Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs Summit

Celebrating women entrepreneurs summit graphic

5th Annual Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs Summit

Coming November 19, 2020 


4th Annual Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs Summit - Fall 2019

Featuring: Melissa Barker, Founder of Women Entrepreneurs Inc. 

Sponsored by: Women Entrepreneurs of Charleston

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3rd Annual Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs Summit 

Hosted on November 12th, 2018 at the College of Charleston School of Business.

Featuring: Neely Powell, Founder & CEO of Charleston Shoe Company.

Sponsored by: The College of Charleston Center for Entrepreneurship, Coastal Wealth Management, and Women Entrepreneurs of Charleston



2nd Annual Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs Summit

Hosted on October 25, 2017 at the College of Charleston School of Business.

Sponsored by: The College of Charleston Center for Entrepreneurship, Coastal Wealth Management, and Women Entrepreneurs of Charleston

Student Pitch Contest: 4 College of Charleston students pitched innovative ideas for Sustainable Development Goal #5 to achieve gender equality and empowerment for an award of $1,000. The winners were Shefali Emmanuel and KimberMarie Faircloth with their new venture "Totem Blind Hire."

Woman Entrepreneur Panel: Moderated by Leslie Haywood, Founder of Charmed Life Products

  • Molly Fienning - Babiators
  • Jennifer Garr - Ogilvy & Mather
  • Rosemary O’Neill - Social Strata
  • Amy Salzhauer - Good Growth Capital 

Cocktail hour: featured local singer-songwriter Emily Curtis

WEBSITE: https://www.celebratingwomenentrepreneurs.com/ 

Inaugural Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs Summit: hosted on March 18, 2016 at the Sottile Theatre

The inaugural Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs Summit drew more than 475 College of Charleston students, faculty, staff and members of the business community filed into the Sottile Theatre on March 18, 2016. The event was organized in an effort to inspire entrepreneurs and raise awareness of the potential for innovation and economic expansion for women and by women. The Summit, presented by the School of Business’ Center for Entrepreneurship and the Office of Economic Development, featured a panel of female entrepreneurs who have secured funding, found mentors and cultivated the elements needed to launch and grow their businesses.

“I was thrilled to see the turnout at the Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs,” said Alan T. Shao, dean of the School of Business. “The event was a huge success, spotlighting an impressive lineup of accomplished and creative women entrepreneurs, while providing students with tremendous learning opportunities.”


Amy Love, director of the Office of Innovation at the S.C. Department of Commerce, served as master of ceremonies for the Summit, and Erin Andrew, director of the Office of Women’s Business Ownership at the U.S. Small Business Administration, presented a keynote speech on “Trending Now: Sparking New Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs.”

“Understand your power. Own your power. Use your power,” said Andrew in her keynote address. “Use the power you have as a woman business owner to help your community.”

A panel of female entrepreneurs spoke on creativity in business, including:

  • Jeni Britton Bauer, founder and CEO of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams,
  • Natalia Castillo, founder and CEO of Escapada Living,
  • Carolyn Hunter, president and owner of several South Carolina McDonald’s franchises,
  • Krissa Watry, co-founder and CEO of Dynepic, Inc.,
  • and Nina Sossamon-Pogue, vice president of media for Benefitfocus.

Anita Zucker, chairperson and CEO of The InterTech Group closed the summit with a keynote speech entitled “Love the Journey,” in which she offered the following advice: “Take a risk and network. Let your passions drive you.”

“It was exciting to hear accomplished entrepreneurs, especially women entrepreneurs, tell their stories and share ideas with others.  Their stories, advice, and insight will, no doubt, serve to inspire our students to follow their dreams,” said Bobby Marlowe, senior vice president for economic development at the College of Charleston. “The College of Charleston was honored to be the host of the inaugural Summit and will continue to support and enhance the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

In addition to the keynote and panel presentations, the Student Entrepreneur of the Year and winner of the Innovator Games were announced at the Summit, and the featured CofC Alumna Entrepreneur Spotlight also took the stage.

Carlie Christenson, sophomore, was honored as the Student Entrepreneur of the Year and awarded $1,000. Christenson is the founder of Boob-eez, an undergarment product that offers an invisible barrier between breasts and clothing.

Senior Grace Neil, computer information systems major, won the Innovator Games – a competition based event by Summit sponsor Think Ideally, intended to inspire and activate innovation for student and community entrepreneurs – and was also awarded $1,000. Neil is currently developing an app called “Hey W8R,” which serves as a tool to get your waiter’s attention when dining out.

Allison Gilmore ’81, co-founder of DuMore Improv, was featured as the CofC Alumna Entrepreneur Spotlight. Gilmore facilitated an improv session in which she advised using a “yes, and…” approach to professional challenges.

The Summit was sponsored by Think Ideally, an organization dedicated to solving problems, facilitating innovation, and cultivating entrepreneurial skills. Additional sponsors for the event included the S.C. Department of Commerce, The McNair Center for Entrepreneurship at Columbia College, Skirt magazine, and the Town of Mount Pleasant.

“There is something about a gathering of strong, spirited women that lights a fire under you, starts conversations and gets ideas flowing that wouldn’t otherwise happen,” said alumna Harriett Lee ’08, entrepreneur and owner of Whisper & Roar.

“The Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs Summit provided exactly this environment for organic networking to happen. I loved hearing all the fearless women sharing their entrepreneurship stories about owning your power, not being afraid to negotiate, and having the gumption to say ‘No, I think you can handle taking the notes’.”

See photos from the Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs Summit here.

*Editorial content Provided By Kate Caparisos




Presented by:

School of Business Logo                WM Center for Entrepreneurship

Summit Sponsored By:

Think Ideally Logo

Gold Sponsors:

Columbia College Logo Charleston Chamber Logo

Media Sponsors:

Skirt LogoLogo Town of Mt PleasantTown of Mt P Logo

ESPY Logo TLT Logo

Networking Lunch Sponsors:

Logo LaunchpadLogo Nexton


Anita Zucker HSErin AndrewAmy Love HSGlenn McConell HS

Nina S-P HSCara Florence HSAmy Bauer HSNatalia Castillo HS

Carolyn Hunter HSKrissa Watry

This program would not be possible without the support of the Charleston entrepreneur community and the Summit planning and advisory committees.

Planning Committee Members

Co-Chair Gibbon Miler ('10), College of Charleston Center for Economic Development
Co-Chair Debbie Mohr Geffken, Mohr Options, Founder
Laquita Blockson, Center for Women 
Denise Ciccarelli, College of Charleston 
Kendra Conway, College of Charleston 
Molly Crete, ('14), YEScarolina
Rosanna Doyle ('08), College of Charleston, '16 MBA Candidate
Cara Florence, Think Ideally, Co-Founder and Managing Partner
Kelly Fitzgerald Fowler, Moondog Animation Studio, Executive Synergizer
Rebecca Guthrie, Preclose, Co-Founder
Alice Hamilton, College of Charleston Center for Continuing and Professional Education
Christine La Cola, Columbia College McNair Center for Entrepreneurship
Gail Lansing, Stephen Eilliott and Company LLC, Partner/Owner
Harriett Lee, Whisper and Roar, Founder; Good Done Great
Amy Love, SC Department of Commerce Office of Innovation, Director
Shauna MacKenzie, Best Kept Self, Founder
Erin Markert, ('14), GWIG
Mary Marshall, STYLEDEL, Founder & CEO
Jackie McKelvey, ('14), The Harbor Entrepreneur Center
Alex Pappas, ('13), Mimi's Creative, Founder; College of Charleston School of Business
Elise Perrault, College of Charleston School of Business
Barbie Schreiner, College of Charleston; Ellevate
Dianne J. Shaver, M.A., Entrepreneur Mind World, Founder & CEO
Marilee Smith, College of Charleston Computer Science 
Allyson Sutton, HQ Raleigh
Kerranna Williamson, ('08), Vaga, Founder 
Elaine Worzala, College of Charleston School of Business
David Wyman, College of Charleston School of Business
Nicole Young, Think Ideally, Co-Founder and Managing Partner


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