Highlights of Past Minnesota Women Business Owners Hall of Fame! | NAWBO

Highlights of Past Minnesota Women Business Owners Hall of Fame!

Since 2013, the Minnesota Chapter of NAWBO has inducted over 60 women into the Minnesota Women Business Owners Hall of Fame. Representing almost 150 years of history, these women demonstrate how female entrepreneurs have dared to change the business landscape for generations to come.

NAWBO-MN has honored women across many industries, from restaurants and hotels to trucking and information technology. Our honorees come from a variety of backgrounds and many of them have inspiring stories that are not well known...yet.  It is our goal to tell these stories and help the world SEE WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS DIFFERENTLY.  Here are some of the highlights and stories you may have missed or would enjoy experiencing again from our last few years of inducting women into the Minnesota Women Business Owners Hall of Fame.



Our inaugural year was our largest inductee pool with 25 honorees sharing their stories of success. The many inspiring speeches included Jill Blashack Strahan, founder of Tastefully Simple, who began the business so she could devote more energy to her family.  In addition, honorees included the founders of NAWBO-MN, Susan Sands and Marlene Johnson.  These women are trailblazing entrepreneurs who have stood for equality for Minnesota women since our organization’s founding in 1977. Also included was posthumous inductee Elizabeth Quinlan, owner of Young-Quinlan, an early Minneapolis ladies’ fashion store, and one of the most successful (and few) female business owners in the first part of the 20th century!

See the full list of 2013 Inductees Here.


In 2014, 12 women were recognized for the Minnesota Women Business Owners Hall of Fame. Honorees included Ethel Arnold, who with only an 8th grade education became the owner of one of the most successful independently owned sausage companies in the Upper Midwest, Ambassador Sausage Company. Posthumous inductee Amanda Lyles Weir was also recognized. An African-American business owner in the late 1800s, Amanda not only successfully ran a hair styling business, she also spoke out on race-relations and advocated for ALL women’s right to vote. Rose Totino (Totino’s)  and Jeanne Voigt (Mindware) were  also included as the women behind these iconic Minnesota  companies.

See the full list of 2014 Inductees Here.


In 2015, NAWBO-MN inducted another 8 inspiring women into the Minnesota Women Business Owners Hall of Fame Including Angie Bastian of the famous natural popcorn brand, Boomchickapop.  Angie and her husband Dan never expected to grow a multimillion dollar business from a small side gig popping corn to earn extra income at local events! Another food great, the famous Leeann Chin was inducted into our Hall of Fame this same year. Chin, having immigrated from China to Minnesota in the late 1950s had a goal of bringing high quality Chinese food to an american market. Leeann Chin began her journey to success by creating the now famous restaurant chain that bears her name. And, the inspiring Nordic Ware founder Dorothy Staugaard Dalquist was also recognized for her stewardship of the Danish kitchenware brand into a nationwide household product.

See the full list of 2015 Inductees Here.


Last year, an especially innovative group of 9 women were inducted into the Minnesota Women Business Owners Hall of Fame including the inventor of the modern paper shopping bag Lydia Deubener. Lydia forever changed consumer’s shopping habits when she innovated the take home and reusable paper bag (with handles)!  Allowing shoppers to carry far more groceries home in one trip than ever before.  Lydia and her husband Walter soon patented the paper tote design and in a few short years, the couple was producing millions of paper bags and sending them across the nation.  Another inductee, Darlene Miller, is also an innovator. From her beginning career at Permac Industries as a sales representative, Miller eventually became CEO and transformed the company from small parts machine shop into a highly-respected manufacturing firm serving global aerospace, defense, and other high-tech industries.

See the full list of 2016 Inductees Here.


This year we are honoring 8 women into the Minnesota Women Business Owners Hall of Fame and daring the world  to see women entrepreneurs differently. From the first woman to import wine into Minnesota to an info- tech maven and many, many more... the list of 2017 inductees celebrates this elite group of trailblazers:

  • Kari Rihm, of the  trucking dealership Rihm Kenworth
  • Rhoda Olsen, of the hair salon brand Great Clips
  • Kay Kuba, of the computer industry company GCI Systems (now GSS Infotech)
  • Barbara Jo Davis, of Ken Davis BBQ sauce
  • Karen Desnick, of nationwide Metropolitan Picture Framing
  • Fritzi Haskell, wine expert and founder of Haskell’s Wine & Spirits
  • Clara Lillyblad, owner, chef and manager of the St. James Hotel
  • Nancy JP Anderson, owner of Midwest Sign & Screen Printing Supply Co.

Learn more about our inductees and register today for this can’t miss event

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