On March 22, Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis and mentors and student mentees of the Women’s Leadership Council traveled to Albany to meet with elected officials, including Governor Kathy Hochul, State Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and Speaker of the State Assembly (and Stony Brook University alum) Carl Heastie, to have robust conversations on their backgrounds, the challenges they face in their positions, and the status of the state budget negotiations.
The day began with a breakfast discussion with Stony Brook University alumni and Assemblymembers Steve Englebright, Kimberley Jean-Pierre and Sarah Clarke, who each shared their experiences at Stony Brook and how those experiences prepared them for their careers in Albany. The group also heard from Assemblymember Deborah Glick, who is chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, who provided an in-depth conversation on her background and what lead her into public service.
The group then met with the Senate Majority Leader and members of the Long Island Senate Majority Delegation. The senators engaged in a productive question-and-answer session about significant issues facing the state. In her remarks, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins shared her incredible story rising to become the first female leader of a Legislative Conference and the first female minority member to become the State Senate Majority Leader.
During the lunch session, the students were joined by Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, who is chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, who shared her unique perspective on her career in state government. As a member of the bipartisan-bicameral Legislative Women’s Caucus, Senator Stavisky proudly spoke of how many women are now legislators in Albany, particularly in senior leadership positions.
Next, the group met with Governor Kathy Hochul and members of her Senior Leadership Team, including Secretary to the Governor (and Stony Brook and Women’s Leadership Council alum) Karen Keogh, director of State Operations, and Kathryn Garcia, counsel to Governor Elizabeth Fine and executive deputy secretary to Governor Robin Chappelle Golston. The Governor spoke of her experiences, the challenges the state is facing and the incredible opportunities available for young women in New York. The Senior Leadership Team engaged in an insightful conversation and Q&A with the students about the challenges they face in their senior positions and the competing interests they must balance across the state.
After a tour of the Capitol building, the students met with members of the Long Island Senate Minority Delegation, including Senators Mario Mattera, Anthony Palumbo, Alexis Weik and Phil Boyle.
Finally, the group met with Speaker of the State Assembly Carl Heastie in his Capitol office. The Speaker provided insightful thoughts on his time at Stony Brook, critical issues facing the state, and the current status of the budget negotiations. He then brought the Women’s Leadership Council on to the Assembly floor for a first-hand view of the Assembly chamber.
The Women’s Leadership Council was founded in 2014 and is chaired by Marilyn Simons. The Council is a highly selective program, only choosing six to eight rising juniors and seniors (out of a candidate pool of more than 2,000) who have excelled in and out of the classroom. As part of the professional practices and business acumen that the student mentees are exposed to, the Council organizes enriching workshops and field trips for students to gain real-world learning experiences.