Kathryn Ruscitto and Aminy Audi to kick off International Women’s Day event with a keynote conversation, and panels featuring trailblazing CNY & Syracuse women leaders

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From challenge comes change. In celebration of women’s achievements, join us for International Women’s Day, a 90-minute event that will explore what it takes to create change.  The virtual event on Monday, March 8, from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. will share stories by successful professionals, founders and small business owners of how they met challenges head on.  Learn and be inspired by what drives them in pursuit of personal and professional success, equality and inclusiveness.  The program will feature a dynamic keynote conversation and a choice of two breakout panel sessions.  Many of the speakers are Syracuse University alumni.

The program is being jointly sponsored by the WISE Women’s Business Center (a program of the Martin J. Whitman School of Management and the U.S. SBA), the Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars at Syracuse University, Gwen, Inc. and Community Bank System, Inc.

Register here and receive a Zoom link emailed to you.

The program kicks off with a keynote conversation between two extraordinary women, Kathryn Ruscitto and Aminy Audi.

Ruscitto is a graduate of the Maxwell School in Public Administration at SU, having earned her undergraduate degree at LeMoyne. Her career has included not for profits, government, and as President and CEO of St. Joseph’s Health, a system of 5,000 employees with an annual budget in excess of $800 million.  She led investments to revitalize the community, a strategy to join Trinity the second largest U.S. health system, and a $750 million construction project to create a state-of-the art green patient tower.

She is a founding board member and chair of grants for the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, a $4 billion dollar foundation investing in improving the social determinants of health care. In addition, she has helped launch the CNY Lyme and Tick Borne Disease Alliance and is a Chair of the Board of View Arts.  Over the years she has served as a board member of local and national health care and philanthropic organizations.  She is a LaunchPad mentor, advising a number of student startups.  In the third age of her life, she is focused on acting as an advisor, board leader and advocate for emerging leaders. 

Audi, CEO and Chairman of L. & J.G. Stickley, with her late husband, Alfred, purchased a struggling company with only 25 employees in 1974 and turned it into a thriving enterprise known throughout the world for its quality Arts & Crafts designs. Today, Stickley employs more than 1,500 people with three manufacturing plants and 14 company-owned stores. An accomplished leader in an industry traditionally led by men, she has grown Stickley by leveraging the company’s revered brand name, modernizing operations and sparking a resurgence of interest in high-end Arts & Crafts styling.

Throughout her career, she has made a major impact on manufacturing operations, helping lead seven expansions of the company’s facility in Manlius, N.Y. The factory now covers more than 400,000 square feet, runs two full shifts and has never had a layoff. She has received the Legacy Award and the Woman of the Year in Manufacturing Award from WithIt (Women in the Home Industries Today) and the Laurel Award for excellence from the International Furnishings and Design Association’s New York Chapter.  She was inducted into the American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame.

Panel discussions – 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. (select one)

Panel 1: #ChoosetoChallenge: How Embracing Challenge Can Drive Change

Panel Members: Catherine Richardson, retired partner, Bond, Schoeneck & King, (moderator); Kelsey Davis, founder & CEO of CLLCTVE; Caeresa Richardson, owner of Gypsy Freedom; and Kimberly Townsend, president and CEO of Loretto.

During this session, participants will explore changing the status quo through the lens of a Gen Z digital tech start-up, a pioneer in law, a small business owner who succeeded through the pandemic, and a leader in healthcare operating a large and innovative organization in the most challenging times imaginable as they explore challenges and opportunities to become a trailblazing woman in your own life and career.

Panel 2: The Art of Sistering: The Importance of Diverse Women Supporting Each Other in the Workplace

Panel Members: Gwen Webber-McLeod, president & CEO of Gwen, Inc., (moderator): Bryony Grealish, owner of Fingerless Kitchen: Diana Jaramillo, principal architect at Kin Studio: Indaria Jones, founder & CEO of The Creators Lounge; and Michelle Horton, CEO of The Archemy Group.

During this session, participants will explore why women need to support other women in the workplace, discuss the dynamics of leading at the intersection of gender and/or race and identify best practices for supporting women in the workplace from a diverse panel of women practicing this leadership competency.

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, as well as advocating for gender parity. It is held annually on March 8 and marked by programs and educational events around the world.  This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge.  The topic addresses the opportunities that can come from challenge when individuals and groups mobilize to drive change.  This year that theme particularly resonates around issues of diversity, equity and inclusion.   Speakers for this Syracuse-CNY event include women who are forging lives and careers that are helping create inclusion and drive innovation.  They represent different colors, disabilities, ages, sexual orientations and gender identities and leading lives that are creating diverse and inclusive businesses and communities that encourage collaboration, respect and equity.

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