Women’s Business Center Shares Gift of Success

MELBOURNE, FLA.—Over 180 community leaders attended the Florida Institute of Technology Women’s Business Center’s (WBC) “Sharing the Gift of Success” celebration and fundraiser on Nov. 15 at the Suntree Country Club. The event recognized the achievements and successes of entrepreneurial women in Brevard County. It was sponsored by Wells Fargo Advisors; Mary Baldwin, CFP; TD Bank; Prudential Sterling Properties; Holy Land Stone Company; and Michelle Mock Photography.

T. Dwayne McCay, Florida Tech executive vice president and chief operating officer, made the opening remarks. He recognized the accomplishments of the WBC and expressed Florida Tech’s commitment to the community regarding entrepreneurial growth and development.

Beth Gitlin, WBC director, shared the accomplishments and recognition of the Women’s Business Center. She noted its recognition as a Small Business Administration (SBA) Center of Excellence out of 104 nationwide and its selection as one of six WBCs nationwide to work with Thunderbird School of International Management and the Clinton Global Initiative to develop an online training program to assist women who wish to engage in entrepreneurial development for the U.S. market.

During the celebration, several Women’s Business Center clients and stakeholders were recognized for their service and business achievements. The IGNITE Program, an exclusive mentoring program for second-stage businesses, graduated three leaders of women-owned businesses during the first half of the year. Recognized by the WBC, they were Kitty Hatton, owner of Melbourne Dancewear; Tracy Stroderd, owner of Everything Brevard and Synergistic Marketing, and Jeanne Whitman, owner of Achieve Beautiful Skin. Additionally, Craig Technologies and Wells Fargo each presented $10,000 checks at the event to support the IGNITE mentoring program as Founding Partner Sponsors.

Karen Brown, a Florida Tech staff member in the Computer Sciences Department, was recognized as a WBC “super instructor.” Additionally, Jeannette Kraar, owner of Performance Management International and program manager for the WBC IGNITE mentoring program, was recognized for her work as a “super volunteer.” The Zonta Club of Melbourne accepted a recognition award for service to the WBC.

“The club is an outstanding community partner having donated more than $6,000 in scholarships, which have been distributed to over 100 women for business education classes,” said Gitlin.

Laraine Schultz with Wells Fargo Advisors; Kathy Cobb, provost of E-Learning at Eastern Florida State College; and Debbie Steininger with Coastal Organizing Solutions, were recognized for their dedication and service as board members for the past several years. They will now be on the WBC’s honorary board. Debbie Goode, partner with Carr, Riggs and Ingram, was recognized for two years of service as board chair, and for making a significant impact for the WBC through her work to spearhead the creation of the IGNITE mentoring program.

Debbie Pavlakos, vice-president, TD Bank, and WBC board chair introduced new board members. They are Lisa Rice, Brevard Workforce; Nancy Johnson, Health First; Sandy Handfield, Eastern Florida State College; and Linda Brandt, Brandt Ronat and Company.

For more information about the WBC and the IGNITE Mentoring Program, visit wbc.fit.edu.

PHOTO: From left, Debbie Goode, past board chair, Women’s Business Center
Jeanne Whitman, Achieve Beautiful Skin and Ignite program graduateTracy Stroderd, Everything Brevard.com and Ignite program graduate
Kitty Hatton, Melbourne Dancewear
Pam Gillespie, director of Community Relations, U.S. Congressman Bill Posey
Beth Gitlin, director, Women’s Business Center

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