9 Binghamton University Power Women Who Will Motivate You

Posted by Carolyn Heefner on September 7, 2018

We're back at it with nine more alumni stories that will encourage you to get focused, follow your dreams and make yourself heard. From TV executives, to entrepreneurs, to founders of feminist movements, our alumnae are seriously impressive. So if you're stuck in a rut looking for a little motivation, or seeking some exciting inspiration, look no further!

Jenna Wolfe ’96

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Jenna graduated from Binghamton with a major in English and rhetoric and found success by becoming a TV journalist and personal trainer. After spending over 10 years as a sportscaster, Jenna established herself on NBC’s TODAY Show, where she became the program’s first-ever lifestyle and fitness correspondent. Jenna had spent almost nine years with TODAY when she decided to pursue new opportunities, train clients and share “tricks to better health” on The Dr. Oz Show. She also wrote the book, Thinner in 30: Small changes that add up to Big Weight Loss in just 30 days, which gives motivation for people to achieve their wellness goals in the long run. During one of her visits to campus, Jenna shared words of wisdom by encouraging students to go outside of their comfort zones and to “stop being so careful and no matter what you do in life, scare yourself in a way that you didn't think you could."

Julie Rice ’92

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Love your SoulCycle classes? Well, believe it or not, those intense, sweat-inducing biking classes that you skip Sunday brunch for (on a good day) were co-founded by this Binghamton alumna! Before she founded SoulCycle, Julie graduated from Harpur with a major in English and rhetoric and became a talent manager in LA. When she finally moved back to the East Coast, she worked with Elizabeth Cutler and Ruth Zukerman to co-found SoulCycle in 2006. She spent 11 years with the brand, growing it from one studio (in the back of a lobby on the Upper West Side) to 67 studios all across the country. Julie then found a new passion and was hired as the chief brand officer of WeWork in 2017, with the goal of getting the company into shape. She hopes to lead by example at WeWork, telling The Cut: “I was an entrepreneur, I built something. It’s great for other entrepreneurs to see another entrepreneur who took a risk and did it.”

Nathaalie Carey '02, MPA '03

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If you're looking for a powerhouse woman who is well-spoken and has great advice to go around, look no further than Nathaalie Carey. Nathaalie came to the US as a six-year-old from Guyana and she is currently the deputy commissioner of administration and CFO at the NYS Department of Labor. After graduating from Harpur with a double major in English and public administration, Nathaalie worked with the county executive as the CFO of Budget and Research. At 24 years old Nathaalie became the youngest person, first woman and first person of color to become CFO. Since then she’s worked for NYS managing the Labor Department's multibillion dollar portfolio and overseeing internal operations, including personnel and equal opportunity development. In addition to serving the public, Nathaalie speaks at conferences and urges women to use their voice. She states, “...the approach I take throughout my life… is to face my fears head on. I never let anyone speak on my behalf… There are too many voiceless women in this world already. For you to sit here and have a seat at the table, and not use your voice...is a tragedy.” Nathaalie was awarded the YWCA’s 2018 Resourceful Woman of the Year, which honors women whose community and professional pursuits advance the empowerment of women.

Dr. Ellyn Kaschak '65

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If you want to learn more about the feminist movement, then start by reading this alum’s story! Dr. Ellyn Kaschak is an internationally acclaimed and award-winning psychologist, author and one of the founders of the field of feminist psychology, in which she has practiced since its inception, about 40 years ago. Kaschak graduated from Harpur with a concentration in Russian in '65 and shortly thereafter became a professor of psychology at San Jose State University in 1974. She has served as the chairperson of the graduate program in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling, and director of the University's Family Counseling Service. In her spare time, Ellyn published numerous articles, chapters and award-winning books, including nine anthologies. As far as awards go, Dr. Kashak has earned a few, including The Heritage Award, the Feminist Therapy Institute Award for Outstanding Contribution to Feminist Psychology, and most recently the 2018 Distinguished Career Award from the Distinguished Publication Awards Committee (of the Association for Women in Psychology). We were thrilled to welcome Dr. Kaschak back on campus during spring 2017 to give a TEDX Talk.

Maureen Kelly ’92

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If you’ve ever bought Tarte foundation or bronzer, you can thank alumna Maureen Kelly for these healthy, eco-chic, cruelty free cosmetics! Maureen created this natural brand out of her one-bedroom apartment in NYC in 1999. While she majored in English and rhetoric, Maureen was studying to become a clinical psychologist. But when her husband told her life was too short not to follow her dreams, Maureen chose to grow the Tarte brand. However, in 2001 tragedy struck when her husband was killed in the September 11th attacks. Devastated by the loss, but driven by her determination to succeed, Maureen recalled her husband’s encouragement and forced  herself to return to work. By 2003, Tarte's sales had reached the $2 million mark, and shortly thereafter in 2005, Maureen signed a contract with QVC which caused a huge spike in sales. Maureen remarried, and is now a working mother who donates five percent of Tarte’s net profits to charity. In 2007, she was named “Woman of the Year” by Entrepreneur magazine. 

Michele Titus ’90

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New York Assemblywoman Michele Titus is a woman fighting tirelessly to empower her community. Michele represents District 31, which include communities such as South Ozone Park, Springfield Gardens, Far Rockaway and more. But before becoming elected as assemblywoman, Michele obtained her BA in political science, then traveled to Albany to pursue her law degree. After graduating from Albany Law School, Michele took a job as chief of staff to State Senator Ada Smith and then became executive director to the New York State Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus. As you can tell from her active career in the public sector, she is extremely dedicated to empowering those in her community. As a result of her hard work, Michele has received many recognitions and awards from local groups in her district, and from the Woman Caucus of District Council 37.

Jami Floyd ’86

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Another spectacular journalist/news anchor/media personality who happens to be a Binghamton alumna is Jami Floyd. Before graduating with a BA in political science in 1986, Jami pretty much did it all on campus. She was a DJ at WHRW, the ombudsperson for Pipe Dream, an RA, TA, and in her spare time ran two political campaigns for the student government. Following graduation, Jami went to Berkeley Law School, and focused on a journalism career that now spans over two decades. Her resume follows a similar pattern as her time on campus. Jami became a law professor, author, network correspondent, investigative reporter, TV anchor and film consultant. She went on to win several awards, including a Gracie, two Tellys and two Cine-Golden Eagle Awards for journalism. In September 2015, she was named a Public Scholar by the NY Council for the Humanities, for a two-year term. Her advice to students? “Remain open to opportunities that come your way. Don't become so focused on the goals you think you have that you miss out on an exciting life-expanding opportunity because you fear it may take you off course, or in the "wrong" direction.” Currently Jami is the Host at WNYC Radio.

Marjorie Cohn ’78

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Animation mogul Marjorie Cohn is a phenomenally successful, yet humble alumna. Shortly after graduating from Harpur with a major in art, Marjorie was hired at Nickelodeon, where she spent 26 years working and succeeding in making the network the number-one kids broadcaster in the world, which held this title for 18 consecutive years! After her tenure with Nick, Marjorie took a position as head of television at Dreamworks Animation, where she remains today, overseeing all television development and production. Marjorie was hired in 2013, right around the time Dreamworks partnered with Netflix, establishing new programming, which earned the company six Daytime Emmy nominations in 2016. This power woman is not only boss status, but she remains humble, telling IndieWire: “...I have some amazing partners here, I’m not doing this all myself...I look around and I am just delighted with who’s here and working for us, and how happy they all are. It’s great to build something.”

Kelly McHugh '00

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Kelly McHugh is a go-getter who followed her dreams post-graduation. Another Harpur alumna with a major in art, Kelly was just named the new marketing manager at the Pacific Whale Foundation, where she oversees a team handling all the marketing functions for Hawaii and Australia. Before her new gig, Kelly headed to Hawaii in 2008 and worked as a public information specialist for the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission. Kelly is best known for her work with the Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center and the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission. She was just honored as one of Hawaii’s “40 Under 40” future leaders during a celebratory event which recognizes exceptional business and community leaders in the state.

Carolyn Heefner is the advancement communications manager at Binghamton University. As a Binghamton native, she is passionate about the area and the University. 

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