Westchester's Greatest Leaders and Bosses: Cindy Rubino, Campus Operating Officer at White Plains Campus, and VP Government Relations, New York Campuses, at Berkeley College

Cindy Rubino, 52-year-old campus operating officer and VP of government relations at Berkeley College in White Plains, walked into a position that had been occupied by 10 people in seven years. Turning a disparate organization into a united campus is not a task for just anyone. This year, though, the White Plains campus won Berkeley’s Teamwork Award—thanks to three internal nominations.

When Rubino arrived at Berkeley, she infused the campus with a dose of much-needed solidarity. “Cindy really sets the tone for how she wants our location to run,” says Lynn Ovimeleh, director of high school admissions at the Westchester campus. “We’re a very close office. She wants to ensure that we all work together as one cohesive unit.”

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In the organization, “successful leaders are those who strive to help the employees understand the vital importance of the role they play no matter what level they’re at,” says Rubino. “If you don’t understand why your job is important or what’s expected of you, how are you going to do your job well?”

Students see her as a tour de force of networking—as well as someone who has the ability to pass these skills on to job seekers. Tori Davis, a senior from Dallas, Texas, majoring in fashion, met Rubino on her first day of college as she moved into her dorm. Davis hadn’t been a student for two weeks before Rubino brought her to a networking event held by The Business Council of Westchester. “Cindy pulled me to the side and said, ‘Be yourself,’” says Davis. She’s landed internships and job offers as a result.

Rubino brings students to career fairs, charity events, networking nights—whatever opportunities she can find. “The expectation is clear: ‘You’ve got to work the room, kid,’” Rubino tells students as she sends them out into crowds, each armed with 10 business cards and a handshake.

Her ability to “work a room” comes in handy for her own staff, too. “I’ve watched her a lot at social events,” says Ovimeleh. “I’ve learned how to approach people I wouldn’t normally approach. She’s taught me that I have a voice. She’s helped me grow tremendously.”

“It’s getting them to understand what their needs are and opening the right door,” Rubino says. “But it’s also making them understand that they have to walk through it—I can’t do it for you.”

Photo by Toshi Tasaki

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