Meet the 28th Annual Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference (EWC) 2014 Award Winners being honored at the Opening Night Reception, September 16, 2014 at the Prairie Room Hyatt McCormick Place – Chicago. Click here to learn more about EWC.
28th Annual Entrepreneur of the Year
As with every success story, Direct Steel has faced its share of challenges. Swierk founded the company in 2004 after over 16 years in construction-related sales and marketing, and real estate development and management experience. At the beginning of the recession in 2008, the demand for commercial construction declined dramatically. To keep her business viable, Swierk leveraged her certification as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) to target governmental organizations and large corporations. The strategy not only kept her enterprise afloat but propelled it to even greater success. Direct Steel has completed commercial building projects for companies such as Unilock, Navistar and Intermatic. Swierk has received numerous awards for her accomplishments and business success.
28th Annual WBE of the Year
A chemist by trade, Linda left a management position at an international manufacturer of chemical and petroleum products to work for Cedar Concepts, eventually becoming its owner and president in 2004. As the country’s only African American, woman-owned chemical manufacturer, Cedar Concepts processes raw materials for use in a wide variety of personal-care, household, industrial and agricultural products marketed under many brand names familiar to both consumers and businesses. Her customers include some of the nation’s largest companies, such as Proctor & Gamble, Colgate Palmolive, Citgo Petroleum and Boeing. Under her leadership, Cedar Concepts just completed the construction of Chicago’s first ground-up, chemical manufacturing facility in more than 50 years.
28th Annual Woman Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year
An accident while serving in the U.S. Navy left Kaney ONeill a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down. She set out to rebuild her future by attending Northwestern University, earning B.S. and M.A. degrees in Organizational Change and Science. When jobs did not materialize after graduation, she followed in the footsteps of several generations of her family by entering in 2007 into the roofing business. ONeill Contractors specializes in roofing, roof waterproofing, carpentry, insulation and flooring installation for corporate and government clients that have included Boeing, Northern Illinois University and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Her goal is to grow to $5 million in yearly revenues in the next five years.
The Deluxe Corporation Foundation focuses on long-term solutions that help people, businesses, and communities thrive and grow. Since 1954, the Foundation has donated nearly $100 million to charitable organizations. The Women’s Business Development Center is proud to honor Deluxe Corporation Foundation as its 28th Annual Foundation Impact Award recipient for their ongoing commitment to the advancement of women and minority-owned businesses.
Accepting the award on behalf of the Deluxe Corporation Foundation is Amanda Brinkman.
In January of 2014, Amanda was recruited to Deluxe to help tell their amazing new brand story. As a big supporter of “buying local,” Amanda was excited to help entrepreneurs focus on their passion. Actively involved in the community, Amanda serves as the Vice Chair for the Children’s Cancer Research Fund Board of Directors, on the Make-A-Wish Foundation Board and Jeremiah Program’s Circle of Influence.
The Illinois SBDC, a division of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), is receiving the award for its leadership and guidance of the state’s small business assistance efforts. In partnership with the U. S. Small Business Administration, the Illinois SBDC Network has been providing information, expert one-on-one business advice and management training to pre-venture and established small businesses throughout the state of Illinois since 1984, and now celebrating 30 years of success. Accepting the IL SBDC’s award is the Illinois State Director, Mark Petrilli. In his position, Petrilli has oversight of the 36 Illinois SBDCs, 12 Illinois SBDC International Trade Centers, 9 Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, and the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program.
In 1985, Mark Petrilli joined the Illinois Department of Commerce with ten years of small business management and ownership experience. The Women’s Business Development Center is proud to honor the impactful work, guidance and leadership of its longtime supporter and collaboration of Mark A. Petrilli and the Illinois Small Business Development Center.
28th Annual Corporate Champion of the Year
ManpowerGroup’s Supplier Diversity Initiative was designed to provide innovative approaches to recruiting, developing and increasing their diverse supplier base. Their program includes women, minorities, veterans, disadvantaged and small business owners who share their mission of providing quality services to customers. They collaborate with diversity suppliers who share their vision of being the best provider of higher value staffing services and the center for quality employment opportunities. Through these collaborative efforts, ManpowerGroup can help strengthen the economic wealth of the diverse business communities, which will, in turn, contribute to overall growth.
Shaleta Dunn is the Manager of Supplier Diversity for ManpowerGroup. In this role, Shaleta cultivates and supports strong relationships with diversity suppliers and strategic external organizations to enhance ManpowerGroup’s brand and leverages them to support company objectives.