For Immediate Release — Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2006


Mary E. McCrank

Media Relations Officer

(585) 245-5516

SUNY Geneseo to send four delegates to United Arab Emirates in March for global conference on women in leadership

GENESEO, N.Y. — The State University of New York at Geneseo will send four delegates to the United Arab Emirates in March for an international conference on women in leadership.

The Geneseo delegates will be among students, educators and leadership professionals from 75 countries who will gather March 12-14 in Abu Dhabi for Zayed University's Second International Student Leadership Conference titled "Women as Global Leaders: Communities in Transition." This year's focus will be on ways women can act in leadership roles at the grassroots level to create change on a local, regional and global scale. Last year's conference was the first international student leadership conference ever held in the Middle East, attracting 1,000 attendees from 45 countries to Zayed's Dubai campus.

Representing SUNY Geneseo are: business administration majors Michaela Alissandrello, 21, of Skaneateles, N.Y., and Tracy Tillapaugh, 22, of Liverpool, N.Y.; Jones School of Business Dean Mary Ellen Zuckerman, of Brighton; and Pamela York Klainer, a Rochester resident who received her master's degree in elementary education from Geneseo, founder of Power and Money, LLC and author of "How Much is Enough?" Klainer also donated $125,000 to the college in 2004, which allowed Geneseo to open the Pamela York Klainer Center for Women and Business, and launch an annual student business plan competition.

At the conference, Zuckerman will facilitate a panel titled "Teaching Women to Lead: An Academic-Business Partnership," the same title as the paper she will deliver. Klainer will deliver her paper, "Leading Through Teams: The Business Plan Competition," and Alissandrello and Tillapaugh will deliver their paper, "Leading As An Individual: The Klainer Center Speaker Series."

Founded in 1998, Zayed University educates 2,300 women of the United Arab Emirates at its Abu Dhabi and Dubai campuses to prepare them for their roles in their families, country and region, thereby shaping the future of the Middle East and its relationship to the rest of the world. The college emphasizes Arabic and English, computer literacy, all academic disciplines, and leadership and professional skills.

Speakers at the conference will run the gamut, including Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan; American journalist Linda Ellerbee; Cherie Booth, human rights activist and wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair; Asha Hagi Elmi, member of the transitional parliament of Somalia and founder of Save Somali Women and Children; Pia Beckmann, mayor of Wurzburg, Germany; and Fatima Obaid Al Jaber, assistant undersecretary of Abu Dhabi Municipality.

Zuckerman said conference organizers told her it was tight competition to be selected to participate in the event.

"The international exposure this conference gives for the Klainer Center and SUNY Geneseo, as well as the international participants with whom we will be interacting, make this an amazing conference for us to be involved with. Presenting at this conference will be a unique experience for two students from Geneseo, who have worked on activities put on by the Klainer Center for Women and Business, as they talk about their work to an international audience," said Zuckerman. "Founding donor Pamela York Klainer also will discuss one of center's programs, the business plan competition. I'll be talking about how we created the center, hoping audience members can use it as a model for other such centers. And I'm excited about this opportunity to hear about programs to promote women as leaders from around the world."

The trip is partially funded by a grant the Rochester International Development Corporation gave to the school of business last year.

Alissandrello and Tillapaugh said they are still in disbelief they are going to the conference.

"When I first received the e-mail from Dean Zuckerman, I did not think we would actually go. The fact that we have been offered this opportunity has made me so grateful," said Tillapaugh. "I never thought that at 22 years old I would be presenting a paper at an international women's leadership conference in the Middle East."

Alissandrello agreed. "I immediately jumped at the idea and was ready to get on a plane the next day if necessary!" she said.

Tillapaugh and Alissandrello have been working together since last July to coordinate the center's speaker series, bringing in professionals throughout the year to talk with students about a variety of topics including the interviewing process, assertive communication skills, financing your own business, mentoring and Eastman Kodak Co.'s transition to digital. Each event has attracted an average of 65 students, they said.

Tillapaugh said her involvement with the center has been rewarding and helped her as a female student planning to enter the business world.

"I think this experience has changed a lot for me. I have realized, because many of our speakers are women, that a woman can be very successful in both a career and in family life. Wanting a family and a career used to be two mutually exclusive concepts and I have seen many examples of how that is changing. It's going to take a lot of hard work but realizing that there are incredibly successful women out there that also have families has eased my fears."

Tillapaugh said she is interested in hearing Queen Rania speak, as she recently read about her life. She also looks forward to meeting the Zayed University students and hopes she can make some friendships that will be mutually beneficial.

Alissandrello said she and Tillapaugh plan to interview students at the Abu Dhabi campus to determine their outlook on career opportunities after their secondary education is completed. When they return to SUNY Geneseo, they will interview students here and then compare data to determine major cultural differences. They plan to present their findings to their class.

Alissandrello said she is looking forward to experiencing a new culture and that the group plans to stay an extra two days to take advantage of their time there. It will take 26 hours to reach Abu Dhabi.

"I love to travel and am fascinated by different cultures and their people. This conference appears to be offering a few events where we can experience the Emirate's culture first hand, including a desert barbeque."

For more information on the conference, go to:

Tillapaugh can be reached at (315) 317-4892 or Alissandrello can be reached at or (315) 730-0863.