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Future Leaders Continue the Mission of UAlbany's Center for Women in Government & Civil Society

From left, Dorcey Applyrs and Theresa Schalk Taylor developed leadership skills at UAlbany's Center for Women in Government & Civil Society, which celebrates its 35th anniversary Nov. 19. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 18, 2013) -- Dorcey Applyrs and Theresa Schalk Taylor are poised, confident and articulate leaders who credit UAlbany’s Center for Women in Government & Civil Society (CWGCS) with developing their leadership skills so that they can improve the lives of City of Albany residents. For the past 35 years, CWGCS, a part of the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, has been mentoring future leaders and equipping women with the skills needed to achieve excellence in public service.

Applyrs, a doctoral student in UAlbany’s School of Public Health, was elected in November 2013 as a Council Member in Albany’s First Ward. An alum of the Center’s Fellowship on Women and Public Policy, Applyrs, who expects to graduate in May 2014, plans to put forth evidence-based policies and initiatives to address critical public health issues in Albany.

The Fellowship’s rigorous curriculum “enhanced my leadership and advocacy skills in networking, policy analysis, critical thinking, and communication in the form of writing and presenting,” she said. “I have already begun applying the knowledge and skills obtained during my fellowship experience and feel confident that these skills played a critical role in my successful campaign as a candidate for Albany Common Council.”

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Applyrs has a passion to mobilize the Albany community to build healthier and safer neighborhoods.

“Since moving to Albany 10 years ago, I have received a quality education, met my husband – who is also a UAlbany alum, landed my first professional job, and purchased a home,” said Applyrs. “Albany has certainly invested in me and the time is now to invest in Albany.”

The Center has provided critical mentoring resources to Applyrs and Taylor. Taylor has a mini-grant from the center, with funds made available by the MAXIMUS Foundation, to develop a not-for-profit to help women and girls in Arbor Hill achieve their own dreams for education, careers and first-time home ownership. Her credibility with those she hopes to mentor originates with her own remarkable story.

In 2006, Taylor became homeless the day after Christmas and was living at a bus stop in Saratoga Springs when a blizzard hit on St. Patrick’s Day 2007. She was in and out of homeless shelters for six months, arriving with no possessions but the clothes on her back.

While at Shelters of Saratoga, she was introduced to the financial literacy program, Project Hope and Power. The single mother, now 52, overcame poverty and depression to enroll in Schenectady County Community College.

“I always had leadership qualities, but coming from poverty and living in public housing from ages 15 to 50, I always felt it wasn’t my place to be a leader,” said Taylor, who was accepted into the Class of 2013 New Leadership New York program run by the CWGCS.

Now a graduate of SCCC and a recipient of the State University of New York 2011 Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, she is a senior at the College of Saint Rose on a national Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarship. Taylor looks forward to applying to graduate programs in social welfare, including the Master of Social Work program at UAlbany.

In the meantime, she is seeking office space in Arbor Hill for her project, as well as volunteers to act as mentors.

"Dorcey and Theresa are the embodiment of what the Women's Leadership Academy at the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society strives to cultivate: public service leadership that is embedded in a larger purpose; leadership that transcends the self and embraces the collective," said CWGCS Executive Director Dina Refki. "They demonstrate the excellence, integrity and ethical leadership that the Center has been nurturing for the last 35 years.We will be celebrating all of our graduates on November 19th at the Center's 35th anniversary." 


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