Collage of New York Tech faculty, students, and staff


Leading the Way

March 27, 2023

Pictured from left: Karine Jean-Pierre, Zoya Haq, Brookshield Laurent, Francesca Fiore, and Jacqueline Velez

New York Tech strives to recognize and celebrate the women in our community, and this Women’s History Month will highlight just a few of the many who are making significant contributions. We started with New York Tech women in STEM, continued with women looking to improve women’s healthcare, and now focus on those who have taken their respective fields by storm.

As of September 2022, women represent 58.4 percent of the United States workforce but held only 35 percent of senior leadership positions. Here are just a few New York Tech women who have risen to leadership roles and continue to make strides in elevating women’s careers and closing the workforce’s employment gender gap.

A First in the White House

Karine Jean-Pierre (B.S. ’97) graduated with her bachelor’s degree in life sciences from New York Tech in 1997, and it’s only been up from there for the alumna. Jean-Pierre has been a powerhouse, breaking through barriers to achieve unprecedented success in politics.

Her political career took off in 2008 when she worked on President Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns and served as regional political director for the White House Office of Political Affairs. In 2020, Jean-Pierre was named President Joe Biden’s principal deputy press secretary and was elevated to White House press secretary, replacing Jen Psaki, in May 2022. This most recent appointment is significant as it marks the first instance in which a Black woman and openly LGBTQ+ person would assume the role.

She’s the President

Zoya Haq has been a leader since her freshman year on the New York City campus. She started as vice president of the South Asian Student Association, climbed to the role of president, and at the end of her junior year, ran for and was elected president of the Student Government Association (SGA).

Growing up, Haq was encouraged to put 100 percent into all she did. She is excited to use her SGA presidency as a platform to make sure every student’s voice is heard. She is dedicated to providing clubs and organizations on campus with anything they might need to promote student engagement. As she approaches her 2024 graduation, the information technology major says her leadership roles at New York Tech have afforded her unique personal and professional growth for any career path she might follow.

Promoting Healing in the Delta Region

Brookshield Laurent, D.O., associate professor and chair of the Department of Clinical Medicine at the College of Osteopathic Medicine-Arkansas (NYITCOM-Arkansas), was drawn to osteopathic medicine because of its hands-on, patient-centered approach—a critical outlook to have when working in the medically underserved Mississippi Delta region.

Laurent is the director of the Delta Population Health Institute, which fosters the growth of the physician workforce in the area. In her position, she assists in finding students who are committed to serving the local community and to promoting cultural transformation and health equity. With this initiative, students are able to pursue their career goals while bringing service to a rural population in need.

In collaboration with Southern Bancorp and Aaron E. Henry Community Health Services Center, Inc., Laurent is also involved in a study examining how poverty affects health outcomes—looking at the health determinants affected by socioeconomic status and possible generational impacts of those effects. Laurent’s work with the financial institution and community center, respectively, will help medical professionals to identify what interventions can be put in place and what stakeholders can do to influence health outcomes for those struggling financially in the Delta area.

Taking the Lead

New York Tech strives to develop innovative degree, certificate, and credential programs with high workforce demand potential. Associate Provost Francesca Fiore, Ed.D., is leading the charge, working with department deans and chairs on program reviews, proposals, and applications to the New York State Department of Education. Additionally, she is taking a lead role in the implementation and outcomes for New York Tech’s Strategic Action Plan, among other initiatives designed to provide students with access to opportunities “that will prepare them for future success,” she says.

Provost and Executive Vice President Jerry Balentine, D.O., says her “history of developing and implementing programs that promote educational access and economic opportunity will contribute greatly to the broader student experience at New York Tech.”

Designing Her Future

New York Tech alumna Jacqueline Velez (B.S.A.T. ’85) was just 10 years old when a family member introduced her to the world of architecture. When it was time to decide on her higher education, New York Tech’s architectural technology program struck a chord with Velez, and the rest is history.

More than three decades later in the industry, Velez is at the top of her game as founder and principal of JMV Associates and JMV Architect. JMV Associates, a top consulting firm specializing in building codes, zoning analysis, and expediting services, has served as a prime consultant with the New York City Economic Development Corporation, as well as a subconsultant for multiple New York City governmental agencies. JMV Architect, established in 2016, provides renovations and construction of new schools; office buildings; and retail, residential, and community facilities, including adaptive reuse.

Furthering her legacy, both of Velez’s companies are New York state and New York City certified as Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises. And she was recently appointed president of the American Institute of Architects Queens chapter.