The SUNY Empire Women's Corporate Leadership Academy is accepting applications for the spring term. If interested in signing up and joining a cohort of empowering leaders, please email your name and phone number to The deadline to enroll is December 31, 2020.

About the Academy

Dr. Rosalyn Rufer, Coordinator of WCLA Graduate Programs

The SUNY Empire Women’s Corporate Leadership Academy was created to address the persistent gender inequality that remains across corporate America. SUNY Empire seeks to promote woman’s increased participation in American corporate leadership, including serving on corporate boards, through targeted programming that supports women in preparing for executive and board leadership positions and organizations in creating more institutional equity. Activities focused on the development of women leaders will address issues such as leadership, communication, networking, and self-promotion strategies that address the unique challenges faced by women seeking to advance into executive or board leadership positions. Activities focused on the development of organizations to support the advancement of women and individuals from under represented backgrounds will address issues such as assessment of board composition, strategies for attracting/recruiting diverse board members, and strategies for developing effective internal pathways the promote the development and advancement of women and individuals from under represented backgrounds. Academy programs are open to individuals of all backgrounds regardless of background, sex, gender, or other demographic characteristic.

Academy Activities

Credit Bearing Activities

Pathways to Board Leadership Micro Certificate

Pathways for a position on a corporate board - taking the right steps.

Many corporations recognize that diversity on the corporate board only strengthens it (Mishra, 2019). However, often these leadership positions are only open to those that “fit” within the current board structure.  This micro credential provides those individuals, who want to create a professional pathway for corporate board leadership, the actions that they may take to realize their goal. The micro credential identifies best practices, with testimonial from women who have created a personal brand, to support opportunities on corporate boards. Come learn with us; hear the success stories; and develop your own personal brand.

Mishra S. (2019). U.S. Board Diversity Trends in 2019. Harvard Law School Forum (Board Oversight in Light of COVID-19 and Recent Delaware Decisions)

How to Enroll:

  • Current SUNY Empire graduate students may enroll as they would any other SUNY Empire graduate course using MyESC.
  • Non-SUNY Empire graduate students with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution may enroll in the course by following the graduate nondegree study process.

The three courses offered by SUNY Empire State College as part of the Women’s Leadership Academy are:

MGMT: 6003 Corporate Board Leadership – Personal Branding (Fall term) Micro-credential

Serving on a corporate board requires recognition of the key competencies of potential board members. Often selection to serve on a corporate board is based on previously established relationships. This might be one of the reasons that corporate boards have shown a lack of diversity in the past. While there has been a positive trend toward diversifying the corporate board, individuals can take steps to become the next board member. This course will outline the key steps in raising your profile and creating a pathway for corporate board leadership. The course will address why personal branding is important and how to create your own personal brand. This includes overcoming challenges in communicating your brand and building trust and support through networking. It is also important to learn from successful examples. Panel discussions will illustrate how individuals reached their goals and overcame obstacles. These panel discussions will be part of a residency experience or executive retreat, where participants can interact with women and other underrepresented leaders, who overcame the glass ceiling to serve on a corporate board. This course is offered as a standalone micro credential or as an elective in the MBA in Business Management.

MGMT 6001 Dynamics of Corporate Board Engagement (Spring term) Micro-credential

The success of a corporate board depends on the skills of its members. The governing board of an organization holds an extraordinary responsibility for establishing the organization’s strategic direction around stakeholder needs and organizing a management structure designed to execute the strategy that capitalizes on the endeavors of the organization. This course will identify the skills needed to secure a successfully functioning corporate board and pathways in which individuals can develop key leadership competencies. Some of the competencies associated with serving on a corporate board include the ability to guide the mission, purpose, vision, and core values of the organization; develop a management structure and select a well-functioning executive staff; drive the strategic goals of the organization; monitor and evaluate all facets of organizational performance; maintain fiduciary responsibility; and ensure compliance with legal, ethical, and regulatory standards. MGMT 6001 will discuss each of these competencies and their importance for corporate board members. This course is offered as a standalone course or as an elective in the MBA in Business Management.

MGMT 6009 Creating a Diverse Corporate Board (Spring term)

A diverse corporate board requires the organizational culture and processes that encourage corporate board diversity. Often this requires a change in existing board norms. In order to implement a planned change, several steps need to be taken. The first is an assessment of the current composition of the board and the process by which board members are chosen. This assessment includes the current culture of the organization and how it supports diversity within its leadership. In order to close the gap between what is the current nature of the board and the optimum board, the leadership must first identify its ideal board composition. Then a gap assessment is conducted to assess the difference between the current board make-up and what is ideal. Participants in this course will learn how to conduct a gap assessment and create a plan for change. Key topics covered in this course include organizational culture, organizational change, gap analysis, and creating diversity on corporate boards.

Advisory Board Members