The Nyquist Leadership Series

The Nyquist Leadership Series explores New York State’s most pressing contemporary challenges through the eyes of its most prominent government, education, and industry leaders.

The series honors the late Ewald B. “Joe” Nyquist, a civil rights leader and former New York State Education Commissioner who played a key role in efforts to desegregate New York schools. The “visionary author” of Excelsior University, Nyquist fought to extend quality educational opportunities to learners of all ages.

Most Recent Event

On October 17, 2019, representatives from military- and veteran- focused organizations, local colleges and universities, state and government agencies, and private sector employees gathered to discuss how an inclusive approach can address challenges related to military veterans transitioning into the civilian workforce.


  • Karen Wolff, Director of Investor Relations and Talent Attractions for the Center for Economic Growth
  • Kenneth Secor, Director of Albany County Veterans Service Bureau
  • Lisa Romano-Arnold, Regional Director of Strategic Partnerships (veterans) at Excelsior University
  • Joelle Monaco, Director of Outreach and Business Engagement for the Mental Health Association of New York State
  • David Druzynski, Chief People Officer at Auto/Mate Dealership Systems
  • Javid Afzali, Senior Counsel at Bond Schoeneck and King PLLC
  • Keith W. Wilson, Lt. Colonel, U.S. Army, Soldier for Life Program

Facilitators held discussion groups with community members and covered topic areas focusing on:

  • Making the proper accommodations for veteran workers
  • Improving resource and service coordination
  • Enhancing veteran training and retention programs
  • Veteran workforce attraction
  • Strengthening education-workforce partnerships
  • Igniting communities to recognize and support servicemembers, veterans, and families
  • Servicemembers mental health and wellness in the workplace

Primary Takeaways:

Making the proper accommodations for veteran workers

  • Make sure policies and employee handbooks are up to date
  • Be familiar with military employment law, state vs. federal
  • Ensure veterans are educated / aware of their rights

Improving resource and service coordination

  • There are 57 veteran service organizations in the Capital Region (20–25 of them have veteran service officers)
  • There needs to be a single point of contact for those who are transitioning into veteran status
  • The Albany County Veterans Service Bureau (VSB) needs to be publicized
  • Veteran resources need to be visible and the VSB needs to conduct outreach to active duty members
  • Challenge: We need to connect more veterans with resources/services and make these resources/services more visible, easier to find, in formats/tone servicemembers are comfortable with. One idea is to use links between websites
  • Another challenge: Staggered separation/transition programs

Enhancing veteran training and retention programs

  • Employers need to help educate employees who haven’t served in the military on the cultural understandings veterans bring to the workplace
  • Employers can build on veterans’ military training and strengths in leadership and teamwork
  • Technical skills can be taught, but the soft skills veterans have are more difficult to teach

Veteran workforce attraction

  • Veterans have deep experience but will need help with interviewing skills
  • Be aware of physical spaces
  • Build comfort and structure
  • Look for ways to attract veterans through DCC concierge service, potential ways to craft job postings to attract veterans, update MOSs to match today’s skills in the job market, choose a call over email when communicating with veterans
  • Provide mentoring programs for veterans to help with networking skills, communication skills, etc.

Strengthening education-workforce partnerships

  • Excelsior is partnering with EANGUS and NSA to evaluate military training and grant credit – cut down time to degree completion
  • Can colleges create communities for our veterans to combat mental health/disease?
  • Education has to prepare veterans for career/career placement
  • Insert the military/veteran services into the classroom
  • Understand veteran communication styles (BLUF) issue, discussion, recommendations

Igniting communities to recognize and support servicemembers, veterans, and families

  • Needs include education, financial literacy, employment, entrepreneurship, legal support, housing, health and wellness, and veterans benefits
  • There is need for an established network in communities, so everyone has access to the same resources
  • Identify the organizations in an area and work to create a formalized network, then invite transitioning veterans to attend
  • Within the community, recognition of those who have committed to serve before they put on the uniform, so they see the local support

Servicemembers mental health and wellness in the workplace

  • Veteran-to-veteran mentoring connection to resources is working well
  • There are opportunities to grow participation and diversity, increase knowledge of available services and benefits, and grow participation and engagement at leadership level
  • Increase education about education assistance programs
  • Include veteran cultural competency in HR training