St. Rose Opens New Women's Leadership Institute | WAMC

St. Rose Opens New Women's Leadership Institute

Nov 4, 2019

The College of Saint Rose in Albany has opened its new Women’s Leadership Institute. 

Walking through the new hub at the Michelle Cuozzo Borisenok ’80 House in Albany, you can see where the $1.2 million donation made by the building’s namesake earlier this year was spent.

The hub shines with brand-new offices, gathering spaces, and a conference room. Saint Rose President Carolyn Stefanco says the WLI is designed to support women leaders in the Capital Region and beyond, and Director Yolanda Caldwell says that starts with promoting discussion.

The new WLI hub includes gathering space for conferences and workshops, as well as offices for visiting speakers and professors.
Credit Michael Apollo / WAMC

"This is our living room space," Caldwell motions about a bright yellow space in the front of the house. "And this is a space where our [BOLD] scholars, our students, our professionals will be able to come and sit and create theories, concepts, debate topics — because we all know that learning comes sometimes from having an engaging conversation, and this space is set up just for that." 

The 3,800-square-foot house is also home to the college’s chapter of the BOLD Women’s Leadership Network, a national program providing financial aid, training, and internship support to women leaders.

Saint Rose became one of only six institutions across the country to join the program last winter. It has already selected its first two cohorts – 14 students total – and moved its seniors into the second floor, complete with a kitchen, in-house laundry, and colorful dorms. Junior Hannah Deetz won’t move in until next year, but credits BOLD with allowing her to live on campus.

“Being a commuter student for the last three years, I haven’t been able to have that intimate-level with my friends, because I had to balance going to college, and then going home, and then traveling every single day," she explains. "On the bus, it took me about an hour and five minutes to get to Saint Rose, but now with this scholarship I’m able to have these connections – I get to have all these opportunities that I would have never had otherwise.”

Caldwell says BOLD scholars already participated in a leadership conference in San Francisco over the summer.

College of Saint Rose President Carolyn Stefanco announces the launch of the WLI and its new advisory board in a Friday press conference.
Credit Michael Apollo / WAMC

Stefanco says the institute is partnering with the Times Union’s Women@Work network to bring a 2017 poll on women nationwide in 2020. Created by Eve Walter, the View on Women looked at underlying attitudes toward women across New York state to better understand why issues like domestic violence and the gender pay gap persist.

Stefanco says the WLI will present the 2020 poll when it hosts the International Leadership Association’s Women and Leadership Conference in June. 

“We’re gonna learn a lot more about how we focus our energies at women’s leadership institutes, and women’s programs, incorporations, and higher education, to really do things that’ll make a difference," she notes. "So it’s gonna be a very important part of [the conference], because we’ll be collecting data that will actually translate into action. So I’m very excited about it.” 

All of this work – and any upcoming programs – is to be guided by a new 14-person advisory board with figures including NewsChannel 13 anchor Elaine Houston and former Albany Law School Dean Penelope Andrews. Stefanco says the college intentionally sought members with a range of experiences. 

The Women’s Leadership Institute is gonna serve students at the College of Saint Rose, it’s gonna serve people in the Capital Region of New York, but it really is intended to serve women across the country and around the world as well – and that’s why the advisory board members who were invited to participate are from other countries, are from other parts of this country, as well as from the Capital Region," she explains. 

The College of Saint Rose marks its 100th anniversary in 2020. First founded as a women’s college, Saint Rose became fully coeducational in 1969, and now serves nearly 4,000 students. Women make up about 67 percent of its undergraduate population, and 78 percent of its graduate students.