CEL graduates 20th class of M&T Bank Emerging Entrepreneurs Program

2024 class is the largest cohort in program history

Release Date: June 27, 2024

“The 20th anniversary milestone of our Emerging Entrepreneurs program reflects our unwavering commitment to fostering entrepreneurial growth and supporting business owners in our community.”
Susan Steffan, Executive Director
Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Sixty-five entrepreneurs are now equipped to elevate their businesses after completing the M&T Bank Emerging Entrepreneurs program, presented by the University at Buffalo School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL). 

The certificates of completion were presented at a graduation ceremony for two CEL programs on June 13 at the UB Center for the Arts on the university’s North Campus.

This year, the CEL hosted participants in its UB Downtown Gateway offices and at The Exchange at Beverly Gray, which significantly increased the number of businesses impacted by this long-standing program.

“The 20th anniversary milestone of our Emerging Entrepreneurs program reflects our unwavering commitment to fostering entrepreneurial growth and supporting business owners in our community,” says Susan Steffan, CEL executive director. “Our graduates have demonstrated incredible dedication and resilience, and we look forward to seeing their continued success.”

Sponsored by M&T Bank, the Emerging Entrepreneurs program helps historically underrepresented 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 the generous sponsorship of Open4, this year’s class benefitted from additional resources such as leadership coaching; private consultations with industry experts; and panel discussions on marketing, strategic planning and business development resources.

“Witnessing the growth and determination of this cohort has been incredibly inspiring,” says Celine Krzan, program director and facilitator. “I am certain they will make a profound and lasting impact on our community.”

The graduates completed a peer-based, mentor-driven program to help grow, refocus or better manage their businesses. During the intense, 10-month course, the entrepreneurs performed an in-depth analysis of their businesses, while developing expertise in such key areas as strategic planning, financial management, employee relations and marketing. 

The 2024 graduates and their companies are:

  • Phylicia Adams, Phylicia’s House of Beauty 
  • Symphonie Allen, Her Sacred Way 
  • Alia Allen, The Sacred Cleanse 
  • Shai Arnold, Nurah & Associates 
  • Tereka Baltimore, Lending Hands Realty LLC 
  • Sonia Banks, Sonia’s Expressions of Love LLC 
  • Amina Boyd, Arthaus Buffalo 
  • Corey Byrd, Integrated Fitness Systems 
  • Raquel Calhoun, Calhouncustomcreations LLC 
  • Alicia Chandler, The Blood 
  • Yelenna Cichocki, Nacan Life & Wellness LLC 
  • Anna Cooke-Smith, Black Mind Meditation & Coaching LLC 
  • Taurean Davis, Buffalo Real Estate Investment Trust 
  • Dacia Dunnigan, Me, Myself and Nails 
  • Jill Ector, Agape Hope & Healing; Family Nurse Practitioner 
  • Sarah Edmonds, Faith of a Mustard Seed Counseling PLLC, SE 
  • Danielle Esposito, Owl Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry PLLC 
  • Kelly Ess, Skinovation Esthetics 
  • Jaton Felder, Sweet Dreams Daycare Inc. 
  • Cynetra Ferguson, CT Consulting 
  • Nancy Fernandez, Apostrophe Solution LLC 
  • Beeta Fernando, Fuel Nutrition Consulting PLLC 
  • A.J. Franklin, AJIF Media 
  • Sandra Fuentes, Beauty Blends Tattoo and Spa 
  • Kamil Gerald, Signing as Art 
  • Jennifer Getty, Zinnia TC LLC 
  • Jamila Gittens, Mila’s Sweet Treats 
  • Latrice Gray, LTMS Communications Inc. 
  • Tasha Green (Shanklin), Topsy Turvy Tipsy Swervy Mobile Bartending Services 
  • Claudia Guilmain, ClaudiaRoise.com 
  • Crystal Harden, T&C Catering Company 
  • Krista Harter, Ordinary Jayne Massage and Wellness 
  • Heidy Galen-Honrado, ViveWELL Health Group
  • Shannon Howard, Heartfelt Construction 
  • Denine Jackson, Denine Jackson Interiors 
  • Heather Jason, Virtual Assistant Buffalo 
  • Kimberly Johnson, Shugga Baby Doula Services 
  • Michelle Jones, Tier 30 Consulting LLC 
  • Gregory Jones Jr, 716 Detailz LLC 
  • Jessica Kent, Clark 
  • Shante Long, KDC Party Rentals & More 
  • Renee-Ann Martin, Let’s Get Candied 
  • Sinclair McGuffin, Vivere Studios 
  • Ashley Middleton, Radi8 Coaching & Development 
  • Isaiah Milne, Simple Stock 
  • Purnima Mohan, Wholistic Wellness LLC
  • Ashley Moore Jones, Operation I Am Inc. 
  • Angelique Musafiri, Deuxanges Center Inc. 
  • Shantelle Patton, That Brown Bag Minority Business Directory 
  • Tasha Pratcher-Brown, Power Shift Consulting 
  • Tamara Quarles, Just the Right Touches LLC 
  • Amun Ra, AHR Development Inc. 
  • Lisa Ralston, ME LIFE LOVE 
  • Cecilia Rapp, STEAM Central LLC 
  • Jennifer Robertson, JNR Salon and Day Spa LLC 
  • AnneMarie Spragins, Do it Right Sport and Fitness Solutions 
  • Tayrin Tapia, Latinas Evolving LLC 
  • Adriana Viverette, Adriana & Associates Communication 
  • Chase Walker, Pif Platform 
  • Kimberly Wardzala, Intuition Spa & Wellness 
  • Rhonda Wells, Buffalo Plant Burger 
  • Fantah Whitt, Whittcare 
  • Lisa Wilson-Smith, Candy Creations by Lisa Wilson 
  • Lashema Worthy, Safe & Sound Transportation LLC 
  • Deidre Wright, Pathways Unbound LLC

Each participant was assigned a mentor from the local business community to help develop realistic business goals and create 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 class also met in person twice a month for workshops and to develop their business model canvases and business plans.

The CEL is accepting applications for the 2025 Emerging Entrepreneurs program. To learn more about the curriculum or apply, contact the CEL office at 716-885-5715 or mgt-cel@buffalo.edu.  

Established in 1987, the CEL provides participants with individualized and interactive education in entrepreneurship. More than 1,500 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 management.buffalo.edu/cel.

Now in its 100th year, the UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on real-world learning, community and impact, and the global perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The school also has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, 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 management.buffalo.edu.

Media Contact Information

Kevin Manne
Associate Director of Communications
School of Management