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Nominations open for UNG Woman Entrepreneur of the Year

Anna Meriwether, a senior from Cumming, Georgia, pursuing a degree in studio art, was the lone woman among the 12 competitors on six teams in the inaugural innovateUNG Pitch Challenge in February. Women Entrepreneurship Week at UNG seeks to show more women that entrepreneurship courses are an option for them.

The University of North Georgia (UNG) wants your help to honor the UNG Woman Entrepreneur of the Year. UNG's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is seeking nominations of students and alumnae for the award.

Nominees should have started a profit or nonprofit business of various size, purpose or industry. To nominate an entrepreneur, email a brief one-page nomination letter to the center at by Oct. 16.

The winner will be announced at the 11:30 a.m. Oct. 22 women entrepreneurship panel in the Dining Hall Banquet Room on UNG's Dahlonega Campus. Registration is required for the free panel event.

The panel and award mark UNG's celebration of Women Entrepreneurship Week 2019 from Oct. 21-25.

Panel speakers are:

  • Laine Hoke: A UNG alumna, she started her own marketing agency in 2017. Hoke is the director of marketing for a transportation startup and continues to work with clients and runs several national campaigns.
  • Jessyca Holland: She is the co-founder and executive director of C4 Atlanta, a nonprofit arts service organization whose mission is to connect arts entrepreneurs to the people, skills and tools they need to build a successful artistic career in metro Atlanta.
  • Jan Rooney: She is the founder of a State Farm Agency that serves the Cumming and Forsyth County areas specializing in small business. She has built her career on developing others so they can achieve their personal goals.
  • Viviane Souza: She is co-founder of Found Professionals, which focuses on matching companies with professionals who share their purpose and values in addition to fulfilling job skills.
  • Pauli Wade: She created Wade Works Creative, a boutique architecture, design and real estate firm, along with her husband Chip Wade.

"We're celebrating the success of the female entrepreneurs at UNG so our female students can see what can happen if they get involved in entrepreneurship at the university," said Dr. Ruben Boling, director of UNG's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Dr. Mariangela Vecchiarini-Piazza, assistant professor of management and marketing in UNG's Mike Cottrell College of Business, said events like the panel are crucial in attracting more women into entrepreneurship classes. UNG has a minor in entrepreneurship and a concentration in entrepreneurship within the management bachelor's degree, as well as a graduate certificate in entrepreneurship and innovation.

"We really need to show our female students that entrepreneurship is an option for them," she said. "Bringing in successful female entrepreneurs is the best way to do that."

The UNG Enactus team will host a Women Entrepreneur Panel from noon to 1 p.m. Oct. 21 in Nesbitt Room 5171 on the Gainesville Campus. The panelists will share their stories of how they decided to become entrepreneurs, their pathway to success and the challenges they faced.  All students, faculty and staff are welcome. 

Enactus is "a community of student, academic and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better, more sustainable world," according to the organization's website.

Anna Meriwether, a senior from Cumming, Georgia, pursuing a degree in studio art, was the lone woman among the 12 competitors on six teams in the inaugural innovateUNG Pitch Challenge in February. She is grateful for UNG's Women Entrepreneurship Week and its purpose.

"In the past, entrepreneurship has predominantly been considered a vocation containing an overwhelmingly male demographic. However, necessary change is occurring as we see growing numbers of women successfully founding and maintaining personal businesses," Meriwether said. "The Women Entrepreneurship Week at UNG is a dedication to furthering this change and presents an incredible opportunity for female students to hear and learn from the journeys and successes of female entrepreneurs." 

Vecchiarini-Piazza hopes Women Entrepreneurship Week will help female students realize the resources available to them in the Entrepreneurship Lab (eLab). This entrepreneurship and innovation lab allows students from any academic discipline at UNG to participate in integrated training programs, share common workspaces, gain access to mentors and funding sources, and collaborate with other students and faculty to create and grow their own startups. 

"The center is a support system for UNG students interested in entrepreneurship," Vecchiarini-Piazza said.

Nominations for UNG Woman Entrepreneur of the Year are open to students and alumnae of all campuses and all years as well as former institutions of North Georgia College and State University and Gainesville State College.

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