Fortune chose ten emerging female entrepreneurs to join the annual Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit September 14-16, 2009. This new program targets entrepreneurial women who are game changers, ground-breakers and innovators in their fields.
1. Elizabeth Bennet, CEO and Co-Founder, Africa Direct, Inc.
2. Lauren Bush, CEO and Co-Founder, FEED Projects LLC
3. Billie Dragoo, President and CEO, RepuCare, Inc.
4. Lani Hay, President and CEO, Lanmark Technology, Inc.
5. Michelle Jones, President, Entech Northwest, Inc.
6. Lynn Jurich, President and Co-Founder, SunRun, Inc.
7. Lisa Loscalzo, President, The Little Clinic
8. Sheila Lirio Marcelo, Founder and CEO, Care.com
9. Susan Walvius, Co-Founder & Michelle Marciniak, Co-Founder and President, SHEEX, LLC
10. Susan Wilson, Founder and CEO, The Judgment
American Express OPEN is the Founding Partner of Fortune Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs 2009. Fortune and American Express OPEN honored the 10 winners at a special reception at the Summit.
1. Elizabeth Bennett, President, Africa Direct, Inc.
Elizabeth Bennett founded Africa Direct, the largest Internet seller of both African art and trade beads, and creator of museum exhibits and publisher of books on African art and beads. Ms. Bennett is a long-time eBay powerseller and a driving force behind eBay Giving Works, which uses her business to fight poverty. She has been an entrepreneur for most of her life. Her passions include the UN Millennium Development Goals, travel, opera, adoption, politics, and learning ways that “for profit” businesses can change the world. She and her wife, Sara, have a multiracial family with five children.
2. Lauren Bush, CEO, Creative Director, and Co-founder, FEED Projects LLC
Lauren Bush is the CEO, creative director, and co-founder of FEED Projects LLC. She also serves as the chairman of the FEED Foundation. In 2004, Ms. Bush became an honorary spokesperson for the UN World Food Program (WFP). In this role, she has traveled to eight countries worldwide visiting WFP operations, and helped start the Universities Fighting Hunger Campaign in the U.S. For many years, Ms. Bush was a fashion model who appeared on the cover of such publications as W, Australian Vogue, Glamour, Town and Country, and Tatler. Her involvement in the fashion industry led to her interest in photography and fashion design, which she studied at Parsons in New York City and Central Saint Martins College of Arts & Design in London. Ms. Bush graduated from Princeton University in 2006 with a BA degree in anthropology and a certificate in photography.
3. Billie K. Dragoo, President and CEO, RepuCare Inc./RepuStaff LLC
Billie Dragoo, an entrepreneurial executive with 23 years in the medical staffing industry, founded RepuCare in 1995 with the mission of providing allied health professionals to hospitals and clinics in central Indiana. Since that time, RepuCare’s business has expanded to include municipal and corporate clients such as the City of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Airport, WellPoint, ConAgra Foods, and Correctional Medical Services. An ardent advocate for women, Ms. Dragoo is a national board member of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), past president of the Indianapolis chapter of NAWBO, a board member of the Central Indiana Women’s Business Center, and chairman of the newly formed Indiana Women Business Owners PAC. She was nominated to the board of the Indianapolis Progress Committee by the city’s mayor. Active in the community, she supports the advancement of many philanthropic causes and serves on the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana board and the United Way of Central Indiana campaign cabinet.
4. Lani Hay, President and CEO, Lanmark Technology, Inc. (LMT)
Lani Hay is president and CEO of LMT, a SBA 8(a)-certified, woman-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned, small disadvantaged business providing solutions that strengthen the federal government. In six years, Ms. Hay has grown LMT from a one-woman consulting firm to a multimillion-dollar enterprise that was recently awarded a half-billion-dollar IDIQ contract with the Department of Defense. She has been recognized with several awards, including the Small Business Administration’s National Minority Small-Business Person of the Year and Office Depot’s Businesswoman of the Year. LMT was recognized with the Department of Defense Service-disabled Veteran-owned Small Business achievement award. Entrepreneur magazine ranked LMT as the seventh fastest-growing woman-owned firm in the U.S. Ms. Hay holds a BS degree in mathematics from the U.S. Naval Academy and an MBA from the College of William and Mary’s Mason School of Business.
5. Michelle Jones, CEO and President, Entech Northwest, Inc.
Michelle Jones founded Entech Consulting Group at age 23 as a sole proprietor providing air quality permit and compliance support to midsize manufacturing companies in Washington State. She has grown Entech to a multimillion dollar environmental and project construction management company, with offices in Washington and California, that provides environmental studies and construction management services to a number of major civil infrastructure programs across the western U.S. Her clients include Texaco, Washington Department of Transportation, CALTRANS, and the Port of Los Angeles, as well as top engineering firms. Ms. Jones has served on clean air advisory boards, held terms as an environmental commissioner, and participated on various small-business boards. Her most recent advocacy efforts included increasing small businesses’ participation in public contracting and, as a member of CALTRANS’ steering committee, developing a mentoring program that encourages larger transportation engineering and consulting firms (mentors) to pair with small businesses (protégées) for business growth.
6. Lynn Jurich, President and Co-founder, SunRun, Inc.
Lynn Jurich co-founded SunRun because she believes going green is the most important social objective and economic opportunity of the 21st century. Previously Ms. Jurich was a member of the investment team at Summit Partners, a venture capital and private equity firm, which has more than $9 billion under management. During her tenure at Summit Partners, Ms. Jurich completed investments with an aggregate market value of more than $900 million in the financial services and technology sectors. She holds a BS degree and an MBA from Stanford University.
7. Lisa Loscalzo, President, The Little Clinic
Lisa Loscalzo, who co-founded The Little Clinic in 2003, serves as president of the company. She has more than 20 years of experience in the health-care industry in both long-term and acute care practice management and ancillary services, and is an executive board member of the Convenient Care Association. A registered respiratory therapist, Ms. Loscalzo received her BS degree from the State University of New York, Stony Brook. She is married and has two young children.
8. Sheila Lirio Marcelo, Founder and CEO, Care.com
Sheila Marcelo is a seasoned entrepreneur whose passion for business and family led to the founding of Care.com in 2006. Under her guidance as founder and CEO, the site has become the largest and fastest-growing service helping families connect with local, qualified caregivers, making Care.com the premier solution for care on the web. Before founding Care.com, Ms. Marcelo served as an executive at several successful Internet companies, including Upromise, a site that helps families save for college; and TheLadders.com, an executive job search engine. She graduated magna cum laude from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in economics. She went on to earn both an MBA from Harvard Business School and a JD from Harvard Law School. She resides in the Boston, Mass., area with her husband and two sons.
9. Michelle Marciniak, Co-founder and President, SHEEX, LLC
Michelle Marciniak graduated from the University of Tennessee after being named Final Four MVP as a member of the Lady Vols’ 1996 National Championship team. She played in the WNBA for the Portland Fire and Seattle Storm, was an 11-year veteran of USA Basketball, and was an assistant coach for the USC women’s basketball team from 2003 to 2008.
10. Susan Walvius, Co-founder and CEO, SHEEX, LLC
Susan Walvius graduated from Virginia Tech in 1986 and went on to coach Division I women’s college basketball for 21 years. She was an assistant coach at Bradley University and the University of Rhode Island before being hired by the Virginia Commonwealth University as the nation’s youngest Division I head coach. Ms. Walvius was the head coach at West Virginia University before finishing her career at the University of South Carolina, where she was head coach from 1997 to 2008 and was the 2002 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year.
11. Susan Wilson, Founder and CEO, The Judgment Group
Susan Wilson, a successful serial entrepreneur, founded The Judgment Group in an attempt to right a wrong that is done when courts award money judgments, 80% of which are never paid. Supporting the system of civil justice, The Judgment Group’s proprietary system uses advances in information and technology to leverage the power of the legal to get judgments paid and justice served. Before founding The Judgment Group, Ms. Wilson most recently was a founding member and second-in-command of liveprint.com, a technology company started in 1998 that raised $10 million in venture capital, became kinkos.com, and was sold to the copy giant Kinko’s in 2000 for $100 million. A certified public accountant and Georgetown University graduate, Ms. Wilson is currently completing her second year of Harvard Business School’s three-year Executive OPM Program.