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THE OCTOBER SURPRISE
Since turning 40, each advancing birthday seems progressively less a reason to celebrate. But my birthday this year gave me a most unique and unexpected gift: I was invited to the CUNY Women’s Leadership Conference to be held at Hunter College on October 28th. This program turned out to be a great cause for celebration.

EXCITED, BUT A LITTLE APPREHENSIVE
This CUNY-wide event was to include students from all 24 campuses, so I knew many of the attendees would be college aged and much younger than me. I wondered: “As a continuing ed student shifting professional gears mid-life, how relevant could this conference be? After all, it will surely be geared to young women embarking on their careers, not women looking to redraft a life story.” I had no idea what to expect.

To my surprise and delight, the numerous speakers and panels had messages that were not only inspirational, but also absolutely applicable to my current circumstances. There were so many wonderful segments, here is a mere sampling:

  • The keynote speakers Rossana Rosado, NYS Secretary of State, and Letitia James, Public Advocate for the City of New York, both delivered emotional speeches about the empowering experience of community involvement. Their lives of public service are proof positive that we all have the power to affect change.
WiTNY panel

WiTNY panel

  • From the Women in Technology (WiTNY) panel, we heard about the need for women in the digital world. The statistics are staggering: only 18% of computer science graduates are women and woman comprise just 26% of the tech workforce. WiTNY would like to see that change.
Dr. Lobley, Director of Student Services, and some the SPS student attendees

Dr. Lobley, Director of Student Services, and some the SPS student attendees

  • Perhaps my favorite aspect of this symposium was meeting some of SPS’ faculty and my fellow SPS students. Our SPS students represented our school with eloquence and passion: asking questions, raising issues, and talking about passionate causes.

THE ONGOING PRESENT
This could have been a very tough birthday: I’m job hunting and certainly not getting any younger.

Thank you, CUNY and SPS for this encouraging lift—I could pop the bubbly after all!

For more information about the CUNY Women’s Leadership Conference, or to learn how you can attend a future conference, contact studentservices@sps.cuny.edu.

Designer, single mom, and ongoing student, Lisa Sheridan is busy juggling life, work, and academics as an undergraduate in the Communication and Media department.

The following post was submitted by Nerisusan Rosario, a current student in our online Bachelor’s Degree in Health Information Management (B.S.):

On October 31st CUNY held its 10th annual Women Leadership Conference forum emphasizing the importance of empowering, supporting and mentoring young professional women. The overall theme at the forum was about finding your professional passion. It was great to be in a room of women that embrace the practice of helping other women seek their potential growth professionally. They all expressed how important it is to build relationships with like-minded women who share similar goals, vision, and passion and are essentially a support system when climbing up the ladder.

Morning Panel: New York City Government (Council members)

The panelists were women that hold public civic positions in the New York City government and were fully engaged in their perspective committees and the needs of their constituents in their district. What impressed me was that their passion derived from a personal level and they carry it through in the work that they do. For instance Councilwoman Inez Barron is passionate about eradicating all ‘ism’s’ such as sexism, racism, and classism. Her colleague Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal strongly believes that the budget is a direct reflection of the priorities of the city and she works towards addressing that vigorously on her committee. Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson is dedicated to improving public safety and ensuring that education equality is never neglected. Finally, Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, the newest member, radiated a passion for the arts and expressed that it is possible to align your passion and still serve her community.

Afternoon Panel: “What is your passion”

The panelists were  CUNY Trustees Valerie Lancaster Beal and Rita DiMartino, a corporate Associate Vice Chancellor Andrea Shapiro Davis and Interim Vice Chancellor and University Provost  Julia Wrigley. The discussion revolved around their concept of what embodies a leader, the balancing act of family with career life, and sharing with us their own professional passion. Every single one of these women expressed a form of sacrifice in order to pursue their dreams and due to their own experience they shared the following tips:

  1. Be aware that we live in a global society (everything is accessible electronically)
  2. Maintain a grade point average of 3.0 (be mindful it’s a competitive market)
  3. Aside from work experience, internships and volunteer work are essential
  4. Monitor Facebook/Instagram/Twitter (employers do check social media and your branding)
  5. Establish a relationship with a professional that can in turn become your mentor
  6. You can supplement what you like by incorporating portions of your passion in your career
  7. Self Promote!!! Know your own values and extend yourself

I was left with the impression that many of the women in each panel are individuals that strive for personal improvement and are not afraid to take the risk necessary to be successful. All the women featured in the CUNY Women’s Leadership Conference possessed a sense of humor, charisma, and confidence which energized the audience to see the next 10 years as a strong opportunity to see women in position of power. It may appear as a challenge and perhaps even a bit intimidating, however one of my favorite quotes that came from Councilwoman Cumbo was a song lycric from Lauren Hill, “Everyday is another day to get it right.”