Women of Color in Business Panel series

Company: University of Hartford

Location: East Hartford

Describe your program

Quarterly series of virtual panel discussion events highlighting the stories, struggles and successes of women of color in entrepreneurial, business and leadership roles. The program kicked off in September and continued the practice of prior successful panel discussion events, strengthening the WBC’s commitment to equity and diversity in entrepreneurship. Program planning and execution was led by a small group of committed Center staff. Two successful events were held in Fall/Winter of 2020.

What are the coolest, most popular features of your program?

Two quarterly events were held - ‘Together we rise’ in September and ‘Black Women Entrepreneurs on Building Wealth’ in December, moderated by Center business advisor Elaine Thomas Williams. An impressive line-up of panelists, including past and current WBC partners and clients, discussed important issues like bias, discrimination and inequitable access to resources and capital. The events educated, connected and inspired with honest stories of persistence and resilience on the path to success.

What impact did your program make in 2020?

The programs had a multifaceted impact on panelists and attendees, as well as contributing to the larger equity and inclusion discussion. The panelists connected and shared their stories openly. The message was sobering, yet also positive and inspiring. Many attendees praised the event format and content, as well as the empowerment felt and the connections made. Over 220 registered and 105 attended, including women just starting their businesses and University of Hartford students and staff.

Nominator Justification

Event series was introduced in 2020 to strengthen WBC's mission to support and lift minority and women entrepreneurs. With the recent pandemic and racially charged events bringing to light long-standing systemic inequities and economic disparities for women- and minority-owned small businesses, WBC is committed more than ever to advocate for change and to amplify the voices of these business owners. Panel highlights stories and lessons from successful black women in business to inspire.

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