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Governor Cuomo Launches First-Ever New York State Council on Women And Girls

As White House Disbands Council on Women and Girls, New York Creates Own Council Focusing on Women's Rights

Council Steering Committee Composed of Leaders in Academia, Advocacy, Business, and Media

Read More About Council in Refinery 29 Op-Ed from Melissa DeRosa

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced the launch of the first-ever New York State Council on Women and Girls. The Council will be made up of two parts: the leaders of New York State agencies, who will make sure that every policy enacted and each program created takes into account the experiences of women and girls and tries to further advance equality in our state; and a Steering Committee, comprised of leaders outside of State government from academia, advocacy, business, media, and the non-profit space who will inform and direct the Council's work. A full list of Steering Committee membership can be found here.

"New York remains committed to protecting women's rights, and with the launch of the first-ever New York State Council on Women and Girls, we are sending a clear message to the nation and world that everyone deserves a chance to achieve the American Dream,"Governor Cuomo said. "Chaired by the Secretary to the Governor and housed in the Executive Chamber, this council sends a clear message that its mission - to take the rights of women and girls into account when drafting policy - is central to all the work accomplished in this State. I look forward to working with the Council and Steering Committee members to make a real and measurable impact on the lives of New York's women and girls."

Audio Photos

The Governor announced the Council as the White House has effectively disbanded its own Council on Women and Girls. The Council will be chaired by Melissa DeRosa, the first female Secretary to the Governor, and also includes Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who chairs the New York State Women's Suffrage Commission and co-chairs the statewide Pay Equity Study. State Senator Catharine Young and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes will serve as Legislative Ambassadors to the Council.

The Council, which will hold quarterly meetings, is charged with focusing on nine areas of impact: education, economic opportunity, workforce equity, leadership, health care, child care, safety, STEM, and intersectionality.

"As Lieutenant Governor, I've had the great honor of being a voice for women and girls across the state, from combating sexual assault on campuses to fighting for equal pay," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Our work to create a culture of respect and inclusion for all women, regardless of race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation is far from over. Gender equality is a cause we are called to champion throughout our lifetime. With New York's new Council on Women and Girls, we are showing that when we say all issues are women's issues, we mean it."

"I am honored to serve as Chair of the New York State Council on Women and Girls," said Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor. "Governor Cuomo has long prioritized the rights of women, from passing the most comprehensive Paid Family Leave plan in the country to staunchly defending women's reproductive rights. So why now and why New York? Because New York is the perfect place - where women are CEO's, playwrights, actresses, advocates. We run banks and fortune 500 companies. We decide what news is published and which topics are topical... and when we feel we are being told to sit down and shut up we stand taller and speak louder. As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in New York, which passed in 1917, three years before women gained the right to vote across the country, we again recognize the leadership role New York must play, and we encourage other States to recognize the responsibility they now have to protect the rights of all American women and girls. I look forward to continuing the Governor's work with this Council, and I thank the women on our Steering Committee for joining us in our efforts."

The Council was launched with an event at the New York Historical Society, featuring a panel of female leaders including Cindi Leive, Editor-in-Chief, Glamour; Robin Chappelle Golston, CEO, Planned Parenthood New York; Kimberlé Crenshaw- Professor of Law, Columbia Law School; Rebecca Minkoff- Creative Director and Co-Founder, Rebecca Minkoff; Christine Sadowski- YWCAs of New York State; and Ruchi Shah- Founder, Mosquitoes Be Gone.

Photos from the event are available here. Read more on today's announcement in DeRosa's op-ed in Refinery 29 here.

Members of the Steering Committee include:

  • Kanya Balakrishna - Co-Founder and President, the Future Project
  • Dina Bakst - Co-Founder and Co-President, A Better Balance
  • Christene Barberich - Global Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder, Refinery29
  • Lilliam Barrios-Paoli - Senior Advisor to the President of Hunter College
  • Lisa Borders- President, WNBA
  • Heather Briccetti, Esq. - President and CEO, The Business Council of New York State, Inc.
  • Laura Brounstein - Director, Editorial and Business Development, Cosmopolitan and Seventeen Magazine
  • Robin Chappelle Golston - CEO, Planned Parenthood New York
  • Beverly Cooper Neufeld - Founder and President, PowHer New York
  • Kimberlé Crenshaw - Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
  • Michelle Ebanks - President, Essence Communications Inc. and People en Espanol
  • Cathy Engelbert - CEO, Deloitte
  • Eileen Fisher - Founder and Chairwoman, EILEEN FISHER, Inc.
  • Anne Fulenwider - Editor-in-Chief of Marie Claire US
  • Liliana Gil Valletta - CEO and Co-Founder, CIEN+ and Creator, Dreamers Ventures
  • Audrey Gelman - CEO and Co-Founder of The Wing
  • Hayley Gorenberg - Deputy Director and General Counsel, Lambda Legal
  • Eve Guillergan - Principal Attorney, Eve Guillergan PLLC
  • Karen Ignagni - President and CEO, EmblemHealth
  • June Jee - Board Member and Immediate Past President, OCA-NY
  • Kristina Johnson - Incoming Chancellor, SUNY
  • Karen King - Executive Director The Erie County Commission on the Status of Women
  • Cindi Leive - Editor-in-Chief, Glamour
  • Donna Lieberman - Executive Director, New York Civil Liberties Union
  • Andrea Miller - President, National Institute for Reproductive Health
  • Rebecca Minkoff - Creative Director and Co-Founder, Rebecca Minkoff
  • Ana Oliveira - President and CEO, The New York Women's Foundation
  • Sonia Ossorio - President and CEO, National Organization for Women New York
  • Stephanie Redish Hofmann - Director of Agency Development, Google
  • Hilda Rosario Escher - President and CEO of Ibero American Action League
  • Christine Sadowski - YWCAs of New York State
  • Faiza J. Saeed - Presiding Partner, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
  • Pamela Shifman - Executive Director, NoVo Foundation
  • Ruchi Shah - Founder and CEO, Mosquitoes Be Gone
  • Jillian T. Weiss - Executive Director of Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • Kathryn Wylde - President and CEO, Partnership for New York City
  • Melanie Whelan - CEO, SoulCycle
  • Teresa C. Younger - President and CEO, Ms. Foundation

Senator Young said, "I am honored to stand with Governor Cuomo as a Legislative Ambassador to the New York State Council on Women and Girls. I look forward to working with the esteemed Steering Committee members and the heads of each State agency to create a real impact and effect positive change on the lives of women in this state."

Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples Stokes said, "As Chair of the New York State Legislative Women's Caucus, I could not be more proud that our State and our Governor has created its first Council on Women and Girls. New York State has a long history of protecting the rights of women-from passing women's suffrage three years before it was granted nation-wide, to passing the most comprehensive paid family leave policy-and this Council will continue this proud tradition."

Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal said, "I have never felt more hopeful for the potential the future holds for women, for the changes we can bring if we unite and work toward a common purpose. We women, working together, with the empowerment of women as our goal, will win. I applaud Governor Cuomo, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and Melissa DeRosa for their leadership on these issues of critical importance to the women of the State of New York. I look forward to the work of the New York State Council on Women and Girls."

Dina Bakst, Co-Founder & Co-President, A Better Balance, said, "I'm honored to serve on Governor Cuomo's Council on Women and Girls. Now more than ever, we need forward-looking leaders fighting to advance the rights of women and girls. On behalf of A Better Balance, I look forward to contributing to the Council's work to keep New York a national leader on women's rights, particularly in the areas of economic opportunity, workforce equity, and ensuring access to affordable child and health care."

Robin Chappelle Golston, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, said, "Our state was built by strong women who stood up for what was right from New York City to Buffalo. Today's launch of New York State Council on Women and Girls continues that tradition and offers a pathway to create the best future for all of us. With continued attacks on women's autonomy and our access to basic medical care nationwide, New York State refuses to be bullied. We applaud the Governor for focusing on these important issues."

Karen King, Executive Director, Erie County Commission on the Status of Women, said, "I am thrilled and honored to be serving as a member of the steering committee on Governor Cuomo's New York State Council on Women and Girls. I am grateful to have the opportunity to represent the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women and the Western New York community. I am also pleased to have the full support of County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who continues to work diligently to end gender based discrimination in Erie County. The creation of this Council provides a tremendous opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from across New York State on developing collectively impactful solutions to the most pressing issues currently impacting women and girls. I look forward to getting to work and representing our region!"

Sonia Ossorio, President National Organization for Women, New York, said, "At a time when women cannot trust the president of the United States to run the country effectively or value women's lives, we can count of Andrew Cuomo to put our best interests first. NOW applauds the governor for consistently making women's rights a priority in New York."

Christine Sadowski, from YWCAs of New York State, said, "YWCAs of New York State applaud Governor Cuomo's formation of a New York State Council on Women and Girls as we know firsthand, from our work throughout the state, how necessary it is to shine a light on continuing gender inequities. While we have much to celebrate for women in New York State, the Governor's recognition that there is work still to be done to ensure economic and political equity for women is critical at this time. YWCAs of New York State are honored to be part of this historic work and look forward to the collaborative endeavor to wipe out discrimination based on gender."

New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director, Donna Lieberman said, "At a time when the President and Congress have launched an all-out war against women, it is critical that NY stand up and fight to protect the dignity, rights and health of women and girls. As part of the steering committee I will work to ensure that NY stands firm to protect our hard won protections, to plug the gaps that exist in our state law, and to ensure that reproductive justice, economic justice and equality are a reality for women in NY."

Beverly Copper Neufeld, President of PowHer New York said, "Change takes leadership and sustained commitment from the top. Once again, Governor Cuomo has taken an important step toward women's equality by creating the NYS Council on Women and Girls. PowHer New York applauds his historic action and I am proud to be a member of the Council's inaugural Steering Committee."