Women In Power: Debra White

Throughout the month of March, NYPA’s Digital Communications group will be featuring online profiles of professional women working at different locations and in different capacities throughout the Authority in honor of Women’s History Month. We provided a series of questions on career development, and each profile features personal insights on how each of these professionals reached their goals, both long term and day to day.

Debra works at NYPA’s White Plains office in the Procurement Department as Director of the Supplier Diversity Program.

When you mentor people, what do you try to accomplish? What is the most important part of being a mentor?

One of the most important parts of mentoring is listening twice as much as you speak. This allows you to better identify a mentee’s needs regarding his or her career growth and development. Once we are clear about expectations, a mentor’s job is to uncover the mentee’s potential, and then encourage and motivate.

The goal is to positively affect the person’s employee lifecycle. This is accomplished by discussing, constructing and developing strategies to address their professional development, challenges and any other items of importance to the mentee. Being a catalyst for discovery and facilitating professional and developmental “a-ha moments” is a goal of mine. When we can both realize such moments, the mentoring experience is all the more rewarding.

Another important part of being a mentor is being committed to the cause, taking it seriously and providing the time and truth, energy and effort necessary to affect the mentee’s definition of success. Helping someone achieve professional goals by sharing knowledge, experience, advice and perspective as needed, rounds out the total mentoring experience.

What advice do you have for maintaining a work/life balance?

This is a difficult question. The words ‘work/life’ and ‘balance’ are almost an oxymoron, but common in today’s vernacular.

My advice would be to make it a point to take care of yourself first and to incorporate healthier habits into to your lifestyle. Enjoy your favorite form of exercise a few times a week. Mind-body balance is first.

Sit down and focus honestly on obligations. Define other priorities based on what they are vs. what you think they should be, and be clear on needs vs. wants. It helps prevent a person from becoming overwhelmed, which leads to imbalance.

Be willing to put in the necessary work toward achieving a balance. It requires conscious effort to retrain our brain to think of nontraditional and creative ways to become strategic in our priorities and time management. Be cognizant of life’s stressors and their impact on yourself, your family and your work.

Focus on what one must accomplish at work and what one can reasonably do at home. When at work make work the priority, and when at home make home the priority. Remember that we cannot be everything to everyone ALL the time. That is not our role!

And finally, recognize that “flexibility” is a key in achieving balance. And above all…accept the fact that we are all “human,” as characterized by superior intelligence, articulated speech and erect carriage etc., which are all amazing qualities. We are, however, not “super human” and we should not act the part. Being human requires us to B R E A T H E, and doing so deeply and slowly helps us to find our center and (re)gain balance!

Women in Power: Janis Archer

Throughout the month of March, NYPA’s Digital Communications group will be featuring online profiles of professional women working at different locations and in different capacities throughout the Authority in honor of Women’s History Month. We provided a series of questions on career development, and each profile features personal insights on how each of these professionals reached their goals, both long term and day to day.

Janis works at the White Plains Office as NYPA’s Director of Strategy Management. She was recently featured in Westchester Magazine’s Women in Business feature, highlighting some of the county’s most successful female executives, entrepreneurs and government leaders.

When you mentor people, what do you try to accomplish? What is the most important part of being a mentor?

First, I try to determine what the individual wants to accomplish through mentoring. Then, together, we can map out a plan to address those items. The most important goal of mentoring is to assist the individual in developing their own competence and confidence. It is essential that we both understand that our goal is not for the individual to do things as I would. He or she must come to recognize their own abilities and passions and then value and nurture them.
In a successful mentoring encounter, both parties learn from one another. Mentoring is all about growth and fulfillment of potential. Ultimately, my hope is that the individual mentored will want to continue his or her own growth through mentoring others.

What advice do you have for maintaining a work/life balance?

I believe it is important to remember that the definition of work/life balance is different for each individual and, further, may vary in one individual over time. In other words, your balance is unique to you and it evolves with your circumstances; try to avoid comparing yourself to others.
The most important thing in achieving a work life balance is know yourself and what you value. Understanding this will give you a framework for making tough choices. It is also essential to manage expectations – yours and those of the people around you. It helps if you can look at your own situation objectively. One way to be objective is to ask yourself what you would advise a friend in similar circumstances. Chances are you’d encourage her to aim to do a good job in each of the many areas of her life rather than struggle to be the best in every area.
My last bit of advice: lose the word “should” from your vocabulary.

In your opinion, what is the key to your success?

Truthfully, I don’t consider myself successful. I think of myself as fulfilled. I have chosen to involve myself in things I enjoy, believe in and am passionate about. I get to do work that intrigues and energizes me every day. That’s a pretty good gig!

What do you enjoy most about working at NYPA?

The people. If you’ve only worked at NYPA and don’t have any other frame of reference, you may not realize what an extraordinary environment NYPA is. Overwhelmingly, NYPA employees are rock solid – they know their jobs and are proud of what we do. They are eager to learn and they are predisposed to help one another. They really get that we are a team.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Stop worrying about what other people think of you. Just focus on what you think of you.

How would you describe your leadership style?

My goal is to be clear, supportive, encouraging and inspiring. Trust me, the reality falls far short.

What are, from your perspective, the biggest challenges for women in leadership roles?

Mine is a baby boomer perspective. For us, women leaders had to walk a fine line to be accepted. Be strong, but careful not to be considered pushy. Be outgoing and make connections, but not in a way that someone might think inappropriate. Be a good sport and don’t react when others are inappropriate. Limit talking about your family at work.
Later generations have pushed far past this mindset. They no longer try to squeeze into some ill-fitting and restrictive mold. They stand strong as who they are and contribute from their unique and genuine selves. It’s lovely to have had the opportunity to observe this evolution.

NYPA RECOGNIZES ITS ENGINEERS: Mohammad Latif

During Engineers Week (February 22-28), follow along as we interview some of NYPA’s best engineers.

Meet Mohammad Latif, an Electrical Engineer who has been with NYPA for two years.


How did you enter the engineering field? How did you decide on what you wanted to specialize in?

Growing up in a household of a schoolteacher back in Bangladesh, I only had two options for the future: doctor or engineer. After graduating High School, I decided to study veterinary medicine and even completed three years of vet school in Bangladesh before immigrating to USA. However, once in New York, due to various obstacles I could not pursue the veterinarian path and thus reverted to the second choice at hand; engineering. I must say, looking back I am very happy with the choice I had made.

I was 10 years old when my village first got electricity. That old black light switch and the 100W incandescent light bulb was a whole new world to me. I witnessed the impact on how electricity can change human life. You can say that was the reason I chose electrical engineering in college.

What makes you proud to work at NYPA?

I am greatly appreciative of the teamwork and support that each of us has amongst our group members. By working with NYPA, I feel as though I am making a contribution towards the greater New York State.

What do you love most about engineering?

Engineering is hands on and I love that. I can see the impact my actions have on the projects going in and out. It allows me to learn and grow my understanding each and every day.

What advice would you offer to someone who’s considering a career in engineering?

You must love what you do and do it to the best of your ability. If you are not comfortable with math, science and analytical thinking, this field may not be right for you. However, if you excel in these areas and want to design tasks that effect everyday life; this is a great path to take.

What does engineering mean to you?

Detect the PROBLEMS – find & create the SOLUTIONS – make the DECISIONS.

What is one thing about yourself that most people would find surprising?

Looking at where I am now, most people would find it surprising that when I first came to New York, I worked as a dish washer then bus boy, barista, food runner, cook, waiter, NYC taxi driver, NYS Home Inspector and finally an Electrical Engineer. I’ve done it all!

NYPA Recognizes Its Engineers: Randy Solomon

During Engineers Week (February 22-28), follow along as we interview some of NYPA’s best engineers.

Meet Randy Solomon, Director of Energy Services Delivery at NYPA.

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How did you enter the engineering field? How did you decide on what you wanted to specialize in?

I always liked science and math and how things worked, so I chose to study engineering in college. I chose to get a degree in industrial engineering because it was a good mix of business and engineering principles. My uncle also graduated in this field and was very successful in his career.

What makes you proud to work at NYPA?

I am proud to be a part of NYPA’s initiatives to lower energy usage and reduce greenhouse gases in New York State. I feel that this is making a difference for future generations.

What do you love most about engineering?

I love to solve technical, or really any type of problems. Engineers love to find solutions, implement them and then see the results.

What advice would you offer to someone who’s considering a career in engineering?

It takes a lot of hard work and discipline to get an engineering degree. Do not get discouraged with poor test grades at the start or at any point. Persistence pays off in school and later in life. Keep forging ahead if this is your goal. Also, keep in mind that people are important in the solution of any problem. Thus, excellent communication skills (writing and verbal) are a huge benefit to having a successful career as an engineer.

What does engineering mean to you?

It means solving problems to make the world a better place.

NYPA Recognizes Its Engineers: Femina Fernandes

During Engineers Week (February 22-28), follow along as we interview some of NYPA’s best engineers.

Meet Femina Fernandes, an Associate System Planning Engineer, who has been with NYPA for 3 years.

How did you enter the engineering field?

Initially, I wanted to be a doctor, but it turns out I was better at Math and Physics than I was at Biology! While at engineering school, I started spending a lot more time in the Power Systems lab and I realized that this was my calling. That’s when I decided to become a proud Electrical Engineer.

What makes you proud to work at NYPA?

NYPA is a great place to work at. Among other things, there is great field exposure, good mentors, lots of different fields under the same roof to learn from and a diverse working atmosphere. As an Engineer, there are a lot of generation & transmission projects to keep you busy.

What do you love most about engineering?

Engineering is a challenging field. There are many different solutions for one problem and finding the best one is the key. There is always something new to learn and with growing technology, there is always something old to improve. It’s a win-win.

What advice would you offer to someone who’s considering a career in engineering?

It’s not for the faint hearted. Any form of engineering requires constant attention to detail and a lot of solution seeking. Once you get the hang of it, it’s a great career choice.

What does engineering mean to you?

Engineering to me means solving a problem and then fine tuning it some more. At the end of the day, and after all the hard work you put in, you know you are contributing something important to society. In my case, that would be electricity.

The best part about the job is watching the projects you work on come to life!

Military Veteran Series: George T. Vitti, III


The New York Power Authority is proud of its employee diversity. Among the men and women who make up the NYPA family are accomplished U.S. Military Veterans.

George T. Vitti, III has been a Security Officer at the Poletti Plant for the past 6 years. He is a Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom of which he served as a Military Police Officer in the Marines from 2002-2006.

What led you to join the Armed Forces and why did you pick the service branch that you did?

I dreamed of being a Marine as a child growing up in a military family, and I spent nearly the same amount of time at the local VFW hall with my father as I did playing with my childhood friends. When the time came, I proudly followed in the footsteps of my father and grandfather, who both earned the title of United States Marine during Vietnam and WWII.

How do the skills you learned in the military help you in your career today?

I was fortunate to have some fantastic teachers and mentors who taught and instilled in me these 14 leadership traits: justice, judgement, dependability, initiative, decisiveness, tact, enthusiasm, integrity, bearing, unselfishness, courage, knowledge, loyalty and endurance. There is no doubt that the traits and skills I have learned during my time in service has offered a guidance that is extraordinarily beneficial to my career here at the New York Power Authority.

Are you a member of any Veterans groups?

I am an active member of VFW Post #260, American Legion Post 1440, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Do you have any funny stories during your service?

During Marine Corps Boot camp aboard Paris Island in South Carolina, we had a recruit in our platoon that somehow got his watch through the indoc (they take all of your belongings when you first get there). Well, the Drill Instructors found out he had it when they saw him wearing it one day, so they put him in the squad bay trashcan and put the lid on it. Every time they walked by and kicked it he’d pop out with his watch and yell, “SIR THE TIME ON DECK IS ZERO-NINE-FORTY-FIVE!” and then go back into his can like the grouch from Sesame Street.

On another occasion, we had a full funeral procession and burial for a mosquito. Marine Recruits are strictly banned from any movement while standing in formation, and that includes the swatting of mosquitoes. On this particular day, Recruit Jones couldn’t take that bug gnawing on his ear for a second longer, so swat it he did.

Shortly after, the ceremony and games had begun, which including singing, marching, and a whole lot of digging, but It wasn’t until we thought it was over when the drill instructor had professed the question of whether this mosquito casualty had been a male or female. So, it was 6 feet of barehanded digging back down to the bottom to find out.

Military Veteran Series: Dominique Jefferson

The New York Power Authority is proud of its employee diversity. Among the men and women who make up the NYPA family are accomplished U.S. Military Veterans.

Dominique (Dee) Jefferson is an Administrative Assistant for the Corporate Communications Department in the White Plains Office.

“I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the Navy,” says Dee of her time in the Service. Having spent six years in the Armed Forces as a Military Police Officer, she joined the Navy because of the diversity and camaraderie. “Once I joined, many other factors made me appreciate the military that much more”.

Dee has been employed at NYPA for two years, starting out as a contractor and moving into a full-time position this past summer. Now an Administrative Assistant, she works with the Graphic Communications group, aiding primarily with project trafficking.

She credits the military with many things, including instilling within her a high level of patience and helping to cultivate the skills that allow her to work well under pressure.

In addition to her workload, Dee participates in different initiatives, events and support groups. She volunteers with the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), NY Disaster Relief and was a featured panelist at NYPA’s 2012 Veteran’s Event. As part of the multi-generational armed forces panel, she spoke about the military experience sharing her perspective as a female service member, contributing to the Q & A session and showcasing some of her military memorabilia. Recently, at NYPA’s annual World Heritage Celebration, Dee and fellow NYPA employee and Military Veteran Sean Rooney greeted their co-workers at table dedicated to the places around the world that their military life had taken them.