CEL graduates 16 emerging minority and women entrepreneurs

The CEL MWEE Class of 2021 (left to right): Front row: Shareefa M. Albanna, MarQes Diallo, Cassie Conroy, Vanessa Miller. Middle row: Brittani McKay, Jill Mitchell-Jones, Amanda Bruckman, Candida Davis, Alma O’Connell-Brown. Back Row: Lekya Slaughter, Shanice Giglio, Dalia Antonio Caraballo Muller. Photo: Heather Bellini

Release Date: June 14, 2021


BUFFALO, N.Y. — After entering as protégés last year, 16 entrepreneurs are now prepared to take their businesses to the next level after completing the intense nine-month Allstate Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs (MWEE) program, a joint venture by the University at Buffalo School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) and the UB Center for Urban Studies. 

The awards were handed out at a graduation ceremony for two CEL programs on June 1 at Statler City.

Sponsored by The Allstate Foundation, the MWEE program helps minority and women entrepreneurs take their companies to the next stage of development with business development seminars twice a month, networking events and one-on-one mentoring.

With this year’s class, a total of 364 local entrepreneurs have completed the MWEE program since it launched in 2004. 

The graduates and their companies are:

  • Sara Abend-Fritz, Mirabalm
  • Shareefa M. Albanna, Arabica Enterprises LLC
  • Alma O’Connell-Brown, Heritage Resources LLC
  • Amanda Bruckman, Bruckman Media
  • Jessica Cassick, ImagineWe LLC
  • Cassie Conroy, RowleyGrace Content Marketing
  • Candida Davis, Golden Girls Productions
  • MarQes Diallo, The MarQes Enterprises
  • Laura Faye, Mast Studio
  • Shanice Giglio, Details by Shanice Giglio
  • Falonia LaMar, Bridging Recovery Solutions 
  • Brittani McKay, Just B McKay Photography
  • Vanessa Miller, Forty Two Seventy Eight
  • Jill Mitchel-Jones, Plum Impressions LLC
  • Dalia Antonia Caraballo Muller, Impossible Project
  • Lekya Slaughter, Speaking to the Heart of the Hurting

Each participant was assigned a mentor from the local business community to help devise realistic business goals and develop timetables and strategies for achieving them. Mentors met regularly with participants, providing advice in strategic and tactical thinking, marketing, long-range financial planning and more.

The CEL is accepting applications for the 2021 MWEE program. To be eligible, an entrepreneur must be a woman or member of a recognized minority group and own a business in the Buffalo Niagara region. To learn more about the curriculum or apply, contact the CEL office at 716-885-5715 or mgt-cel@buffalo.edu

The Allstate Foundation, a charitable organization funded by subsidiaries of Allstate Insurance Corp., provides philanthropic grants to nonprofit organizations. With a focus on teen safe driving and building financial independence for domestic violence survivors, The Allstate Foundation also promotes safe and vital communities; tolerance, inclusion and diversity; and economic empowerment. For more information, visit allstatefoundation.org

Established in 1987, the CEL provides participants with individualized and interactive education in entrepreneurship. More than 1,400 CEL alumni employ more than 23,000 Western New Yorkers, and their businesses are worth more than $2.3 billion to the local economy. For more information, visit mgt.buffalo.edu/cel.

The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The school also has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, the Financial Times, Forbes and U.S. News & World Report for the quality of its programs and the return on investment it provides its graduates. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit mgt.buffalo.edu.

Media Contact Information

Kevin Manne
Associate Director of Communications
School of Management