Elizabeth Miller Guthier, Executive Director,
Capital District Women’s Employment & Resource Center (WERC)
The Alaant Spotlight features regional influencers and local luminaries sharing their career advice and secrets to success—in their own words. They are the people making a powerful impact for good across the community.
As the Capital District Women’s Employment & Resource Center (WERC) begins creating a mentorship program to help women connect with community leaders and professional role models, its success can be attributed to many. As the Executive Director of WERC, I am honoring Women’s History Month and reflecting with gratitude on the woman who made it all possible for women here in Albany, New York: Pat McLean.
In 1988, Pat McLean was the founder and driving force behind the opening of the Albany Displaced Homemaker Program. Pat had a lifelong dedication to helping women achieve equity in the workplace. To many of us, she was our teacher, boss, mentor as well as our friend. She was reassuring, empowering, taught us all to believe in ourselves and to know that success would follow! One of the most important lessons that Pat shared with women was to network for their goals and to be confident to ask for help from those within AND outside of their circles.
In 1999, soon after Pat retired, The Albany Displaced Homemaker Program incorporated as the Capital District Women’s Employment & Resource Center (WERC), a non-profit organization with a mission to serve all women who had lost their financial support and were in need of transitioning back to work.
Each day, we continue to do all that is possible to keep Pat’s dream alive. We miss her yet she will be forever remembered by those of us whose lives she has changed, including the women we continue to serve. She has taught me to follow my heart, never give up and surround myself with others who have a similar passion and positive energy. Her memory keeps me smiling and motivated, energized, and ready to take on the next challenge. By doing this, our only outcome is success!
On June 2nd of 2014, our dear friend and confident leader, Pat McLean passed away. In her honor, WERC established a Founder’s Fund to carry on her vision for making the world a better place by finding ways to serve more women in need. Despite challenges, we have kept our promise to the community. The community’s support allows WERC to continue to offer quality services and change the lives of women in transition.
I reflect on the achievements our organization has had over the past 30 years, and the struggles we have overcome, including this year with the pandemic. Yet we pivoted and innovated to overcome the obstacles and continue to help women achieve success. Some of our women needed to leave the workforce to take care of their families and loved ones, and we will be there for them when they are ready to return to the workforce. For others, we provided free on-line computer training, personal career readiness training services and help finding employment. When we discovered that more than 20% of women did not have access to a computer, our volunteers and supporters raised their hands, said “count me in”, and created a computer loaner program to meet that need.
I am inspired every day by the resilience of our staff and our volunteers. They are passionate and devoted to helping other women achieve success. I am also inspired by the women we help. Our women are our true heroes and yet many do not see the true character strengths they possess. We reaffirm to them that they are worthy, valued, and appreciated. We are here to give them hope, showing them options and paths to success.
WERC provides more than 2,700 services to more than 300 women each year! Our students are finding satisfying and enriching jobs that are financially sustaining themselves and their families. As you know, we don’t do it alone…it definitely takes a village, and I am privileged to be part of the WERC Team. You can be part of our team for the enrichment of women by donating to the Founders Fund: https://www.cdwerc.org/donate/ to help women discover their opportunities and to provide support for them with our new mentorship program. Together we will guide them to follow their passion and believe that what they dream they CAN achieve. Thank you!
Elizabeth Miller Guthier, PHR is the Executive Director of the Capital District Women’s Employment & Resource Center (WERC) one of 12 Centers throughout New York State that help Displaced Homemakers find employment. Beth’s passion for the Center started 25 years ago when she was hired as the Training Coordinator, developing the employment network still used today to assist more than 300 women each year in transitioning back into the workplace. In her current position, she is responsible for all of WERC’s operations including finances, grant development, human resources, and programming and ensuring the overall success of the agency.
Beth holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the State University of New York at Albany and has maintained her Professional Human Resources Certification (PHR) since 2004. She has more than 35 years of human resource, management, training, and development experience, and is a 2010 graduate of the Rensselaer Leadership Institute.
In addition to her passion for WERC, Beth values her experience as an active community member and volunteer. She has been a volunteer Adult Leader for more than 20 years with Cub Pack 211 and Boy Scout Troop 46 serving in the Committee Chair and Treasurer roles. She is an active member on the Workforce Readiness Committee for the Capital Region Human Resource Association (CRHRA), Engagement Committee for the Women’s Business Council (WBC) part of the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce, and previously served for seven years on the Executive Committee of the Women in Development of Northeastern New York (WIDNENY) Board of Directors.
For her community activism, leadership, and pioneering efforts for equal labor, Beth received the 2011 Woman of Distinction Award from Senator Breslin’s 46th District. Other recognitions include receiving the 2018 Capital Region Chamber’s Nonprofit Executive Leadership Award, was named one of the 2017 Trailblazers from The Women’s Fund of the Capital Region, and in 2012 she was awarded the YWCA Resourceful Woman in the Management category. She lives in Eagle Mills with her husband Jim where they enjoy frequent visits from their son Chris, who is living and working in Elmira.
Elizabeth Miller Guthier, PHR, SHRM-CP
Connect with Elizabeth
Denise Anderson, Manager, Talent & Human Resource Operations
Denise loves helping people and organizations find their perfect fit —whether that is helping someone find a dream job or scoping out what role a company needs to fill and finding the right person for them. In her spare time, she likes to keep physically active and this year has competed in two sprint triathlons. Denise has 2 teenagers and has logged many miles over the years following them around the country to watch them compete in their sports events. When she is able to be at home on the weekends, she enjoys being on her boat, especially during the summer.