• WBDC’s Women Rising Gala to feature fashion icon and Connecticut First Lady

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Fashion icon and philanthropist Diane von Furstenberg will be the keynote speaker at the Women’s Business Development Council’s (WBDC’s) Annual Women Rising Gala and Awards Celebration, to be held Oct. 28 at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich. Annie Lamont, First Lady of Connecticut and Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Oak HC/FT, will serve as the event’s Honorary Chair.

    The gala marks a milestone for WBDC, which is celebrating its 25th year of promoting economic equity for women and strengthening communities through entrepreneurial and financial education services. WBDC’s mission is to create and grow sustainable jobs and businesses across Connecticut.

    “Every year, this event celebrates Connecticut’s women entrepreneurs and the work we do to help them achieve economic independence and contribute to the health of our state’s economy. This year, the event is that much more meaningful because we are celebrating WBDC’s 25th anniversary, and because there has never been a more critical time to support women – in entrepreneurship and in all areas of life,” said WBDC Founder and CEO Fran Pastore. “We are so honored to have these incredibly strong women headlining the Gala this year. Diane von Furstenberg has been a role model for women entrepreneurs for decades and is a fierce advocate for women’s leadership. Here in CT, we are so lucky to have Annie Lamont as our First Lady at a time when our state is leading the nation in critical social and economic issues impacting women. We know that these powerful women will provide inspiration and hope to our Gala guests. We could not have a better duo to help us celebrate WBDC’s first 25 years and lead us into our next chapter.”

    The Women Rising Gala honors female entrepreneurs in Connecticut and those who support them. The Impact Award honors individuals who have personally exemplified WBDC’s mission and goals by promoting economic equality and prosperity for women. The 2022 Impact Award honorees are John Guy, Executive Vice President, Director of Business Banking at Webster Bank and Glendowlyn Thames, Head of Economic Development, CT, NY at Amazon. Six 2022 Women Rising awardees, WBDC clients who have benefitted from WBDC’s services and who are operating successful businesses throughout the state, will also be recognized.

    “Since the start of my career as an investor, and in my role as First Lady, I have been passionate about and committed to bringing more women to the table,” said Annie Lamont. “I am proud to serve as Honorary Chair of the Women Rising Gala and recognize this 25-year milestone with WBDC, an organization that shares my passion for promoting economic equity through entrepreneurship.”

    “As I look back on my colorful career and life, it is an honor and a duty to share my voice, my experience, and my knowledge to encourage other women to be the women they want to be . . . to be in charge,” said Diane von Furstenberg.

    Webster Bank and Philip Morris International are Title Sponsors for the 2022 WBDC Women Rising Gala and Awards Celebration.

    Additional information and ticket sales can be found at

    Diane von Furstenberg

    Diane von Furstenberg is a fashion designer, philanthropist, author, and Founder and Chairwoman of the company that bears her name. In 1974, she created the iconic wrap dress, which became a symbol of power and independence for women and grew into a global brand. She has continued her legacy as a supporter and empowerer of emerging female leaders through her mentorship and philanthropy.

    In 2010, with the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation, Diane established the DVF Awards to honor and provide grants to women who have displayed leadership, strength, and courage in their commitment to their causes. In 2005, the CFDA awarded her a Lifetime Achievement Award and she went on to chair the council from 2006 to 2019. In 2015, she was named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People, and in September of 2019, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame for her leadership and achievements which have changed the course of history. In 2020, France awarded her the Chevalier de la Légion D’Honneur and in 2021, she received the Commandeur de l’Ordre de la Couronne from her native Belgium. Her most recent recognition was in March of 2022 when she received the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Woman of Leadership Award for her remarkable leadership and dedication to women.

    She currently serves on the boards of Vital Voices, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, and the Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Foundation. She has written several books, including Diane: A Signature Life, The Woman I Wanted to Be, which was translated into 8 languages, and recently released, Own It: The Secret to Life.”

    Annie Lamont

    Annie Lamont, the current First Lady of Connecticut, is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Oak HC/FT where she invests in companies driving transformation in healthcare and fintech. In 2019, Lamont also co-founded Tidal River, an organization that supports Connecticut entrepreneurs with angel investments from accredited women investors.

    Lamont has been featured on Forbes Midas List, Private Equity International’s Women of Influence in Venture Capital list, Modern Healthcare’s 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare list, Institutional Investor’s FinTech Finance 40 list, and the Top 100 Venture Capitalist rankings published by CB Insights and The New York Times.

    She was the first recipient of the National Venture Capital Association’s award for Excellence in Healthcare Innovation and honored with the Healthcare Private Equity Association’s 2017 Russell L. Carson Award for lifetime achievement in healthcare investing.