SUNY, New York Small Business Development Center Announce Veterans “Boots to Business” Instructor of the Year

February 2, 2016

Albany – The State University of New York and New York Small Business Development Center (SBDC) today announced that one of its advisers was named "Boots to Business" Instructor of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). This honor celebrates the accomplishments of veteran entrepreneurs across the nation.

Robin Stephenson, an advanced certified business adviser for the NY SBDC at Jefferson Community College in Watertown, NY, was one of five recipients.

"We are proud of Robin’s accomplishments to inspire and prepare veterans for success as business owners," said State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. "This is a well-deserved honor of Robin’s outstanding work and of SUNY’s commitment to New York’s veterans and their families.

Stephenson presents the Boots to Business program at Fort Drum to transition soldiers and spouses on a monthly basis through the Soldier for Life - Transition Assistance Program. Fort Drum is home to the 10th Mountain Division, America’s Rapid Deployment Force, one of the most deployed units in the U.S. military.

"We are extremely proud of our long standing partnership with the Command at Fort Drum and our business assistance program to our military personnel in New York State," said NY SBDC State Director James King. "Robin’s work with the Boots to Business program exemplifies our commitment to helping veterans transition from active duty to successful business owners in their communities, and a small expression of our collective gratitude for their commitment." 

Before the Boots to Business program, Stephenson and the NY SBDC offered a three-hour entrepreneurship training seminar followed with individualized business advisement on a quarterly basis at Fort Drum. As the demand for entrepreneurial training increased, Stephenson began presenting a two-hour briefing on business startup, again combined with individualized business advisement. When the Boots to Business program launched in 2013, she made the transition and allowed Fort Drum to "go live" with the program more than a full year ahead of many other locations.

"I love what I do and am very passionate about the programs I have presented for years at Fort Drum," Stephenson said. "Working with soldiers and their families has always been rewarding. Someone once told me that I do too much for our veterans and their families, but I don't feel I do enough in comparison to what they do in their jobs for all of us."

Stephenson currently spends several days each month at Fort Drum working with the Soldier for Life - Transition Assistance Program. In addition, she offers a monthly two-hour briefing called "Build Your Own Business" to military spouses new to the area who want information on starting a business. Stephenson also participates in on-post job fairs and community events that offer soldiers and spouses an opportunity to learn about self-employment.

Stephenson joined the New York Small Business Development Center in Watertown in 1989 as an office manager in 1989 and became a business adviser in 2005. Robin is constantly seeking to improve her skills and received advanced certification in 2012, recognizing on her veteran business counseling specialty which included government contracting and veteran services.

About the New York Small Business Development Center
The NY SBDC, administered by SUNY, has 24 regional service centers located throughout the New York State on SUNY, City University of New York (CUNY) and private university campuses. Since inception in 1984, the SBDC has provided small business advisement services to more than 374,000 New Yorkers. The SBDC also provides training and business research to existing business owners and entrepreneurs. SBDC clients have invested more than $6 billion in NY, impacting more than 165,000 jobs. 

The SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the State of New York, local communities, and host campuses. As a result of this leveraged support, the SBDC staff provides confidential one-on-one business advisement services at no direct cost to the citizens and entrepreneurs of New York. For more information about the SBDC, visit

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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