WBEs Who Rock - Meet the Finalists

Ann Werner

Principal, Soulsight

About: Ann Werner has been the spark and ignition behind Soulsight’s success since founding the business in 1997. Under Ann’s leadership, Soulsight has become internationally recognized for world class creativity.  She provides senior level strategic counseling for Fortune 500 companies and is committed to building partnerships that are focused on success. Soulsight prides itself on work that is filled with compassion, wisdom and joy and is committed to creating possibilities that evolve the human spirit to grow. The company has supported Holiday Home Camp, an overnight children’s camp that provides educational and recreational opportunities for at-risk children, youth and families, by sponsoring the Geneva Wine Festival since 2007.

Her advice to other women in business:
As in all of life it’s important to walk through our fears. The other side of fear is faith; faith in yourself and faith in those that you have chosen to surround yourself with.

How certification helped her achieve success:
The certificate has been a huge leveraging tool for getting new business. It sets Soulsight apart with a point of difference. In our industry, talent is the cost of entry, the certificate has helped us stand out from all the other firms and get noticed!

Nominated by: Kate Armstrong

Stephynie Malik

President  & CEO, MalikCo, LLC

About: MalikCo is a global leader in corporate advisory solutions, IT resourcing, and operational support. As a twenty year veteran of the consulting business, Stephynie Malik is the founder, CEO, and the driving force behind the company’s success.  In addition to directing the MalikCo’s daily operations and business development initiatives, Malik manages the strategic direction of the business, which also includes the development of her employees and supporting what they are passionate about. The company prides itself on community involvement with several charities and fundraisers and is soon to launch a companywide program,  that matches the dollars its employees want to donate to preferred organizations.

Her advice to other women in business:
Always trust your gut instinct! If you need to push back, do it with grace, dignity and integrity. Do your research, and do it well, have your facts aligned and correct, and most importantly, remember relationships are everything!!!

How certification helped her achieve success:
Having our certification is like having an additional revenue stream. We are called by top executives to be able to assist with their business, and truly become a strategic partner. For me, being certified is always an opportunity to teach, and to grow.

Nominated by: Ragean Kennedy

Olsa Martini

CEO, OLSA Resources, Inc.

About: When Olsa Martini left her native country, Albania in 1994 to move to America, she knew only three English phrases, “yes”, “no” and “I don’t know.” Her language skills did not stop her from accomplishing what she wanted to do, which was to create a successful future. In the beginning, she did not know what or how she was going to do this, she was simply determined to make it happen. Today, Martini is the President/CEO of OLSA Resources, a nationally recognized staffing and engineering company that serves Fortune 500 companies and other nationally recognized business. Her goal now is to strategically expand by combining efficiency and passion with an energized team of dedicated employees. In the recent years, she has given back to her native country by opening a sourcing office in Tirana, Albania.

Her advice to other women in business:
Self-doubt is bound to show up at some point-when it does, tell it to be-quiet and continue moving forward in your successes.

How certification helped her achieve success:
Probably one of the best things I have done for my business, apart from actually incorporating, has been obtaining the WBENC certification. Doors have opened. Business mentors have taken me under their wing. Perhaps most important, my business has directly profited because of diversity-spend opportunities garnered.

Nominated by: Shaleta Dunn

Barbara Wichmann

CEO, ARTÉMIA Communications, Inc.

About: Barbara Wichmann is a multi-award winning communications expert on sustainability and diversity. As owner of ARTEMIA Communications, Inc., Barbara has helped numerous clients from startups to Fortune 100/500 companies successfully drive their audiences to action. Under her direction, ARTEMIA has become a certified San Francisco Green Business. She has also secured a triple ISO certification, including the environmentally-focused ISO 140001, giving her agency an internationally recognized benchmark in sustainability in the workplace. Barbara is also a regular speaker on industry panels and is an active member of several organizations including QuEST Forum’s small business leadership group and ASTRA Women’s Business Alliance.

Her advice to other women in business:
Make sure you carry the vision of your company but don’t be confined by it.  Be adaptable, stay agile, stay hungry.  And never, never stop learning.

How certification helped her achieve success:
The certification is a nationally recognized standard, one I know our clients appreciate seeing. It’s given me access to an incredible network of women-business leaders who inspire each other to succeed. It’s also an opportunity to interface with corporate representatives, keeping us all at the forefront of industry trends.

Nominated by: Evelyn Olson Lamden

Wendy Wilson

President, AC Flag & Banner

About: Wendy Wilson truly has a heart for helping people. As President of AC Flag & Banner, community involvement has played a major role in her company’s success. With over 23 years of industry experience, she recognizes the importance of giving back. When she’s not working with clients, Wendy volunteers her time to help other women in business learn the ropes and succeed. She serves as WBEC-West’s Regional Forum’s Chair and is known for her ability to jump in and lend a helping hand. Wendy and AC Flag & Banner also work to honor Veteran of Foreign Wars (VFWs) around Colorado and been recognized for her dedication.

Her advice to other women in business:
Don’t listen to the voices in your head telling you that you can’t do it. Listen to the people who believe in you.

How certification helped her achieve success:
Certification has given me the opportunity to open doors and meet the most amazing people. It shows that I’m invested in my company and will do what it takes to succeed. Women in business have a unique bond. We value our friendships and truly want to help each other thrive.

Nominated by: Elizabeth Bacon

Bejanae Kareem

Founder/Executive Director, BK International Education Consultancy

About: Bejanae Kareem began a career as an educational professional after earning a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Georgia State University. Inspired to close the achievement gap for underrepresented children, Bejanae has served as an educator in urban schools for over ten years.  During her experience as an in-field practitioner, Bejanae recognized the need for quality K-5 science training and funding sources to implement learning activities during an economic crisis and severe budget cuts in education.  In 2012, Bejanae established BK International Education Consultancy LLC to provide quality Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) development for K-8 schools and organizations, as well as grant acquisition consulting.

Her advice to other women in business:
My advice to other women in business is to define, communicate and play to your strengths, vision, and value, then others will take note and follow suit.

How certification helped her achieve success:
BK International Education Consultancy is looking forward to obtaining National Women's Business Enterprise Certification. Through certification, BK Consultancy looks to expand through access to mentors and partnership development amongst a cadre of professional women leaders

Nominated by: Shermaine Perry

Sharon Reynolds

President & CEO, DevMar Products, LLC

About: Since its inception in 2007, DevMar Products has made strides with its sustainable products and development efforts and commitment to being a forerunner in the area of developing unique products that are environmentally friendly. Under the leadership of Sharon Reynolds, DevMar stands out as a customer service oriented company that seeks to address the ever-growing needs of its customers. She has strategically aligned her company with other women-owned organizations and formed partnerships that work to increase visibility and elevate her organization’s status in business. Sharon provides leadership in her community by serving as a mentor via her affiliation with local non-profits dedicated to the advancement of families. Her leadership style is impeccable as she challenges others to stretch themselves and reach beyond their boundaries for excellence.

Her advice to other women in business:
Never allow limits, be clever in managing in the workplace and three times as dedicated as your peers.  Strive to make a positive impact every day in someone else’s life.

How certification helped her achieve success:
WBENC certification has allowed me to strategically place DevMar in front of major corporations that seek opportunities to engage women-owned businesses that meet the litmus test in operations.  It has allowed me to showcase the uniqueness of my company & what we have to offer in the area of sustainability.

Nominated by: Sandra Williams

Pamela Chambers O’Rourke

President, ICON Information Consultants, LP

About: Pamela Chambers O’Rourke founded ICON Information Consultants, a Fortune 500 company that provides recruiting, payroll and human resources services, in 1998. She and her team are committed to supporting, educating and promoting other small and woman-owned businesses to achieve their own success. Specifically, she chooses to do business with other WBE companies to show support and to help further their business growth. Today, Pamela’s business does 90 percent of its purchases with WBEs located regionally and nationally. To foster the growth of women-owned businesses, she has served on many local and regional boards and committees; participated in mentoring opportunities; provided more than $95,000 in sponsorships to WBE events in 2014; has contributed hundreds of volunteer hours to raise funds on both the local and National scene; and has sponsored WBEs to attend both local and National events so they can be exposed to business opportunities with corporate representative and other successful women-owned businesses.

Her advice to other women in business:
Giving back is such an important business strategy. Be committed to support, educate, and promote other small and woman-owned businesses so they too can achieve growth and business success.

How certification helped her achieve success:
Being in Information Technology, I have had to overcome diversity challenges in a traditionally male-led industry. Through my certification, I’ve been introduced to supplier diversity managers who helped me connect with the right end-users, navigate through the procurement processes and demonstrate the benefits of contracting with a woman-owned IT business.

Nominated by: Shaleta Dunn

Terena Bell

CEO, In Every Language

About: Terena Bell founded In Every Language, a professional translating, interpreting and localization company in 2005. She is an accomplished speaker, presenting to international associations and groups on social media, sustainability in translation, language access, life sciences translation, social capitalism, and business growth, among other topics. Her company is the only translation establishment in North America with a seat on the international trade board.

Her advice to other women in business:
Don’t ever give up. As an entrepreneur, someone wants to knock you down every day—competitors, government, the existing system you’re trying to disrupt. It’s not about getting up, because you won’t fall to begin with.

How certification helped her achieve success:
In Every Language is an international translation company serving Fortune 500s and other exporters. Growing up in a Kentucky farm community, as founder I had lots to learn about how to play the corporate game. Certification meant Tuck eligibility as well as access to corporates, both great ways to learn.

Nominated by: Haley Stevens

Gayle Piraino

President, GAP Promotions LLC

About: GAP Promotions is a full-service promotional products agency serving some of the world’s largest food and beverage companies. Founded by Gayle Piraino in 2006, the company’s revenue has grown tenfold despite the economic downturn and substantial industry consolidation. Over the last several years, Gayle has had the opportunity to inspire other women entrepreneurs, small businesses, college students in multiple disciplines, and her own team members. She has received a number of designations and awards and has had the opportunity to speak at events and also as a panelist, sharing her story as woman business owner while providing advice about achieving a work-life balance.

Her advice to other women in business:
Follow your passion, trust your instincts. Listen to your customer. Focus on the relationship, not the sale. Take time for yourself, your family and insist your employees do the same.

How certification helped her achieve success:
Our certification has helped present GAP to many prestigious companies where we have been able to form relationships, demonstrate our capabilities. It has fast tracked our networking which in turn has helped us scale and grow not only in size but as professionals.

Nominated by: Kate Armstrong

Jackie Clark

CEO/VP of Technical Services, Solutions Associates Consulting

About: Jackie Clark didn’t come from a privileged background but she inherited a strong work ethic, self-confidence and the perseverance to actualize her goals. She holds a degree in Chemical Engineering from Tuskegee University, where she took on various leadership positions, like chartering the Golden Key Honor Society, was VP of the Society of Women Engineers and was Chemical Engineering Student of the Year. She has a passion for the recruiting, development and retention of minorities and women in engineering and has tutored and mentored other women in engineering.  Prior to founding Solutions Associates Consulting, Inc. (SAC), a woman-owned technical consulting and project firm for the food and consumer goods industry, Jackie rocked Corporate America and made an impact on brands like Secret and Total Corn Flakes, by reducing the manufacturing times by as much as 65%.

Her advice to other women in business:
I strive to stay true to myself as well as in my business model.  Speed, quality and integrity are the qualities my company is founded upon and that will never change.

How certification helped her achieve success:
Having a network of like-minded people to leverage has been the key.  People with similar goals and successes as well as challenges can band together and share resources.  Being certified sets you apart in this ever changing business world in which diversity is so important.

Nominated by: Dr. Karen Eng

Ashley Jendrasik, Lisa Wilbon and Latoia Sykes

Mortgage Staffing Solutions
(Left to right)
Ashley Jendrasik, Vice President
Lisa Wilbon, President
Latoia Sykes, Chief Operating Officer

About: Mortgage Staffing Solutions, a leading recruitment firm, was founded by Lisa Wilbon, Ashley Jendrasik and Latoia Sykes in 2012. The company was launched to provide customized professional recruiting and consultative services through industry-leading expertise in the mortgage staffing industry. MSS is not only recognized in their industry for their ability to maintain a 95 percent retention rate of their clients, but also for their community involvement. As owners of MSS, Lisa, Ashley and Latoia are heavily involved in local charities, communicating to future generations that anything is possible through hard work and persistence.

Their advice to other women in business:
Always help others and give back to other businesses and the community. Believe in yourself. Be encouraging and empower others, especially women. Don’t be afraid to ask for support.

How certification helped them achieve success:
MBE Certification has opened up doors and helped us cultivate relationships that we would not have had otherwise. While attending events, we are also able to connect with industry leaders who are specifically looking to work with MBE companies to assisting in growing and enhancing their business.

Nominated by: Jodee Bennett