• Fran Pastore is a pioneer in the women’s entrepreneurial ecosystem movement. She is a devoted and passionate catalyst for economic equity, justice, and inclusion for women. For nearly 30 years, she has been a champion of entrepreneurship and economic independence for women. As a trusted and reliable thought leader, Fran is a frequently sought-after source by members of Congress, the Connecticut General Assembly, and corporate leaders on a wide array of issues facing women. 

    Fran founded the Women’s Business Development Council (WBDC) in 1997 with $100,000 in seed funding. Today, the organization’s budget is nearly $10M. Under Fran’s leadership, WBDC has become universally respected as a trusted and valued organization providing entrepreneurial education, technical assistance, and access to capital to women entrepreneurs across Connecticut. 

    In addition to her work with WBDC, Fran has served as a member of The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC), an independent source of counsel to then President Obama, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). In 2018, she was honored to serve on Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont’s Transition Team as Co-Chair of the Jobs and Economy Policy Committee. In 2021, she served as a member of the Economic Development Committee on Stamford Mayor Caroline Simmons’ Transition Team. The following year, Fran was appointed by Governor Lamont as Chair of the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority Board of Directors, a position she continues to hold today. She also serves on the M&T Bank Connecticut Directors’ Advisory Council and the Webster Bank Community Advisory Council.

    Fran has also worked with women entrepreneurs globally; In Rwanda providing entrepreneurial training to genocide survivors resulting in the opening of the country’s first ice cream parlor; In Costa Rica teaching rural women how to scale their enterprises; In Ethiopia teaching young women how to launch their own business; and in Turkey sharing best practices on entrepreneurship as a path to women’s economic self-reliance and participation in the global economy. Fran also served as a U.S. Delegate at the 2015 Women’s Summit and the 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Conference in Istanbul.

    For over a quarter of a century, Fran has been instrumental in passing legislation in Connecticut and Washington DC pertaining to women. She has provided numerous testimonies before the U.S. Congress and the Connecticut Legislature, addressing the social and economic issues facing women and the state of women’s entrepreneurship.

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