Signup for our Newsletter!
Women's Business Development Council Logo

Conversations with influential women that will excite and inspire you to conquer your fears, take a stand for yourself and break down the barriers that stand in your way.

For more information on Courageous Conversations, listen to the trailer here.

12 months after the begining of an unimaginable year for small business owners, Fran looks back with entrepreneurs Corey Tolkin and Yvonne Oxley, who pivoted their businesses to survive the pandemic and are thriving as we look forward to better days ahead. Listen to why Corey, owner of Unbakeables Cookie Dough Treats, believes it’s sometimes important to take a fresh look at what’s right in front of you and why Yvonne, owner of luxury soap maker Komfort Zone, thinks it’s critical for entrepreneurs to step out of their own comfort zones. 

As we begin Women’s History Momth, Fran sits down with Andrea Barton Reeves, CEO of the CT Paid Leave Authority, to learn about her journey from a childhood in New Jersey to law school and a position at a White Shoe firm, to a career dedicated to serving others. Andrea discusses what motivates her, how being a woman of color has influenced her journey and why she thinks it is critically important for take a chance on themselves. 

In honor of Black History month, Courageous Conversations revisits a Town Hall meeting WBDC hosted last June, soon after the death of George Floyd. WBDC CEO Fran Pastore gathered a group of accomplished women in leadership positions to discuss the historic times we are living through. These women share their own experiences with racism and navigating sterotypes in their personal and professional lives.
Joining Fran for this inspiring conversation are:
Shante Hanks, Deputy Commissioner, CT Department of Housing
Carrie Spell-Hansson, CEO, The Folke Institute for Transformative Learning
Glendowlyn Thames, Deputy Commissioner, CT Department of Economic and Community Development
Diane Winston, Founder and CEO, Winston Strategic Partners
Vanessa Abrahams-John, Director, Global Diversity, Inclusion, Talet Acquisition at Linde

Fran discusses the unsung heroes of our economic engine – the women, especially women of color, who own and operate the small businesses tht populate our Main Streets. These entrepreneurs have received a disproportionately small amount of the pandemic relief state and federal funding. Fran details how WBDC is helping to address the need of these businesses with grants and other support. She also shares feedback from two inspiring women who are benefiting from these opportunities. Listen to find out how some of our smallest businesses can not only survive the pandemic but thrive in its aftermath. 

Fran is joined by Patricia Russo, Executive Director of The Campaign School at Yale University, and Dr. Khalilah Brown-Dean, accomplished author, public speaker, and tenured Associate Professor of Political Science at Quinnipiac University to discuss the significance of the glass ceiling that is breaking in Washington, D.C. with the inauguration of Kamala Harris as the country’s first female vice president and the first women of color to the office. While the current tense climate threatens to command much of our political conversations in the coming days, Fran, Patti, and Khalilah take a few moments to recognize and celebrate this important moment in history for women, women of color, and our nation. 

Fran is joined by Dr. Karen Alter-Reid, a global expert on EMDR and the treatment of trauma-related symptoms. They discuss what EMDR is and why it is an effective treatment for trauma. Dr. Alter-Reid gives several actionable tips for coping with the high stress that we’re living under these days, including a two-minute mindfulness exercise.

Katrina Adams shares her inspirational journey from the tennis court to the boardroom in this previously recorded WBDC Town Hall, hosted by Fran Pastore. Katrina is the first African-American, the first former professional tennis player and the youngest person ever to serve as USTA president.

For the latest Courageous Conversations