Amy Husted earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Baldwin-Wallace College (now Baldwin-Wallace University) in 2006. After college, she spent time working in banking until she had the opportunity to transition into the role of a stay-at-home mom to her two little boys. She then built, owned, and operated her own at-home bakery boutique, La Hoot Bakery from 2012 until 2015, setting it down for the purposes of pouring all of her professional time and talent into Komae. She is married to Andrew Husted and lives in Copley, Ohio along with their two boys, Nathan and Noah. In their free-time, Amy, Andrew and their boys love to have family board game nights or escape to a hotel for a night of family fun.
Audrey Wallace is co-founder of Komae, an Akron tech startup that combines service sharing with child care, empowering parents to exchange unlimited free babysitting with trusted friends. Audrey earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Communications at Baldwin Wallace University in 2004. After college, she spent a decade working her way backwards down the corporate ladder until she landed the most rewarding job of all, stay at home mom. She lives in West Akron with her husband Gary Wallace and two young sons, Rowan and Abram. Together they love to explore nature, host gatherings of friends, and max out the scale at their local fro-yo shop!
Over the past 19 years her business grew, as did her name recognition in the Northeastern Ohio region. In her first three years in business she retained over 2,000 individuals and businesses an unheard of number for an accounting firm with only one sales person-Renea Woods-Baylor. Renea volunteers her time and services, she doesn't just join, she becomes an active member; Renea Woods-Baylor is a third generation entrepreneur in her family; 19 years as a successful business owner under her belt ~ A Multi-million-dollar business developer and advisor; including 30 years in the accounting, taxation, auditing, and business advisory field; Recent recipient of the Greater Akron Business Summit 2017.
Dr. Charu Ramanathan is a repeat entrepreneur, passionate about using technology to positively impact and elevate human life. She is the co-founder and CEO of vitalxchange, a digital IT company whose mission is to connect matched patients via a private chat platform. She also co-founded Lokyata Global which is developing advanced credit scoring algorithms to foster financial inclusion especially in emerging economies. Prior to this, she co-founded CardioInsight, a Company specializing in noninvasive cardiac imaging systems. She led CardioInsight through its growth stages and ultimately its acquisition by Medtronic in 2015. Dr. Ramanathan has been the recipient of several awards for her contributions to technology and humanity including Crain’s 40 under 40, TiE Immigrant Entrepreneur and American Red Cross Hero. She holds a BS from Cochin University and PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University, USA.
Margie Flynn is Senior Partner and Co-Founder of BrownFlynn, a leading corporate sustainability and governance consulting firm founded in January 1996—and, as announced earlier in 2018—is now a wholly owned subsidiary of London-based global sustainability consulting firm ERM. In her leadership role, Margie builds strong relationships with clients and team members, serving as their trusted partner and colleague. She has been instrumental in shaping a variety of corporate responsibility and sustainability strategies for regional, national, and global corporations and organizations. Before co-founding BrownFlynn, Margie worked for 15 years in the financial services industry, serving in various corporate management and investor relations positions. Currently, she is actively involved in numerous local and national civic and business organizations. In addition, Margie and her business partner, Barb Brown, published a book, Uplifting Leaders* (*Who Happen To Be Women), to commemorate their firm’s 20th anniversary, all net proceeds from which will be donated to the YWCA of Greater Cleveland to support the education of young women transitioning out of foster care.
Heidi is the managing partner of the Renner Otto law firm, a boutique firm that specializes in intellectual property law. She has over 25 years of experience, both as in-house counsel and in private practice, in strategies and tactics for IP protection on a global scale, particularly in the areas of patents and trademarks. Heidi partners with clients to ensure that their innovation and IP assets are identified, protected and enforced.
By day, Renée is usually found amongst Cleveland’s top CEOs and business leaders. By night, she’s hiking or running with her dogs or watching her son play sports. Renée is proud to say she also makes dinner for her family most nights—she’s a closet chef! Contempo’s founder always had an entrepreneurial spirit and a heart for helping women succeed in business which prompted Renée to create the Female Entrepreneur Summit, an annual day of learning for Northeast Ohio business women. Renée also enjoys networking and special events, so she developed and published Cleveland Business Connects Magazine for 10 years and created the CBC Magazine Connectors Choice Awards to honor Clevelanders in the special events profession. She’s a distinguished alumna of Kent State University, where she serves on the Business Advisory Board, and was just recognized with a Spirit of Women in Business Award. She’s a runner, a oenophile, a devoted volunteer for Northeast Ohio Adoption Services and she tells us she was a competitive ice skater in her youth.
A market research, consumer insights and strategic planning professional with over 20 years of experience leading insights teams at companies like KeyBank, American Greetings and Adcom. Known for continually asking “why,” Sue is most at home talking with consumers about their brand experiences. Her experience is quite varied and spans pretty much every type of research method and project including ideation, brand health, consumer journeys, product development and concept testing. She donates her time by serving on the board of the JD Breast Cancer Foundation.
I am a native Clevelander (born and raised in Euclid), and I recently moved back home after more than 30 years to be near family and to live my dream of opening an urban winery here in my beloved hometown. I’m a retired U.S. Navy officer (I served for 20 years on active duty), and I then spent more than 13 years as a business development executive in the defense industry in the Washington DC area. I am also a former volunteer firefighter/EMT, and I have great love and respect for first responders and for all those who serve our country and communities in uniform.
After 3 years of drinking with friends throughout NYC, Berlin thought “wouldn’t it be cool if my drink could help the world somehow?” That’s exactly what she set out to do. She combined her passion for helping the world with making delicious wines. Before Proud Pour, Berlin was actively homebrewing beers, meads, wines, ciders and kombuchas in her tiny West Village apartment, when she wasn’t running (late) to her Finance job down on Wall St. Proud Pour launched with restoring oysters in NY Harbor with the Billion Oyster Project, then moved to Boston as Berlin expanded Proud Pour to New England. As of July 2017, Berlin has found a home for herself in Portland, Oregon where she is closer to the vineyards and can spend her weekends volunteering on local farms.
Marisa Sergi, 25, started RedHead Wine while studying Viticulture and Enology at Cornell University. This capstone project turned business is now a budding brand found in over 300+ accounts including Walmart and Kroger. Marisa, a third generation winemaker, enjoys entrepreneurship and giving back to her community - she was recently named Success Magazine's first Class of 30 under 30 in 2018.
Barbara J. Smith (Barb) is the Senior Vice President and Director of Key4Women, a nationwide community of entrepreneurial and executive business women. Barb also serves as the co-chair of the Key Women’s Network, which cultivates a work environment that engages, empowers and inspires employees to achieve their full leadership potential.
Barb has held a variety of senior management roles and Key and at Bank One Akron, NA (now Chase). She serves on the National Board of the Alumni Association for Kent State, the Board of Directors for the YWCA of Greater Cleveland, and is the Co-Chair for the Cleveland Chapter of Women for Economic and Leadership Development (WELD). Barb has held several elected positions in Solon and was VP & Treasurer for the Cleveland Better Business Bureau.
Lorri’s diverse background includes more than 15 years of experience in driving strategic growth in complex organizations. Before joining Ahola in 2015, she worked at the Mandel Jewish Community Center, which recruited her to revitalize its fitness center operations. During her 12-year tenure, Lorri improved revenue and retention at the Beachwood, Ohio facility. Prior to that, she spent three years as assistant to the athletic department at John Carroll University, where she worked closely with the alumni fundraising and development department to build Don Shula Stadium and renovate the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center at the Cleveland area institution. Lorri has successfully driven Ahola’s strategy over the last 3 years, and is spearheading the succession planning process for Ahola. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from The University of Michigan and a master’s in athletic administration from Kent State University.
Marcia Pledger is a business journalist, with experience covering topics ranging from small business and technology to manufacturing and corporate America. As a long-time Plain Dealer reporter and columnist, she enjoys sharing stories of “reinvention” - either online, in print or with organizations. She’s a ghostwriter for executives in various roles, and the author of a book and 10-year-old (small business) column, called “My Biggest Mistake...And How I Fixed It.” She continually learns from leaders of small and large companies, most recently focusing on the business side of the fast-growing medical marijuana industry, among other trends such as the gig economy, with more businesses than ever using freelancers as part of their business model. But she’s also passionate about the correlation between business etiquette and success in a digital age. As a financial journalist, she enjoys talking about the human experience in business and sharing transformative business strategies with business groups, women's organizations, colleges and universities. Her takeaway so far: Mistakes can be a gift, when you learn from them and grow.
Stacey L. Vaselaney is the president of SLV Public Relations, LLC, a public relations agency that she founded in 2010 in Cleveland. Her experience spans both the client and the agency side of public relations, publicity and social media outreach, culminating in nearly 30 years of communications expertise. Stacey has worked with many high-profile brands, and her clients have been featured nationally in publications including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Time, Real Simple, People Magazine, Vogue and on television shows such as Today, Good Morning America, Fox and Friends and CNN Headline News. Stacey is an active member of the Cleveland civic community. She is a founding board member of EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute and serves on the Board of Trustees of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Northern Ohio.
Patrice Blakemore is the interim business services director and a business advisor for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses in partnership with Cuyahoga Community College. This $500 million national business development initiative is a practical business management education program that helps entrepreneurs develop the skills they need to grow their company. She is also president of Blakemore Coaching where she enables women to elevate their performance, maximize their opportunity and increase their productivity. In 2009, Patrice decided to use her experience as an attorney to create workshops and coaching programs for women in male-dominated professions. She assists participants in increasing their confidence and productivity through goal setting and execution.