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Kim Pizzingrilli: Women struggle for better posts in state offices

Wednesday, June 07, 2000

By Jonathan D. Silver, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

As secretary of the Commonwealth, Kim Pizzingrilli holds one of the highest-ranking appointments in state government. She's one of the proud, but also one of the few.

Only two other women hold Cabinet-level positions in Gov. Ridge's administration. They are the insurance commissioner and the head of the Department of Public Welfare.

Despite the thin ranks of women at the upper echelons, Pizzingrilli doesn't feel alone during Cabinet meetings. Many on the governor's executive staff are women, there are lots of female deputy secretaries, and the Ridge administration is committed to helping women succeed in government by way of a leadership training program.

It wasn't always that way. Pizzingrilli, 41, who has been in state government since 1981, recalled some difficult times at the Treasury Department, where she began her career. As a supervisor, she mainly directed older men.

"There was some resistance there and some people who created challenges for me," Pizzingrilli said.

When she arrived at her next stop, the Pennsylvania Independent Regulatory Review Commission, Pizzingrilli was the only woman on staff. While there, she said, she had to contend with a man of the same rank who felt he had final say.

Pizzingrilli herself deserves credit for her success through hard work, determination, and a willingness to risk taking a job which she could lose under a different governor.

Also aiding the Erie County native was Pennsylvania's family leave policy (which she used twice during her seven years at the regulatory review commission) and the on-site child care centers at state buildings in Harrisburg. Even while Pizzingrilli was raising a family, she continued to be promoted.

"My continued commitment and my ability to get things done and manage and organize and show that I could balance both career and family were visible enough that I was recognized by the directors there," she said.

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