October 11, 2019

Women in Public Safety hosted a lively panel discussion and Q&A session as part of its Leadership Series: Path to Promotion event in front of a packed house of more than 60 NYU community members on Thursday, October 3, at NYU’s Kimmel Center for University Life.

Moderated by Associate Vice President, Campus Services and Safety Natalie Hidalgo, panelists included Director, Records and Compliance, Jessica Daniels Coleman; Director, Emergency Management and Continuity, Anne-Marie McLaughlin; and Director, Support Services, Shanelle Pendergrass.

Hidalgo covered a wide range of topics with the panelists, all related to furthering and growing their careers. The topics included how they ended up at Public Safety, what lessons they have learned during their careers, and advice for attendees on how to seek and gain a promotion.

“Sometimes it’s ok to make waves,” said Pendergrass. “In the short term, it was very challenging for me and maybe not the best way to make friends, but in the long run, I’m happy that I did it. It set the tone for who I am today.”

McLaughlin came to NYU Public Safety after eight years as an Emergency Manager at the University of Massachusetts (UMass). Prior to that, she spent 10 years in the communications office at UMass, during which she volunteered for new emergency management responsibilities and wore two hats before switching roles.

“I did two jobs for a while,” said McLaughlin. “Sometimes getting ahead involves doing extra. In my case, it involved volunteering to help the Chief of Police and Risk Manager with creating plans, and I ended up going back to school, and doing that work, and my day job on top of it for a little while. But it was definitely worth it.”

Coleman said that she appreciates how women are valued at Public Safety and how she looks to her colleagues and superiors as role models.

“It’s great to see women being valued and moving forward at Public Safety,” said Coleman.

The panelists also offered advice on how to grow careers, both at NYU and beyond.

“If you feel like there’s no logical stepping stone, try to work on some projects outside of your area,” said Pendergrass. “Putting yourself in new situations will help others see you in a new light, and show them you have more to offer than just your current role.”

McLaughlin agreed, and said that those looking for a new role should take their time in doing so.

“Don’t be impulsive,” said McLaughlin. “Do your homework, take some time, be strategic, and talk to people who already work there. Find out if you think it’s the right place before making the move.”

Coleman urged attendees to use their time with their supervisor efficiently and look for opportunities to support their priorities.

“I encourage everyone to find your rocket ship,” said Coleman. “Talk with your supervisor, and learn what their priorities are, and then volunteer to help them with those priorities. Make sure you maximize your time with them by making your contributions clear.”

The panelists were positive about their experiences at Public Safety.

“I grew up here,” said Pendergrass, an 11-year veteran of Public Safety. “For me, it’s all about the potential to help people and the opportunity for growth.”

McLaughlin echoed Pendergrass’ sentiments on diversity and the quality of the work that she participates in.

“This is a chance to do my work globally and to be part of a strong, collaborative team,” she said. “There aren’t too many places to have that opportunity and I’m grateful for it.”

Questions from the audience included what keeps the panelists awake at night, and the best parts of their job.

“A lot of the work we do, is done so that others don’t have to worry,” said McLaughlin. “I think that makes it challenging, but also very rewarding.”

Pendergrass said that for her, the best part about her job is the people with whom she works.

“I love the people here, it’s the greatest atmosphere and so diverse, and I couldn’t see myself having the opportunity at other places,” she said.

For more information on the Department of Public Safety’s Women in Public Safety Initiative, including upcoming events, please visit their website.