Walking Tall in 3" Heels - SUNY Orange Foundation Honors Women of Distinction

SUNY Orange gave a warm homecoming to four women of distinction last week during the 7th annual leadership awards. Few moments in the history of this blog have been as powerful as an afternoon spent in the company of these savvy careeresses* with a thousand accolades between them.

The honorees engaged in a moderated panel discussion on the subject of how to-succeed, infra how to endure failure.  Students from SUNY Orange and Mount Saint Mary College packed the room to listen in as Kelly M. Williams, Kathy Frommer, Vera M. Best and Kim Marie Boylan shared their stories of trial and triumph.

Kathy Frommer - a Newburgh Free Academy graduate - accepted the Leadership in Community award. Her local community service includes a role on the board at McQuade and it's Kaplan School as well as assignments on the board of the SUNY Orange Foundation and the iconic Bethel Woods Center for the Performing Arts. Kathy's entrepreneurial spirit was relentless and she spoke about her years becoming established and how there was no money to be made at first, "Keep on going, and don't stop!" she told the attendees. "Keep working - even when it's really hard. Work through college - serve the public and then you'll understand how to deal with failure." When asked how to know when you've met success, the determined and headstrong professional surprised everyone by saying, "When you feel in your heart you've helped someone else.." letting her femininity shine through her power suit.

Kathy Frommer (Left), Kim Marie Boylan (Right)

Kim Marie Boylan - a fiery blond and distinguished graduate of SUNY Orange who went on to study business administration at Georgetown (and later law) arrived from D.C. for the event. She  gave a soaring personal account of the business savvy she had to muster over the years during accounting litigation involving fortune 500 companies and major corporations - during which she was often fighting off a stereotype of being the "little blond girl" in the room. She emphasized the importance of perseverance saying, "Never give up!" adding, "Believe in yourself and always do the best job you can do." after referencing a career case 15 years long that her team ultimately lost.  Kim received the Alumni Leadership Award from SUNY Orange and wears her title as senior tax partner at the global law firm of White & Case, LLP proudly.

Vera Best (Right) gets one-on-one with students after the pabel

Vera M. Best is a local entrepreneur and founder of Best Resource Center, Inc. For Vera, failure was not an option. The 11th of 13 children - self-motivation was enough to get her through Mount Saint Mary College and well on her way to career success in business administration. She started the 'Best' program in 1999 in Newburgh, N.Y. with a focus on academic and professional skill development, job readiness and client support services for students K - 12. Best was overjoyed at seeing some of the graduates of her program registered in attendance at the panel discussion as college students. Her many years of servitude across multiple community boards and her personal investment in the youth of her home town are cooperatively meritous examples of her well-deserving receipt of the prestigious award for Leadership in Education.

Kelly kicks up her Louboutins!

Kelly M. Williams - bold in leopard print and Louboutin's - flew in from Austin, Texas to accept the Leadership in Business award. The NYC resident is the managing director and founder of Credit Suisse's Customized Fund Investment Group - overseeing $27 billion for her clients. Her list of accolades rolls out behind her like a red carpet, and Kelly's flare for fun fashion makes her a stand-out in a world of black and white business attire.  Her advice to staying afloat in a sea of masculinity with a tide of intimidation, "Save your words. Take the opportunity to make a statement. Be memorable." Kelly is a graduate of NFA and is proud of her role as 'mentor' and active relationship with the Roberty Tiogo Foundation - where she assists minority MBA candidates focused on finance.

Derrik Wynkoop (right), chair of the Foundation's awards committee, and Dr. William Richards (left), SUNY Orange president and a previous Leadership Award winner, were among the more than 100 people on hand to celebrate the honorees. (Photo ^ by Steve Hedderton - provided)

SUNY Orange Foundation Leadership Awards were held on Thursday, Sept. 27 at the Newburgh campus in Kaplan Hall.

*careeresses = made up word meant to combine career and prowess (apologies to English majors for any confusion this may have caused)