Read the event recap: Empowered Women Empower Women

Women remain significantly underrepresented among elected officials in the United States at all levels of government. Currently, women make up only 18.3% of Congress and 22% of the New York State legislature. This panel discussion explored bipartisan perspectives on why there are still so few women in American politics, assessed current and future efforts to address this critical gender gap, and identified ways in which increasing women’s political leadership may lead to breaking through partisan divides on key social issues. Panelists explored the following questions: How do we build a critical mass of women in political leadership so that a full range of issues are considered?  How do we strengthen the pipeline of women’s political leadership? What strategies implemented elsewhere have been successful in bringing more women to leadership positions in policy-making? Finally, what are the opportunities and barriers to create a bipartisan agenda?

Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab and IBM’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs Stanley Litow made introductory remarks followed by a discussion moderated by David Firestone, New York Times Projects Editor, with New York State Assembly Members:

Jane Corwin (R) (144th AD – Western New York)

Janet Duprey (R) (115th AD – Clinton, Franklin and parts of St. Lawrence counties)

Shelley Mayer (D) (90th AD – City of Yonkers)

Gabriela Rosa (D) (72nd AD – Washington Heights, Manhattan)


Jane L. Corwin  New York State Assembly Member (R-144)

Jane Lewis Corwin was elected to the New York State Assembly on November 4, 2008 and represents what is now the 144th Assembly District.

Corwin received her undergraduate degree from the State University of New York at Albany and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Pace University. She later became the Director of Research at Henry Ansbacher, Inc., and was responsible for valuation, analysis and presentation of client businesses for sale. She later returned to Western New York and took the position of Vice President at the Talking Phone Book. Building on her private sector experience, Jane has taken a business-like approach to solving the problems of state government. She has taken a large role in promoting the needs of small businesses in Western New York in collaboration with the Assembly Minority Conference to once and for all change the status quo in Albany.

Jane also sits as the Ranking Minority member of the Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee, and in this capacity has held state agencies and corporations accountable for mismanagement and inefficient use of taxpayer dollars. In addition to her work on the Corporations committee, she also represents her constituents on the Environmental Conservation, Mental Health, and Education committees as well. Recently, she was given the honor of being appointed to Minority Leader Pro Tempore and has been leading the debate on the Assembly floor for the many issues facing our State.

Janet L. Duprey  New York State Assembly Member (R-115)

Janet L. Duprey was re-elected in November 2012 to represent the newly-formed 115th Assembly District, which includes all of Clinton and Franklin counties as well as four towns in St. Lawrence County. During her first three terms in the Assembly, Mrs. Duprey represented the 114th District, which included a town in Essex County.
A lifelong public servant, Janet was the first woman elected to the Clinton County Legislature at the age of 29. After 10 years as a legislator, including two years as chairperson, she was elected Clinton County Treasurer. She served as treasurer for 21 years until her resignation in December 2006, following her election to the Assembly.

During the 2013-2014 session, Janet will again be the Ranking Minority Member on the Governmental Operations Committee. In addition, she will continue to serve on the Correction, Ethics and Guidance, and Higher Education committees, and she will also join the Rules, and Ways and Means committees. Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb has appointed Janet as the Secretary of the Minority Conference.
During her time in the Assembly, Janet has been tireless in her efforts to assist constituents throughout her district, which covers more than 3,000 square miles. She has traveled to every part of the district many times to assist individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations, local governments and school districts. She remains committed to working in a bi-partisan manner to improve the quality of life in the North Country.

Shelley Mayer  New York State Assembly Member (D-90)

Shelley Mayer, born and raised in Yonkers, has spent her career as an advocate for New Yorkers. She is an experienced and progressive leader, dedicated to charting a new course for Yonkers and New York. She was elected to the New York State Assembly in a special election on March 20, 2012 and subsequently re-elected November 2012 from the 90th District (Yonkers).

Prior to her election to the Assembly, Shelley was a Senior Counsel at the National State Attorney General Program at Columbia Law School, where she focused on health care and labor law rights. For over seven years, she was Vice President of Government and Community Affairs at Continuum Health Partners, one of New York City’s largest teaching hospital systems, working to protect Medicaid and Medicare services and improving the relationship between New York City’s diverse communities and the hospital system.

From 1982 to 1994, Shelley was an Assistant Attorney General in the office of New York Attorney General Bob Abrams. She served in the Civil Rights Bureau, as Chief of the Westchester Regional Office, as the legislative liaison for the Attorney General and ultimately as a senior advisor to the Attorney General. As an Assistant Attorney General, Shelley fought to protect civil rights for New Yorkers and to broaden laws protecting consumers and tenants.

Shelley received a JD from SUNY Buffalo School of Law in 1979 and a Bachelor of Arts from UCLA in 1975.

Shelley has been actively involved in the Yonkers community, serving as a member of the Yonkers NAACP, Yonkers YWCA, Westchester Women’s Bar Association, and Westchester Women’s Agenda. She is a member of the Yonkers Lawyers Association, New York State Bar Association and the American Bar Association. Shelley also previously served on the Board of the Jewish Council of Yonkers/Westchester Community Partners and the Yonkers Public Library.

Shelley lives in Yonkers with her husband of 34 years, Lee Smith. Shelley and Lee have three adult children–Aaron, Julia, and Arthur Smith.

Gabriela Rosa  New York State Assembly Member (D-72)

Gabriela Rosa has dedicated her life to public service for over a decade. She began in the New York State Legislature in the year 2000 working as a legislative assistant to State Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell, Jr. Already familiar with the struggles of immigrant working families, she found personal satisfaction and the fulfillment of public service in her work assisting constituents in the neighborhoods of Inwood, Washington Heights and Harlem. As a working parent, she juggled the demands of her career with her calling to serve as a volunteer in the after school program at PS/IS 18, all the while being the best mother she could be.

In 2002, Gabriela accepted a position as Chief of Staff to the City Councilmember representing Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill in the 10th Council District. In three years of service, Gabriela oversaw the district office and led a staff that provided quality constituent services to the residents of the district. Her service during that time gave her a deeper understanding of the issues affecting the colorful patchwork of neighborhoods in Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill, and drove Gabriela towards greater activism.

In 2004, Gabriela returned to the office of Assemblyman Farrell, this time as Senior Policy Advisor and Special Assistant. In that capacity she has been able to use her understanding of the issues affecting the lives of the residents of Northern Manhattan and her knowledge of the workings of the State Legislature to help strike a balance that can best serve the needs of the district and the great State of New York.
Civic participation is a value that was instilled in Gabriela since she was very young in the Dominican Republic. She brought this passion for political activism to her neighborhood and has volunteered on countless voter registration drives. In addition to making a life in the United States and achieving the American Dream, Gabriela believes that a responsible citizen should participate in our great democracy. In 2005, Gabriela became a proud United States Citizen, allowing her to deepen her involvement in government and civics by running for office and opening the door for her to further improve the lives of her neighbors in Northern Manhattan.

Gabriela also volunteers her time with various organizations that she is very passionate about. She is an active member of Community Board 12, the Association of Progressive Women, NOW, and NARAL among other organizations.

Gabriela stays active, to an extent, in the politics of the Dominican Republic with the understanding that the lives of a great majority of the constituents that she has dedicated her life to in the neighborhoods of Upper Manhattan are inextricably tied to that Caribbean island. She is also very active in many different activities in the community, answering the call of natural disasters she has helped raise funds for Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti and others.

Gabriela was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on October 12, 1966. In 1983, at the age of 16, she completed high school, majoring in Science & Math. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing at the Universidad Pedro Henriquez Ureña in the Dominican Republic in 1986. She also studied English Grammar & Literacy at the Dominican American Institute, and became an Advanced English Teacher at the same Institute. She later also completed a Bachelor of Science in Economics at Instituto Tecnólogico de Santo Domingo (INTEC).

Gabriela came to New York City in 1994 and during her initial years, she worked in the retail industry. In 1998, she started working at the Trade Office of the Dominican Consulate in New York, working as a facilitator and liaison between businessmen in the city of New York and the Dominican Republic. She also organized Trade Fairs in both cities, with the sponsorship of the Department of Trade of the Dominican Republic, now known as Centro de Exportación e Inversión (CEI).

Gabriela is a resident of Washington Heights, is married and the mother of a very handsome 14-year-old son, who is a student of the Public Education System of New York.

David Firestone  New York Times Projects Editor, National Politics, the White House and Congress

David Firestone is an editor on the editorial board of The New York Times, and writes its editorials and blog posts on national politics and Congressional dysfunction. Previously, he has been the paper’s deputy national editor and deputy metropolitan editor, as well as a Washington correspondent, national correspondent covering the South, and City Hall bureau chief. Before coming to the Times 20 years ago, he worked as a reporter for New York Newsday, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Kansas City Star. He was born in Kansas City, and now lives in Brooklyn with his wife Susan Brenna and, occasionally, their two adult sons.

Stanley Litow  IBM’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and President of IBM’s Foundation

Stanley S. Litow is IBM’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and President of IBM’s Foundation. Under his leadership, IBM has been widely regarded as the global leader in Corporate Citizenship, and praised for societal and environmental leadership, labor practices, and civic leadership. Under Mr. Litow, IBM has developed innovative voice recognition technology to help children and adults learn to read, a humanitarian virtual supercomputer to speed research on cancer and AIDS, and new digital imaging technology to improve water quality. Mr. Litow helped devise IBM’s Corporate Service Corps, a corporate version of the Peace Corps, to train and deploy thousands of IBM’s future leaders; the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), a grade 9 through 14 schools initiative to engage companies, colleges, communities and schools to help strengthen America’s economic competitiveness by connecting education to jobs; and IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge, which is helping 100 cities worldwide become more effective.

Mr. Litow is a frequent keynote speaker and panelist at major conferences on philanthropy and corporate leadership in the U.S. and around the world. He has served on the President’s Welfare to Work Commission, and currently serves on the board of the Harvard Business School Social Enterprise Initiative, The Citizens Budget Commission, The After-School Corporation and the Albert Shanker Institute.

A prolific author, Mr. Litow’s articles and commentary have appeared in publications including: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, the Bush Center Blog, Education Week, HBS Working Papers, The Huffington Post, Newsday, The New York Times, the New York University Annual Survey of American Law, the Peace Corps 50th Anniversary Monograph (Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan), U.S. News & World Report, The Yale Law Journal and publications of the American Academy of Sciences.

Mr. Litow is the recipient of the Council on Foundation’s prestigious Scrivner Award for creative philanthropy. He also has been recognized by the Anne Frank Center, the Coro Foundation, the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission and other philanthropic organizations for his commitment to service and leadership. Mr. Litow has twice been voted CEO of the Year by Corporate Responsibility Officer magazine, and IBM’s efforts to improve American education have won the company two Ron Brown Presidential Awards for Corporate Leadership.

Prior to joining IBM, Mr. Litow’s career in public and nonprofit leadership included service as Deputy Chancellor of the New York City Public Schools, and founder and CEO of Interface, a nonprofit think tank.

Jennifer Raab  Hunter College President

Jennifer J. Raab is the 13th President of Hunter College, the largest college of the City University of New York.

Since assuming the presidency in 2001, she has led a successful effort to enlarge the faculty and recruit distinguished professors and artists. Standards throughout the college have been raised, and fiscal management has been modernized and strengthened. Entering SAT scores increased by 89 points in just seven years and are now 137 points above the national average. Hunter has won new levels of government awards, private grants and philanthropic contributions and launched the first capital campaign in its history.
Since her tenure began in 2001,

President Raab’s role as an educational leader continues her long career in public service, from lawyer to political campaigner adviser to government official. Her career in government began in 1979 when she became special projects manager for the South Bronx Development Organization, an agency that played a critical role in the renewal of one of the city’s most distressed areas, and she was later named director of public affairs for the New York City Planning Commission.

Crain’s New York Business named her as one of New York’s “100 Most Influential Women in Business” in 2007 and one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in New York” in 2009 and 2011. She has been honored by many New York and national organizations, including the Martina Arroyo Foundation, United Way, the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute and the League of Women Voters of New York.

Long active in civic and national affairs, President Raab is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the Board of Directors of The After School Corporation and on the Steering Committee of the Association for a Better New York. She was appointed a member of the 2004-05 New York City Charter Revision Commission by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

A graduate of Hunter College High School, President Raab is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Cornell University, holds a Master in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton and received her law degree cum laude from Harvard Law School. Harvard has named her to the Law School Visiting Committee, which reports to the University Board of Overseers.
President Raab is the 2012 recipient of Albany Law School’s Miriam M. Netter Award, which is awarded annually to the School’s Kate Stoneman Day keynote speaker, in honor of Stoneman’s lifelong commitment to actively seeking change and expanding opportunities for women.


  • State Fact Sheet: New York

    A list of all female elected officials from NY at the federal and state levels, including broken down by leadership of women of color, created by the Center for American Women and Politics.

  • White House Fact Sheet: The Equal Futures Partnership to Expand Women’s Political and Economic Participation

    New commitments to action by the U.S. and highlights of commitments made by founding partners.

  • Women State Legislators: Past, Present and Future

    Highlights and major findings of how women state legislators vote and how women’s interests are represented in elected office.

  • Research Inventory: American Women and Politics

    A summary of research on issues relating to Women in American Politics including: Why Women? The Impact of Women in Elective Office; Women Candidates and their Campaigns; Women’s Election to Congress; Reaching Executive Office: the Presidency and the Office of the Governor; Candidate Recruitment and Women’s Routes to Elective Office; Women Candidates and Political Parties; Media Coverage of Women Candidates; Women of Color in American Politics; Money and Women Candidates.

  • Girls Just Wanna Not Run: The Gender Gap in Young Americans’ Political Ambition

    This report outlines the results of a survey showing that there is a large gender gap in political ambition, and that this gap already exists by the time women and men enter their first career. It identifies factors that contribute to this gender gap in political ambition among college students and the conclusion briefly offers direction for those interested in increasing the number of young women aspiring to seek and hold elective office.

  • Women’s Leadership: Revitalizing Women’s Initiatives

    This brief outlines best corporate practices for supporting the career development of female employees, and argues the ability of women to advance still lies within: in networking, acquiring leadership and managerial skills, and using the honest feedback of a mentor.

  • Gender Quotas and Female Leadership: A Review (Background Paper for the World Development Report on Gender)

    This paper reviews the global evidence on the equity and efficiency impacts of gender quotas for political positions and corporate board membership.

  • The 2012 Global Gender Gap Report

    The Global Gender Gap Index, introduced by the World Economic Forum in 2006, is a framework for capturing the magnitude and scope of gender-based disparities and tracking their progress. The Index benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, political, education- and health-based criteria, and provides country rankings that allow for effective comparisons across regions and income groups, and over time.

  • Raising Female Leaders

    This policy brief documents how a quota system for female village leaders in India changed perceptions of women’s abilities, improved women’s electoral chances, and raised aspirations and educational attainment for adolescent girls.

Women Legislators & Public Policy: Setting a Bipartisan Agenda | Posted on September 13th, 2013 | Public Policy Program Events, Public Programs