NAWBO Awards

Awards Gala

The NAWBO® Annual Awards Program honors the accomplishments and contributions of exemplary women who have led the way in the women's business community and is building a legacy for the next generation of entrepreneurs. 


2020 Woman Business Owner of the Year Award
Sponsored by Bank of America

Nominations for the 2020 NAWBO National Women Business Owner of the Year Award will be open April 13 - June 1.  The award will be presented during the virtual National Women’s Business Conference (WBC) 2020, September 21-23.

The Woman Business Owner of the Year Award recognizes and rewards an entrepreneur who excels at strategy, operations, finances, problem solving, overcoming adversity and giving back to her community. It’s not based on business size, but rather overall business excellence.

The Nomination Period is April 13 - June 30 @5pm ET


The top three finalists receive these exciting prizes:

  • Complimentary full WBC conference registration

  • Inclusion as a panelist in a virtual WBC session sponsored by Bank of America

  • National exposure on NAWBO social media and communication channels

  • Recognition as a finalist during the Awards Gala and a 4-color headshot and bio in the WBC program book

  • Profile in NAWBO ONE e-publication article leading up to the conference

Winner recieves:

  • Honored at the NAWBO Awards Gala

  • Announced as WBO of the Year in NAWBO communications

  • National press release announcing Gala honorees through PR Newswire

To qualify, all nominees must:

  • Be an active Premier or Virtual NAWBO member in good-standing

  • Participate in the day-to-day operations of the company

  • Own a minimum of 25% of the company

  • Be able to attend the virtual National Women’s Business Conference—September 23, 2020

  • Not be a member of the NAWBO National Board of Directors

Members can self-nominate or be nominated by another party. The nomination period is open from April 13 until June 30.  Please submit supporting documents to by June 30@5pm ET.

Awards Selection, Judging & Announcement Process

The Awards Selection Committee is comprised of the current NAWBO National Chair, Immediate Past National Chair, Chair of the Presidents Assembly Steering Committee and other members of the National Board. 

The Committee will have exclusive, confidential access to all nomination applications and supporting documents. They judge each nominee using a scoring matrix that outlines the criteria and point system. Once the matrixes are complete, they are submitted to a NAWBO staff member, who then calculates the scores.  The top ten nominees are passed to Bank of America for final scoring.  If there is a tie, the Awards Selection Committee will submit a confidential vote for the winner.

Nomination Questions:

  • Briefly describe the nominee's business and its history
  • Please describe the company's growth and how nominee affected/participated in that growth. (Please indicate growth by % or $)
  • Please describe how the nominee participates in the day-to-day operations of the business.
  • What community organizations has the nominee supported and/or participated in?
  • Why did the nominee become an entrepreneur?

The Susan Hager Legacy Award

The NAWBO award named in honor of NAWBO’s founding president, Susan Hager (1974-75). The women’s community lost a great visionary when she passed away in 2008 as Susan was a stalwart champion of women’s economic empowerment and someone who built a legacy for others to follow. The Susan Hager Legacy Award gives honor to a person or group of persons who, through their advocacy and actions, have helped to establish the legacy of women’s entrepreneurship for future generations. Recipient is a current or past NAWBO member.

The Gillian Rudd Business Leadership Award

The NAWBO Gillian Rudd Business Leadership Award recognizes a women business owner who has made a significant contribution to the status and visibility of women-owned firms and to the empowerment of women entrepreneurs both nationally and internationally. This award was named after Gillian Rudd, who served as NAWBO’s national president (1987-88) and contributed both strategy and personal charm to NAWBO’s early political advocacy activities. Gillian was also instrumental in helping NAWBO establish the National Foundation for Women Business Owners—now known as the Center for Women’s Business Research. Recipient is a current or past NAWBO member.

NAWBO Hall of Fame Awards

Every year, during the National Women’s Business Conference hosted by NAWBO, our organization is proud to present Hall of Fame Awards to some of the most dynamic and significant women business owners and advocates in the U.S. Every honoree is a trailblazer in her own right and reflects the legacy of power and success of the women’s business community at large.

Congratulations to the following Hall of Fame Awards recipients:


  • Bonnie St John - Hall of Fame
  • Leigh Anne Tuohy - Hall of Fame
  • Suzanne Pease - Unsung Hero Award


  • Erin Andrew, assistant administrator for Women’s Business Ownership U.S. Small Business Administration
  • Muffy Davis, Paralympic gold medalist and motivational speaker
  • Susan Duffy, executive director of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership at Babson College
  • Katherine Kallinis Berman, co-founder of Georgetown Cupcake and star of TLC’s DC Cupcakes
  • Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne, co-founder of Georgetown Cupcake and star of TLC’s DC Cupcakes
  • JJ Ramberg, host of MSNBC’s Your Business and co-founder of
  • Susan Solovic, THE Small Business Expert


  • Charlotee Beers, first-ever woman CEO of top advertising agency and author of I’d Rather Be In Charge
  • Alexis Maybank, co-founder of the Gilt Groupe
  • Gina Rudan, president and CEO of Genuine Insights, Inc.
  • Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, co-founder of the Gilt Groupe


  • Kathy Ireland, chief designer and CEO of Kathy Ireland Worldwide
  • Katrina Markoff, owner, founder and chocolatier of Vosges Haut-Chocolat
  • Karen Mills, administrator of the Small Business Administration


  • Azure Antoinette, poet, spoken word artist and millennial and arts education advocate
  • Janice Bryant Howroyd, founder and CEO, ACT-1 Group
  • Koni Kim, president and CEO, Koni Corporation
  • Maria de Lourdes Sobrino, founder and CEO, Lulu’s Dessert Corporation
  • Lynda Weinman, co-founder,


  • Honorable Mary Landrieu, chair, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship
  • Virginia Littlejohn, president, CEO and co-founder of Quantum Leaps and past NAWBO National present
  • Honorable Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives
  • Honorable Olympia Snowe, ranking member, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship
The Susan Hager Legacy Award
  • 2015: Patty DeDominic, DeDominic & Associates
  • 2010: Virginia Littlejohn, Quantum Leaps, Inc.
The Gillian Rudd Business Leadership Award
  • 2010: Dr. Terry Neese, Institute for the Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW)
National Member of the Year
  • 2009: Diane Sears, DiVerse Media LLC
  • 2008: Therese Smyntek, Everything Nature
  • 2007: Lola Kakes, Professional Administrative Services, Inc.
  • 2006: Diane Sears, DiVerse Media, LLC


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