BUFFALO, N.Y. – Sherman Washington has been named
Protégé of the Year by the Allstate Minority and
Women Emerging Entrepreneurs (MWEE) program, a joint venture by the
University at Buffalo School of Management’s Center for
Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) and the UB Center for Urban
Washington accepted a $1,500 first-place prize for the honor. He
owns and operates 1 Accord Services Inc., a Buffalo-based,
certified commercial cleaning firm specializing in educational and
“The instructors helped my company make some key changes
and zero in on the market segment I was interested in,”
Washington says. “My sales increased, and I gained two
contracts that I can directly correlate to our sessions about
targeting a market.”
Christopher Wan, president of Dyno Group, was awarded second
place and a $1,000 prize. Gina Bonitatibus, owner and president of
InnerSpace Office Interiors, took third place and received a $500
The awards were presented at a graduation banquet for four CEL
programs on June 5 at UB’s Center for the Arts.
After entering as protégés last year, 29
participants completed the MWEE program, which is sponsored by The
In addition to the award winners, this year’s graduates
were: Marie Achkar, Leading Edge Performance, Williamsville; Annie
Adams, Second Chic, Buffalo; Lemuel Alfonso, AA Janitorial,
Cheektowaga; Melissa Campbell, Filigrees Gallery & Boutique,
Buffalo; Zandra Cunningham, Azariah’s Innocence, Buffalo;
Darold Fountain, Aurora Window Systems and Contracting, Buffalo;
Tosha Groves, ReBelle, Amherst; Mitch Ilunga, Maximum Performance
Sports Training, Cheektowaga.
Also, Tyra Johnson, Blue Sky Design Supply, Buffalo; Nicole
Jones, Artisan Journey LLC, Wheatfield; Alison Kurek, Focus on Art,
Kenmore; Anika Mann, Nice & Neat Cleaning Service, Buffalo;
Julie Mayer, Joe the Painter Inc., Orchard Park; Mari McNeil, Mari
McNeil, Tonawanda; Cortney Morrison-Taylor, Ró, Buffalo;
Christina O’Reilly, Paragon Elite, Buffalo; Michele Ogden,
GEMS, Buffalo; Oscar Pedroso, GradFly, Buffalo.
Also, Lela Pitts, A Kiss By Nature, Buffalo; Priscilla Porter,
Priscilla’s Bookkeeping, Buffalo; Ella Quinn, Building Great
Blocks, Amherst; Louise Sano, Global Villages, Buffalo;
Marke’ Shelton, Xclusive Tax Services, Rochester; Shaun
Silverwood, road kiln, Getzville; Stephanie Valentine, Candy Coated
Bags, Buffalo; and Karyn Ventrilla, KV Grants Consulting,
Each participant was assigned a mentor from the local business
community to help devise realistic business goals and develop
timetables and strategies for achieving them. Mentors met regularly
with participants, providing advice in strategic and tactical
thinking, marketing, long-range financial planning and more.
Washington’s mentor, Lori E. Miller, president of
Developing Professionals, was named Mentor of the Year at the
Protégés also attended business development
seminars twice a month and additional networking events. For their
capstone project, participants completed and presented a revised or
newly developed business plan.
“The program expanded my thinking and my goals for the
company,” says Washington. “My mentor really helped me
develop creative ideas for building a brand and presenting my
company to potential customers. And the networking portion was
great because you get to rub shoulders with entrepreneurs like
yourself and those at another level.”
Including this year’s class, 180 local entrepreneurs have
completed the MWEE program since it launched in 2004.
The CEL is now accepting applications for the 2015 MWEE program.
To be eligible, an entrepreneur must be a woman or a member of a
recognized minority group and own a business in the Buffalo Niagara
region. For more information, contact the CEL at 716-885-5715 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Allstate Foundation, established in 1952, is an independent,
charitable organization made possible by subsidiaries of The
Allstate Corp. Through partnerships with nonprofit organizations
across the country, The Allstate Foundation brings the
relationships, reputation and resources of Allstate to support
innovative and lasting solutions that enhance people’s
well-being and prosperity. For more information, visit allstatefoundation.org.
Established in 1987, the CEL provides participants with
individualized and interactive education in entrepreneurship. More
than 1,200 CEL alumni employ more than 22,000 Western New Yorkers,
and their businesses are worth more than $2 billion to the local
economy. For more information, visit mgt.buffalo.edu/cel.
The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on
real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global
perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The school also
has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, the Financial Times,
Forbes and U.S. News & World Report for the quality of its
programs and the return on investment it provides its graduates.
For more information about the UB School of Management, visit mgt.buffalo.edu.