WALLINGFORD — For its 23rd year, the Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce hosted its Annual Women’s Achievement Awards on Wednesday at The Farms Country Club highlighting six women in New Haven County who have shown “exceptional leadership skills” and “are active participants in business and/or community organizations.”
“This is just such an incredible turnout to have for this event, to honor these incredibly successful women in business and they’re not only the best among the women, but they are our best business leaders across our entire business community,” said Garrett Sheehan, president and chief executive officer of the Quinnipiac & Greater New Haven Chambers of Commerce.
Members of the chamber’s awards committee helped with the selection process.
“It was tough to just choose six of the recipients of the nominations we received and from your input and our committee and staff to make these choices,” said Ray Andrewsen, executive director of the Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce.
Before the six awards were presented, Zoe Hunter, managing director of the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale University, was the event’s keynote speaker and talked about how hardships can contribute to success by sharing stories from her favorite memoirs.
“The resilience and strength, the perseverance and fortitude, the will and hope, the healing, these are all developed through the process that is our journey,” Hunter said. “... The beauty you’ll find in these stories and others like it is that the success of each of these women was made possible by their ability to learn through the journey.”
Mayor William Dickinson Jr. of Wallingford and First Selectman of North Haven Michael Freda also spoke before the presentation of the awards began.
“I appreciate your leadership, your commitment to your companies and organizations and your institutions and I want you to know that you always have a resource in me,” Freda said.Awards
Kelly Fitzgerald, senior director of financial stability for the United Way of Greater New Haven, won the community impact award, presented by Lorrie Kiley, senior human resources manager for Ulbrich Stainless Steels and Special Metals, Inc.
“In her role as senior director, Kelly brings together key stakeholders to maximize regional resources and efforts to ensure all families have the opportunity to thrive,” Kiley said.
Accepting the award, Fitzgerald emphasized the values of the United Way of Greater New Haven.
“Our values are about making sure that people have the basic needs, that they have a place to put their head at night, have food on the table, but then beyond that, we help families thrive and that’s what we’re lucky enough to be able to do everyday,” Fitzgerald said.
Lila Carney, director of career development at Quinnipiac University, presented the next award — excellence in advocacy — to Dawn Leaks, executive director of Collab, “a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs build good businesses, create economic power and generate community wealth in Greater New Haven.”
“Since joining Collab in January of 2022, Dawn has implemented the Collab Women’s Initiative and the Collab Intensive programs designed to provide additional support to women entrepreneurs and to ensure Collab entrepreneurs are prepared to access investment funding,” Carney said.
Leaks, when accepting the award, shared more about Collab and how the majority of the entrepreneurs that the non-profit serves are women and people of color.
“We have been providing world-class business education, access to resources, access to networks, access to finances and helping underserved entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life,” Leaks said. “... Those businesses collectively generated over five million dollars in revenue and created over 197 jobs in Greater New Haven in the past five years.”
Andrea Kovacs, vice president for enrollment management and marketing at Albertus Magnus College, was the recipient of the excellence in business award, which was presented by Carl Bonamico, vice president of Liberty Bank.
“The best opportunities always come disguised as hard work and the luckiest people are the ones who do the hard work and so to all of you in this room, congratulations for doing the hard work,” Kovacs said. “It shows.”
The winner of the emerging leader award is Vannesa Moreno, owner of YOUR CBD STORE on Washington Avenue in North Haven. Tara Knapp, vice president of external affairs for Gaylord Specialty Healthcare, presented Moreno as the winner.
Moreno, who is from Bogota, Colombia, founded her business in November 2019.
“As an emerging leader and businesswoman, she never shies away from hard work or opportunities to serve the local community,” Knapp said.
Moreno shared the ways she has connected with her community.
“Keep connecting with the community and make a difference with the Greater New Haven area as I truly enjoy helping others,” Moreno said.
Wallingford business owner, Linda Craig, won excellence in healthcare for her business, Always Best Care Senior Services. Vice President of Strategy and Business Development of Masonicare Ann Collette presented Craig’s award.
Craig’s business “provides senior home care services to the communities of the greater New Haven area,” Collette said.
“Every year 10,000 seniors turn 65 in the U.S., just think of that number,” Craig said. “That is huge and what it represents is the fastest growing population that we have in the U.S. today … What that really shows us is that there is such an incredible opportunity and need in order to take care of our seniors as they age in the U.S. today. I feel honored to be able to help them.”
Lastly, Lindsey Allard, managing director of Beirne Wealth Consulting Services was named Woman of the Year, which was presented by Liz White Notarangelo, publisher and executive vice president of RJ Media Group.
“As the firm’s managing director, Lindsey proactively delivers BWC’s client service model as well as provides oversight of the operations and client servicing teams to ensure fluid daily workflow while developing and attaining long-term company objectives,” White Notarangelo said.
Allard thanked her family and coworkers for their support. While in her role, Allard helped create a platform called Women on Wealth with a mission to serve as an infrastructure for women to excel both financially and personally.
“Currently we are experiencing a global economic shift,” Allard said. “The number of women-owned businesses is growing. Women control more wealth than ever before … This is the reason Women on Wealth exists. To nurture and grow the wealth women have worked so hard to build.”