Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs Honored

Release Date: December 8, 2009 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Marie Battaglia has been named “Protégé of the Year” by the Allstate Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs 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.

Battaglia, president of Battaglia & Associates, Amherst, received a $1,500 prize for the honor. Battaglia’s firm prepares grants for government agencies, foundation and corporations.

Jane Baker, owner of Baker’s Polish Pottery at the Blacksmith Shop, Collins Center, was awarded the second-place prize of $1,000. Additionally, Corrin Matthews, owner of WNY Hypnosis, Buffalo, was awarded the third-place prize, receiving $500.

The Allstate Foundation, a charitable organization funded by subsidiaries of Allstate Insurance Corporation, sponsored the program and presented the awards at a banquet held on Dec. 7 in the UB Center for Tomorrow on UB’s North (Amherst) Campus.

Twenty participants completed the program after entering as protégés last January. In addition to the award winners, the participants were:

Michelle Bennett Stieglitz, Urban Community Health Organization, Buffalo; Eva-Marie Edukonis, Blue Eye Creative, Buffalo; Christine Elliott, Christine’s Educational Development Child Care, Buffalo; Sara Emhof, Indaba Leaders, Buffalo; Kathleen Flynn, Grateful Aspirations, Lockport; Marti Gorman, Buffalo Heritage Unlimited, Buffalo; Kenyana Hollis, HollisCo. Group, Cheektowaga; Penelope Lanich, Pawprints by Penny, Buffalo; and Dewitt Lee III, Submission Concepts, Buffalo.

Also, Benay Legree-Robinson, Adrienne’s Ultimate Catering Company, Buffalo; Christine Nowak-Wittmann, Inspired Design Fine Jewelry, Grand Island; Mary Rapp, Ad Stuff Promotional Products, Amherst; Raymon Reed, Walking on Water Ministries, Farmersville Station; Kim Sauer, Sit ‘n’ Stay Pet Services Hamburg; Diane Serra, Caramici’s, Buffalo; Laythanette Shine, Sunshine Solutions DTS, Getzville; and Mary Thomas-Scott, M. Thomas Scott & Associates, Grand Island.

“As a result of this program, these 20 graduates have sought to foster their economic independence, advance their families’ future and strengthen the economic health of their community,” said Allstate Foundation representative Kelly Costanza.

“Knowing that these strong, intelligent men and women have enhanced their development by acquiring tactical business skills demonstrates the continued success of the UB/Allstate Foundation partnership,” she added. “We congratulate these talented individuals and the University at Buffalo for their vision, commitment and the impact they have made to the world around them.”

Each participant was assigned two mentors who are successful entrepreneurs from the local business community and who met regularly with their protégés to help them evaluate and improve their business plans.

Mentors provided protégés with technical advice on varied aspects of running a small business. This includes strategic and tactical thinking, marketing, long-range financial planning and basic legal advice to help protégés formulate realistic business goals and to develop timetables and strategies for achieving them.

“Mentor of the Year” awards were given to Battaglia’s mentors, David Berghash of Shield Mfg. and Madonna Spitler of CELOX Blood Clotting Products Corporation.

The culminating activity in the program was creation of a new or revised business plan. One year after completing the program, protégés will be invited back to assess the program’s impact on the development of their businesses.

The Allstate Foundation also presented a special plaque to Lenny Johnson, a 2008 graduate of the program and owner of L&D Plumbing, in recognition of Johnson being named Region II Minority Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Johnson received this honor at a White House reception in August.

“Our mission is to create a pathway that enables minority and women emerging entrepreneurs to move their companies to the next stage of development,” said Thomas Ulbrich, executive director of the CEL. “The program has again exceeded our expectations, and we look forward to launching our seventh year in 2010.” 

This year’s class brings the total number of Allstate Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs Program graduates to more than 100.

Applications for the 2010 program are due by Jan. 13. To be eligible, an entrepreneur must be a woman or a member of a recognized minority group (African American, Latino, Native American or Asian) and must own a business in the Buffalo-Niagara region. For more information on the Allstate Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs Program, call the CEL at 716-885-5715 or visit mgt.buffalo.edu/ced/cel.

The Wall Street Journal has ranked the UB School of Management No. 9 in the nation among schools with strong regional recruiting bases. In addition, BusinessWeek has ranked the school as one of the country’s top 5 business schools for the fastest return on MBA investment, and Forbes has cited it as one of the best business schools in the U.S. for the return on investment it provides MBA graduates. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit mgt.buffalo.edu.

Media Contact Information

Jacqueline Molik Ghosen
Assistant Dean and Director of Communications
School of Management