged event in September.  Sign up here.

Fuel Her Fire

Girls, Inc. will recognize their outstanding women at an evening reception on September 27 with their third annual Fuel Her Fire Awards Celebration.  The distinguished individuals are recognized because they are powerful role models and mentors for others.

Resourceful Women

The YWCA of the Greater Capital Region, Inc. nominates a resourceful woman or a girl on a mission who embodies the mission of YWCA-GCR by advancing the empowerment of women.  They have a luncheon on October 11th honoring this year’s winner whose community and professional pursuits support the YWCA-GCR’s goals.

Women Who Mean Business

The Albany Business Review honors five accomplished business owners.  The competition is in its ninth year and the women come from a number of different industries.  This year the five women chosen for doing outstanding work in leadership roles will be honored at a luncheon on October 7th.

The Albany Business Review also hosts a 40 under 40 awards program that turned 18 this year.  Both young men and women under the age of 40 are recognized for their unique talents in their industry.

Capital Region Women@Work

The Times Union Women@work member organization consistently supports and highlights women’s accomplishments and achievements throughout the year with feature articles in their bi-monthly magazine and at their monthly events.

Trailblazers Award

The Women’s Fund of the Capital Region is a component fund of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region.  The CFGCR and the United Way of the Greater Capital Region honor outstanding women of achievement with their Trailblazers Award.  The proceeds from the spring luncheon are used to help struggling women achieve their goals of a college degree.

Women Making a Difference

Best Buddies of New York honors a female who balances work, family and community service and have made Best Buddies their mission.  Their event is on November 4.

Lastly, WERC (Capital District Women’s Employee Resource Center) is an organization that celebrates their inspirational graduates.  Their program helps women successfully find or improve their employment.  Their awards luncheon is on October 3.

Readers, if you know of other awards for women in the Capital Region please let us know!



The Healthy Workplace

Are women concerned about factors affecting their health in the workplace? If the turnout to the Women’s Business Council event featuring author Leigh Stringer is any indication, the answer is a resounding YES!

In case you missed Leigh’s dynamic talk or couldn’t get into the sold-out event, WBCVoice followed up with her to ask more questions. Leigh also reminded us that she shares current advice at www.leighstringer.com.


WBCVoice: During your talk you shared with us that women are far more likely to experience stress. What are some of the factors contributing to stress in the workplace?

LS: There are so many factors that impact stress at work… the list is long!  Stress might be triggered by having a bad commute, having a disagreement with a colleague or boss, dealing with a personnel issue, crazy deadlines, a fear of being fired, addressing a life-threatening situation (if you are a firefighter, in the military, etc.), taking on too much responsibility or working long hours.  Interestingly, one of the biggest stressors is when we don’t have “control” over the outcomes of our work.  When we are not able to control how, when or where our work gets done, it not only makes our work more stressful, but also, it increases heart disease and reduces productivity.  Often, sadly, women are more likely than men to be in jobs with less “control,” which is one of many reasons we are twice as likely to suffer more from anxiety and depression.  Here is a little more information on the research related to “control” at work.

WBCVoice: For those of us working in small teams or in a self-employed capacity, what are some of the easiest steps you would recommend for better work-life balance and improved health? 

LS: Here are a few of my favorite tips:

  1. Nurture “biophilia.” We have a strong desire to be in and among nature. It’s only natural – for most of human history we spent all of our time outdoors.  This preference, often referred to biophilia, was introduced and popularized by E.O. Wilson, who suggests that there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems. To take advantage of the nature-lover in all of us:
  • Add natural elements into the workplace by putting small plants or a water feature on your desk or nearby.  These elements are soothing psychologically and reduce stress.
  • Move your desk or any workspaces occupied by people next to a window if possible.  More natural light will decrease eye strain, improve well-being and if you sit close enough to a window, it can help reset your circadian rhythm and sleep cycle.
  • Use features in the workplace that mimic nature, such as pictures of trees and water, building elements that mimic shells or leaves, furniture with organic rather than geometric shapes, and wood with a visible wood grain.  These features, referred to as “natural analogues” can have the same biophilic impact as the real thing.
  1. Make getting healthy a team sport. Social influence, also known as peer pressure, has a positive impact on exercise behavior and our attitudes towards exercise. There are many ways to tap into this at work. For example:
  • Create competitions between teams or different office locations to encourage more walking, biking or participating in team sports over the course of a work week.
  • Consider creating a community garden (if you have the real estate available). Studies show that people are more likely to eat more healthy foods if they have a hand in growing their food as a community, even more so than if they grow it on their own!
  1. Create healthy “nudges” to take the stairs.  Taking the stairs is good for cholesterol levels, for burning calories, and for increasing collaboration at work. Unfortunately, in many buildings, the elevator is front and center and stairways are often hidden, dark, locked or generally scary places to hang out.  To encourage more stair use, try the following:
  • Paint the stairwell a lighter color so that it appears brighter and less foreboding.
  • Add artwork to give it a personal touch and add visual interest.
  • Pipe in pleasant music.  Some buildings are actually taking music out of elevators and putting them in the stairs to make the stair experience more desirable.
  • Want a really simple trick to nudge stair use?  Studies show that just by putting up signs that explain the health benefits of taking the stairs (such as a sign in the elevator lobby that shows how many calories you can burn), stair usage increases by 54 percent!
  1. Stay home when you are sick.  When people come into the workplace sick, they are very likely spreading their diseases to colleagues, which reduces organizational productivity.  As tempting as it is for you to “power through” and minimize sick days, the overall health risk is not worth it.  Researchers from the University of Arizona in Tucson placed a tracer virus on commonly touched objects such as a doorknob or tabletop in workplaces.  At multiple time intervals, the researchers sampled a range of surfaces including light switches, countertops, sink tap handles, and push buttons. They found that between 40 and 60 percent of the surfaces were contaminated within two to four hours.  This may be a reason to adopt a “work from home” policy, if you are looking for one. Beyond that, everyone should frequently wash their hands.

WBCVoice: You briefly mentioned your new organization, GW4W. Can you share what the objectives of the organization are, and how members of the Women’s Business Council in the New York Capital Region can contribute?

LS: The mission of Global Women for Wellbeing:

  • Funding quality research focused on women’s health and wellbeing issues
  • Sharing success stories/lessons learned from women around the globe
  • Providing cross-disciplinary mentoring by seasoned leadership
  • Inspiring each other and the next generation of women to step into leadership roles in their businesses and their communities

How you can get involved:

  • Join GW4W and become a member today!
  • Share the GW4W  website with your friends, family and colleagues
  • Stay connected, be informed and inspired by following and liking GW4W on Facebook
  • Become a corporate sponsor. If you are a business owner or you think your company has a focus on women’s issues and would be interested in becoming a corporate sponsor, please let us know

NOTE: Global Women for Wellbeing is a non-profit organization incorporated in the State of NY and a selected member of the Center for Social Innovation in NYC.  Your membership fee and/or donation is tax deductible.

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/>

Squashing Hunger in the Capital Region



Article by Rebecca Whalen,  Communications and Development Manager, Capital Roots

One in 10 people in the Capital Region lacks food security – the ability to access enough food for an active, healthy life. Community feeding programs help fill nutritional gaps, but they are not always able to carry a consistent supply of fresh options. There’s where Capital Roots’ Squash Hunger program comes in.

This program started small in 2004 with 6,200 pounds of produce rescued with the help of our volunteers and community gardeners. Last year we collected and redistributed 80,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables to more than 60 local food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters, and this program continues to grow! You can help by making produce donations yourself. In partnership with local businesses, we’ve placed donation bins in several locations throughout the Capital Region. Purchase some extra fruit or vegetables, or deliver extra veggies from your garden, to fill those bins. Any amount helps. Donate at any of the locations below!

Capital Roots –Capital Roots

594 River Street, Troy

Delmar Farmers Market –

332 Kenwood Avenue, Delmar, Saturdays 9am – 1pm

Delmar Marketplace –

406 Kenwood Avenue, Delmar

Honest Weight Food Coop –

100 Watervliet Avenue, Albany

New Covenant Presbyterian Church Farmers Market –

916 Western Avenue, Albany, Tuesdays 3 -6 pm

Hewitt’s – East Greenbush

179 Troy Road, East Greenbush

Hewitt’s – Clifton Park

1582 Route 9, Clifton Park

Hewitt’s – Scotia/Glenville

3 Charlton Road, Scotia

Hewitt’s – Guilderland

1969 Western Avenue, Albany

Niskayuna Co-op –

2227 Nott Street, Schenectady

Roma Foods –

9 Cobbee Road, Latham


The Importance of Community

I hope that everyone is getting to enjoy some lazy days of summer. I was fortunate to get ten magical days in Italy with my family recently. There are so many things to love about Italy that I could write an entire blog post on that topic alone!  In addition to the beautiful countryside, rich history and amazing food, my husband and I were impressed with the strong sense of community that we got to observe in several different towns. We enjoyed talking to locals and learning more about their lifestyle.

Coming home to the Capital District after this incredible experience led us to reflect upon the importance of community. My husband is from Troy and many of his friends and family members still reside in the area. My story is different with several moves, including a big move from California to Schenectady eight years ago. Knowing only two sweet senior citizens at the time (my parents), I set out to find a new job and cultivate a new community.

My Dad was involved with several different Chamber initiatives and encouraged me to get involved as well. He graciously took me to Global Business Network (GBN) events and eventually I stumbled upon my first Women’s Business Council (WBC) event. I still remember the warm welcome that Brandi Miller provided and how she kindly introduced me to several other WBC members. I was impressed with the caliber of the WBC programs and the diversity of its membership.

Since that warm welcome, I’ve had the pleasure of serving on the WBC program planning and communications committees and then most recently as vice-chair and chair. I have enjoyed meeting so many remarkable professional women and am grateful to have found a “soft landing place” as former WBC chair Paula Heller once said about the WBC.

I recently learned that the WBC is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. It has been fun going through some of the Chamber’s archives and thinking about the impact of the WBC on this community over the past 30 years. You’ll be hearing more about the WBC’s anniversary as we kick off our new programming year in September. I hope to see you all at Women of Excellence Unplugged – one of my favorite events!

Capital Roots: Perspectives from a Volunteer

Volunteers are the lifeblood of almost every nonprofit. Without them, most nonprofits would be unable to function. Yet, how many of us ever take the time to check-in with our volunteers and find out how their experience is going? Capital Roots did just that. Below is Jane Husson, a  Capital Roots’ Veggie Mobile® Volunteer, sharing her thoughts on the process in her own words.

Jane Husson

“Who would’ve thought this gray haired lady would be riding around town in a big colorful truck filled with fresh fruits and vegetables?  My introduction to the Veggie Mobile® was at the fabulous Spring Brunch that Capital Roots hosts annually on the first Sunday in May, and I decided then that this is where I wanted to volunteer once I retired. What a wonderful and simple idea: bringing fresh, healthy food at a low cost to those who do not have easy access to it. While I knew that the benefits were great for the customers who came to the many Veggie Mobile® stops in Albany, Troy, Cohoes, Rensselaer and Schenectady (and now in Watervliet!), I had no idea how it would impact me.

A typical day starts with loading the truck after culling old and bruised produce, and then we’re on our way to the scheduled stops, where often people are waiting for us to arrive. While the staff sells produce inside the truck, I am outside at a table giving out the week’s “Taste and Take”, which is a sample of a simple, healthy recipe and a bag of the ingredients, along with the recipe inside.  I also take orders and shop for those who aren’t able to get onto the truck. Over these last three years, I’ve developed relationships with these folks and it has brought such joy to me. I’ve often said of our customers that our visit may just be a major highlight of their week… but I’m speaking for myself as well.”

To learn more about volunteering with the Veggie Mobile® or with any of the programs at Capital Roots, contact volunteer@capitalroots.org. And for the full Veggie Mobile® schedule, visit www.capitalroots.org/programs/veggie-mobile.

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.