17 Women to Watch in 2017

March 08, 2017
Women & Wealth Magazine highlights 17 women to watch in 2017. These incredible women have demonstrated their power as savvy businesswomen and models of female leadership and are united in the cause of female entrepreneurship.

Since the Center for Women & Wealth launched in 2015, we have met and been inspired by many powerful women who are true pioneers in their respective fields. These women are not only successful individually, but are also making it possible for other women to achieve new heights. Some of these 17 groundbreaking women are entrepreneurs, reaching untapped markets, finding their inspiration from personal struggles or carving a unique space for themselves in established industries. Others are committed to bridging the funding gap by targeting their funding platforms for women- and minority-owned ventures. However, they all share one thing in common: 2017 is set to be a pivotal year in their professional journeys. Here is a glimpse at what they have to look forward to and what they have already learned.

Samantha Barnes, Founder, Raddish and Kitchen Kid
With revenues and subscribers forecast to more than double in 2017 – after already experiencing 350% growth in membership in the second half of 2016 – this year will be one of further expansion and development for Barnes and Raddish, a cooking club for kids.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
First, every life experience – even those that feel insignificant – prepares you in some way for the future. Second, it’s okay to ask for help and delegate. Do it before you are drowning!


Trish Costello, CEO and Co-Founder, Portfolia
As the CEO and founder of Portfolia, an innovative platform that streamlines and simplifies the fundraising process, Costello brings together growth-stage companies and a collaborative network of investors in a unique combination of angel investing and micro-funding. Portfolia is aiming to have more than 100,000 women investing $1 billion a year in new innovation.

What are the unique challenges of being a female leader in your field?
Women still have a very limited role in the venture capital investing world and are only now moving into angel investing. We don’t fit the pattern and are not thought of as the role models, regardless of how successful we are. The data shows that women are as good investors as men – and perhaps slightly better. Now that women own such substantial wealth, we can create new patterns and new role models of success – for ourselves and others. 

Sarah Evans Thelen, Partner, J Public Relations
Evans Thelen is one of the most powerful names in the public relations field as well as an industry leader and role model. In 2016 alone, she launched 10 large-scale hotel openings and renovations and will surely take J Public Relations to new heights in 2017.

What do you think female empowerment will look like in the future?
Female empowerment needs to evolve in the thinking that a woman can be a wonderful mother and be in a powerful position. As women, we’re made to feel guilty whatever our choice. For years, there have been men who have been loving, committed and devoted fathers while holding powerful positions in the workforce – without feeling guilty. As women, we need to fully support each other so we’re all able to “have it all” as much as possible – whatever that means for each of us.

Gerri Kahnweiler, Founder and Partner, InvestHER Ventures
Through InvestHER Ventures, which makes early-stage venture capital investments in female founders running technology companies, Kahnweiler will continue to combat the funding gap this year by investing in female entrepreneurs.

What inspired or motivated you to take a professional risk?
I didn’t see many women in venture capital, and I definitely did not see any men who were targeting capital to female-owned businesses. I told myself, “I can do this. I can make this difference.” Instead of talking about the problems female entrepreneurs face, I decided I would jump in and fix them, so I launched my fund.

Kirsten Lambert and Joan Ripple, Co-Founders, Beantown Bedding
Having added new team members and markets, and with new partnerships developing, Laundry-Free Linens® sheet company Beantown Bedding is expected to experience exponential growth in 2017. Other events in the pipeline include a national television appearance, online subscriptions and Airbnb host kits.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
Trust your gut. As first-time entrepreneurs, it’s tempting to trust the advice of so-called “experts” over your own thoughts and ideas. We learned the hard way to have confidence in our instincts and to be selective about the guidance we seek.

Emily Levy and Maria del Mar Gomez, Co-Founders, Mighty Well
Levy and Gomez’s line of medical accessories, inspired by Levy’s own personal medical challenges, was the 2016 winner of the Babson Breakaway Challenge, which awarded Mighty Well $250,000 in funding.

What inspired or motivated you to take a professional risk?
While we knew the risks, our personal values did not allow us to give up on the business that we had started in college and developed into Mighty Well. We decided to forego the job offers that we had received after college and continue on our mission of “Turning Sick into Strength” because we had seen and felt first-hand the positive impact that our first product had in enhancing the patient experience for hundreds of people. To give up on something so close to us, without giving it our 110%, would have been a failure and even greater risk in our minds.

Patricia Lizarraga, Managing Partner, Hypatia Capital
Hypatia will host its first annual Investing in Women CEOs Summit this year, an event focused on impact investing in companies with women CEOs and diverse management teams. Lizarraga is personally responsible for Hypatia’s strategy of sponsoring female CEOs.

What do you think female empowerment will look like in the future?
A world where people are encouraged to shine in the way that best fits their individual self – whether at work, home or play!

Kimberly Moreland, Executive Vice President of Client Relations, Rising Medical Solutions
Not only will Moreland be launching Rising Medical Solutions’ new enhanced technology platform that will bring greater efficiencies and cost savings to the U.S. healthcare system, but her role in client relations will also take on increasing importance as changes to the Affordable Care Act rock the healthcare industry.

What do you think female empowerment will look like in the future?
Women already have so many more choices and opportunities than they have historically. As a mother of three daughters, I’m raising them to know there’s no difference between what they and their brother can accomplish.

Iman Oubou, Founder, SWAAY Media
In October 2016, Oubou launched SWAAY, a digital publication that empowers, informs and elevates female leaders and change-makers. In 2017, Oubou shifts her focus full time to developing this unique digital publication.

What inspired or motivated you to take a professional risk?
My parents had very successful careers in Morocco, but one day they realized that there are bigger opportunities for their kids in the United States. Without hesitating, they moved across the ocean and gave up everything they built for themselves to start over in a foreign country where they still struggle to communicate. Their sacrifice and the risk they took to provide us with the ability to achieve the American dream is what inspires me and motivates me every single day.

Rupal Patel, CEO and Founder, VocaliD
VocaliD is changing the digital voice landscape by utilizing its extensive crowdsourced voice bank with voice blending technology to create unique vocal identities for text-to-speech devices. The company launched its personalized voice service in late 2016 and will begin to service and acquire customers this year.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
Write your bio with a vision of the future. I think women often write their bios in terms of what they have done. Your bio should be an introduction of who you are and where your compass is directed.

Vivian Rosenthal, Founder, Snaps
Considered a top woman to watch in tech, Rosenthal has built a mobile messaging marketing platform with over 100 of the world’s largest brands as customers. In 2016, Snaps booked more than $6.5 million in sales and is on track to double that in 2017. The company is currently raising between $7 million and $10 million.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
Take better care of myself. Sleep more. Eat healthier. Work out. See friends and family more often. I really wish I had learned the concept of balance a lot sooner.


Nicole Sahin, CEO, Globalization Partners
Sahin has been breaking barriers to global business by offering simplified employment, payroll, human resources and other administrative services for the global marketplace. In 2017, Globalization Partners will launch a client portal and plans to triple its size.

What do you think female empowerment will look like in the future?
Ultimately, women can’t be empowered without equality for everyone. Until men are required to take family leave and are as often the primary caretaker for children as women, women will always be held down in the workplace because they are seen as the primary parent and less concerned with professional work.

Carine Schneider, CEO and Founder, WFFConnect
Schneider launched WFFConnect this year. WFFConnect links female entrepreneurs with potential funders to enable them to accelerate growth of their companies, not only through access to capital, but also education, networking and partnership opportunities. 2017 will be an exciting year for Schneider as WFFConnect launches its online portal and builds a robust network of female founders and funders.

What do you think female empowerment will look like in the future?
I do believe women are beginning to understand that merely talking about female empowerment will not bring about change. Change will come when men and women talk with their wallets and consistently invest in female political, academic and business leaders.

Kendra Scott, CEO and Founder, Kendra Scott Jewelry
Last year, Scott opened more than 40 retail locations – pushing the total to over 50 stores and counting. In late 2016, Berkshire Partners made an investment in her company. Now, 2017 is the year when these stores will begin taking off.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
I opened my first business when I was 19 and full of desire to prove myself. Five long years later, I had failed. I wish I could go back and tell my 19-year-old self that there are no mistakes in life. You will hit roadblocks on your way to success. The key to finding that success is pushing past them.

Jo Terlato, Marketing Analyst, Terlato Wines
As the first female family member to work for the Terlato Wine Group in four generations, Terlato has proved she has the talent and work ethic to continue her family business’s success into the fourth generation and beyond. In 2017, the company developed four distinct divisions. Terlato’s hard work launching new products and the company’s efforts to engage the evolving consumer palate will prove that this family business is at the cutting edge of luxury wine and spirits.

What inspired or motivated you to take a professional risk?
I took a risk implementing a flexible work arrangement to care for my daughter. As part of a family-owned business, I share the responsibility to help raise the next generation of our family’s business leaders. If I don’t help raise moral, thoughtful and productive children, we won’t reach our goal of being a successful family-owned business into the fifth generation and beyond.

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