Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs Honored

By Jacqueline Ghosen

Release Date: December 6, 2007 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y.-- Orchard Park resident Susanne Kelley, has been named "Protégé of the Year" by the Allstate Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs 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.

Kelley, owner of Sienna Environmental Technologies, received a $1,500 prize for the honor. Clarence resident Sandra Coon, owner of Peerless Air Conditioning and Heating Co. Inc. was awarded the second-place prize of $1,000. Additionally, Buffalo resident Michelle Dabney, owner of Chelle's Hair Performances was awarded the third-place prize, receiving $500.

Program sponsor The Allstate Foundation, a charitable organization funded by subsidiaries of Allstate Insurance Corporation, presented the awards at a banquet held on Dec. 5 in the Jacobs Executive Development Center, 672 Delaware Ave.

Nineteen participants completed the program after entering as protégés last January. In addition to the award winners, the participants were:

Amherst residents Donald Dabney, Dabney Security/Janitorial Services; Sunita Rajput, S.M. Rajput, DO, PC; Maria Tarnev-Wydro, Essona Organics Inc.

Buffalo residents Cindy Bickelmann, Apex Enterprises LLC; Maria Kahn, Tastings; Tamara Lewis, The Zandra Grande; Zandra Lewis, Azariah's; Dasie Lockett-Todd, Miss Dasie's Pride Daycare; Jane Siebert, Roche & Company LTD; Nicole Stewart, Cygnet Educational Services LLC.

Cheektowaga resident Judith Fisher, Judy's Signs.

Eden resident Shawna Dosser, BWI Promotions.

Hamburg resident Eve Santa, Custom Haircuts.

Williamsville residents Jennifer Chiavetta-Grisanti, Grisanti Chiropractic; Rita Finley, Critical Concepts Inc.; Joan Kirchofer, Critical Concepts Inc.

"As a result of this program, these 19 graduates have sought to foster their economic independence, advance their families' future and strengthen the economic health of their community," said Allstate Foundation chairperson Inez Birbiglia.

"Knowing that these strong, intelligent men and women have enhanced their development by acquiring tactical business skills demonstrates the continued success of the UB/Allstate Foundation partnership," she added. "We congratulate these talented individuals and the University at Buffalo for their vision, commitment and the impact they have made to the world around them."

Each participant was assigned two mentors who are successful entrepreneurs from the local business community and who met regularly with their protégés to help them evaluate and improve their business plans.

Mentors provided protégés with technical advice on varied aspects of running a small business. This includes strategic and tactical thinking, marketing, merchandising, pricing, inventory control, accounting, long-range financial planning and basic legal advice to help protégés formulate realistic business goals and to develop timetables and strategies for achieving them.

"Mentor of the Year" awards were given to Kelley's mentors, Lawrence Mietus of Murak & Associates and David Reichard of Gas Technology Energy Concepts LLC.

The culminating activity in the program was creation of a new or revised business plan. One year after completing the program, protégés will be invited back to assess the program's impact on the development of their businesses.

"Our mission is to create a pathway that enables minority and women emerging entrepreneurs to move their companies to the next stage of development," said Althea Luehrsen, Executive Director of CEL. "The program has again exceeded our expectations, significantly increasing the number of graduates from last year, and we look forward to launching our fifth year in 2008," Luehrsen added.

Applications for the 2008 program are due by Jan. 12. To be eligible to apply, an entrepreneur must be a woman or a member of a recognized minority group (African American, Latino, Native American or Asian) and must own a business in the Buffalo-Niagara region. For more information on the Allstate Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs Program, call CEL at 716-885-5715 or visit http://mgt.buffalo.edu/ced/cel.

The Wall Street Journal ranks the UB School of Management No. 9 in the nation among schools with strong regional recruiting bases. In addition, BusinessWeek ranks the school as one of the country's top 5 business schools for the fastest return on MBA investment, and Forbes cites it as one of the best business schools in the U.S. for the return on investment it provides MBA graduates. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit http://mgt.buffalo.edu.