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FIS(HER) Empowers Students

February 18, 2019

Now in its second year, the FIS(HER) program intends to provide a forum for St. John Fisher College students to develop new tools and concrete strategies to overcome gender-based obstacles. The event takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21, in Golisano Gateway Midlevel. It is free and open to the Fisher community.


Created by senior Gabriella Kielbasinski, a political science and Spanish major who also serves as the president of the Political Action Club, the forum addresses the injustices that can sometimes exist in the workplace or professional sphere.

“FIS(HER) aims not to be simply an echo-chamber in the face of adversity, but rather an action-oriented workshop that empowers participants,” said Kielbasinski, who worked closely with Dr. Kathleen Donovan, assistant professor of political science, to plan and organize the event.

Sessions include The Email Dilemma (Dr. Melissa Bissonette); Using Humor to Handle Sexism (Dr. Lisa Jadwin); What to do with Discrimination (Dr. Andrea Giordano); Negotiating Salaries (Dr. Lauren Kocman); and Crafting Your Professional Superhero (Samantha Bonelli ’14).

By discussing these topics, Kielbasinski hopes all students, gender aside, will be able to develop skills and tools to help increase their capacity to succeed. The session on the email dilemma, for example, will explore how speech tactics including ending sentences with questions or speaking jovially can soften authority or leave emails sounding impersonal or imperious. While the presentation will focus on behavior often employed by women, the content is relevant to any attendee.

This year, Kielbasinski said the event is moving to Golisano Gateway Midlevel to create an environment that will foster more dialogue among attendees.

“Our goal is that the environment will lead to a more informal, conversational atmosphere and doesn’t so distinctly separate speakers from participants,” she said. “We will also allocate an exclusive question-and-answer portion of the event.”

As Kielbasinski prepares to graduate this May, she sees a bright future for FIS(HER).

“Leadership without legacy is not leadership. I have been fortunate enough to hold several leadership positions at Fisher, one of which led to my founding of FIS(HER),” she said. “In all of those roles, I hope to leave a legacy of self-empowerment, empathy, and a passion for perspective. I believe wholeheartedly that FIS(HER) falls in line with all of those values. My plan is that the next president of Political Action Club, which sponsors this event, will take over.”