• WBDC to Honor Connecticut Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs at Annual Women Rising Gala on Oct. 28

    STAMFORD, Conn. — The Women’s Business Development Council (WBDC) will honor Connecticut business leaders and celebrate 25 years of advocacy and support for women entrepreneurs at the 2022 WBDC Women Rising Gala and Awards Celebration —  taking place this year on Oct. 28 at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich. The event will feature an awards ceremony recognizing several individuals and entrepreneurs from throughout Connecticut for their contributions to women’s economic empowerment.

    Fashion icon and philanthropist Diane von Furstenberg will deliver the keynote address and Annie Lamont, Connecticut’s First Lady and Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Oak HC/FT, will serve as honorary chair. Webster Bank and Philip Morris International are Title Sponsors of the event.

    “The Gala provides an opportunity for us to honor our clients, as well as the stakeholders that make it possible for WBDC to continue its work on behalf of Connecticut’s women-owned businesses,” said Pastore. “It is always an inspiring event and promises to be even more so as we celebrate WBDC’s 25th year in business and the nearly 17,000 women entrepreneurs we’ve worked with in the last quarter century. Moving forward, WBDC will continue to play an integral role in accelerating progress towards economic equality to ensure that women have a seat at the table where decisions are being made for them and about them.”

    The gala will recognize several business leaders and entrepreneurs, presenting awards to a pair of Impact Award honorees, the Patricia Billie Miller Award for Outstanding Community Service, and several Women Rising Award recipients.

    2022 Impact Award Recipients

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

    John Guy | Executive Managing Director, Business Banking, Webster Bank (photo)

    Guy is being recognized as a seasoned leader both within the bank and throughout the greater community.  He was instrumental in leading the effort to secure Webster as the Founding Funder of WBDC’s Equity Match Grant (EMG) program, which has provided more than $1.5 million in grants to 167 women-owned businesses since early 2021.

    “Webster is proud to provide support to minority and women-owned businesses through our long-standing partnership with WBDC.  The EMG program is ensuring that a more inclusive portion of the community is able to contribute to and benefit from the economic vitality that results from the growth of these businesses,” said Guy.

    Glendowlyn Thames | Head of Economic Development (CT, NY), Amazon (photo)

    Thames is being recognized for her dedication to driving business development initiatives, fostering entrepreneurship, and cultivating a robust innovation ecosystem in CT. In her previous role as Deputy Commissioner, COO & CFO for the CT Department of Economic and Community Development, Thames served as a critical resource for WBDC and the clients it serves.

    “WBDC is an integral part of Connecticut’s ecosystem of resources for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Over the years I have witnessed WBDC’s tangible impact on CT-based women-owned businesses,” said Thames. “Supporting WBDC means supporting the growth and diversification of the local economy as women-owned businesses continue to grow in number and prosperity.”

    2022 Patricia Billie Miller Award for Outstanding Community Service Recipient

    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.

    Donnamarie Del Signore | Agent, New York Life Insurance Company (photo)

    2022 Women Rising Award Recipients

    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.

    Mehnosh Afkari | Founder/Owner, Precision Dental Care (Norwalk) | Bio

    Jona Jeffcoat | Founder, Infinity Music Therapy Services LLC (Southington) | Bio

    Jill Keith | Owner, Enchanted Jewelry (Plainfield) | Bio

    Kiara Matos | Founder, ceramiK (New Haven) | Bio

    Simone E. Morris | Founder/Owner, Simone Morris Enterprises (Norwalk) | Bio

    Nichelle Waddell | Founder/Owner, Watch Me Grow Daycare (Stamford) | Bio

    For tickets to the 2022 WBDC Women Rising Gala and Awards Celebration, to become a sponsor, or to make a donation, visit

    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 more than 16,670 clients in all of Connecticut’s 169 towns—helping women to launch, sustain and scale over 12,500 businesses, create and maintain over 25,880 jobs in Connecticut, and access more than $28.7 million in capital. Visit for more information.