The Woman Business Owner of the Year Award—sponsored by Bank of America—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. We’re thrilled to announce the Top 10 Class of 2021 and look forward to celebrating them and announcing the winner during October’s Virtual National Women’s Business Conferences Awards Gala.
1) Courtney Brockmeyer, Sydney Paige Foundation - NAWBO San Francisco Bay
Courtney is the founder and CEO of the Sydney Paige Foundation and Sydney Paige, Inc., a non-profit and buy one/give one social enterprise, respectively, dedicated to helping at-risk kids break the cycle of poverty. Courtney has grown the organizations, named after her two daughters, by developing collaborative partnerships across commercial and non-profit business models to fuel and extend the reach and positive impact of equal access to the foundational tools needed to succeed in school. Prior to Sydney Paige, Courtney spent 10 years at Nestle USA in business management. She graduated from Pepperdine University with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting.
2) Felena Hanson, Hera Hub - NAWBO San Diego
Felena is a long-time entrepreneur and marketing maven. Her latest venture, Hera Hub, is a spa-inspired shared workspace and business accelerator for female entrepreneurs. This as-needed, flexible work and meeting space provides a productive environment for growing businesses. Hera Hub members have access to a professional space to meet with clients and to connect and collaborate with like-minded business owners, thus giving them the support they need to be prosperous. Felena and Hera Hub have been featured in Inc. Magazine, the BBC News, Forbes and the New York Times. She is a published author and international speaker. Her book, “Flight Club – Rebel, Reinvent, and Thrive: How to Launch Your Dream Business” is available on Amazon.
3) Christine E.B. Howard, E.B. Howard Consulting - NAWBO Buffalo-Niagara
Christine is the founder and CEO of E.B. Howard Consulting, LLC, a full-service non-dilutive and development firm, and StartupFundHub.com, a self-service subscription database—helping small businesses find grants and other non-dilutive opportunities. Christine regularly sits in on podcasts and gives talks focused on sharing her expertise on non-dilutive funding. She actively mentors and advisors small businesses throughout the U.S. through programs like the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps. She has also sat as a pitch competition judge for various start-up competitions. Christine's company is certified as a women-owned business with NYS, NYC and SBA. She is an active member of her local NAWBO Chapter (Buffalo/Niagara), serving as chapter past president, current sponsorship chair, member of the chapter D&I Task Force and various other essential committees.
4) Stephanie Isaacson, New Horizons Enterprises, LLC - NAWBO Kansas City
Stephanie is the founder, president and CEO of New Horizons, LLC, an environmental solutions firm based in Kansas City, Missouri, with offices in Lincoln, Nebraska. The mission of her business is to lead governmental, commercial and residential entities to cost-effective environmental and demolition solutions. Stephanie holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in environmental science and a master’s degree in business administration. She was named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2021 Heartland Award finalist. Stephanie is also a 2019 Enterprising Women of the Year Award honoree and received the Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.
5) Amanda Ma, Innovate Marketing Group, Inc. - NAWBO Los Angeles
Amanda is the founder and chief experience officer of Innovate Marketing Group, an award-winning experience agency that provides full-service event management and activation for Fortune 500 companies (live, hybrid, virtual). Through her leadership, the company has flourished into one of the most distinguished experience agencies both locally and nationally. Her vision is to help fuel brands to change lives for the better. Amanda has 16-plus years of experience in business, event management and marketing. She’s been featured in Inc., Bizbash, Meetings Today and many others. She was recently named “Top 100 Most Influential People in the Event Industry Globally” by Eventex and Bizbash Top 500 most influential event professionals in the US. Last year, her agency did more than 130-plus virtual events.
6) Shagun Malhotra, Skystem - NAWBO NYC
CEO/founder of SkyStem, Shagun is the visionary behind the product and user experience. A CPA, CIA and experienced auditor and process consultant, she designed ART for accountants. Having gone through the broken and inefficient process various times over, she believed there was a more efficient and user-friendly way to do reconciliations. Being process focused, Shagun injected process within ART to deliver a product that is highly integrated and user-centric. Shagun started her career in public accounting and has worked in Fortune 100 companies such as Marriott and Freddie Mac. Her work focused primarily on internal controls and risk mitigation in both the international and domestic arenas.
7) Rishona Myers, Olive Lucy Gourmet Foods LLC - NAWBO Philadelphia
Rishona is an accomplished business woman with a passion for good food. She has 20 years of experience in business, customer relations, sales, organizational management and product development. In 2017, Rishona purchased Olive Lucy, setting her sights on expansion, including a new e-commerce site. Having already shifted the business mix to more corporate relationships and e-commerce, during the pandemic she thrived and smashed all her 2020 goals. Rishona believes success is earned in part by giving back. She is an active member of NAWBO, serving on the Philly Chapter Programs and Semi-Circle Committees, and was the 2020-2021 Programs Chair.
8) Deeannah Seymour, pH-D Feminine Health - NAWBO Nashville
Deeannah founded pH-D Feminine Health to provide trustworthy feminine care products to women who struggle with vaginal odor. Unsatisfied with expensive, inconvenient and ineffective solutions for vaginal odor—and armed with a biology background and 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry—she sought holistic options backed by research. Her company's products are manufactured in-house at their own facilities located in Nebraska and Tennessee, ensuring the highest quality standards.
9) Carla Walker-Miller, Walker-Miller Energy Services - NAWBO Greater Detroit
Carla is the founder and CEO of Walker-Miller Energy Services, a 21-year-old values-driven company that changes lives through energy. Her high-performing firm helps electric and gas utilities achieve mandated energy reduction goals that reduce energy waste, create local jobs, decrease the energy burdens on families and reduce harmful greenhouse gases. An alumnus of the 2014 Detroit Inaugural Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program, Carla has twice shared the stage with Warren Buffet representing small GS10KSB alumni nationally. Most recently, Carla was honored to receive the 2021 Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame Award and the 2021 Detroit Women’s Leadership Award.
10) Janna Willoughby-Lohr, Papercraft Miracles - NAWBO Buffalo-Niagara
Janna is an artist, poet, musician and entrepreneur from Buffalo, New York. Her company, Papercraft Miracles, specializes in handcrafted paper art that brings meaning to people’s lives. She was awarded a $25,000 Ignite Buffalo Grant in 2018 and was named 40-Under-40 from Stationery Trends Magazine in 2019. She’s worked with Twitter and Capital One. In 2021, her team created 500,000 seed bombs for Lowe’s Spring Garden Giveaway event. She is the host of Reach the Stars Podcast, which features inspiring stories of persistence, passion and purpose. Janna leads the membership committee for NAWBO’s Buffalo/Niagara chapter and is a founding member of their D&I Task Force. She has also served two terms on their board of directors.