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?





Women of Excellence 2017: Kathleen Pingelski Recipient of Excellence in Business Award Shares her Wisdom About Resilience in the Workplace

I had an opportunity to gain some valuable insight from Kathleen Pingelski, this year’s recipient of the Excellence in Business Award, Women of Excellence. I am pleased to share it with our readers. kathleeen.jpg

“I think to achieve resiliency it’s important to stay positive in all situations, even when facing challenges. I encourage others to build healthy habits into their lifestyle, such as  meditation and exercise, to practice being present and to disconnect from technology on a regular basis.  Have laser focus on the goal or outcome you want to achieve and keep making forward progress.”

Kathleen Pingelski, President
MicroKnowledge, Inc. Computer Training and Consulting
ProKnowledge, LLC – Professional Development Training and Consulting


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!



2017 Women of Excellence in Business Development Honoree Retires.

Just before she moved to Florida, I spoke with Suzann Smart, Executive Director, The Foundation for Ellis Medicine and the honoree for Excellence in Business Development for the Women of Excellence Awards 2017.
I asked her to give our members a few words of parting wisdom.
“If you want to remain excited and engaged with your work, try to learn something new every day.  Whether it’s about your field, a new way to be more effective using technology, something from a colleague or an article you read.  The changes happening around us are amazing. It can be energizing, but you have to remain engaged every day in learning and welcoming new ways of doing the profession you have chosen.
And it’s important to remember, if you don’t like your work, your boss, your employer, find another job. There are lots of exciting opportunities out there.
As for work habits:
Show Up.
Don’t keep people waiting.
Keep smiling.
Make your boss look good.
Don’t make the same mistake twice.
Answer emails and return phone calls.
Laugh and share the joy.
I want to thank the Chamber and my wonderful colleagues for this recognition. It has been a tremendous honor and I am grateful for the privilege of being named a Woman of Excellence.”
To see the five other honorees discuss what inspires them, come to the Women of Excellence Unplugged, hosted by Benita Zahn of NewsChannel 13, on September 19, sign up here.

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.

How Three Letters Empowered Recognition of My Full Potential

Guest post by Kelsey Carr, Project Manager/Project Engineer for The Chazen Companies and co-chair of the WBC Women of Excellence Nomination Committee

At the first WBC Steering Committee meeting of 2017, Vice Chair Jackie Sheffer asked a series of tough questions, to which each member answered by physically moving to a corner representing strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree. With Question 1, Does the WBC have the ability to change the world?, I found myself standing solo by the supersized post-it marked strongly agree, while the majority agreed. My logic was simple: Yes, the WBC can change the world because it has and continues to change my world.

Flashback to mid 2014, I was a shy, focused, dedicated, (did I mention shy?), project engineer, celebrating seven years at the only “real world” job I’d ever known. Having entered the workforce in 2008, at the start of the Great Recession, I was lucky to: 1) have a job 2) love my job and 3) be able to say I’ve had amazing mentors at Chazen for my entire career thus far. Little did I know that my whole world was about to change.

woe-kcarr-remarksThat winter, Chazen would nominate me for the Women of Excellence – Emerging Professional Award, which I would receive the following spring. In a whirlwind, I was introduced to my six fellow recipients, quietly listening to their incredible life stories and absorbing every word like a sponge. I would meet Ashley Jeffrey Bouck, our current WBC Chair and recipient of this award the previous year, who would act as my mentor through the process. Ashley, a young woman who inspires girls each and every day through Girls Inc., would quickly inspire me. She told me to use this opportunity to promote change for other young professionals and urged me to use my remarks at the luncheon to send a message. Finding the courage from deep within to take this advice, I discussed the societal expectations I had to overcome as a woman, an engineer, a millennial, and an advocate for hunger relief programs. I challenged the 600 person audience to close the gender gap, create opportunity, and reconsider these stigmas. In three minutes, I had gone miles outside of my comfort zone and there was no going back.

It took three letters, WOE, to fill a void that I didn’t realize was missing. It took three letters, and a whole network of incredible women, to leave me empowered to recognize both my worth and my potential. I spent the next one and a half years of my life on a path of immense personal growth, which would lead to the easiest choice of my life, becoming involved with the WBC. As Co-Chair of the WOE nomination committee, my goal is to use everything I have learned to empower other women in our community. By nominating an individual for the 26th Annual Women of Excellence Awards, you have the ability to do the same. Together, we can change the world.

2015 Women of Excellence award recipients

Nominations must be received no later than 5 pm on Thursday, January 31st. Click here to download the nomination form.

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!

Women of Excellence: Barbara Smith

Every week leading up to our Women of Excellence luncheon on May 28, we’ll be featuring one or two of our Women of Excellence winners. (You can read the full interviews with each of the winners here.)

Congratulations to our winners! And don’t forget to register for the luncheon!

Barbara Smith. (Colleen Ingerto photo)

Barbara Smith, City of Albany
distinguished career

“My major challenge is being born as a black person in the United States in the era of Jim Crow. But my major challenge has been to negotiate the very, very troubled waters of race and racism in the U.S. and I have devoted my life through my work in trying to help to find better ways and solutions for the negative context in which race continues to show itself.”

Women of Excellence: Trudy Hall

Every week leading up to our Women of Excellence luncheon on May 28, we’ll be featuring one or two of our Women of Excellence winners. (You can read the full interviews with each of the winners here.)

Congratulations to our winners! And don’t forget to register for the luncheon!

Trudy Hall. (Colleen Ingerto photo)

Trudy Hall, Emma Willard School
excellence in the professions

“You have to always make the choice that will make the story a more interesting one. There’s a great speech that I heard someone make a long time ago:. She said, “I have only one goal: I want to be an interesting old woman.” The only way to be interesting is by making interesting choices and the only way to be old is to make prudent choices.”

Women of Excellence: Miriam Dushane and Denise Gonick

Every week leading up to our Women of Excellence luncheon on May 28, we’ll be featuring one or two of our Women of Excellence winners. (You can read the full interviews with each of the winners here.)

Congratulations to our winners! And don’t forget to register for the luncheon!

Miriam Dushane. (Colleen Ingerto photo)

Miriam Dushane, Linium Staffing
excellence in management (1-99)

“I get the opportunity to learn about other companies and other businesses in the Capital Region. I have uncovered and become associated with organizations I never in my wildest dreams even knew existed. I’ve met so many fascinating and interesting people.”

Denise Gonick. (Colleen Ingerto photo)

 Denise Gonick, MVP Health Care
excellence in management (100+)

“You have to stay curious. There’s always more to learn. Be true to your own self and the unique talents that you bring. Sometimes we have ideas about what success is supposed to look like and that can trip us up. And be willing to take some risks. I think you learn a lot by the things that don’t go your way.”