CSEA’s Standing Women’s Committee organized the conference. Seated in front is CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan, who is also the Women’s Committee Officer Liaison. Standing, from left to right, is Standing Women’s Committee Chair Faye Wilkie-Fields, Standing Women’s Committee members Deborah Staulters, Tyjuana Parker, Patricia Dixon-Lawrence, Olga Pineda, Michele Kiuber, Kerry Mincher, Standing Women’s Committee Staff Advisor and CSEA Director of Education and Training Nisha Stillwell-Frankson, Standing Women’s Committee members Angela Lockwood and Bernadette Giambra. Not shown is Standing Women’s Committee member Lisa Jacobson.

Our Voice, Our Power: CSEA Women’s Conference inspires, empowers members

SARATOGA SPRINGS — At our union’s recent Statewide Women’s Conference, hundreds of attendees learned how to use their voices to gain power and make positive changes in our union.

The biennial conference was organized by our union’s Standing Women’s Committee.

CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan, who also serves as the committee’s officer liaison, stressed that the Women’s Conference is member- driven, with the Standing Women’s Committee planning and executing the conference and its programs.

In accordance with the conference theme, “Our Voice, Our Power,” both plenary and breakout programs focused on helping union members find their voices and tell their stories.

“During the conference, we reflected on moments when women have used their voices to fight for and gain rights and effective change,” said Sullivan. “Now more than ever, it is important that we come together to use our voices to hold onto our protected rights and freedoms.”

Roswell Park Memorial Institute Local Secretary Amanda Bond and local Executive Vice President Davale Bessick discuss our union in their workplace.

Additional conference sessions included topics such as labor history, assertiveness, confidence building, public speaking, building a women’s committee, women veterans resources and wellness. Nearly all sessions were presented and moderated by women.

The Irene Carr Leadership Award was also presented to Western Region 2nd Vice President Sheri Ambuske for her extraordinary work on behalf of union members and her community.

SUNY Fredonia Local President Stephanie Teachman shows off a conference branded coffee break cup sponsored by CSEA vendors.


Attendees also had the chance to meet with CSEA vendors to learn the latest resources and benefits available to CSEA members. Vendors also sponsored coffee hours and charging stations to give attendees a chance to recharge themselves and their devices.

“I’m fired up and ready to go!” said Standing Women’s Committee Chair Faye Wilkie-Fields. “The weekend was all about using our voice, which gives us power. Everyone’s stories were phenomenal. Keep pushing. Keep doing the work.”

— Janice Gavin

Images by Therese Assalian, Janice Gavin and Madison Ruffo



From left to right, Erie County Social Services 2nd Vice President Sandra Suy and Hudson Valley DDSO Local Secretary Vivienne Brunson-Bedi listen as CSEA Standing Women’s Committee Chair Faye Wilkie-Fields discusses her experiences with our union’s Women’s Committees.

Standing Women’s Committee members:

Faye Wilkie-Fields, Chair
Olga Pineda, Long Island Region
Patricia Dixon-Lawrence, Metropolitan Region
Tyjuana Parker, Southern Region
Lisa Jacobson, Southern Region
Deborah Staulters, Capital Region
Michele Kiuber, Capital Region
Kerry Mincher, Central Region
Angela Lockwood, Western Region
Bernadette Giambra, Retiree Representative
Mary E. Sullivan, Officer Liaison
Nisha Stillwell-Frankson, Staff Adviser


About Author

Janice Gavin is the editor of The Work Force and CSEA’s special interest publications. A graduate of SUNY Plattsburgh and Syracuse University, Gavin has been a journalist and public relations professional for more than 25 years. She worked as a newspaper reporter and bureau chief at the Plattsburgh Press-Republican, where she was honored with Associated Press and New York Newspaper Publishers Association awards. Gavin joined CSEA as a communications specialist in the union's Southern Region in 2000. In 2004, she became The Work Force's associate editor, a position she held until becoming the publication's editor in 2017. Growing up in a union household, she is dedicated to improving workers’ lives through telling their stories.

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