About WPS

About WPS

WPS Meeting






The mission of Women in the Public Sector at John Jay College is to raise awareness and provide opportunities to address gender issues in public service. Women in the Public Sector enacts this mission by educating, engaging, and fostering a consortium of students, faculty, public service practitioners, and community members interested in women in public service.


Our Main Goals Are To:

  • Educate participants on the context of women’s experience in the public sector.
  • Engage with participants through activities and discussions that share experiences, information, and resources.
  • Foster a sustainable consortium of students, faculty, public service practitioners, and community members to collaborate in personal development, education, research, and outreach projects.




Women in Public Sector (WPS) at John Jay College began in the Fall of 2013 when co-founders, Nicole Elias and Maria D’Agostino, recognized a need for students and faculty to focus on women in public service within and beyond the John Jay community.  To address this need, they created the 2014 Women in Public Service Workshop Series. This Workshop Series was intended to be the first step in a concerted effort at John Jay and CUNY-wide to make women in public service a scholarly and practitioner focus, while establishing the Women in the Public Sector at John Jay College.


The first workshop in the Women in Public Service Series was held on April 2, 2014. This event was largely guided by Nicole and Maria’s research and raised awareness on the perception and involvement of women in public service.  The event was a great success with more than 90 students, John Jay and CUNY-Wide faculty members, administrators, community members participated in the conversation. Discussion for this event focused on the central challenges that women face while working in the public sector, including pay and leadership inequality, discrimination, and gender, cultural, and institutional biases that contribute to the negative perceptions of women in the workplace. Attendees learned about important advances in public policy and legislation, as well as recent positive initiatives aimed at shifting public perception of what it means to be a women in today’s society.


Building upon the energy from the first workshop, the second event in the 2014 Series took place on May 7, 2014. Participants heard from a panel of five public service scholars and practitioners, who all shared the academic and professional perspectives on women in the public sector. The panelists highlighted significant issues women in the public service face by presenting their own professional experiences. Drawing on these narratives, panelists offered guidance for supporting women in the workforce, especially how to foster mentorship and networking opportunities.


The event of the academic year featured  New York Public Advocate, the Honorable Letitia James. Her energetic talk engaged our students, faculty and community members on topics of social justice that impact women in New York City, Over 70 students attended this event where Public Advocate James talked with our students about her role as the first African American woman to hold a citywide office.  James highlighted ongoing challenges that her office addresses including initiatives at Rikers Island, campus sexual assault, local beauty industry compliance, youth aging out of foster care, and housing code violations. She also emphasized the need to focus on women’s issues such as workplace equality, paid family leave, wage equity, and affordable childcare. This event was successful in connecting WPS to the larger issues and community in New York City.


On November 17, 2015, Women in the Public Sector (WPS) hosted a Discussion featuring New York State Lieutenant Governor, Kathleen Hochul. This event was held in partnership with the Office of External Affairs at John Jay College. Hochul, the Highest Ranking Female State Official, provided students, faculty and community members the opportunity to learn of her work with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault on college campuses and in the workplace. The main focus of this  discussion was for students to become more aware of the need to strengthen laws against sexual assault in New York State in desire to expand throughout the country. Hochul empowered female students in the room to aspire to higher positions in government such as herself.  


Following the success of the first event of the 2015-2016 academic year, WPS held a “Ask the Civil Rights Attorney Workshop” series featuring Civil Rights Attorney with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity, Melissa Brand on February 23-24, 2016. A Keynote Address was the first part of the series. During this event, Brand informed students, faculty and community members about the injustices that have occurred while holding her current position. The main purpose of this event was to encourage the audience to find their own justice or their own path o how to serve the community. In part two of the series, the John Jay Community was able to interact with Melissa Brand through the Student Development Workshop. During this portion of the Workshop series, WPS collaborated with the Women’s Center for Gender Justice a John Jay and gave students the opportunity to break out of their comfort zone and to have a one-on-one conversation with the Civil Rights Attorney. Through the vast stories of Brand’s experiences, students gained valuable knowledge in networking, persistence, hard work, and other skills that would benefit them later on in the workplace. In the culminating event of the series, Melissa Brand presented Policies & Practices of the Workplace (And How They Can Lead to Discrimination) to a group of more than 70 John Jay Students, faculty and staff. She detailed the importance to create as many policies for the workplace as possible, however these policies would be of no use if employers did not make sure these policies were followed, enforced, and effective. Brand discussed her experience with having to set a precedent for cases that included anti-harassment, discipline issues, reasonable accommodation for disabled employees, hiring process issues, and protection for the LGBTQ individuals the workplace.


To conclude the 2015-2016 academic calendar, on March 29, 2016, in collaboration with the Director of the Center for Career and Professional Development, WPS hosted the WPS Networking event for the John Jay Community. This event consisted of five academic and practitioner panelists that informed the room of about 80 members of the John Jay student body about their history and experiences in the public service field. This open conversation allowed the students to become more aware of the job opportunities available and career options that students could consider in the near future. Students learned about what to expect in the public service field and the different ways to serve the people of New York based on the different perspectives and job experiences that these panelists have.


On October 5th, 2016, WPS collaborated with No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project of the Clinton Foundation. This event was the first event of the 2016-2017 academic calender and was a part of the Women in the Public Sector Speaker Series. Participants were given the opportunity to meet Deputy Director Rachel Tulchin as well as hear her insight on the status of girls and women today, including wage discrepancies and lack of women in power positions. After Ms. Tulchins presentation, participants were given the opportunity to partake in a vibrant discussion on the subject, as well as discuss the importance of creating compelling evidence for change. To conclude the 2016-2017 academic year, WPS is expecting continued success with a collaboration with UN Women.