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Saratoga County’s 2015

WOMEN of

Influence

Brought to you by:


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Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015


Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015

Saratoga County’s 2015

WOMEN of

Influence PUBLISHER Chad Beatty

GENERAL MANAGER Robin Mitchell

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Alyssa Jackson

GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Shawn Lockwood Amy Gifford

WRITERS

Megan Kretz Helen Edelman

ADVERTISING SALES Jim Daley Cindy Durfey

PHOTOGRAPHERS Mark Bolles Franceso D’Amico Emma Dodge Hansen Deborah Neary

SPONSORED BY:

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Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015


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Paula Fidalgo Gretzinger Photos by Mark Bolles

Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015

People said you can’t do this by yourself, but when people tell me I can’t do something, it just makes me want to try even harder!

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nlike some of her fellow Women of Influence nominees, Paula Fidalgo isn’t a native of the Saratoga region. But after a decade of living here, she has completely fallen in love with her new home. Born in Springfield Massachusetts, Paula moved to Portugal with her parents when she was 8 years old and lived there until she enrolled at Emerson College for Broadcast Journalism. Paula’s parents still live in Portugal and while she doesn’t get to see them as often as she’d like, she recently surprised them with a visit over the holidays. “To feel that unconditional love from my family for five days was so refreshing, it was better than the spa!” she says. “The reason I went in to broadcasting was to tell a story,” explains Paula, but journalism wasn’t always her dream. When she was younger she says that she wanted to become a fashion designer so that she could be rich and famous. However, a teacher urged her to re-think her goals and Paula was ultimately drawn to journalism. After graduating from Emerson, Paula worked for various news stations in Springfield, Hartford, and Albany and eventually re-located to her current home in Clifton Park. Soon after, she became a mom to her three kids: 12-year-old Jerry, 10-year-old Nicole, and 8-year-old Isabella. “They’re great, they keep me going,” Paula says of her kids. After taking some time off to be a stay-at-home mom, Paula decided it was time for a change. “I felt like something was missing in my life, so I


6 decided to start a parenting show,” she explains. “This is a very family oriented area, but I felt like there weren’t a ton of resources for parents,” she continues. The path to building her show wasn’t always smooth. Paula says, “People said you can’t do this by yourself, but when people tell me I can’t do something, it just makes me want to try even harder!” And that hard work eventually paid off. Paula’s nationally-ranked show airs on Look TV (Channel 68 in Saratoga/Clifton Park) and soon all of the episodes will be available on her website: www.parentologywithpaula.com. In addition to Parentology with Paula, she is also the host of Her Look, Look at Education, and The Wedding Planner. “It’s all positive and original programming and that’s what makes it unique,” says Paula. When you speak with Paula, you’ll immediately notice how much she loves what she does. Even with

three kids and a hectic schedule, Paula approaches her work with passion. She explains, “If you want to be fulfilled and happy, you have to think about what you do not as a job, but as fun.” And knowing what makes her happy has come in to sharper focus in recent years. “I think that especially since I became a single parent, I’ve really found my true self,” she says. As if this full-time working mom wasn’t busy enough, she also enjoys participating in pageants. But Paula explains that this isn’t your typical Miss America pageant; rather, the focus is on community service and

Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015


Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015

how the contestants present themselves. Paula said she first became involved when a Parentology viewer nominated her. Crowns of Inspiration, a national organization, runs the contest with a goal of “Inspiring others through Positive Pageantry”. Last year Paula competed nationally as Ms. Northeast (NY, MA, VT) with a platform focused on families. “It was an awesome experience,” says Paula who was the competition’s second runner-up as well as the media award winner and a recipient of the President’s Bronze Service Award. It was so much fun that this year Paula will again be competing again with a platform based on “Breaking the Silence of Domestic Abuse.” She says, “I’m very passionate about this year’s platform, people think that domestic violence is always physical, but it’s not.” In preparation for the competition, Paula is

7 working on a domestic violence awareness commercial with the hopes of airing it during her parenting show. Most importantly, last year’s pageant was a learning experience for the whole family. Paula explains, “I’m always teaching the kids, even when they play sports, it’s not always about winning and getting a trophy, it’s about being in the moment.” And so, when Paula was

named second runner-up, she used the opportunity to show her children that you don’t have to win first place to feel like a winner. When the kids aren’t cheering Mom on at a pageant, they’re likely enjoying time outside. Paula says that her children enjoy being active, especially playing softball and soccer. And when the family is ready for a vacation, Paula loves


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to head down to Orlando to the happiest place on earth. Just days before sitting down for our interview, Paula had travelled to Disney to accompany a friend and her disabled son on a Make-a-Wish Foundation trip. She says,

“The Magic Kingdom is my favorite place on earth – it makes me feel like a kid again. If people reached out for the inner kid inside of them more, they would find their inner spark.” When asked for the secret to Parentology’s

Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015


Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015

success, Paula says, “People are looking for positive messages, if you’re providing that constantly, people will keep coming back for the content.” As for show ideas, Paula says she loves talking to people and listening to their stories. And these conversations are what inspire her show. She’s also quick to add that although she hosts a show on parenting, she doesn’t have all the answers. “One of the things that I was worried about when I started the show, was that people would think I’m a parenting expert, but I’m not,” says Paula. And that down-to-earth attitude is what makes Paula (and her show) so likable.

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Kim Klopstock Photos by Mark Bolles

Personally, I think I’m successful because I have two beautiful children and grandchildren, but to others it’s that I own a successful business and catering company

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im Klopstock owns a successful restaurant business and is active in many local organizations, but Saratoga society gal she is not. She’d much rather don a chef ’s apron than heels and many friends affectionately refer to her as a debutante turned hippie. Whether in business or in life, Kim is not afraid to tell it like it is, and that makes for a wonderfully refreshing, yet warm personality. Born in Nyack, Kim moved upstate as a child and attended Skidmore College with a major in the arts. She says she grew up in a privileged family, surrounded by high-end food, beautiful table settings, and society events, but that’s where the debutante ends and the hippie begins. As a young woman, Kim became a vegetarian, hitchhiked across the country, and even lived in a nudist colony for a while. While living out west, Kim learned about a variety of different food diets including veganism, vegetarianism, and macrobiotics. She eventually moved back to New York and bought a 7-acre farm in nearby Cossayuna with the father of her children. After becoming a mom, Kim focused on natural living for her family. They eschewed immunizations, cooked on wood stove, and canned their own food. Eventually, Kim

Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015

decided to turn her passion for food into a profession. She says, “I realized that I couldn’t make a living as an artist, so I thought about what I could do, and decided that I could grow my own food and cook for people.” And even though the local food movement has grown in popularity recently, for Kim it’s no flash in the pan. “This ‘farm to table’ thing is something that is hugely important to me; it’s been something that’s been on my mind since I was 17,” says Kim. And while she’s proud of what she’s built, she strives to remember what’s most important in life – other people. Of her success, Kim explains, “Personally, I think I’m successful because I have two beautiful children and grandchildren, but to others it’s that I own a successful business and catering company.” Even though she loved food and cooking, starting her own business wasn’t easy. “To be good at your craft, you have to make a lot of mistakes,” she says. And there’s a steep learning curve. Kim explains, “I had to learn about sustainable food. I wanted to do hippie food, but people didn’t want that, they wanted meat, so I had to do a lot of research to find out what was best.” Her craft is so important that this long-time vegetarian tastes everything she cooks, “I still don’t eat


Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015

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Photo by Emma Dodge Hansen


12 meat, but I taste it, because I want to know I’m producing the best quality out there.” Kim says that when she launched her catering business, The Lily & The Rose, she went around to other caterers and introduced herself and said ‘Hey, I’m starting a company, but I’m going to be a little different than you.’ She said these friendly and reciprocal relationships have been very useful – if she isn’t a good fit for a client, she can often refer them to someone else and vice versa. And no matter how

much money you’ve got or how important you are, Kim says she won’t work for just anyone. “I’m a fit factor. I want to know who you are because this is personal,” she explains. Kim told the story of a young couple who came to her about their wedding and said, “All we care about is the food, we really want to work with you, but we can’t afford you.” To that, Kim said, “We’ll figure it out. I’ll work for you because you want me, because this matters to you.” Kim opened her restaurant, Fifty South, in 2008; right before the economy tanked. She jokes that the front of the building looks like a roadhouse, but she says, “I decided that my food and my employees were more important than gussying up the front of the restaurant.” As a general rule, Kim also doesn’t advertise, instead she uses that money for volunteer and charitable work. Kim says, “I’m very proud of my

Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015 team and I love my farmers. I love the dedication that they have to their life of farming and sustainability and enriching our community with their presence.” Kim lives about a mile away from the restaurant in a cobblestone house circa 1830. She loves spending time with her daughters, Talara and Sierra, and her two young grandchildren. She says, “I value being with my children and doing things together over material possessions. I will always take an adventure over a thing.” This love for adventure has been something Kim has had all her life. She loves traveling to exotic locales like Thailand or Vietnam and she reminisces, “When I was a teenager, my parents gave me the choice of either a coming out [debutante] party or a trip to Europe – and you better believe, I chose Europe!” Kim says she is looking forward to taking her next big family trip in 2017 when one daughter will complete her PhD and the other daughter will become a physician’s assistant. “We’ll go sailing to celebrate,” she says. When asked what she would cook for


Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015 herself on the rare day off, Kim muses, “I would make something for myself that I don’t have the opportunity to make here – something like a tangine or maybe pad thai.” She adds, “I’d cook something that’s new to me, I love to experiment.” Kim is also passionate about to giving back and says she really values anonymous giving, “There’s no ego, just joy. There’s a level of purity that goes with that gift.” She enjoys supporting a wide range of causes including the Arts, Planned Parenthood, Aids research, Veteran’s organizations, Saratoga Hospital Hospice, and any cause that supports feeding children. Currently she is drumming up support for The Giving Circle, a cause that she works on with Karen Flewelling, a 2014 Woman of Influence recipient. “We’re looking to raise $50,000 for the Giving Circle. We want to build a school in Uganda,” she says. If the way to a donor’s heart is through their stomach, it’s only a matter of time before Kim’s food starts working its magic.

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Photos by Mark Bolles

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ith a busy career, a passion for volunteer work, and a young family, Tara Pleat is always in motion. But make no mistake; she’s never too busy to discuss the causes and organizations that she’s passionate about. Tara has been a partner at Wilcenski & Pleat PLLC since 2008, but her path to becoming an attorney wasn’t always what she had in mind. She says, “When I was little I wanted to be a veterinarian. I had this idea of traveling around in a van, of being a mobile vet.” However she soon found out that she preferred the debate team to biology class and the rest, as they say, is history. After graduating from Shenendehowa High School and SUNY Albany, Tara spent a few years working before she made

My hope is that my kids see that it’s important to be a part of your community and that you can make a difference. It might be a quiet difference, but it’s a difference nonetheless.

Tara Anne Pleat

Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015

her next move. “When I was a paralegal at Herzog Law Firm, that’s when I decided I wanted to be an attorney. I had a lot of good [attorney] mentors at that firm,” she says. After graduating from Albany Law School, Tara joined her current firm and eventually became a partner. In a lot of ways, Wilcenski & Pleat is a traditional law firm. “We mostly do death and taxes,” jokes Tara, but after her son Drew was diagnosed with Asperger’s in 2007, she made the shift to special needs estate planning work. The move was a natural one as her law partner, Ed, had been previously recognized statewide for this type of disability law. She says, “With my son’s diagnosis, I have become more re-


Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015

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latable to our clients.” The goal of this genre of legal work is to provide planning and support to so that individuals are able to remain as independent as possible. And the ultimate aim is to allow disabled individuals to stay in their homes

and in the community rather than being institutionalized. In addition to her work at the firm, Tara holds a few other causes close to her heart. She’s in her 6th year on the Board for Wellspring (formerly known as the Domestic

Violence Resource Center), which has a focus of ending relationship and sexual abuse in Saratoga County. “It’s important for people to have a greater level of awareness. It [domestic violence] exists here in Saratoga County,

Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015

not just in low income situations,” Tara says. Removing the stigma associated with domestic violence was one of the drivers for the organization’s recent name change. And the group is making other changes as well. In the

past, the focus was primarily on mediating crisis situations, but now they’re also emphasizing education and preventative measures. Tara is also very proud of her work with AIM Services, Inc., an organization that serves Saratoga, Warren, Washington County residents with developmental disabilities. The organization helps clients live as independently as possible and reach their potential. At the same time that State and County budgets are shrinking, needs are increasing, so organizations like AIM must generate interest and support for private donations. “They’ve been around for a long time, but recently they’re taking a bigger step out in to the public view,” Tara explains. Tara is also an active member of the Foundation Board for the Wesley Community, Wildwood Organization’s Planned Giving Committee, Leadership Saratoga’s Advisory Board, and the Community Advisory Board


Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015 for Saratoga National Bank. Tara’s passion for her work (both professional and volunteer) has a very personal connection. Her 11-year-old son, Drew is on the autism spectrum and so she has first-hand knowledge in helping her son understand his differences. She explains, “He’s becoming self aware that it’s taking him longer than his friends to do things.” She continues, “I’ve always told him, you’re just wired a little bit differently. You have skills that other people don’t have, they have skills that you don’t have, and that’s okay.” Tara is also the proud mother of 10-year-old Sophia and wife to Andy, who works as a financial planner in Saratoga. The family dog, Bailey, rounds out their crew. And this family loves being outdoors. From honing their bow & arrow skills to skiing at Gore Mountain, they’re always on the go. A few years ago, Tara and Andy decided to start hiking the Appalachian Peaks as a family. Tara says, “The kids complain, but at the top, they’re so happy to be there. I really think there’s a life lesson

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Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015

in that. It’s a lot of effort, but there’s also a big reward.” Tara’s parents live in Pottersville near Schroon Lake and she and her family can’t visit often enough. “I love that we are as close as we are to the Adirondacks, it’s my absolute favorite part of being in this area,” she says. While discussing her nomination, Pleat was quick to give thanks to her support network. She says, “You get this

acknowledgement which is really nice, but you can’t do this stuff without a lot of help. I’m thankful that the two men in my life that I see every day [husband Andy and law partner Ed] are so supportive of the broader good.” She adds, “My hope is that my kids see that it’s important to be a part of your community and that you can make a difference. It might be a quiet difference, but it’s a difference nonetheless.”


Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015

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hen asked to tell “her story,” Amy Raimo demurs. “To me, it’s not interesting,” she insists. But if you spend 10 minutes with Amy, you’ll beg to differ. Born at St. Clare’s hospital in Schenectady, Amy grew up in the Village of Galway where her family kept sheep, ponies, horses, and ducks. Amy says, “It was a great place to grow up and I came to Saratoga often”. In fact, her sister worked at SPAC while in college and some of Amy’s fondest memories are of attending the ballet with her Mom and then later going to concerts. Amy loves telling the story about the time she was able to meet James Galway and Henry Mancini after a concert at SPAC. As it happened, James Galway needed a ride back to his hotel in Saratoga, so Amy begged her stepdad for the keys to the car and ended up playing chauffer

Amy Raimo

Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015

I absolutely love health care, there’s no other industry that I would want to work in. For me, it’s the most purposeful and meaningful work that you can do.

for the night. “That was a thrill, it was so much fun,” she remembers. Amy attended Smith College in Massachusetts, just as her mother and grandmother did before her. After college, she embarked on a unique combination of nonprofit and for-profit work and held positions at The Northeastern Association of the Blind, The Great Escape, Special Olympics New York, Colonie Center, and finally Albany Med, which led to her current position as Executive Director of the Saratoga Hospital Foundation. “I alternated between non-profit and forprofit all the while building skills,” she says. “Looking back, it was a great sequence for me from a career stand point.” After moving to the hospital, Amy can’t imagine being anywhere else. She says, “I absolutely love health care, there’s no other industry that I would want to

Deborah Neary

Mark Bolles

Deborah Neary


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Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015

work in. For me, it’s the most purposeful and meaningful work that you can do.” And while Albany Med is special in its own right, she is enjoying her move to the Spa City. “I love being here in Saratoga because it’s such a community hospital. I have never worked in a place where the community supports the hospital so passionately,” she says. Amy is currently working full steam ahead on an 8 million dollar capital campaign for Saratoga Hospital, which is double the original goal. She says the increase was due in part to some tremendously generous leadership gifts. “After receiving the gifts, I went back and did an analysis and asked my staff, do you think there is a potential to raise $8 million?” The revised goal turned out to be a wise move on her part. As of today the hospital has raised over 6.5 million dollars. “Terry Lee [Amy’s predecessor] put in place some amazingly talented and hard-working staff that love Saratoga Hospital. It’s a privilege to take what Terry built and take it to the next level,” she says. With a high profile position at the hospital, you might expect Amy to take it easy during what little free time she has, but that’s just not true. Amy is just as passionate about volunteering as she is about work. She has served as the past president of the Junior League of Schenectedy and Saratoga counties and also works with long-time friend Natalie Sillery on fundraising fashion shows for Saratoga Trunk. Amy is a founding member of a group of women who call themselves “The Fabulous Trunkettes”. The group met while doing fashion shows for Natalie years ago, but kept in touch throughout the decades. “This is a group of women you’d want to have at your back, whether it’s for a celebratory milestone or a difficult time,” Amy says.

When she’s not raising funds for the causes she cares about, Amy loves spending time with her 12-year-old son, Thomas. Family is very important to Amy as she also prioritizes visiting with her mother (who just celebrated her 86th birthday!) and her siblings. “My mom and my stepdad really supported the organizations that meant a lot to them. I learned to give back from the example set by family,” she says.

Mark Bolles

Mark Bolles

Mark Bolles

Mark Bolles


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When she needs to let go of the day’s stress, Amy relaxes by traveling and riding motorcycles with her significant other, Wayne Flores. The couple also loves stopping by downtown establishments like Cantina, Maestro’s, Longfellow’s, Old Bryan Inn, and Sperry’s. “You have to get the bacon wrapped dates at Sperry’s,” says Amy. “They’re to die for!” Amy says her involvement at the hospital has made the rest of her life fuller. She says, “Working in healthcare makes you appreciate the health of your family and yourself, you really learn not to take things for granted.” And her love for Saratoga continues to grow. She says, “This community has everything that anyone could ever want. I’ve travelled all over the country and there are a lot of great places, but Saratoga is tops.”

Franceso D’Amico

Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015


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Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015

Mark Bolles

Mark Bolles


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Photos by Mark Bolles

It’s such an addiction, if you volunteer once, I can guarantee you’ll be back.

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hen Patty Riggi’s name was mentioned to fellow Women of Influence nominee Amy Raimo, she made it clear that Patty has substance as well as style. “She’s such a roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty kind of girl. It makes me so proud of her and the people of this community,” says Amy. While her last name might make her a local celebrity, Patty’s passion for Code Blue, love of family, and work ethic make her as relatable as the girl next door. Patty is one of 8 children and the daughter of Bob and Mary Eckardt. Patty was born in New Jersey, but has been living in Saratoga County since childhood. Patty’s uncle owns the Wishing Well restaurant on Route 9 and the family business is what initially brought the clan to the area. Patty has three kids of her own (aged

Patty Riggi

Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015

29, 27, and 25) and to her delight, they all live close by. Her youngest son and daughter live in Saratoga Springs and her oldest son serves as a police officer in nearby Hudson Falls. With 7 siblings, 3 children, and countless nieces, nephews, and cousins, family is a huge part of Patty’s life. Of her extended family, she says, “It’s huge and we’re all close.” And she adds, “The more chaotic, the better!” Patty has been with her husband, Vince, for the past 15 years and when she talks about him, it’s clear they’re the perfect match. She says, “Vince is such a great guy, he’s so supportive of all I do.” However, their first date almost didn’t happen. Patty knew her now sister-in-law Michele Riggi through their kids’ sports team and one New Year’s Eve, Michele urged Patty to be Vince’s date. Initially, Patty didn’t think she was interested, but after some


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Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015 encouragement on Michele’s part, the two hit it off. “It’s weird how things work out,” Patty admits. When asked what makes their relationship special, Patty says, “We don’t take life too seriously. We’re always joking!” Patty worked for the Saratoga School District as a teacher’s aide for many years, so after leaving her job at the school a few years ago, Patty soon began to feel restless. She says, “I didn’t feel fulfilled, so I asked myself, ‘what is my purpose in life?’” In years past, she had volunteered at a local drop-in center for runaway youth and had always felt a special empathy for the homeless. When Nancy Pitts, a homeless woman, froze to death in December 2013, the city of Saratoga Springs jumped in to action and the Code Blue Shelter was launched. Code Blue is a “no questions asked” volunteer-run shelter that opens when the temperature drops below 20 degrees or 12 inches of snow is forecasted.

It was through Code Blue that Patty found her true passion. While she’s always been a champion of the homeless, Patty says she’s really gotten to know them personally over the past two years. And she’s working harder than ever to increase awareness. Patty says, “People are so quick to judge, people would stay at the shelter, and then get up to go to work the next day. She continues, “They weren’t bums, they just couldn’t afford rent or to winterize their home.” And even though it’s warmer outside, the work doesn’t end. She says, “The key is to keep the awareness going – we’ve built such trust and friendships with them, now that it’s spring, we can’t just say alright see ya when it’s 20 degrees out!” While summer may be around the corner, Patty and the shelter’s committee members are already preparing for next winter. Code Blue recently held an 8k race and Patty estimates the take home donations were nearly $40k.

Up next, is fundraiser that hopes to raise $150,000 for next year’s operations. The ultimate goal is to keep the shelter open all winter long, regardless of the temperature. A “Blue Party” is planned and Ed Mitzen from Fingerpaint will be hosting a “sleep out” in his company’s parking lot on June 26. The event will feature food, music, and an outdoor movie. In addition to raising money, organizers hope to raise awareness for the city’s homeless population.

Photos provided


26 As Amy so accurately described, Patty is always quick to jump in and make sure things get done. After striking up a conversation with a gentleman she met at Code Blue (the conversation began when she noticed he needed work gloves and boots), Patty helped the man find employment. And when he didn’t have a ride to his job at the farm in Stillwater? Patty and her friend Rachel Dwyer offered to give the man a lift every morning and pick him up each afternoon. The two women have been playing chauffer since February and it’s this dedication that separates Patty from the rest of Saratoga’s social scene. Acting as a guardian angel to residents in need is so ingrained in Patty, that there’s no line between her volunteer and social life. She says, “When Mingle on the Avenue was having an event last week, I brought two homeless individuals as my guests. Over the course of the night, they said they were finally ready to enter rehab and get sober. So, I got them a hotel room and starting making calls to get them into rehab.” However, many programs were already full or had many hoops to jump through. “It was such a process, she says. “No wonder people get discouraged and stay on drugs and alcohol,” she says. But she eventually found them a program and after some time in detox, Patty’s two charges have changed dramatically. “They’ve been sober for 58 days, they’re two different people, even look-wise,” she says. And just like a mother hen, Patty assures me, “I check up on them every day.” And while giving back certainly helps others, Patty says, it benefits the volunteer as well. “It’s such an addiction, if you volunteer once, I can guarantee you’ll be back,” she explains. Patty may have the resources to provide financial support, but she acknowledges that there are many ways to give. “The most important thing to give back is your time and a listening ear,” she says.

Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015


Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015

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Photos by Mark Bolles

I fully believe that if the right woman is available for an executive-level job, she’s going to get that job. The point is not to try to fit into a traditional mold.

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fter 45 years at Stewart’s Shops, Senior Vice President Nancy Trimbur knows the territory – literally, because you travel a lot of roads when you’re in charge of new and replacement facilities, maintenance, gasoline and real estate for 334 convenience stores across upstate New York and southern Vermont, operated from a corporate epicenter in Malta she refers to as “the ridge.” When Trimbur started with the company, not long after graduating from Skidmore College, with a degree in business, there were just 40 stores and she served as an assistant office manager for about a decade. Then, following the unfortunate death of the head of construction, Stewart’s former president, now CEO, Bill Dake, tapped Trimbur, who, by her own admission, “knew nothing about blacktops,” to run the department. “Bill gave me this opportunity because he believed in me, not because I was a woman, nor did that stand in my way,”

Nancy Trimbur

Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015

Trimbur says. “He was an incredible mentor, the best, and I have had quite an education.” Originally, the native of Garden City, Long Island, had set her sights on becoming a nurse, “living a life based on the Golden Books of my childhood.” Being launched into the corporate executive arena was a wonderful accident that led to a far happier ending than Trimbur could have imagined, she says. “I grew up at Stewart’s,” she says. “When I look back, it amazes me. Stewart’s is a fabulous company and I feel so fortunate that Bill chose me.” Indeed, during her tenure, Trimbur has seen the enlightened company add employee benefits such as paid maternity leave, generous contributions toward an employee’s YMCA membership, which includes an excellent child care center and summer camp, as well as significant scholarships for the children of employees to help them attend college and unusual provisions for mental health


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Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015 and orthodontic services in the health insurance plans. She also points at the company’s considerable donations to area nonprofits in the region Stewart’s serves. “It’s a family-owned business that cares about the community,” she adds, “we are a family.” The values and philosophy of Stewart’s reflect her own, Trimbur says, talking about the commitments and activities she undertakes personally to enhance and strengthen the community she loves. “Where else can you live that offers so much and that is also so beautiful and safe?” she asks, talking about why she chose to make her home and raise her son and daughter in the area. In addition to the arts and shopping, Trimbur — who now lives in a condo in the heart of the downtown — takes advantage of the topography that allows her to bike everywhere – a pastime that keeps her in good shape and brings her pleasure. A former YMCA board member, and a current supporter, she also hits the gym there, especially to use the elliptical and spinning equipment early in the morning, before work, after dropping her beloved King Charles Spaniel at Mahogany Ridge Dog Daycare and Training Center on Route 9 for a day of play and TLC. Photo by Franceso D’Amico

High on Trimbur’s list of give-back-to-thecommunity efforts is her work with Soroptimist International of Saratoga County, the local branch of Soroptimist International of the Americas and the global Soroptimist International. The local group comprises more than 65 professional women who raise funds, mentor and connect women and girls through taking action and education. Trimbur is involved in presenting the Soroptimist’s Project Hope and Power® classes at Wellspring (formerly known as Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Saratoga County). The project, a collaboration started in 2004 between Wellspring and Soroptimist of Saratoga County, is an eightweek initiative designed to help women who are victims and survivors of domestic violence develop the skills they need to begin working toward financial independence. Project Hope and Power is Soroptimists’ signature service and inspires both members and attendees. “I enjoy and feel good about helping women get back on their feet financially,” says Trimbur, who has considered being a consultant to women in business sometime


30 in the future. “I really have expertise to share and I know it makes a difference to them. We talk about things such as how to control your checkbook or get a mortgage. Topics that can be scary to someone just getting back on her feet, who maybe is coming out of an abusive relationship, lived in poverty or been involved with drugs. I am part of the war on domestic violence and it’s an important fight.” Trimbur is known for tirelessly coordinating community events and fundraisers for the group. Soroptimists provides a stipend for participants as a motivator for attending, and Trimbur praises Cudney’s Dry Cleaners for clothing the women as they reintegrate into the community. In the recent past, Trimbur served as president of the local Soroptimist chapter and cochaired the Secret Garden Tour, a tremendously popular and much-anticipated annual fund-raising event, when homeowners open

their lush and lovely private gardens to the public. Trimbur, who recently was honored by the Albany Business Review as a “woman who means business,” , has been unequivocally successful in her own role, even as she single-parented her children (now adults), which has given her insight into what it means for other women to be both employees and mothers, and to excel at both. “I know what it’s like to have a sick child at home,” she says, “even when you have full days of work you’re responsible to put in.” As a result, she works hard at seeing both sides of an employee’s issues when she’s making decisions that affect people’s lives. “It’s not like it used to be, when a woman had to work harder to achieve credibility,” she says. “Things have changed, business has evolved and people need to have balance in their lives. We have to be sensitive to the fact that some people are on salary and some are hourly workers. In fact, I think

Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015


Week of May 22 – May 28, 2015

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that the child’s other parent also has to share in the responsibilities of taking care of home issues, including children. It can’t always all be on one parent, always on the mother. I can often be flexible with my employees who need time to attend to certain responsibilities, as long as I don’t feel taken advantage of. When I was raising my kids, we didn’t have the option of flextime.” Now

in a position to help other women get ahead, Trimbur is pleased to be able to do it. She’s still looking for that balance herself. Trimbur is very involved with her grandchildren, as well as taking care of aging parents. “I know what it’s like to juggle a support system. I know what it’s like to be sandwiched between generations,” she says. “I have a lot of empathy for that.”

For a long time, Trimbur says, “I was the only woman in the room at Stewart’s and I’m the only female on the senior management team now, but I get a lot of respect from my co-workers and I fully believe that if the right woman is available for an executive-level job, she’s going to get that job. The point is not to try to fit into a traditional mold.”


Women of Influence 2015  
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