On Wednesday, September 21st, the Long Island Women’s Institute at the C.W. Post Campus opened the doors of the Winnick House’s historic Great Hall to the Partnership to Advance Women Leaders (PAWL) in an effort to encourage college-age women to become active participants in society and examine the roles of women in all fields.
Led by Linda Kevins, the president of PAWL and the vice president of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York, among numerous other distinguished titles, the panel of six women discussed their tips for success in business, in life, and, especially, in politics in hopes of rousing the female attendees in the room to “pursue and obtain leadership roles in representative numbers on decision-making bodies in all fields.”
This lecture was a part of PAWL’s “Ready, Set, Lead” program, designed to “empower women in the political process.” The program focuses primarily on the importance of getting involved in one’s community, making female voices heard on governmental bodies and networking to get ahead.
“Women have equal ambition, sometimes more than their counterparts,” said Kevins. “It’s time to take action.”
Kevins automatically engaged the sparse audience of approximately 15 people by spewing out surprising statistics about women, the most jarring being that women are the majority of the population, make 80% of consumer household decisions, and 50% more women obtain a degree than men, yet they earn a mere 70% of earnings to men in doctoral-level fields, hold less than 18% of seats in the U.S. Congress, and no woman has ever held the seat of county executive in neither Nassau nor Suffolk County.
“Step out of your comfort zone. Carpe Diem!” encouraged Kevins in her thick New York accent, following this statement with an anecdote about how she used to be afraid to do things until she overheard her son’s swim coach telling the team to use their fears. It changed her perspective about life and forced her out of her comfort zone to pursue more.
“All of you are a great resource,” stated the second panelist, Arlene K. Haims, the chief operating officer at Haims Insurance Group. “I beseech all of you to stand up and make a difference,” she continued.
In order to make such a difference, each woman on the panel imparted her own words of wisdom to the audience, divulging useful tips to excel in any career.
Haims said, “Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself. Go up to people telling them what you need and want. They can help you get there.”
Barbara Gervase, a senior partner and matrimonial attorney at Gervase & Vallone, P.C. and the immediate past president of the Nassau County Women’s Bar Association, highlighted the importance of networking, dubbing it essential to becoming a leader. She also encouraged the audience members to volunteer their time and talents in order to shine.
Dr. Anne-Leslie Zaslav, another panelist, who also happens to be an adjunct instructor in C.W. Post’s master’s degree program in biology/genetics in addition to her positions as the head of cytogenetics and an associate professor of pathology at Stony Brook University Medical Center, said she used to be intimidated by speaking in public. To overcome her fear, she took acting lessons to force herself to speak in front of audiences. She stressed that everyone must communicate effectively and learn how to speak with others.
Karen Bodner, a matrimonial attorney at Stanley Hirsch and board member of both the Old Westbury Hebrew Congregation and the Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Association, said,“The only way to effectuate change is to be the voice and activate it.” She urged everyone in the room to get involved at a local level. “You’ll see and learn how people in positions of power act and talk to one another,” she stated.
Amy Hsu, a young, supervising attorney and vice co-chair of the Women in the Courts Committee, was, perhaps, the most relatable panelist in the room for female C.W. Post students. “Broadcast your accomplishments,” she said. “The more you talk about them, the more it will help your confidence.”
At the conclusion of the lecture, the panelists took time to walk around the room and introduce themselves to the students in the audience, handing them business cards and encouraging them to sign up for PAWL membership.
Audrey Thompson, a junior social work major, said the lecture was “great” and “very helpful,” and senior Dimitra Mpounas, a political science major and criminal justice minor, raved, “The presentation was, overall, very informative. I learned a lot of new statistics about women,” a goal that the women of PAWL hoped to achieve.
For more information about PAWL and how you can get involved, please visit the organization’s website at www.pawl.us.