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NYS Women, Inc. - A Presence at National Women's Commissions Conference

by Katharine Smith

Author: Renee Cerullo/Friday, August 18, 2017

New York State Women, Inc. was one of the sponsors for the National Association of Commissions for Women annual conference which was held in Buffalo, NY.

NYS Women, Inc. played an important role in history.

The establishment of “Status of Women” commissions in the U.S. in 1963 was due largely to the efforts of our former organization, Business and Professional Women/USA. President John F. Kennedy recognized the group’s leading role in securing passage of the Equal Pay Act by giving BPW/USA’s national president the first pen he used when signing the Act into law.

National Association of Commissions for Women (NACW) assists and supports commissions for women to ensure that they not only survive, but thrive and succeed. They provide valuable programs, meaningful activities, relevant resources, and expertise to members.

47th Annual National Association of Commissions for Women Conference and Empowerment Summit.

The NACW conference took place over five days, from July 12th to 16th, and included workshops, moderated panels on a range of issues impacting women, keynote speakers, and networking with women from across New York State and the U.S.

Reaching out to potential members.

The NYS Women, Inc. table was a bustling hub of animated conversation about women’s issues, a possible new chapter, and potential members. We were on hand to answer questions who we are, where our chapters are located, and about the programs we offer for young women and for women in the armed services. (And, thank YOU to the BNC members who “womaned” the table: Renee Cerullo, Ramona Gallagher, Stephanie Kennedy, and Susan Mager!)

The conference had an ambitious agenda.

Just some of the panels on offer were: Women in Leadership, Women’s Healthcare, Economic Justice: Legislative Updates (moderated by NYS Women, Inc. partner, Beverly Neufeld, founder and president of POWHER NY), Women and Media: Changing Roles, ​and The Status of the Women Refugee Community.
NACW also hosted a Girls Summit for middle and high school aged girls. It focused on the social, political, and economic empowerment of girls from across Erie County.

The July 14th luncheon featured – as “warm up speakers,” mind you – New York State Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. They were followed by the keynote speaker Evelyn Murphy, former Lieutenant Governor, Massachusetts, spoke on a topic of great importance to NYS Women, Inc., “Status of Pay Equity: New Data, New Strategies” (luncheon speakers pictured top, l. to r., Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Evelyn Murphy).

Murphy is the president of The WAGE Project, Inc., a grassroots activist national organization to end wage discrimination against working women, and resident scholar in the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University, where she has researched and authored a book on women’s wages, Getting Even: Why Women Don’t Get Paid Like Men and What To Do About It, published in 2005. In 1986, Murphy was elected Lt. Governor, becoming the first woman in the state’s 200-year history to hold constitutional office.

Stirring evening keynote from Amanda Nguyen, rape survivor, and founder of Rise.

Amanda Nguyen (pictured bottom) is the president and founder of Rise. She conceived the Survivors’ Bill of Rights, and theory of model social change, after having to navigate the broken criminal justice system after her own rape. She penned her own civil rights into existence; the bill she drafted is now federal law, as well as Massachusetts, Oregon, Virginia, Maryland, Idaho, and Washington state law. These laws codify civil rights for at least 25 million rape survivors. Rise’s effort was not only historic in substance, but also, it did the near impossible – it passed unanimously through the most partisan Congress in history, a feat done by only 21 bills – or 0.016% of passed bills – in modern history.

For her leadership of Rise, Amanda has been named by Marie Claire as a “Young Woman of the Year,” 92Y as “Extraordinary Woman of the Year,” Forbes “30 Under 30,” and The Tempest as the “Number One Woman of Color Trailblazer” in 2016. She also won the 2016 TED fellowship. Previously Amanda was appointed by President Barack Obama to the United States Department of State as his Deputy White House Liaison. Before that she served at NASA, the White House, and Stanley Morgan. Amanda graduated from Harvard University.

NYS Women, Inc. an example to national audience.

Katharine Smith, NIKE associate editor and immediate past president of the Buffalo Niagara Chapter, was a presenter on the “Brand Building and Social Media” panel. Before the 35-plus attendees, she gave a real-life case study, using as her example the rebranding of NYS Women, Inc. as it moved from its identity as Business and Professional Women/NYS.

Katharine described the arc of BPW/USA’s history, origins in 1919, and advocacy for women, as well as its resultant life as part of the Business and Professional Women Foundation. She detailed NYS Women, Inc.’s emergence as its own entity and referenced its mission of “building powerful women personally, professionally and politically” and vision to “make a difference in the lives of working women.”

Katharine also discussed the derivation of NYS Women, Inc.’s logo and the meaning behind its colors (blue for strength and continuity; green for growth) and symbol of four squares (diversity and openness to all women).

She showed visual examples that included NYS Women, Inc. banners, signage, and rack cards and talked about how important it is to use the same language when describing the organization, everything from its programs to the feature articles in NIKE.

NYS Women, Inc., proud sponsor of the National Association of Commissions for Women 47th annual conference: Embracing Our Past, Empowering Our Future.


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