• Several Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders Honored at 2023 WBDC Women Rising Gala

    GREENWICH, Conn. — The Women’s Business Development Council recognized and honored women entrepreneurs throughout Connecticut at the 2023 Women Rising Gala and Awards Celebration on Friday at the Hyatt Regency in Greenwich. Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz served as the event’s honorary chair, and the keynote address was delivered by tennis star and former U.S. Tennis Association President Katrina M. Adams.

    “Every year, the gala shines a bright light on the women entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses that have become so integral to the fabric of our state’s economy,” said WBDC CEO Fran Pastore. “This year, we were proud to recognize some truly outstanding women business owners and a few outstanding community leaders who consistently lend their support and guidance to WBDC and the women entrepreneurs we serve. I also wish to thank Senator Blumenthal, Governor Lamont, Lieutenant Governor Bysiewicz, and Katrina Adams for being part of this inspiring event.”

    In addition to a celebration of 26 years supporting economic prosperity for women and strengthening communities through entrepreneurial and financial education services, the event featured an awards ceremony to recognize several entrepreneurs and individuals from throughout Connecticut for their contributions to women’s economic empowerment. In total, nine were honored with awards — Impact Award (2), Women Rising Award (6), and the Patricia Billie Miller Award for Outstanding Community Service (1).

    2023 Impact Award Honorees

    The Impact Award honors individuals who have exemplified WBDC’s mission and goals by promoting economic equality and prosperity for women.

    Leander Dolphin, Managing Partner, Shipman & Goodwin LLP (photo)

    Jeffrey Flaks, President and CEO, Hartford HealthCare (photo)

    2023 Patricia Billie Miller Award for Outstanding Community Service

    The Patricia Billie Miller Award for Outstanding Community Service is presented annually to a dedicated WBDC volunteer – an individual whose dedication inspires others to achieve their dreams and exhibits a passion for and commitment to WBDC and the women it serves throughout our state.

    Joanne Brun, Ph. D., CEO, XLerant (photo)

    2023 Women Rising Awards

    The Women Rising Award is presented annually to WBDC clients who show a strong commitment to WBDC and demonstrate success in their business and tenacity in pursuing their goals. The 2023 Women Rising Award recipients are:

    Liz Ceppos (Photo) Owner, Cross Culture Kombucha (Danbury)

    Melissa-Sue John (Photo), Owner, Lauren Simone Publishing (East Hartford)

    Emmanuella Lauture (Photo), Owner, Ma Maison Childcare, LLC (Stamford)

    Neisa Medina-Nunez (Photo), Owner, The Learning Barn Childcare Center & Preschool (Naugatuck)

    Shellena Pitterson (Photo), Owner, Orchid Maids (Norwich)

    Kristin Vece (Photo), Owner, Elevate Healing Arts (Cromwell)

    PMI served as the gala’s Title Sponsor. Other sponsors for the event included Impact level – Hartford HealthCare, Mastercard, Travelers; Investor level – GenRe; Shipman; Webster Bank; Capital level – Alex Brown, a Division Raymond James; drbank; Gibson Dunn; Hearst Connecticut Media Group; Henkel; JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Linde; M&T Bank; Moffly Media; Point 72; Tidal River; Union Savings Bank; Wiggin and Dana; Wondr Nation; Empower level – Alvarez & Marsal; Bourgeon Capital Management; Gilda Bonanno LLC; Hexcel; Libertas; PWC; Stamford Health.

    Since 1997, WBDC has:

    • Served more than 18,400 clients from all 169 Connecticut cities and towns

    • Helped launch, sustain, or scale more than 13,800 businesses

    • Created or retained nearly 30,000 jobs

    • Helped clients access $54 million in capital

    • Supported more than $640 million in client-earned revenue.

    In the first six months of 2023 alone, WBDC has:

    • Served 2,560 clients

    • Hosted 6,486 hours of classes and business advising

    • Helped start 40 new businesses

    • Created or retained 7,264 jobs

    • Helped clients access more than $6.5 million

    More Photos Here
    (Photo Credit: Aviva Maller Photography)

    About the Women’s Business Development Council 

    The Women’s Business Development Council’s (WBDC) mission is to support economic prosperity for women and strengthen communities through entrepreneurial and financial education services that create and grow sustainable jobs and businesses across Connecticut. WBDC educates, motivates and empowers women to achieve economic independence and self-sufficiency. Since 1997, WBDC has educated and trained nearly 18,000 clients in all of Connecticut’s 169 towns—helping women to launch, sustain and scale almost 13,500 businesses, create and maintain more than 29,600 jobs in Connecticut, and access more than $52.5 million in capital. Visit for more information.