Women’s Entrepreneurship Day—A CSI Celebration

L-R, Dena Mekawi, Orumé Hays, and Natalia Sandor

November 19 is Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, the day on which we recognize and celebrate the work of women entrepreneurs. This day presents us with the opportunity to highlight alumnae of the College of Staten Island (CSI) who are female founders and who can inspire other young entrepreneurs by sharing both the joys and challenges of their entrepreneurial journey. We asked them what challenges they faced, how their education at CSI helped prepare them for their entrepreneurial career, and what advice they have for aspiring entrepreneurs.

The Lucille and Jay Chazanoff School of Business is proud of the accomplishments of the following alumnae:

Orumé Hays, a 2005 CSI graduate who obtained a BS in Accounting and Finance. Hays graduated Magna Cum Laude and is currently an adjunct professor at CSI. She completed her master’s degree at Northeastern University in 2019. Over the years, Hays has served as an Executive Committee Member at AICPA as well as the Director at Large and a past chair of the Small Firms Practice Management Committee at NYSSCPA. She is a leader in her industry supporting small businesses in their efforts and paving the way for Black-owned, female-led initiatives.

Dena Mekawi completed her studies in 2012 at CSI where she earned a BS in Business with a concentration in Management and Marketing. She completed her Master’s degree in Publishing at Pace University in 2015. Mekawi has been chosen as a representative to the United Nations NGO, DGC where she has been an inspiration to social activists, entrepreneurs, and to underrepresented communities. She consults influential figures in the entertainment space and creates impact through power of influence.

Natalia Sandor graduated Magna Cum Laude from CSI in 2020. Sandor received her BS in Business with a concentration in Management, and was a Macaulay Honors Scholar. Additionally, she was the recipient of a four-year CSI Foundation Scholarship. In 2019, Sandor was awarded a grant through the College to assist her business and was part of a winning team in the 2020 cohort of CUNY StartUps. She was a Food and Beverage judge at the NY Business Plan Competition in 2020 and frequently engages with student programs/experiential learning to share the entrepreneurial mindset with younger students.

What challenges did you face as woman entrepreneur?

When asked about what challenges she faced as female entrepreneur, Style & Resilience’s founder, Dena Mekawi pointed to the importance of being your own motivator, leader, worker, and manager. She expressed the importance of looking out for yourself and managing your emotions. This is also why Mekawi said “she never did it alone.” “In the beginning, people will doubt you,” said Mekawi. “People who once doubted you are inevitably going to support you when they watch you overcome barriers they thought you would not be able to face,” she explains. It is common to hear “No.” It is common to be told that things are hard. As a female entrepreneur you must keep going to find your “Yes!” and remain composed until you figure out how to solve inevitable challenges.

This kind of resilience is also found in Orumé Hays, a CPA who runs her own firm and who echoed the idea of having to deal with pressure . She revealed that her greatest challenges were in two areas: the heavy workload and the overwhelming feelings of doubt that come from running her own business. On the other hand, Hays expressed that these feelings have not been a match for her passion. This is why she feels that as an entrepreneur, “you must find your why.”She believes that passion will help you find the drive for the business you are running and the motivation to achieve success.

Natalia Sandor, a 22-year old, was driven to found her ice cream sandwich company, Sand Bars Handcrafted , because of her “lifelong love affair with mint chocolate chip ice cream.” She described one of the many challenges she faced as a young female entrepreneur as balancing her personal and professional lives and reminding herself that it is OK not to check everything off her to-do list every day. Sandor also recently joined the CSI Blackstone LaunchPad team as Coordinator.

How did CSI help prepare you for your unpredictable journey?

Mekawi explains how her idea to create heels that turn into shoes was one of the sparks of her entrepreneurial journey. In a marketing class at CSI, she was charged with developing an idea to bring to market. Although, the concept of her heel-to-shoes never went anywhere, it was one of the first times she was pushed to engage with her entrepreneurial spirit.

For Hays, her spark was found through a different kind of catalyst. “I was inspired by my professors to become a CPA,” said Hays. Her accounting classrooms were places of personal discovery and professional growth, leading to an internship as well as job experiences that pushed her to start her own firm. After CSI, her experience at other CPA firms motivated her to pursue her own venture. “I wanted to serve the client better,” says Hays. To accomplish that goal, Hays felt she needed to be more hands on and have more control over customer service, which meant the creation of her own firm. She concludes: “When you run your own thing, you can decide how close you are to the person you serve.”

Sandor said she learned about two important personal developments at CSI: resilience and resourcefulness. “There is something about being a CUNY student that makes you scrappy, and pushes you to find your champions,” she says. “I looked high and low, near and far, to find the little leads that would inject energy, support, and life into my idea. Now, I have the skills to always keep moving forward and to find the people who will help me do that.”

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Surrounding yourself with good people is Mekawi’s motto: “Find people who see more in you than what you see in yourself.” She emphasizes the need to be around good people as a necessary but not a sufficient condition to entrepreneurial success. “Entrepreneurship needs to come organically from within you,” she states, as “true entrepreneurship lies in those who aim to solve a problem or who work to live out a calling.” But all else being equal, according to Mekawi -even for those with that calling – starting is usually the hardest part. And even if your first startup fails, you always learn. Entrepreneurial thinking is an immeasurable tool that enhances both personal and professional development.

Fear of failure stops many women from pursuing the things that keep them going. To this Hays says, “do not be discouraged, do the best you can. After a while, people will seek you out.”Feelings of nervousness often limit women from pursuing their dreams and to that we must find a way to uplift each other. To combat nerves, Hays recommends pep-talks and practice. The more you confront your fears, the less scary they will be.

For any woman with an idea or a desire to pursue a venture, Sandor recommends taking a leap forward instead of overthinking. The worst thing that can happen is you can fail and if you do not try, you won’t have the chance to find out.

Entrepreneurship at CSI

CSI is going entrepreneurial! Our campus was recently awarded a three-year grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation to make entrepreneurial skills more accessible to our diverse student body. Register on our entrepreneurship platform to stay up to date of all we do including competitions where you can win awards. We recently announced the winners of our Ideas Competition and awarded $6,500 in cash prizes. Do not wait… register here: https://csi.startuptree.co/

Natalia Sandor with Heidi Bertels and Mark Stroud

Chazanoff School Continues Building a Tradition through the Pandemic with Its Annual Accounting Career & Internship Fair

A screen shot from the 2021 Lucille and Jay Chazanoff School of Business Accounting Career & Internship Fair

Meeting in a virtual format for the second year in a row, the Lucille and Jay Chazanoff School of Business held its annual Accounting Career & Internship Fair on Friday, October 29, 2021. The Fair has become a tradition for the School, generally being held on the last Friday in October.  Professor Patricia Galletta, Deputy Chair of the Department of Accounting and Finance, leads the effort each year to organize the event that brings accounting students – and students from other disciplines as well – together with alumni and potential employers for an intense series of one-on-one interviews, discussions, and collegial conversations. The event has a legacy stretching back at least a decade, to well before the formation of the School of Business, but Professor Galletta has revamped and expanded the Fair in recent years. Usually held in the Green Dolphin Lounge in the Campus Center, the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a transition to a virtual format in 2020, which continued this year.

Beginning promptly at 8:45am and running throughout the day, almost 40 aspiring accountants logged in to Zoom to connect with representatives from around 20 companies. Along with these recruiters and students, another 20 enthusiastic, loyal alumni and their colleagues participated in the event to share wisdom and answer questions about their transition from campus to corporate life. Despite having only attended the School of Business for four semesters more than a decade ago, Sheron Elliott, who is now an Audit Manager at Fidelity Investments, so wanted to be a part of the event and support current students that he signed on while on a trip to the West Coast. Similarly, Randika Alwis, a recent Chazanoff graduate who is now a tax associate at BKD CPAs and Advisors, joined the session from Illinois. Alwis remembered his own experience of the Fair as a student, recalling that “the information alumni shared … helped me immensely to find the right career path for me and successfully land my first job.”

Chazanoff Accounting graduate Matt DiRusso, who recently earned his JD and passed the NY Bar Exam, and currently serves as a Senior Associate at PwC, participated in the live discussion sessions and had also assisted with the event by reviewing students’ resumes and offering suggestions beforehand. This is not the first time that DiRusso has substantially contributed to the Fair; Alwis remembered him from last year’s event, noting that “Matt DiRusso had a meeting with me after and went through my resume line by line and updated it.”  Other alumni also stepped in to directly assist current students; another Accounting graduate, Ibraheam Abdelrazeq, said that he was “pleased that a student followed up via LinkedIn” and that they had a discussion after the Fair. About the job search process, Ibraheam Abdelrazeq went on to say that “you feel like you’re alone but you’re not. …  I was never alone because I had the support and guidance of my professors at the School of Business.”

Bianca Johnson, who graduated from the Chazanoff School in May 2020, also recalled receiving assistance, saying that she was “very grateful to the School of Business and Matt [DiRusso]” for encouraging her to apply for a position at Grant Thornton, where she now works, as well as for helping her during the interview process. For his own part, DiRusso stated that he participates in the Fair because he remembers his own experiences as an accounting student, looking toward his future in the profession. “I was confused, didn’t feel confident in my professional future, and the search for full-time employment was overwhelming,” he says.  DiRusso notes that through the Fair, he “learned about different professions within the accounting industry and had the chance to speak with alumni who successfully transitioned from students to employees.”

Chazanoff baccalaureate and graduate alumnus Richard Pallarino, who will shortly assume his promotion to Vice President of Internal Audit for Product Control (Finance) at Citi, also expressed his support for the annual event. “I just believe in giving back to the place that helped me get to where I am today,” he said. “It’s nice to stay in touch and connect with former students, but to attend and provide some advice to a student looking for employment is something special. It’s their moment of search and hopefulness that they secure employment upon graduation. It’s my moment to help them reach their goals. It’s very special to me to assist any and all CSI students who welcome my input.” One of Pallarino’s graduate classmates, Mohamed Hussein, noted that “the job market can be intimidating, but speaking with individuals who took different paths to success provides great assurance.”

Cindy Wing-Yee Cambio, now a tax auditor working for the NYC Department of Finance, joined the alumni group early in the morning and remained available to speak to current students for several hours. She advocated strongly for working in the public sector, saying that she “would like to see more CSI students in civil service who want to serve the people and make CSI proud.” First-time recruiter and School of Business baccalaureate and graduate alumna Kelly Zaia, from non-profit service agency Your Part-Time Comptroller, also encouraged students to consider opportunities beyond private companies and corporations, noting that those who attended were “engaged, professional, and eager to learn more about the accounting field.” Zaia also praised them for being “on the right track to find that perfect job that will lead them to a long successful career.”

Representatives from financial and accounting firms including BDO, Citrin Cooperman, Reliant Fund Services, Prager Metis, and Rotenberg Meril spent several hours speaking with students in individual interviews, while accounting alumni interacted in simultaneous sessions. In a special session alongside the interviews, members of the Criminal Investigation Unit of the IRS described their career paths and day-to-day activities, and spoke about how to begin the process of looking for employment within the Federal government.

The value of networking and heeding the advice of professionals in the field was emphasized by several participants, from both the student group and the alumni who attended. Katherine Brigandi, Senior Internal Auditor at the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation, who graduated from the School of Business in 2013, recommended that current students devote time to networking, along with “[making] an effort to learn about professionals’ experiences and about various companies in order to make the most informed decisions regarding their career paths.”

Current Chazanoff student Barbara Walek shared that the Fair “was such a nice event, with a lot of possibilities for networking and talking with recruiters.” She added that “the most inspiring and motivating aspect of the event was the alumni group meeting. It is amazing that a lot of people are back and want to share their experiences [with current students] and help us with our careers as well.”

The event aims to not only allow students access to internship possibilities, but also to prepare them for full careers. Nicole Lugero, an Accounting student who took part in the Fair in 2020, was offered multiple internships as a result of the interviews that she participated in on that day. She was able to accept two of them, which resulted in full-time offers for when she graduates this coming May. Lugero shared her appreciation for the opportunities that the Accounting Career & Internship Fair provides, adding, “having a position offered to me before completion of my degree is something that I never thought was possible. I truly believe that I would not have had it without [Professor Galletta’s] help.”

Chazanoff School students had been preparing for weeks under the guidance of Professor Galletta, CSI alumna and adjunct faculty member Orumé Hays, and staff members from the CSI Center for Career and Professional Development. On Thursday afternoon, the day before the Fair, Professor Galletta held a last-minute preparation session and pep talk for students, offering key professional development insights and mentoring. Since planning for the event begins during the spring semester, she wants to ensure that students are as well-prepared as possible on the big day.

Dr. Susan L. Holak, Founding Dean of the Chazanoff School of Business, applauded Professor Galletta for her leadership, dedication, and stamina, noting that “the Accounting Career & Internship Fair has expanded tremendously from the events that we offered in the past, and even from the Fairs that we held in person just prior to the pandemic.” Echoing the success of the transition to the online environment, Debra Wrightington, who represented first-time participants Rotenberg Meril at the event, stated that this was “by far the most organized” virtual career fair that she had ever attended.

Summing up the event, Dr. Holak stated that “it is marvelous to see our successful alumni, who have benefitted from the experience as students, return to give back by supporting the success of those to follow. Students and alumni alike have tremendous respect and admiration for Professor Galletta who is exceptionally dedicated to her students.”

Always keen to continue building this important program for Chazanoff students, Professor Galletta has developed follow-up surveys and other opportunities for feedback that will inform her planning for future events. Her diligence and tremendous dedication to student success is clear from the way she approaches this event. “I work on the Fair because I want our students to be given opportunities to succeed,” she says. “Our students are intelligent and they work hard, and it makes me feel good when we are a part of making their dreams come true.”

By Warrick Bell

After Year as President, Dr. Susan Holak Reflects on MAACBA Experience at Virtual Annual Conference

Founding Dean of the Lucille and Jay Chazanoff School of Business, Dr. Susan L. Holak, delivered opening remarks at the 71st annual conference of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Colleges of Business Administration (MAACBA) on October 4, 2021, as the culmination of serving as President of the organization for the past year. A member of MAACBA since 2015, Dr. Holak’s address punctuated a year of challenges, resilience, and innovation for the organization and the more than 125 institutions that it serves and its members represent. The conference is usually held on the campus of a host business school; however, in both 2020 and 2021, the event transitioned into the virtual realm due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

 “MAACBA’s annual conference continues the tradition of hosting our members in the region and providing a venue for deans, faculty, business leaders, and educational services to focus on the changing landscape for business education,” said Dr. Holak. “In addition, MAACBA is dedicated to the continuation of its custom of organizing an annual teaching innovation competition and showcasing award winners. The annual conference concludes with the organization’s formal business meeting.”

Dean Holak was quick to cite the efforts made by the membership in helping shape new and innovative methods of instruction in the virtual and remote world. Having assumed the role as President of the organization’s Board of Directors during the depths of the pandemic last October, Dr. Holak recognized many of the challenges that educators had faced, and the responses that had been catalyzed as a result. “We faced many challenges this year, including the changing role of business education post-pandemic, the future of work, new expectations for thought-leadership, how best to prepare students for the rapidly changing environment and their post-college experiences,” she said.

“It has been an honor and privilege to work with such talented, dedicated leaders in the mid-Atlantic region,” said Dr. Holak, reflecting on her year as President. “Together we benefit from the invaluable collaboration among business schools in the geographic region that spans New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. The MAACBA organization dates back many decades with a legacy of promoting and improving business education. This year’s conference theme, ‘Reshaping Business and Society: The New Agenda for Business Schools,’ spoke to this moment in the course of the pandemic, when institutions of higher education are pivoting, adapting quickly, and innovating for the future. My opening remarks were meant to remind the audience of MAACBA’s long legacy, frame this year’s conference theme and the timely positioning of the conference. We also acknowledged the many dedicated people who made our conference possible and are invaluable to the organization’s planning and operations.”

MAACBA’s 2021 virtual conference, featured keynote speaker, Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO and Founder of ACUMEN, social entrepreneur, and New York Times award-winning author, who shared her experiences with impact investing, her role as a change agent, and her successes in addressing climate change and poverty around the world. Other sessions included industry panels on transitioning to a post-COVID environment, the future of work, teaching in new modalities, and preparing students for the new expectations of future employers. Tawnya Means, Assistant Dean for Educational Innovation and Chief Learning Officer at the Gies College of Business, University of Illinois, and Dr. Sharon Ryan Lydon, Associate Dean of Alumni and Corporate Engagement, Professor of Professional Practice and Supply Chain Management at Rutgers Business School – Newark and New Brunswick, organized an engaging interactive session focused on the future of teaching modalities and technology implementation, as business schools evolve post-COVID. Geoffrey Perry, Asia-Pacific Executive Vice President of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), presented on new business school accreditation standards and, particularly, the heightened importance of societal impact on the part of institutions.

While helping her peers navigate new landscapes in her term as MAACBA Board President, Dr. Holak made several initiatives her focus in 2020-2021, including the modification of board processes, calling attention to legacy and expanding the organization’s repository and Website, advancing a focus on membership and infrastructure, and the importance of developing the conference theme and keeping attuned to it when framing the conference program and sessions.

Having been a part of the MAACBA organization almost since the formation of the Lucille and Jay Chazanoff School of Business, Dean Holak shared how her affiliation with the Board of Directors has helped her development as a leader at the College of Staten Island. “The opportunity and privilege to work with wonderful dean colleagues has yielded so many benefits. Our interactions as an experienced group of deans and academic professionals often focus on addressing issues of mutual interest regionally, nationally, and internationally,” she noted. “We are a learning organization, and being able to share insights on accreditation and to discern and address issues of interest to the membership have been critical. I also believe that my participation in this organization and my tenure on the MAACBA Board of Directors have brought exposure to the Chazanoff School and CSI.”

With her Presidential term now ending, Dean Holak will continue on the Board of Directors in 2021-2022 as Past President. She looks forward to remaining active in the organization, noting that “MAACBA provides an invaluable, meaningful set of connections, as it is large enough in terms of membership and geographic region, but more intimate than a worldwide organization like the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).” Dr. Holak continued, stating that “You really get to know your colleagues well and have opportunities to share ideas and advice with them as fellow business school leaders. I look forward to transitioning to my role as Past President and the opportunity to continue collaborating with my fellow deans from institutions in the Mid-Atlantic region.”

Dean Holak stresses the importance of professional development and growth, particularly as they inform her work on campus. Recently, for example, she pursued credentials related to Carbon Literacy Training and forming an entrepreneurial education ecosystem, and she believes that her experiences with MAACBA are another form of professional development that brings benefits to the Chazanoff School. “I am very proud of the strides that we have made since forming the School of Business. We coalesced as a faculty and staff, and started to develop and build an organizational structure, processes and procedures, and traditions starting in 2014. We were elated to take on the mantle of the Lucille and Jay Chazanoff School of Business in 2019, with the generous gift from our two alumni,” Dean Holak explained. “We have so many exciting activities and opportunities, from new MS programs (Healthcare Management and Business Data Analytics) and new minors (Sports Management and Entrepreneurship), to co-curricular activities such as the growth of student clubs and the launch of certificates and credentialing, and of course, tremendous new initiatives such as Blackstone LaunchPad and our affiliation with the United Nations’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) focusing on sustainability. We have a lot to look forward to alongside the ongoing extensive renovation of Building 2M and expanding alumni and community connections.”

For more information on MAACBA, visit their Website. For more information on the Lucille and Jay Chazanoff School of Business visit their Website.

By David Pizzuto

LaunchPad Ideas Competition

Do you have an entrepreneurial idea? Have you ever dreamed of starting your own business? Are you interested in sustainability, social justice, or reducing income inequality? Blackstone LaunchPad at CSI could help fund your idea.

The Blackstone LaunchPad network at the College of Staten Island is excited to announce our first signature event, the LaunchPad Ideas Competition. The competition is designed specifically for students with no prior entrepreneurial experience. Any CSI student or team can apply with an idea – no matter how small – or a prototype – no matter how rough. There will be four categories, with one submission in each category receiving a cash prize of $1,000 to help fund their project. Additionally, these finalists will advance to a national competition round, for an opportunity to win a grand prize of $10,000. CSI will also grant cash prizes of $500 for the runner-up in each category, $1,000 for the best idea proposed by a veteran, and $1,000 for the best overall idea.

The Chazanoff School of Business is the host of Blackstone LaunchPad at CSI, but the Ideas Competition is open to students from across the campus. Applications are open until Thursday, Oct. 21 on StartupTree, at csi.startuptree.co .

Please contact CSI’s Blackstone LaunchPad team at LaunchPad@csi.cuny.edu if you have questions. Good luck.

by Dr. Susan L. Holak

Blackstone LaunchPad to Expand to CSI

Blackstone LaunchPad announced that it has expanded access to its student venture and entrepreneurial skill-building program to students at the College of Staten Island, along with eight other City University of New York (CUNY) colleges across all five New York City boroughs.

Blackstone LaunchPad’s network will provide students at CSI with the resources and opportunities to support their entrepreneurial endeavors and career ambitions. The Blackstone Charitable Foundation has committed $6 million to the program. The College of Staten Island will join Baruch College, Borough of Manhattan Community College, Bronx Community College, Brooklyn College, City College of New York, Lehman College, Queens College, and Queensborough Community College as CUNY schools participating in the program.

“CUNY is pleased to partner with the Blackstone Charitable Foundation on this important skill-building initiative that will connect students on nine of our campuses with mentors, networks, and professional development opportunities, while nurturing their entrepreneurial spirit,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “As we emerge from a pandemic that has recalibrated the future of work, programs like Blackstone LaunchPad are essential to ensuring that our economic recovery embraces and extends to all New Yorkers proportionately and equitably. We thank the Blackstone Charitable Foundation for their commitment to CUNY and our students, and for supporting institutions of higher learning that share our bedrock values of diversity and inclusion.”

“While our campus provides initiatives related to entrepreneurship such as discrete curricular offerings, through our Small Business Development Center, and CSI’s Tech Incubator, Blackstone LaunchPad will enable us to develop a platform to leverage and expand these existing resources to provide access to knowledge, skills, and networks for all our students,” said Dr. William J. Fritz, President of the College. Our campus proposal has implications for the Borough of Staten Island and beyond, as we are an anchor institution that has a significant impact on the local economy.”

Together with the recent announcement of Blackstone LaunchPad’s expansion to three historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Atlanta, the New York partnership is part of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s effort to ensure that the development of an entrepreneurial mindset and skills – such as a business acumen and a creative approach to problem solving – are available to a more diverse set of students.

For students at CSI, Blackstone LaunchPad will facilitate a global network of lasting professional relationships between students, faculty, and advisors through proven startup resources and unique virtual and physical convening opportunities. Students will also have the chance to participate in pitch competitions, fellowships, and live speaker series to pursue their desired career with the skills needed to succeed. 

Amy Stursberg, Executive Director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, said: “Given our charitable foundation’s longstanding commitment to serving the communities in which we live and work, we are very excited for the opportunity to bring Blackstone LaunchPad to all five boroughs of New York City. Our partnership with these outstanding schools is an exciting step in our broader commitment to increasing access to entrepreneurial skills, networks, and resources among underrepresented students to build successful companies and careers.”

The CUNY partnership is part of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s $40 million commitment to expand Blackstone LaunchPad to higher-ed institutions that have a majority diverse population or are serving under-resourced communities. The initiative began with an expansion to bring Blackstone LaunchPad’s network and resources to six additional campuses in the University of Texas system, designated Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), demonstrating continued dedication to increasing diversity among student entrepreneurs and the development of skills for career mobility. The College of Staten Island is one of 16 designated HSI institutions within The City University of New York. By September, Blackstone LaunchPad will be available to more than one million students at 45 schools in the U.S. and Ireland and will increase its program to 75 campuses over the next five years.

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation has led Blackstone’s philanthropic initiatives since 2007. It is driven by the firm’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and providing access to opportunity in the communities in which its members live and work. Blackstone LaunchPad helps college students learn entrepreneurial skills for success to build thriving companies and careers, with an increasing commitment to schools that have a majority diverse student population or engage with underrepresented communities. BX Connects engages Blackstone’s global employee base to partner with non-profits, supporting their missions through volunteer opportunities, fundraising, board service, and other charitable activities. 

Chazanoff School of Business Hosts Fireside Chat with NY Federal Reserve Bank President John C. Williams

A screenshot of John C. Williams, President of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, during his recent Fireside Chat

The Lucille and Jay Chazanoff School of Business provided viewers with a rare opportunity on June 24, 2021, when they hosted a virtual Fireside Chat with John C. Williams, President of the New York Federal Reserve Bank (“the Fed”). The event was moderated by Mark Stroud, a Lecturer in the Department of Economics in the Chazanoff School.

Dr. Susan Holak, the Founding Dean of the School, recalled that, “The Federal Reserve staff contacted Professor Stroud and myself about the opportunity, noting that President Williams would be doing a virtual ‘listening tour’ for three days on Staten Island. They wanted a final event that would be culmination of this visit.” Other “stops” on this tour included meetings with business leaders, government representatives, and community leaders and stakeholders from across the island.

Stroud, who also mentors Chazanoff School students for the NY Federal Reserve Challenge competition, asked President Williams a variety of questions, ranging from the state of the economies on Staten Island and in NYC, to other topics like challenges to the national economy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fed’s measures for curbing inflation, the possibility of modeling climate change into analyses of long-term regional growth, and President Williams’s views on cryptocurrencies. These questions were drawn from attendees’ submissions when they registered for the event.  President Williams underscored that transportation issues had come up a number of times in his listening tour of the Borough.

Dean Holak noted that she was thrilled with the audience that had been in attendance, even though there were fewer classes in session during the summer term compared to fall and spring semesters. Students from a number of disciplines such as economics, finance, public administration, and business law had nevertheless tuned in to the Zoom session to view the event. In addition, community members, School of Business alumni, and press correspondents from around the world were on the call.

Summing up, Dean Holak said, “It was a highly successful event! We are sincerely honored that the Fed reached out to us as an anchor institution in our community. It was a great opportunity for the Chazanoff School to work with a variety of business groups, to meet President Williams, and to collaborate with the NY Fed staff.”

By Terry Mares and Warrick Bell