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Speakers to offer insight on prioritizing mental health, embracing change and more

Speakers to offer insight on prioritizing mental health, embracing change and more

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The second workshop session for our 2022 Women’s Leadership Summit will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. Attendees can choose to attend one of the following workshops that range in theme from embracing career change to supporting mental wellness at work.

Grow your Brand, Retain your People and Lift your Community.

Moderator Amber Lingenfelter, the community resource and volunteer engagement manager for the United Way of Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes, will lead a dynamic panel in a discussion on how to attract and retain employees through community engagement activities.

Deana Percassi, director of public relations, community relations and nutrition, for Wegmans Food Markets Inc., is one of the panelists for this session. She’s looking forward to sharing more about Wegmans’ culture and approach to business, which puts serving team members, customers and the communities it operates in first.


“Making a difference in every community we serve is one of our core values — it’s instilled into the fabric of the company,” Percassi said. “We know that making a difference not only helps our communities, but it leads to greater employee retention and satisfaction as well as continuing to build company reputation.”

When it comes to community engagement, she notes it’s critical to not only make it a priority but to share what you do beyond the confines of your business.

“From attracting and retaining talent to attracting and growing your customer base, community engagement is more important now than it ever has been,” Percassi said. “It is a business imperative to support community engagement, but you also need to communicate about it.”

Percassi is a Rochester native whose first job was at Wegmans when she was a teenager. She attended the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business for her Master’s in Business Administration.

“As someone who grew up in Rochester, I feel it is important to give back and help grow and cultivate the leaders of tomorrow,” said Percassi, about why it’s important to her to participate in the Women’s Leadership Summit.

The other panelists for this session are Kristina Dengler, senior vice president, of Bank of America, and Celeste Kier, senior vice president of marketing and customer experience director of ESL Federal Credit Union.

Allow Mental Health to be a Priority

This workshop centers on why it is vitally important for employers and employees to prioritize mental health and will provide tips on how to accomplish it.

Speakers for this session are Anne Wilder, president of Coordinated Care Services Inc. (CCSI), and Shaunta Collier-Rankin, director of human resources for CCSI.


“Our panel discussion will focus on the importance of mental health in the workplace, including the impact on our workforce when needs go unaddressed, some innovative ways employers are integrating mental health support into health and wellness programs, and why it’s so important to reflect an understanding of mental health throughout organizational leadership and culture,” Wilder said.

CCSI is a not-for-profit located on Jay Street in Rochester that has three decades of experience in partnering with local governments, mental health providers, community-based organizations and schools to develop and deliver high-impact programs and services that help meet the needs of individuals and families.

The organization is equity-focused, strength based and trauma-responsive, and helps other organizations build healthier work cultures and improve health, wellness, behavioral and educational outcomes for their employees and those they serve.

Wilder and Collier-Rankin hope attendees of their panel will leave with a deeper appreciation for making mental health a priority, and that the conversation will prompt some new ideas, including what we can be accomplished within one’s existing resources, having a flexible, person-centered mindset and understanding and supporting mental wellness at work.

“We have so many strong and talented leaders in this community doing amazing work,” said Wilder, when asked why it’s important to her to take the time to participate in the Women’s Leadership Summit. “Opportunities like the summit, when we can come together and learn from each other, are so important in spreading strategies that are working and fostering the relationships across sectors needed to work together to create positive change.”

Negotiation Skills – Get What You Deserve

During this panel discussion, attendees will learn about imposter syndrome — a phenomenon where one doubts their own skills and accomplishments — and how to overcome it to be confident about asking potential and current employers for what one’s worth during hiring and contract negotiations.


You’ll hear from Jill Knittel, president & CEO of JK Executive Strategies, a certified women-owned national executive search and professional recruiting firm located on University Avenue in Rochester.

The firm has a 100% success rate in completing every search they’ve been retained to conduct since it was founded in 2017. Among the industries they serve are healthcare, higher education, financial services, renewable energy and not-for-profit.

One of the many tips Knittel plans to share during the workshop is that a key to a successful negotiation requires thorough preparation — both emotionally and tactically.

“I hope attendees leave my session feeling empowered and with a few ‘tools in their toolbox’ when it comes to negotiations and dealing with imposter syndrome,” said Knittel, who has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a Master of Business Administration from St. John Fisher University, where she’s served as a trustee since 2013.

Knittel also serves as the chairperson of the Board of Governors for Hillside Family of Agencies and as an honorary board member of Bivona Child Advocacy Center.

“I love to surround myself with women who want to learn and grow in their careers and lives,” said Knittel, about why it’s important to her to participate in the Women’s Leadership Summit. “It is truly my honor to share some of my experience in hopes that I will help another women leader.

“We all need to lift a sister up!”

The Power of Change: How to Embrace the Unexpected and New Opportunities to Grow Your Career and Life Forward

How to embrace a new job and thrive after a promotion or career change is the theme of this workshop that will feature leadership consultant Bobbie Goheen, president/CEO of Synthesis Management Group, a Rochester-based international executive consulting firm she began in 2000.

Goheen plans to offer insight, best practices and successful strategies in the following areas:

  • Strong practices for a positive beginning;
  • Managing your performance, perceptions and outcomes with your manager and colleagues;
  • Stakeholder leadership;
  • Proactive personal change management; and
  • Building and sustaining a strong reputation.

When the workshop is over, Goheen, who is the author of the book “Intuition of a Leader,” hopes you will “Walk away with a ‘tool kit’ to manage you and your career to the outcomes that best support your personal vision.”


Goheen has worked with companies and organizations worldwide whose staff range in size from five employees to 80,000. Clients include international, national and local C-suite executives, managers, entrepreneurs and professionals looking for curated, practical tools to match their desire to lead others with greater ease and agility.

In addition to running Synthesis Management Group, Goheen also facilitates local roundtables for small to mid-sized businesses. Locally she’s been a leadership development coach for the executive MBA program at the Rochester Institute of Technology and an executive coach at the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School. Before beginning Synthesis Management Group, she spent 18 years working for Paychex Inc. where she started a training development program.

Caurie Putnam is a Rochester-area freelance writer.