Jennifer Raab, President of Hunter College, warmly welcomed preceptors, pupils, legislators, and leaders to Roosevelt House on the evening of Tuesday, October 15th, 2013. Her opening remarks established the thematic purpose of the occasion “Women Legislators and Public Policy: Setting a Bipartisan Agenda” underscoring the critical role of women in civic engagement, empowerment, and leadership.
Shelley Mayer, representative for the 90th New York State Assembly District, reaffirmed President Raab by encouraging young women to become active in their communities, to join men in the political process, and to overcome rejection. Her message is backed by her experience as a political organizer, passion for serving the public, and willingness to “put the small aside and focus on the big” issues to cultivate collegiality amount her peers.
Camaraderie and partnership is equally important to Jane Lewis Corwin, Republican representative for the 144th New York State Assembly District, who reaches out to her Democratic colleagues and breaches the “there and them” of divisive party lines to get bills passed. She does so for her constituents and in respect of the concerns that are prevalent among the communities she serves, among them those that affect families such as bullying and mental health.
Janet L. Duprey, representative for the 115th New York State Assembly District, agreed saying that “women place families at the forefront.” Therefore, at the heart of her work is ensuring that every person has the opportunity to fulfill their potential. She has endeavored throughout her 38 years of public service to do just that and to carry out her role with integrity, dismissing the skeptics that have looked down upon her and her role as a female elected official.
As a recently elected representative, Gabriela Rosa of the 72nd New York State Assembly District feels honored to work with such empowered women. She reflected on her journey to and in the United Stated from her homeland in the Dominica Republic; her struggles motivate her advocacy on issues such as special education and youth domestic violence. Her perseverance is reflected in her own statement, “Women know how to push and how to deliver; when women are committed, we can do it!”
Stanley S. Litow, IBM’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, President of IBM’s Foundation, and Member of the External Advisory Board of Roosevelt House joined President Raab and guests and presented the panel moderator, David Firestone, an editor on the editorial board of The New York Times. Mr. Firestone engaged the assembly members and attendees in focused dialogue. Afterwards, Hunter College students were able to interact and interview the evenings’ panelists.
By Benedict Joson
Benedict Joson is a senior studying political science, public policy, and human rights at Hunter College. Continue the conversation with him on Twitter @BenedictJoson.