weVENTURE Unveils Award Winners Honoring Women’s History Month

March 17 Luncheon Celebrates ‘Women Who Rock’

MELBOURNE, FLA. — weVENTURE, a Central Florida-based organization launched at Florida Institute of Technology and focused on accelerating sustainable business growth for women entrepreneurs, is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 Women Who Rock Awards in honor of Women’s History Month.

The recipients will be honored at a luncheon, co-hosted with the Zonta Club of Melbourne, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 17, at the Hilton Rialto Place in Melbourne.

“weVENTURE is focused on ensuring Central Florida business leaders receive the recognition they deserve,” weVENTURE Executive Director Beth Gitlin said. “There are many stellar business owners and executives in our community, and we look forward to taking this opportunity to shine the spotlight on just a few of them.”

Recipients are first nominated by their peers and the general public in one of four awards categories: Entrepreneur of the Year, Excellence in Leadership, Emerging Leader, and the Joan Bixby Award.

This year’s winners are:

  • Entrepreneur of the Year: Betsy Farmer, executive director, Promise in Brevard. This award recognizes a local woman who creates the products, services and jobs that fuel our economy and help our community grow.
  • Excellence in Leadership: Debbie Goode, partner, Carr, Riggs & Ingram, LLC. This award recognizes a female community leader who advocates for positive social change to create a more equitable society.
  • Emerging Leader: Jennifer Sugarman, president and CEO, Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce. This award recognizes a female under age 30 who demonstrates high ethical standards, commitment, confidence and the ability to serve as an inspirational leader, and who is a role model for members of her community.
  • Florida Tech Joan Bixby: Three winners share this award, all from Florida Tech: T. Dwayne McCay, executive vice president, COO and incoming president; Julie Shankle, director of online learning; and Lorian Schweikert, marine biology graduate student. This award, named in honor of the Florida Tech alumna, former university administrator and Melbourne resident, generally recognizes male or female members of Florida Tech faculty or staff and a student, all of whom enhance the climate for women’s participation and development on campus.

Also awarded on March 17:

  • The Zonta Yellow Rose Award for Excellence in Community Service to Mary Jane Allen, president and founder, Genesis House Board of Directors. Each year in honor of Zonta Rose Day, Zontians all over the world present a yellow rose to men and women who have honored Zonta’s vision by helping women achieve their full potential.

“It is important to elevate the profile of female leaders in our community,” said Melbourne weVENTURE Director Wanda Lipscomb-Vásquez. “We are honored to recognize such hard-working, deserving women and we hope that this event provides inspiration for the next generation of local leaders.”

To register or to learn more about becoming a sponsor for the Women Who Rock event, visit http://bit.ly/1Wv3Tck.


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