• WBDC Celebrates “Women Rising 2019” At Annual Gala Luncheon & Awards Ceremony

    November 4, 2019, Greenwich, CT – A sell-out crowd of more than 650 gathered for The Women’s Business Development Council’s (WBDC) annual “Women Rising” Gala and Awards luncheon, celebrating women’s economic empowerment and putting a spotlight on the positive and critical changes that women are bringing to Connecticut’s economy. CT First Lady Annie Lamont, CT Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz and State Representative Patricia Billie Miller were on hand to honor women entrepreneurs, business and community leaders at the event on Nov. 1 at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich.

    “WBDC recognized long ago that a female-focused environment that includes entrepreneurial training, financial education, mentoring, and networking is the key to unlocking the potential of women entrepreneurs,” noted Fran Pastore, WBDC CEO and Founder. “Since 1997, WBDC has ignited a movement in Connecticut by providing women entrepreneurs with the confidence and competencies to succeed in business. We have become recognized as a national and global leader in the field of women’s entrepreneurship, while remaining the largest resource for women business owners right here in our home state.

    “Make no mistake about it – economic equality is not a female issue, it is an economic issue. Women-owned businesses are driving economic growth in the United States. [According to the The 2019 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, women-owned businesses] represent 42% of all businesses – nearly 13 million – employing 9.4 million workers and generating revenue of $1.9 trillion. Yet, there is a significant size disparity between these women-owned businesses and others. Closing the gap means more goods and services bought and sold, growing the economy. This benefits everyone, not just women.”

    Women Rising Awardees
    The Women’s Business Development Council paid tribute to eleven successful Connecticut women business owners, representing entrepreneurs from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds throughout Connecticut, who have prospered from WBDC’s training and services.

    They are:

    Sasha N. Beatty
    CEO & Founder
    Restore Me IV
    Enhances health and wellness through IV hydration and vitamin therapy.

    Bernadette Birney
    Stamford Yoga Center
    Down-to-earth yoga for people of all shapes, color, and size.

    Janet Cadsawan
    Jewelry Designer
    Jewelry made in the United States by craftsman with a touch of magic.

    Rebecca Hopkins
    Owner and Principal Interior Designer
    No Label Design
    No Label Design offers high quality interior architecture and design services for commercial projects in workplace, hospitality, and retail, as well as luxury residential design services for your home.

    Louise Joseph
    Founder and Owner
    Dough Girls Pizza
    Dough Girls takes pride in their pizzas by making their own dough, sauce, fresh mozzarella and seasonal toppings. They specialize in individual size wood fired pizzas,. You can find them at local events, fairs, festivals and farmers markets. They also cater parties both private and corporate.

    Aarti Khosla
    Aartisan Chocolatier, Owner
    Le Rouge Chocolates by Aarti
    Hand-painted and hand-decorated chocolates created in small batches using fair trade dark chocolate and the freshest ingredients.

    Suzanne Vita Palazzo
    Founder and Owner
    Upper Deck Fitness
    A full-service fitness facility with locations in Stamford and Westport, Upper Deck Fitness provides customized coaching and hearty doses of accountability for people of all ages and ability levels.

    Treacy Riiska
    Treacy Riiska CPA, LLC
    Treacy Riiska, CPA, LLC provides tax preparation and planning services to small businesses and individuals.

    Adrianna Robles
    Pastry Chef and Owner
    Good Morning Cupcake
    Good Morning Cupcake catering focuses on a completely customized experience with mini desserts.

    Kelsey Hubbard Rollinson
    Recess PlayWorks
    Recess PlayWorks is a unique place for modern families managing the work-life balance. For the adults they have a chic lounge, meeting rooms, a podcast room and phone rooms. For the kids they will have many classes including STEAM, coding, chess, an all-day art studio and a supervised free play zone.

    Felicia Rubinstein, 2019 Client of the Year
    Founder, Chief Collaborator
    HAYVN Co-working Community
    HAYVN is a flexible work space for enterprising women (but men are welcome) to connect, create and grow around business.

    Woman with Impact Award Honorees
    At the Gala Luncheon, the Women’s Business Development Council presented its “Woman with Impact Award” to three women who have personally exemplified the mission and goals of the organization by promoting economic equality and prosperity for women.

    They are:

    Alison Malloy, Managing Director, Portfolio Acceleration Services and Director of Investments, Connecticut Innovations

    Presented by special guest, Connecticut First Lady Annie Lamont, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Oak HC/FT

    Roz Brooks, U.S. Public Policy Leader, PwC
    Presented by Sharon Kane, Partner, PwC and WBDC Board Member

    Susan Lasota, Chief Technology Officer, State Street Global Advisors
    Presented by Hope Knight, President and CEO, Greater Jamaica Development Corporation.

    The Patricia Billie Miller Award for Outstanding Community Service
    The Women’s Business Development Council presented its inaugural award in the name of The Honorable Patricia Billie Miller, Assistant Majority Leader and State Representative of Connecticut, a long-time supporter of WBDC. The award will be 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 the state.

    The inaugural Patricia Billie Miller Award was presented to Bjorn (BJ) Bumactao, Banking Center Manager and Vice President, Webster Bank. Bumactao volunteers as a financial educator and has mentored more than 100 entrepreneurs at the Women’s Business Development Council.

    A panel discussion with Woman with Impact Awardees was moderated by Alexandra Lebenthal, Senior Advisor, Empire Global Ventures. Gilda Bonanno, Principal, Gilda Bonanno LLC, was Master of Ceremonies. Both are passionate supporters of women in business and The WBDC.

    Dozens of corporate sponsors supported the gala luncheon, including Title Sponsor PwC.

    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. Whether a client is starting or growing a business, WBDC drives business success in a tangible and accessible way by engaging clients with access to education, markets and capital.

    Now in its third decade, WBDC has educated and assisted more than 14,000 clients to launch and scale over 5,900 businesses. In their pursuit of economic independence, these women have created and maintained over 6,000 jobs in Connecticut.

    WBDC, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has offices in Stamford, Derby and New London, CT. Please visit for more information.

    First Photo: Women with Impact Honorees (from l. to r.) Master of Ceremonies, Gilda Bonanno, Principal, Gilda Bonanno LLC; Moderator Alexandra Lebenthal, Senior Advisor, Empire Global Ventures; Roz Brooks, U.S. Public Policy Leader, PwC; Alison Malloy, Managing Director, Portfolio Acceleration Services and Director of Investments, Connecticut Innovations; Susan Lasota, Chief Technology Officer, State Street Global Advisors.

    Second Photo: Women Rising Awardees (from l. to r.) Bernadette Birney, Founder, Stamford Yoga Center; Aarti Khosla, Aartisan Chocolatier, Owner, Le Rouge Chocolates by Aarti; Adrianna Robles, Pastry Chef and Owner, Good Morning Cupcake; Rebecca Hopkins, Owner and Principal Interior Designer, No Label Design; Sasha N. Beatty, CEO & Founder, Restore Me IV; Louise Joseph, Founder and Owner, Dough Girls Pizza; Janet Cadsawan, Jewelry Designer, Trilogie; Kelsey Hubbard Rollinson, Founder, Recess PlayWorks; Suzanne Vita Palazzo, Founder and Owner, Upper Deck Fitness; Treacy Riiska, Owner, Treacy Riiska CPA, LLC; Felicia Rubinstein, Founder, Chief Collaborator, HAYVN Coworking Community.