Student Presidential Leadership Council

Imagine you’re sitting down to an important business dinner. It’s a formal setting so there are multiple forks, spoons, knives and glasses. Which ones do you use and when? Where do you place your napkin, and what’s the right thing to do with your utensils when you’re done eating?

And before that dinner even gets started, what’s the right way to work the room at the reception beforehand? How do you introduce yourself to new business contacts and make small talk? Is it OK to check your phone?

Lots of silverware. Lots of questions. How you proceed can have a big impact on how you’re perceived as a business professional.

To help Siena students navigate those waters, the College’s newly formed Student Presidential Leadership Council (SPLC) hosted is first-ever event, an “etiquette dinner” held March 31 in The Norm. Krysta Dennis, Ph.D., creative arts producer, coached 28 students in business attire on proper networking and dinner etiquette. A number of administrators, faculty and alumni were invited to attend as guests; no word on whether they were listening in on the etiquette pointers as well…

The SPLC originated in the president’s office to foster personal and professional development of emerging leaders through leadership trainings and the coordination of professional development events centered in Siena’s Franciscan values. Cabinet members recommend students for participation, according to Sam Hearn ’23, executive intern for President Chris Gibson, Ph.D.

“The overarching goal of the council sees members operationalizing their professional development skills and insights with diverse leadership perspectives in the Siena and larger community,” said Hearn.

Students who work with key administrators, demonstrate an active commitment to Siena’s Franciscan values, and represent a diversity of leadership thought and experience will be considered for membership.

Cynthia Isaac Douge ’23, Christina Amari ’23 and Brooke Boermeester ’23 join Hearn as charter officers of the council, with Giavanna Pellecchia '25 assisting in the president’s office. 

“The networking was about making connections with new people, and hearing their stories and having them listen to yours,” said Douge. “I met an administrator there for the first time and we actually ended up continuing our conversation another day.”

“We learned to really listen and get to know people,” said Boermeester. “It’s not about pushing your own agenda,” while Amari added that the manners tutorial covered everything from the right way to eat a salad to where to put your napkin when you leave the table. 

And no, you shouldn’t check your phone during dinner. Leaving it out on the table isn’t a good look, either. Pay attention to the people around you. 

Kathleen Kiernan, assistant director for board and cabinet relations, and Zach Brimmer ’20 MBA ’21, executive assistant, did the vision-casting for the SPLC and plan to work with its leadership on future activities. Suzanne O’Connor, associate director of the Career and Internship Center, helped plan the dinner.

“I’m really bursting with pride at all the work the students have done to develop the council, and their commitment to carrying its mission forward,” said Kiernan.