CEL graduates 31 emerging minority and women entrepreneurs

Release Date: June 19, 2019


BUFFALO, N.Y.—Mary Grabenstatter, owner of Needle Sharp, 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 Studies.

Grabenstatter earned a $1,500 prize for the honor. Phylicia Dove, owner of Black Monarchy, was awarded second place and a $1,000 prize. Toni Haugen, owner of Queen City Health and Wellness, took third place and a $500 prize. Grabenstatter’s mentor, Peter Bonsey, was honored as Mentor of the Year.

The awards were handed out at a graduation ceremony for two CEL programs on June 6 at UB’s Center for the Arts.

Sponsored by The Allstate Foundation, the MWEE program helps minority and women entrepreneurs take their companies to the next stage of development with business development seminars twice a month, networking events and one-on-one mentoring.

After entering as protégés last year, 31 participants graduated, bringing the total number of local entrepreneurs who have completed the MWEE program to 324 since it launched in 2004.

The graduates were:

  • Ashawnta Adams, Tasteful Occasions
  • Dominique Barker, Dominique D. Barker
  • Debra Battistella, Creative Concepts in Occupational Therapy PLLC
  • Gwendolyn Bork, Queen City Collaborative
  • Kimberley Cich, Pin Ups for a Cause
  • Kasia Cummings, Buffalo Gal Organics
  • Cassy Dauphin, Emerging Property Solutions LLC
  • Kenyana David, 81Eighteen
  • Phylicia Dove, Black Monarchy
  • Christina Foster, Bandage Control
  • Brittany Fruchtel, B Well Massage and Esthetics
  • Mary Grabenstatter, Needle Sharp
  • Jessica Hanitz, Whiplash
  • Toni Haugen, Queen City Health and Wellness
  • Ingrid Kanics, Kanics Inclusive Design Services
  • Kristine Koch, Nickel City Skin Care and Waxing
  • Lisa Krug, Snowmobaby
  • Jillian Lucas, JML Career Coaching
  • Aly Luccari, Bright Organizing Solutions
  • Tangie Luchey, Runway to Better Health LLC
  • Cindy Menard, Uppercut Fitness
  • Christie Nelson, New Dominion Enterprises LLC
  • Jodie Ricks, Intuitive Cleaning Solutions Inc.
  • Barbara Sam, Barbara Grace LLC
  • Claire Schneider, C.S.1 Curatorial Projects
  • Alexandra Sperrazza, Amble Design
  • Shawnell Tillery, Afrochick Yoga
  • Samaria Turner, SunniBlu Health and Wellness
  • Christine Uwimbabazi, Prime Care Transportation Inc.
  • Katie Weibel, Turning Tides Financial LLC
  • Lancia Woods, La’Movement Fitness LLC

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.

The CEL is accepting applications for the 2020 MWEE program. To be eligible, an entrepreneur must be a woman or member of a recognized minority group and own a business in the Buffalo Niagara region. To learn more about the curriculum or apply, contact the CEL office at 716-885-5715 or mgt-cel@buffalo.edu.

The Allstate Foundation, a charitable organization funded by subsidiaries of Allstate Insurance Corp., provides philanthropic grants to nonprofit organizations. With a focus on teen safe driving and building financial independence for domestic violence survivors, The Allstate Foundation also promotes safe and vital communities; tolerance, inclusion and diversity; and economic empowerment. For more information, visit allstatefoundation.org.

Established in 1987, the CEL provides participants with individualized and interactive education in entrepreneurship. More than 1,400 CEL alumni employ more than 23,000 Western New Yorkers, and their businesses are worth more than $2.3 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, 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.

Media Contact Information

Kevin Manne
Associate Director of Communications
School of Management