Archive | September, 2013

Ernst & Young Connects with Entrepreneurs

27 Sep

For our first big event of the fall, Empowered Women International partnered with Ernst & Young in its annual EY Connect Day. This year, 2300 staff members volunteered with approximately 30 non-profit organizations in the greater DC metro region. According to Rene Salas, EY Partner, East Central Community Engagement (CE) Leader, they strive to work with organizations where their services are the most needed and where they can make an impact.


Rene Salas, EY Partner, Mary Louise Marino, EWI Director of Operations & Outreach, and Shirah Cohen, EWI Director of Business Development

Being one of the leading firms in accounting, financial and other advisory services, Ernst & Young recognizes the talent and potential of entrepreneurs: “Entrepreneurs make a difference. They not only have great ideas, but also the drive to make them a reality. They use their fresh thinking and hard work to create positive social change – bringing new concepts and products to market, and creating jobs and wealth.” EWI was a natural fit.


EWI entrepreneur Tammie Archie with two EY business coaches


EWI entrepreneur LaDon James during a focused sessions with EY business coaches

For the EY Connect Day with EWI, this was an exclusive opportunity for local women entrepreneurs to receive free mentoring and advising from Ernst & Young company professionals with their expert business knowledge and experience.

For the occasion, EWI alumna received advice on how to establish and improve their different businesses. Our entrepreneurs focused on various aspects to improve like marketing, business communication, finances and growing your business. Whether they are just starting or if they are already established businesswomen, it is important to keep current on the best strategies and practices.


EY volunteers offering one-on-one mentoring session with EWI entrepreneur, Amoy Stephens


EWI entrepreneurs Ivana Zambrana and Jane Mwinuka receiving one-on-one coaching with EY volunteers

The Ernst & Young staff was not only resourceful by sharing their expertise on the various topics, they were also very supportive. They encouraged our entrepreneurs to set and hold themselves to tangible goals in order to attain better results. Learning to prioritize, being innovative and determined, among other things, is what really sets an entrepreneur apart from any other businessman or businesswoman.

Judging from the reactions and feedback, it is safe to say that each and every entrepreneur left the conference feeling inspired, more knowledgeable and empowered — empowered to pursue their passion and to succeed in their professional career. Many EY volunteers found the one-on-one mentoring sessions invaluable and gave high marks to event overall.


The entire EY and EWI team!

In the words of Marga Fripp, EWI would like to send “a heartfelt thank you to the amazing EY Team for your generous service and full engagement in the mentoring day. We know this is just the beginning of a wonderful journey that will open doors to collaborative and innovative work between our organizations. Together we can empower more women and families to pursue their dream businesses with confidence and courage”.

Want to see more pictures? Click here

Written by Brenda Yoboue, Non-Profit Management Intern

My Day at the Alexandria DiverseCity Fest

27 Sep
Entrepreneur Julie ready for an empowering day!

Entrepreneur Julie ready for an empowering day!

On Saturday September 14, 2013 EWI had the privilege of participating in the Second Annual Alexandria DiverseCity Multicultural Fest in Arlandria, Virginia. This event was designed to bring community members together and celebrate Alexandria’s diversity. “Nearly a third of Alexandrians speak a language other than English at home,” said Debbie Hodnett, festival chair. “The city of Alexandria is proud to celebrate these diverse cultures by highlighting the variety of music, dance, crafts and cuisines that make Alexandria so vibrant.”

Amoy showcasing her beautiful jewelry
Amoy showcasing her beautiful jewelry

As the new Community Partnership Intern at EWI and it being my first event I was thrilled to be taking part in such a culturally diverse festival; however what is a cultural fest without the culturally diverse artists and entrepreneurs of EWI and their equally diverse artifacts? On this occasion we were fortunate to have four of our Alumni with us which included Charmelle Clark, Mariam Mohamed, Julie Hyo Park, and Amoy Stephen, as well as our wonderful volunteer Su Hlaing Win Nu, who helped me make this event possible. EWI was proud to be there to support our Alumni and I was equally excited to be able to promote more awareness in the community about EWI and its mission.

Mariam keeping busy

Mariam keeping busy

When I first got to the festival I was nervous about what the day ahead would bring. It being my first time at an event representing EWI there were times when I questioned if I had what it took to share with people what a great organization we truly are. But working alongside such wonderful women, hearing their stories, and seeing their passions, I immediately realized how far dreams can actually go when you have the right tools and the right people by your side. At that point I wanted to get up on stage and let the whole fest know about EWI, but I held back only because Melodica Oriental, the Salvadoran and Honduran band was playing such a catchy tune that many were dancing and giggling, and that only made me the more joyful to be there!

Peruvian drumming !

Peruvian drumming !

The day could not have been any better. I enjoyed sharing about EWI and I enjoyed going around Arlandria and posting flyers, dropping of postcards, and even using my bilingual skills to let many shop owners know about EWI. Many of these show owners were very interested in our organization and shared with me their own stories and struggles about starting their own businesses, many exclaimed how helpful and less stressful it would have been to have an organization like EWI by their side back then.I was happy the day ended on such a positive note and happy I was able to take part in such an event. After such a wonderful experience I felt only the more empowered to take on the next event and keep spreading the word in order to help more dreams and passions turn into realities.

Written by Tatiana Sandoval, Community Partnership Intern

Marga Fripp Among Those Honored at Walker’s Legacy

25 Sep

In the early 1900s, Madam C. J. Walker carved a path for both women and African Americans with her philanthropy and relentless ambition in her entrepreneurial ability, becoming the first female self-made millionaire in the United States.

A century later, on September 18th, Walker’s Legacy hosted the first Business & Civic Leadership Awards designed to honor and recognize outstanding professional women who have demonstrated achievement in business and civic engagement.

The honoree panel (from left to right): Tecoya Gordon, Marie Johns, A' Lelia Bundles, Natalie Maderia Cofield, Maria Cardona, Marga Fripp, Ricki Fairley.

The honoree panel (from left to right): Tecoya Gordon, Marie Johns, A’ Lelia Bundles, Natalie Maderia Cofield, Maria Cardona, Marga Fripp, Ricki Fairley.

EWI’s Founder & President, Marga Fripp was one of the chosen speakers and honorees for the event. She was featured on a panel where she shared ideas, provided advice to young entrepreneurs, and further connected and promoted women in business, along with other distinguished women for their business endeavors.

The Walker Legacy honoree panelists included moderator Shelia Stewart, an award-winning journalist and host on Radio One. Others were Marie Johns, president of L&L Consulting and Maria Cardona, political strategist, CNN Contributor, and Principal at the Dewey Square Group.

At one point, Stewart asked the panel how they maintained their balance as women in modern day business. “While juggling family, responsibilities, and growing an organization,” Fripp replied, “I believe that I am a global women, and because of that, I have a responsibility to be level headed and act as one. Finding your center—whether mental, body, spirit, or business center—in every single circumstance is extremely important.”

EWI Board Melissa Reitkopp and Dianne Lorenz, with Marga Fripp

EWI Board Member Melissa Reitkopp and Board Chair Dianne Lorenz, and Marga Fripp with Bruno Mazali of Zoe Ventures, LLC

EWI would like to thank Walker’s Legacy for organizing such a special event and honoring exemplary women. EWI hopes to continue the connections made and share the wisdom presented to better empower women around the world.

Written by Ciara Salg, Marketing & Communications Intern

Coach’s Corner: What Diana Nyad Shows Us All

23 Sep

After a break over our long, hot summer, it’s time to return to exchanging news and advice for our various entrepreneurial journeys.  This is a very exciting time for EWI, as we expand our horizons and programs.  So today, I am departing from my usual emphasis on specific do’s and don’ts to take a look at the big picture.

I’m sure that many of you were as taken as I was by Diana Nyad’s remarkable triumph earlier this month, when she completed her Cuba-to-Florida swim on her fifth attempt, at the tender age of 64.  Here is what she said upon reaching the shore:

Never, ever give up. You’re never too old to chase your dreams.  It looks like a solitary sport, but it’s really a team effort.”


Diana Nyad (photo credit: ABC News)

She wasn’t just exulting at her own success; she was deliberately telling all of us that our various challenges are within our power to overcome.  At EWI, that is precisely what we are about:  helping each other overcome doubts, naysayers, and obstacles to realize our dreams.  Our alumnae have traveled this road, and we are pledged to do whatever it takes to bring empowerment and business success to our new students as well.  Trust me:  everyone on our staff and board understands that we are not a business school, but rather a holistic community that deals with every aspect of our students’ lives, no matter how long that might take, until empowerment becomes a reality.

It has become a well-worn cliché that whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, but my experience at EWI has confirmed my belief that persistence in the face of adversity is the most important habit that our women can develop.  Take Diana Nyad herself:  her father died when she was an infant; she had to halt her swimming career at its peak, as a prospective Olympian, due to a severe heart ailment; she was expelled from college, eventually transferring and obtaining her degree; and she grew up at a time when opportunities for women were strictly limited, not to mention the legally unprotected status and overwhelming prejudice against gay individuals.

Examples abound, close to home.  Ask our executive director about her journey to America, and the daunting challenges she and her family faced.  Ask our board chair about her decision to start a business from scratch, and what she heard from doubters.  Ask the members of EWI’s new Writers Circle about the staggering personal travails they have surmounted, and how their persistence has been a key to their empowerment.  In the civil rights movement, we referred to this focus and determination against all odds as keeping our “Eyes on the Prize.”  (I could give you many personal examples, but you’ll have to wait for my upcoming memoir, a percentage of the royalties from which are pledged to EWI).

Finally, never forget that, as Diana Nyad noted, successful struggles are not solitary, but rather “team efforts.”  The EWI community — a lifelong sorority, growing with every new class — provides a ready-made team to help you every step of the way.  If one of us doesn’t have an answer to a specific problem, we will find someone who does.  We will handle all requests for assistance with confidentiality and discretion.  And it’s not a one-way street.  Some day, we will call on you to reach back and help your sister as well.

In the words of our founder, onward and upward.

By Howard Feinstein, EWI Board Member

A bi-weekly blog for the EWI community, passing along news, events, articles of interest, and tips on growing your business.  We are all on this journey together, and no one — certainly not yours truly — has all the answers.  Accordingly, I hope you will periodically contribute your ideas and news to this forum, c/o

LaNesha’s Summer With EWI

19 Sep

LaNesha Kearse had recently graduated before she joined Empowered Women International (EWI) as the Marketing and Communications Intern. Impelled by her passion for women’s advocacy, LaNesha saw EWI as an opportunity to network with phenomenal women, learn the skills necessary to start her own non-profit organization, and further explore a career in marketing. LaNesha has worked and volunteered for numerous women’s advocacy organizations, but was blown away by the overwhelmingly welcoming environment and the staff’s dedication to her personal and professional development.


LaNesha (right) at EWI’s summer picnic with colleagues Mona (left) and Mary (middle)

LaNesha was attracted to EWI upon learning that the organization emphasized giving interns meaningful work. She wanted a productive summer where she could see her work making a positive impact on the organization and those it served. She also wanted the opportunity to receive invaluable mentorship and guidance from like-minded women. Working alongside Mary Louise Marino and Alexia Muchisu Wendel, she was able to connect with experts in the marketing field, narrow her career goals, and exchange endearing personal stories along the way.

img_0008 2

LaNesha on assignment for her post on Sushmita Muzumdar’s Kiva Zip Loan through EWI.

When asked about her experience in EWI, LaNesha said “the women of EWI have shown me that with a little more self confidence and big dreams, I can achieve the unthinkable. And I know that no matter where life takes me, I can always count on the women of EWI for genuine and unrelenting support.”

LaNesha is appreciative of the opportunity to build lasting relationships with this group of phenomenal women and continues to dedicate her time to this organization as a writer. LaNesha watched how these women overcame self doubt and huge obstacles to fine tune their talents and actualize their goals, and has left EWI with that same ambition.

Thank you, LaNesha for your wonderful writing talents, ambition, and dedication to Empowered Women International!

Flowers of Clementine

17 Sep

Mother, grandmother, and 2012 Entrepreneur Training for Success (ETS) graduate Clementine Simmons spent numerous years dedicating her IT services to the federal government. During this time, she also began to dedicate some time in fashioning floral designs and realized she was astoundingly gifted in it!

She took her talents to market, selling her works at craft shows and churches and to private individuals. With her success, she enrolled in the ETS program where, with the help of mentors and staff, she steadily improved her business structure and focused on reconstructing her brand.


Clementine stands near floral arrangement

Through the recommendation of a close friend, Clementine sought out EWI for support and motivation. Clementine knew that this would be a great opportunity to become more business savvy and give her old business a fresh start, especially with a gang of EWI cheerleaders rooting for her every step of the way. She needed help developing a business plan and determining her target market, and EWI had the tools for her to do just that.

Clementine knows from experience that sometimes the most difficult aspect of building your own business is that inner voice of doubt. She stressed that regardless of any shortcomings or challenges faced during your journey, people in her shoes must not give up on themselves. She even stated that, “You should continue to press forward and improve on yourself as well as the product you are selling. Believe that as you press on and the right doors will open for you.”

Beautiful addition to the entryway!

Clementine delivers one her custom floral designs to Deborah Blank.

This epiphany is ultimately the reason she enrolled in the Grow My Business program. Clementine saw this course as another stepping-stone to success. In this program, she is placed in the position to challenge herself to expand her networks and forge partnerships with fellow business owners. She is also able to get advice and expertise from like-minded individuals.

Interested to find out how you can turn your talents into a business?

Applications for Fall 2013 ETS term are being accepted now! Classes are held in Alexandria, Virginia and Wheaton, Maryland starting October 21.  Openings still available for our Alexandria class. Scholarships are also available for qualified low-income applicants. For more information, click here to find out more and apply. You can also contact our office at 571-312-4781 and speak with Alexia Muchisu Wendel, Entrepreneurship Program Manager, or email her at

Written by LaNesha Kearse, Social Media Writer

Charlene’s Run to Empower Women!

6 Sep

Grab your signs and high spirits! On October 27, cheer on Entrepreneur Training for Success (ETS) mentor Charlene Gatewood as she goes the distance to support the professional and educational goals of women in the program. Driven to uplift the courage and aspirations of all women, Charlene will run at the Marine Corps Marathon while concurrently raising funds for Empowered Women International (EWI).

photo 3

Charlene is empowered to empower more women!

Sidetracked by injury, Charlene discovered a path beyond this barrier. Shortly after, Charlene would find herself inspired by and energizing the women who, like herself, have an appetite for success. Charlene personifies perseverance and ambition. For her, no obstacle is too frightening without an end goal nor is there failure in honest effort. “I am living proof that, if you set goals for yourself and you make an effort to move even one inch in that direction every day, you can achieve the impossible.”

Support Charlene as she runs for a cause “to empower and transform the lives and livelihoods of many immigrant and low-income women and their families.”

Click here for Charlene’s fundraising page and help her reach her goal of raising $4,000 before the marathon on October 27th!

Thank you Charlene for your ongoing support of EWI and the women in the program. Your dedication, passion and generosity is an inspiration to all of us, and we are honored you chose to join forces with EWI and empower more women.

Written by LaNesha Kearse, Marketing & Communications Intern