Following up on the Women in Power profiles, this April we are pleased to feature profiles of several NYPA Trustees. Each NYPA Trustee comes from a unique academic and professional background, as well as a unique part of New York State.
Ms. Kress is the President of Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY and has been named a Woman of Distinction by the New York State Senate.
What part of being a NYPA Trustee do you enjoy the most?
I value the time spent with NYPA staff and fellow trustees, and I especially have valued learning more about the energy sector. The ability to access—without a moment of doubt—ready, safe, and affordable power is something we all take for granted. It is an honor to sit at the NYPA table to work to keep this a reality in our state.
What skills have you taken from your day-to-day career and applied to your work at NYPA?
Any college president today faces a rapidly shifting landscape of higher education: changing demography and markets, increasing expectations and competition, affordability pressures, demands for accountability and documented outcomes, declining resources, and more.
The same skill sets I bring to addressing these challenges, I see the NYPA team bringing to their work in addressing the challenge of change they face. My experience at MCC helps me be an effective trustee. These are, perhaps unsurprisingly, transferable skills!
Has the reverse been true? Have you learned skills at NYPA and taken them back to your day-to-day responsibilities?
As a community college president, I have a responsibility to assure our career and technical programs meet the needs of evolving industry sectors. Watching the energy sector transform from my front row seat on the NYPA Board has reinforced my sense of urgency and accountability in how we address the workforce pipeline and skills gap issues facing our region.
How has your style of leadership evolved over time?
Anyone who works with me would laugh to hear this, but I have become more patient as a leader. Each step in academic administration requires the building of a strong team, put trust in them and get them to trust you, and share responsibility. This takes time and patience, but in the end, the results are so much more impactful and sustained.
As a NYPA Trustee what is the biggest challenge you have faced?
I am fairly new to the Board, so I have not faced any major challenges yet. That said, through one board meeting, I did have a horrible cold and went through almost a whole box of tissues on live video stream. Not my most attractive moment.
How do you see NYPA changing over the next 10 years? The next 25?
The energy sector is changing because of big data, competition for talent, resources, weather shifts and cybersecurity. The last major investments in the infrastructure that supports NYPA were made decades ago, very much mirroring the overall issues facing infrastructure throughout New York and our nation. To me, the changes in the next two decades will focus on how we become, on the one hand, nimble enough to meet our challenges, and on the other, stable and sturdy enough to build the infrastructure required for the next century.
Working in the energy sector, what aspect has been the biggest eye-opener for you?
I have had the chance to do a site visit since joining the board and was so impressed by the dedication of the men and women who work everyday to assure our power is safe and secure. These are individuals who are so often (too often) invisible to us, and their justifiable pride in their work and profession is contagious.
How does your home county give you a unique perspective when working as a NYPA Trustee?
Monroe County has the City of Rochester as its center, but it is equally suburban and even rural. With a past dominated by giants like Kodak and Xerox, it has become home to thousands of medium to small businesses. In many ways, it is a microcosm of the businesses NYPA serves throughout New York and illustrates our mission.
As I watch Monroe County become a regional force in industry sectors like advanced manufacturing and optics, I am especially mindful of the central role NYPA places in growing economic opportunity through low cost power. I also value our community’s longstanding commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship, both of which are reflected in NYPA’s past and future.
If you could choose just one facet of NYPA for the public to be aware of, what would it be?
I would go back to my visit to Marcy as well as to my regular work with the staff in White Plains: the talents of these individuals power NYPA. Their understanding of the responsibility they hold and their pride and integrity in their work is something that benefits us all.