Women’s Leadership Summit returns in person with best and brightest alumnae and leaders

Twenty-eight SUNY New Paltz alumnae and thought leaders offered first-hand career advice on accelerating and achieving professional goals to students at the 7th annual Women’s Leadership Summit on March 30, 2022.

Hosted by the Office of Development and Alumni Relations and sponsored by the SUNY New Paltz Foundation, the Summit featured several small conversation groups led by alumnae and business experts in fields ranging from media to engineering to higher education.

This year’s event marked the first in-person Summit since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“I’m really excited to have welcomed our alumnae and thought leaders to our Women’s Leadership Summit, our first live event since 2019,” said Lisa Sandick, program director for special events and sponsorships at SUNY New Paltz.

Jenna Flanagan, journalist and host of MetroFocus for WNET, served as keynote speaker. She spoke during last year’s virtual summit and reflected on how her life has changed since her last keynote address.

Reporter and friend to the College Jenna Flanagan returned to New Paltz to give the keynote address

“It took a global pandemic for me to realize that I was living to work and not living my life,” she said. “While this career is self-fulfilling, it’s not self-defining.”

Flanagan went on to describe how working from home has made her a better journalist, with greater freedom to tell more compelling stories.

Work-life balance was a recurring theme throughout the event. Alumna Christina Waterman ’15 ’16g (Business Administration), Global Director of Awards at Digiday Media, who recently made a big move to Portugal, offered words of wisdom on how achieving this balance will make all the difference in the workplace.

“I always had this dream that I could work remotely and live wherever I wanted to,” she said. “I can do the same job, if not a better job, from wherever I’m at because I’m happy.”

In addition to finding balance, many speakers discussed the importance of self-care.

“There’s a lot of pressure to be a woman in engineering, but it’s important to make sure that you find time for yourself in your workday,” said Lori Jockers ’17 (Mechanical Engineering), a design engineer at Natech Plastics who was among the first graduating class in the mechanical engineering program five years ago.  

“The key is to seek out a workplace that embraces your whole self because if it doesn’t, it’s probably not going to work out for you,” said Jacinda Felix Haro ’96 (Communication Arts), dean of students and senior student affairs officer at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS).

Christina Waterman ’15 ’16g (Business Administration), Global Director of Awards at Digiday Media, speaks with students at the Summit

Students who attended the conversation groups gained tips on the importance of networking and finding a job that suits them. 

“Everybody was really engaging and taught me that I can keep my options open about where I want to work after graduation,” said Sydney Rankin ’22 (International Relations).

“I learned some tips for the job search and to step out of my comfort zone,” said Jennifer Fitzpatrick ’22 (Marketing). “This event helped me gain more confidence in taking the steps I need to take once I graduate.”

For more information and the full list of Women’s Summit panelists, visit www.newpaltz.edu/summit.