Liz believes that if you don’t look forward to coming to your job, you’re in the wrong job. For Liz, that’s never been a problem throughout her more than 20-year-career as a leader focused on workforce and economic development. She’s turned failing organizations into award-winners, exceeded expected performance outcomes, innovated in project planning, grant writing, and fiscal grant management – and in the process, helped make a positive impact on countless lives. These days, she heads into the office motivated by the opportunity to promote business ownership by women, and she’s continually inspired by the commitment of the WBEC’s staff, board, and volunteers. Liz leads with empathy, kindness, and a great sense of humor. She claims to be bad at singing and cooking, but at home you might find her enthusiastically doing both (perhaps even at the same time). And if you stop by the office for a visit, you’ll likely meet Liz’s rescue dogs, Bindi and Tucker, who are proud to co-serve as Chief Fun Officers. (Just don’t tell Tucker he’s missing a leg; Liz never told him!)
Prior to joining us, Jamie enjoyed a nearly 20-year career in the pharmaceutical industry promoting medicines that help people live healthier and longer lives. We couldn’t be happier that she’s decided to channel her enthusiasm for making a positive difference into her work with us. We are continually impressed by Jamie’s kind, giving nature, her desire to serve others, and how hard she works on behalf of the women business owners we serve. It’s clear that she’s inspired by the cause of promoting supplier diversity and dedicated to helping women succeed. Off the job, she’s something of a homebody, spending her time with family, friends, and her beloved chocolate lab, Gunnar.
Our newest addition to the team, Vanessa assists with all of our planning & organization with a perfectly "beat face" (def: impeccably applied makeup), stylish outfits, and an unwavering million watt smile. In essence, she is the Beyonce of our office. With an extensive background in professional event planning, she is so detail oriented that if a time-traveler were to come and look at her spreadsheets, they could fully understand what was going on. In her spare time she enjoys immersing herself in kitchen alchemy because as she puts it, “cooking is the best form of self-love”.
Ashana believes there is only one way to get through life, by dancing through it. Spending most of her free time teaching hip-hop dance, Ashana frequently works with her old dance group at the University of Delaware and teaching at studios. She takes that passion from the studio floor to her role of certification coordinator, where she works primarily with our volunteers to schedule site visits. At the office, you will frequently see Ashana on the phone talking to WBEs or making some spreadsheets (and by that we mean many many spreadsheets). While she is out being a road warrior and visiting countless WBEs, she enjoys learning about the different women owned businesses and engaging with the inspirational women that run them.
Our resident karaoke queen, Regina Ford recently joined our team as a Program Coordinator for our COVID-19 related efforts. When she is not singing, dancing, or playing violin (and just generally being awesome), she is managing COVID-19 grants. As the Founder of Willow Communication Strategies, Regina provides the perspective of a business owner which helps with framing our programming better. Her coordinating style is very forward-thinking and geared towards strategy and solving problems, which makes sense considering she does logic puzzles for fun in her free time. Given her tendency for running into celebrities - Jay Z, Jason Siegel, Coolio, etc. - when you meet her in the real world, make sure to ask her for insider stories!
If you've met Afy once, its more than likely that you won't forget her face any time soon. With her impressive height, Cheshire cat-like grin and inquisitiveness, she will definitely make an impression on you. At work she is a perfectionist, you'll most likely find her meticulously designing graphics or making sure that the website is aesthetically pleasing and up-to-date. Being a typical perambulating Pisces, she gets around town. You might catch her socializing at an event, watching an obscure foreign film at the Ritz, or working towards the (ever-elusive!) tripod headstand at a local yoga studio. She loves making new acquaintances so if you recognize her at event or on the street, make sure to say hi!
It’s been said that someone’s pets can tell you lot about them. So, let’s look at Meaghan’s two beloved felines, which are of the Devon Rex variety – a breed known to be highly intelligent and very people-oriented. Bingo! They are, however, also fond of sleeping on very high shelves, a habit we believe is foreign to Meaghan. At the office, you’ll often find Meaghan reviewing files with the volunteers she coordinates for the Certification Committee. Meaghan loves files – especially complex ones. (Go figure. Maybe it’s because she’s a trained paralegal.) At home, Meaghan likes to hang out with her cats. There may be knitting or crafting involved – by Meaghan, not the cats. Although, come to think of it, the Devon Rex is a very special animal...
Ginger Rogers could do everything Fred Astaire could – only backwards and in heels. Isabel – a former ballroom dance instructor – is our Ginger. Although we rarely get to see her in heels, she’s mastered all the moves related to program development and management, which she executes stylishly, gracefully, and without breaking a sweat. Women business owners rely on Isabel’s out-of-the-box thinking to guide them with technical assistance on topics including licensing and market research. And she’ll never tap dance around a challenging question; instead, she’ll do the research and find the answer.
Our “Liz K” is a passionate nurturer. On the job, she’s focused on encouraging, equipping, and empowering women business owners for success, which we see her do tirelessly every day. In the process, she demonstrates unwavering commitment to the WBEC mission and a passion for teamwork. At home, she directs her energies toward raising her two young children. (We are fortunate she has the fortitude to do both!) One thing Liz K is decidedly not passionate about is talking about herself; but the success of the WBEs with whom she’s worked – and, no doubt, the futures of her wonderful kids – will speak very loudly on her behalf.
Colleen absolutely loved being a Girl Scout. Later, as she embarked on her professional career, she went to work for the organization. So, her current position with us seems like a natural progression: “I love working in a place where women are empowered to change the world,” she says. And we’re glad she’s here to help us do that. She’s a jack-of-all-trades – pitching in on everything from certification to strategy. She takes pride in being a great multitasker, which comes in very handy not only here, but also in her off-hours, when she coaches a marching band, homebrews beer, and plays five musical instruments (probably not simultaneously, but... maybe?).
Celeste is an easy-going, laid back person who loves to laugh, spend time in the garden and watching nature. In her own words, she describes herself as someone who expects nothing, but appreciates everything! She is tasked with coordinating and managing workshops, maintaining the databases and numbers, and reaching out to speakers to develop new partnerships! She does this all while bringing a positive attitude and smile to everyone she encounters. A veritable green-thumb, Celeste spends hours in the garden, nurseries in her area and still manages to find time to cuddle with her two dogs, Blue and Chloe.
Stephanie is fond of reminding us that her name means “to be crowned.” And, indeed, we think of her as our Queen of Administration. Unlike most monarchs, Stephanie is extremely accessible – always welcoming, encouraging, and very helpful. Her reign with us began in 2000, which makes her institutional knowledge invaluable; in fact, she’s kept WBEC-East running smoothly and efficiently for so long that we can’t imagine life without her. So, we won’t. Long live Queen Stephanie!
We wish Gabby, who started with us as an intern while in high school, wanted to spend her entire career here. But that is not to be. She’s on her way to her bachelor’s degree in nursing. When she moves on, our loss will be the gain of countless patients (who better listen to her, trust us – she’s a no-nonsense Philly woman!). In the meantime, though, we are very glad that we get to work with her. She’s really good, and really smart. She makes a huge contribution to our Certification Committee by handling of a variety of important responsibilities. Even though she’s a millennial, her old-school ethics and work habits remind us that we shouldn’t generalize about an entire generation.
When it comes to planning our futures, most of us have five- or ten-year plans. Not Rebecca. She has a 40-year plan. By the time 2053 rolls around, Rebecca wants to be enjoying retirement near a beach in Ghana. We have no doubt she’ll realize that dream, because she consistently turns focus into achievement. She does it all – from strategic planning to operational support – and as a result, she’s contributed to the success of hundreds of WBEs. Somehow, during her tenure with us, she managed to earn degrees in Psychology and Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Trust us: if she wants that beach, she’ll get that beach!