2012 Women's Business Enterprise Stars Biographies

The WBE stars shared their insights and expertise with the WBENC community in a series of videos throughout the Salute. View the videos on YouTube or view photos and highlights in the April 2012 President's Report.

Julie Auslander
Chief Cultural Officer

The title Julie Sue prefers to the traditional corporate "President" gives some clue to how she has grown her business, quite literally, from the kitchen table. She prefers to be known as her company's Corporate Evangelist, or Chief Cultural Officer. "Culture is what directs all the employees' activities, what attracts people to want to do business with you," says Julie Sue. "Studies have shown companies that have a strong culture have stronger revenues."

The inspiration for her company, cSubs, grew out of necessity. Julie Sue discovered that a teacher's salary didn't have room for money to be wasted on magazines and publications, so she began managing her own subscriptions with card files on the kitchen table. Then, other teachers and friends asked her to do the same for them allowing the business to grow organically.

Julie launched cSubs, leveraging her understanding of how her idea could save millions, often wasted by large corporations on unwanted and duplicated publications and subscriptions. "Waste just makes me crazy, and when you go into large companies, you'll see huge amounts of written material sitting on their mailroom floor that's just undeliverable and that translates, in some cases, into millions of dollars of spend," Julie Sue says. "Inherent in the waste process is the duplicity of subscriptions and not knowing who's getting what, not having the ability to share, not having the ability that when an executive moves from point A to point B to transfer those subscriptions instead of just reordering them."

cSubs provides a web-based product, to manage all these subscriptions, newspapers, directories, site licenses, journals, e-content and databases for large companies. Proof that Julie Sue's money-saving idea works for large corporations is that she has a 99% retention rate of the client base of Fortune 500 companies that cSubs has built over 25 years.

In 1997, Julie Sue's company was one of the first certified WBEs. Since then, her company has been recognized with numerous prestigious business awards, but she is particularly proud of having won the Alfred P. Sloan award for business excellence and workplace flexibility, last year.

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Carmen Castillo
Founder & Owner
SDI International Corp.

For anyone starting a business of their own, and wavering through self-doubt, the story of Carmen Castillo should be required reading.

Travelling on a tourist/student visa from her home country, Spain, Carmen landed in the United States with some experience as a chef, and very little knowledge of technology. Today, 20 years later, she heads her own global business-services corporation with a client list that includes some of the most recognizable names amongst the Fortune 500 companies.

Carmen's business career was born out of a driving desire to own and run her own business – a passion she says goes back to when she was just six or seven years old, growing up in a family of 10. She says her parents endowed her with great values that have given her determination and focus. She says that once she decides to do something, she doesn't stop until it is done, and done right. And that's exactly the path she has followed since she decided to launch SDI International in 1992.

The current technology revolution was just starting, and Carmen set out to leverage new technology to streamline business processes for clients. From cold-calling businesses and government agencies, Carmen attracted the support of IBM through a mentor program, and a small local contract with the computer giant, went national and ultimately global.

"IBM has been phenomenal," Carmen says. "They are still with us. And we are still with them." The key to SDI's growth from cold calling to a global presence has been hiring the brightest people that could be found. "The secret always is and always will be to hire the most creative people, the most technological people, and the latest engineers," she says. 

Being a technology services company, Carmen says SDI International has to be proactive. "We really have to figure out what's going to be next?" Carmen's foresight has served her well – anticipating how technology would lead to globalization. "The difference between us and most of our competitors is that we are truly global suppliers," she says. "You have to be a true global player to be able to hold and sustain a contract with a Fortune 100 company."


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Cathi Coan
President and CEO
Techway Services

To remain competitive, corporations large and small are constantly investing in new technology. But what is new today, is obsolete tomorrow – or at least in three or four years. With so much data still residing on the hard drives of that technology, sending out-of-date equipment to a landfill is not a responsible option.

But Texas-based mother-of-four, Cathi Coan, had the foresight to recognize that the dilemma facing corporations represented a business opportunity, and she created Techway Services. At the time, Cathi was National Sales Manager for McDonnell Douglas Field Services, and says it was a little scary going from working for a big corporation with a regular paycheck to being her own boss. But she says she saw a need in the marketplace for professional services in a not-so-professional business. "I thought, if I could make money for a large corporation, I could make money for myself." 

What makes Techway different is the ability to give clients a "turn-key" solution. All data is eradicated at the customer's site, the equipment is loaded on pallets, shrink-wrapped and taken to a secure facility. The customer is given a serialized report, and certificates of data destruction. Any equipment deemed saleable is sold and the revenue shared with the customer. Un-repairable equipment goes to a responsible recycling facility instead of landfill.

"Although it's important not to put equipment in a landfill, Techway filled another important role because we can get the metal's intrinsic value from the recovery of metal parts. For example, from 1 million cell phones, you could recover approximately 75 pounds of gold."

"Back in 2004, recycling sustainability wasn't talked about, so we were recycling when recycling wasn't cool. Techway is one of the pioneers of data destruction, we helped companies take their sustainability programs to a new level ," Cathi says. Those clients include the Dell Corporation and JCPenney.

In building the Techway brands, they created a chic social media image to promote recycling – Gracie Green is a mannequin decoupaged with all kinds of electronic bits and pieces. The fun idea has caught the imagination of other companies, and the "Glam-AKins" have become a product line.


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Mary Fox Donnelly
Chief Executive Officer
Encompass Elements, Inc.

Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher, famously said: "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." Quite literally it was just such a situation that led to Mary Fox Donnelly's success as a business entrepreneur.

Her teaching career of 14 years was brought to a traumatic halt by kidney failure, a coma and life on a dialysis machine until the transplant of one of her sister's kidneys. Facing a mountain of medical bills, she learned screen printing. At night, she printed shirts; and by day, she looked after the office of her father's book binding business.

Thirty years later, her 100-employee company provides a broad range of web-based and direct mail marketing services for Fortune 500 and specialized direct marketing companies. Encompass Elements operates two locations, one in Colmar, Pennsylvania, and the other a 250,000 square feet distribution center in New Castle, Delaware where product and literature fulfillment is conducted for various industries.

She believes her illness endowed her with a life-perspective that's proved valuable in business. "I try to see the good in every problem that comes along because in business, there are always going to be issues," shares Mary. "When I'm going through trials, I ask myself what is worse … being on a dialysis machine or getting through this? My answer is always, I'll get through this. And that's what I do."

Mary's "can do" attitude was never more evident than when the opportunity came to pick up a major contract with McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a Johnson & Johnson company, which was looking for a new vendor after a project collapsed. McNeil explained what was needed and asked Mary if she could deliver. "Sure we can," was her answer. In one week, Mary and her 12 employees, moved her complete plant to new premises to comply with a required audit for pharmaceutical industry work. The new facility was approved, and 8 million packages were processed in six weeks.

Ten years later, Johnson & Johnson is still a major client for Mary's company. Maintaining loyal relationships with her clients is a priority for Mary. "I want my employees to treat our customers with
respect and to treat them like family. That is our culture."


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Hannah Kain
Chief Executive Officer
Alom Technologies

Giving customers what they want is a business cliché. Sometimes it's true, sometimes it's not. But when you hear the passion and clarity Hannah Kain applies to this mission, it is easy to understand why service is the very essence of her business. Born and educated in Denmark, and briefly a Member of Parliament in that country, Hannah heads ALOM, a leading global supply-chain company.

Founded by Hannah in 1997, ALOM now has an impressive client list of major companies which outsource product supplychain, procurement and marketing functions to ALOM. Managing inventory controls, procurement of electronic, print, packaging and promotional components and processing millions of packages for worldwide delivery accurately and on time every month is a task of awe-inspiring complexity. But Hannah says, "Even when the customer throws a wild curveball, there is a benefit. We've created a company culture that is focused on the customer. So when we get a curveball, we take true ownership of that problem, keeping a focus on what the customer needs and what it takes to deliver. A lot of our development has come from the customer asking for something that is virtually impossible, and we figure out a way to make that happen."

Client demand caused ALOM to build a 15 location global network. ALOM became an e-commerce fulfillment pioneer because the clients asked for it. Because of client demand, the company now provides shopping cart management, global print management and other advanced solutions to support marketing operations in addition product supply-chain.

A focus on IT development keeps the company ahead of the curve, and it is this kind of advantage that has corporate America turning to nimble small businesses to fulfill their needs.

In common with so many successful business women, Hannah pays tribute to the benefits of WBENC networking. "The network at WBENC is and has been tremendously helpful introducing us and supporting our different efforts," remarks Hannah. She shares her expertise through involvement with numerous government and educational agencies, and her success has been recognized by countless business awards. She is especially focused on charitable causes that help women succeed.


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Lianne Lami
President and CEO
Bocci Engineering

To be at the top of your field in today's complex and changing world of energy engineering is a challenge. To do it as a woman, in what is still a largely male-dominated field, adds another dimension. When Lianne Lami graduated from Virginia Tech, she was one of only 20 women mechanical engineers in a class of over 400.

Her engineering career began with Virginia Power and Light, and since then, she has built quite an impressive resume focusing on many facets of the energy industry. A few of the companies in her career include Trigen, Honeywell and Enron. And now, as CEO of Bocci Engineering, leads the company to develop integrated sustainable solutions. "I really did energy optimization work before green was the buzz word," she declares. 

Bocci Engineering, a company Lianne envisioned much earlier, but launched in 2006 is at the forefront of the alternative and renewable energy landscape supplying engineering resources for all energy and emissions-related opportunities in industry, utility infrastructure, and buildings. A majority of Bocci's developments include wind, solar, bio-fuels, and combined heat and power projects. 

"We bring the latest emerging technologies, the most prolific financial resources into engineering development for sustainable projects. Projects that reduce costs of operations through energy efficiency, process optimization, generation, and reduced environmental impact." 

With a shortage of funds slowing state and local government energy-related projects, Lianne is expanding her company to include oil and gas and manufacturing, and says that WBENC is playing a significant role in that strategy. 

"We attend educational events and networking events, and we get an opportunity to meet and greet with corporate sponsors that believe in supporting minority and women-owned small business enterprises because giving back to the community makes for their businesses to be sustainable. So those door openings are really about long-term 


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Patti Massey
MYCA Group, Inc.

An entrepreneur can be described as "a person who organizes and manages any business enterprise, with considerable initiative." Or you could just say "Patti Massey." For 20 years, Patti has turned innovative and creative ideas into successful business ventures. In fact, her business career really started with a lemonade stand at age eight. Now she is President of the MYCA Group of companies, with activities as diverse as managing the repair and maintenance of forklift truck fleets, to providing on-line certification for Los Angeles Fire Department EMTs. All bridged by Patti's ability to visualize effective use of technology.

In 2001, Patti took the company she had developed public, and sold her interest to another technology company, and retained a small division which focused on e-learning. She created www.diversityuniversity.com, a joint venture with another WBENC certified company, Pope and Associates, to develop e-learning tools in the area of diversity and inclusion products she predicted would have an impact on the growth of the company. That prediction was remarkably accurate – the client list of Fortune 500 companies includes Procter and Gamble, Kraft Foods, Sony, Hershey, Verizon, Progressive Insurance, and GE Aviation. In fact, the City of Los Angeles has awarded MYCA an exclusive contract to develop and deliver its e-learning curriculum. Over the years, many new courses have been added to the company's offerings at www.ezlearnu.com.

The MYCA group's development of e-learning is not static – Patti has clear thoughts on how training in general will evolve, with training "events" going by the wayside with shorter and easily searchable learning tools that are accessible as needed.

The ability to utilize technology effectively led to MYCA's Material Handling initiative providing forklift truck equipment, parts and servicing. "We've developed this very sophisticated fleet management system working with another WBENC-Certified company," shared Patti. "We measure the actual ‘after installation' cost to operate equipment. We found that we can save companies a minimum of 15% on their overall operation budget by really drilling down into the details of their ongoing expenses." Patti says that this division benefited greatly from being a WBENC-Certified business.


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Mary Moslander
President and CEO
LiveHealthier, Inc.

Mary Moslander says that the motivation for launching her company seven years ago was a genuine desire to focus on something which would have a positive impact on the world. Today, LiveHealthier provides health management programs and services to more than one million employees, worldwide. “That achievement is deeply satisfying for me, both as an individual and as a CEO,” Mary says.

“When I set out to create the company, I wanted to make a difference in peoples’ lives. I wanted to help them find ways to change their own behavior so that they could live happier, healthier and more balanced lives. Knowing that our reach is so broad and global, and that we’re growing exponentially is the best part of having started my company.”

Mary’s experience in providing online solutions to off-line challenges came from the 10 years she spent as an executive with The Washington Post Company, where she launched www.washingtonpost.com in l996 and served as vice-president of strategy and product development for the company before leaving to start LiveHealthier.

A passionate and committed team that truly listens to the problems clients are trying to solve coupled with a deep desire to understand each company’s unique culture through qualitative and quantitative research have helped build the company. LiveHealthier doesn’t just provide a single, shrink-wrapped, off-the-shelf healthmanagement program for employees, but instead LiveHealthier analyzes the specific health risks and cultural environment encountered by a particular employee population.  We design very specific interventions that are consistent with the culture of the company and tailored to the individual that help employer groups reduce health care costs and increase employee productivity,” says  Mary. “The results we deliver to our clients demonstrate that our one-size-fits-one approach produces a measurable and meaningful return on investment.”

Mary is actively involved with WBENC on a number of levels. While the LiveHealthier award-winning product is a market leader, Mary says WBENC certification played a significant role in the growth of the company.


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Mary Parker
President and CEO
ALL(n)1 Security Services, Inc.

In the security industry, she’s known as “the security lady.” It’s an affectionate title Mary Parker is proud of, given her success in an industry that is undoubtedly male-dominated.

Over 30 years ago, Mary embarked on her career truly from the ground up – beginning as a security officer on a building site. Eventually, security management positions followed, but it was  bumping up against the “glass ceiling” that prompted her to launch her own company.

Moving to Atlanta in l992, Mary launched her own company with a partner. In 2001, she formed a new company on her own. “I wanted to be more flexible,” said Mary. “I wanted to be more cutting edge and diversify the services we offered.” To succeed, she says, it was important to create allies, not adversaries, identifying mentors willing to provide support. That advice is still applicable today.

Mary launched her company nine months before the 9/11 attacks – the catastrophic event which shaped the world’s attitude to security. “From that event, everybody, everywhere is now using security, in one form or another.”

Mary says that WBENC played a major role in her company developing a relationship with Coca-Cola, which led to a contract to provide security for the construction phase of a new plant.  “Becoming WBENC Certified through the Greater Women’s Business Council enabled me to be at the right place at the right time,” she says. Over the course of 19 months, the duration of the major project with Coca Cola, no products or materials were lost from the site. ALL(n)1 had a similar record during the building of the fifth runway at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta. At that airport, Mary’s company protects 30,000 car spaces and has never had an incident.

Over 90% of ALL(n)1’s business now comes through word-of-mouth recommendations or repeat business. Mary says the most rewarding part of running ALL(n)1 Security Services is keeping people employed and finding ways to employ job-seekers. “I’m always thinking of creative ways of bringing them on,” Mary admits.  “Can we put them with someone for 4 hours? Can they join our special event team? What can they do?”


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Kathryn Petty
White Lion Tea

At the heart and soul of the classic American dream, there’s always a hard working individual with passion and talent building success from the ground up. Such is the story of Kathryn Petty and White Lion Tea. Started 14 years ago in the kitchen of her house in Arizona, White Lion has grown out of the idea of bringing the simple, affordable luxury of premium tea into the home. The idea first came to her while living in London – American tourists made much of the pomp and circumstance of going out for tea, yet locals preferred a more casual affair, integrating a brief respite for wonderful tea into their everyday lives. This is the concept she wished to bring back home; that elegant, affordable luxuries can be incorporated into everyday life, even in today’s fast-paced world.

Kathryn’s success is not just driven by a thirst for tea, her company’s growth owes much to her appreciation and application of strong branding and marketing principles. White Lion Tea is not Kathryn’s first venture into business. Beginning her career with State Farm Insurance at just 17, she built a multi-million dollar agency over 14 years headquartered in a building she owned. Kathryn sold the business in 1994, but by 1996 had turned her entrepreneurial skills to a new lifestyle venture in gourmet foods.

In 1998, Kathryn conceived the brand “Sir Aubrey’s White Lion Tea,” and in one year the company grew from her kitchen to 1,000 retail outlets. Today, White Lion Tea is an established luxury brand and has numerous distribution channels which include Amazon, Atlanta Foods International, Sysco, and Universal Companies. Brands such as Marriott, Starwood, Hilton, MGM, Gaylord, and Holland America proudly serve White Lion Tea.

Always searching to take the brand to the next level, Kathryn learned of WBENC and became certified. Over time, certification has opened numerous doors, one of which is Gaylord Hotels. She was invited by Sysco to present a tea program to Gaylord for a single high end restaurant. That single opportunity led to White Lion Tea becoming the tea supplier to all four of the Gaylord Hotels and Conference Centers.

Kathryn sees the WBENC Certification opening more doors as the organization expands within the business community at large.


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Cassandra Sanford
Chief Executive Officer

Fourteen years ago, Cassandra Sanford, a licensed attorney, had a wonderful position in procurement at Boeing. But, along with two colleagues, Cassandra identified a growing need for a reliable source of IT professionals.

KellyMitchell was launched and the company set about finding the best IT talent across the country, employing them, and then deploying them to meet their clients’ needs.

It was a leap of faith to launch into the unknown. “That leap,” Cassandra says, “meant jumping out and recognizing there is no other choice, you have to succeed, failure is not an option.”

She says the very thought of an attorney not practicing law, and quitting Boeing, almost gave her parents a heart attack. But Cassandra explains that they soon came to realize it was a smart decision, and she is having more fun in business now than she could ever have imagined. And based on her experience, she has this advice for others thinking about starting a business:

“If this is something that you really want to do, if you believe in it, you know you’re passionate at it, just take that leap of faith and don’t ever look back, simply keep forging forward because success will come.”

And success has come for KellyMitchell. Today, the company serves the IT and professional staffing needs of Fortune 500 companies and the high-tech sector across the country, and is expanding beyond U.S. borders.


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Juli Sinnett

In the crowded field of promotional merchandise where close to 15,000 firms compete for business, establishing a company and growing it to one of the top 50 in the nation within eight years is quite an achievement. Juli Sinnett has achieved success for her company, SwervePoint, with a combination of strong branding, design, merchandising, technology, and the mission of making “products more purposeful and the customer’s experience more enjoyable.” This has helped SwervePoint land clients such as BlackRock, CBS, Ernst & Young LLP, EMC, Fidelity Investments, and Showtime Networks.

It starts with a fresh idea. “We work hard to identify ‘moments of truth’ for a brand, those instances where a brand connection and client interaction are made. It’s that point where purposeful products can enhance communication, bring utility, and facilitate the opportunity to establish and grow a relationship. It’s hard to accomplish those things with a billboard, banner ad, or 30-second spot and it’s that level of intimacy that our products can bring to a client’s branding efforts,” says Sinnett. “It requires discipline, brand experience, and merchandising expertise to do this work correctly. It goes well beyond slapping a logo on a mug, foam finger or big comb. You need to develop and start with a strong foundation of essential products that represent the brand and will be used properly in the context of the client’s business. From there you can expand to other marketing tactics such as social media, DRIP campaigns and live experiences to enhance the merchandise delivery and impact at those moments of truth.”

SwervePoint’s goal is to create a consistent, enjoyable customer experience and to deliver substantial value through programs such as Good Karma an environmental and social responsibility program, BOOM+1 a customer service initiative, and Best Price Guarantee to name a few. “This business is all about strong, committed relationships. To this day, we are proud to say we’ve never lost a customer and there isn’t anything we won’t do to make something right for them.”

WBENC certification came to SwervePoint at the request of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Juli said, “WBENC and CWE have really been invaluable to our success.”


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Lynn Tilton
Chief Executive Officer
DURA and Global Automotive (Patriarch Partners)

The Lynn Tilton story has all the elements of a Hollywood script.  Born in the Bronx, she became a teenage tennis star, then a Yale graduate. A single mother in her 20’s, she worked 100 hours a week on Wall Street and completed her Master’s degree at Columbia.  Today, she is one of the wealthiest, self-made women in America with a public image that’s colorful, some even say flamboyant. But most important to her, she is a heroine to 250,000 workers whose jobs might otherwise have been lost but for the intervention of Lynn’s company, Patriarch Partners–the largest woman-owned business in America.

After honing her remarkable finance skills at iconic Wall Street companies including Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch, Lynn launched Patriarch Partners in 2000. This entity is now the holding company for 76 operating companies, including Dura Automotive, American LaFrance, MD Helicopters, Rand McNally, and Stila Cosmetics. Most of the companies in Patriarch Partners’ portfolio were headed for liquidation until Lynn rescued them providing resources through her patented financial model and 
operational expertise. She is a woman on a mission.

“If I were simply dollar driven, I would be living on an island somewhere. For me, the greatest gift one can give is a job. This is the core of American values, on what America was built. To me, the American dream is the ability to provide for our families, to send our children to school and to own a home. Since the industrial revolution, everyone came to America to pursue that dream. And, sadly, I fear we’ve lost much of that sacred dream,” Lynn says. 

She blames much of the collapse of industry on today’s society that rewards short-term interest and short-term profitability. While she is wealthy now, Lynn says she knows what it is like to struggle. “I was a single mother at 23 and I walked in the darkness of fear for many years. When you’ve known struggle, you can empathize with others who struggle.”

Only in the last year has she begun to register her companies for WBENC certification, but she says it has already made a difference.


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Lee Youngblood
McIntyre & Youngblood, LLC

Most people starting businesses will have considered an idea for some time before something motivates them to take the leap and that the time is NOW. Those motivations can vary widely, but for Lee Youngblood it was the devastation Hurricane Katrina wrought on New Orleans that drove her to become an entrepreneur.

Lee, a qualified accountant, had held a number of senior positions over a 15-year career with the international financial recruiting firm, Robert Half. She had worked across Texas in San Antonio, Irving, Houston, and Dallas before establishing a branch of Robert Half in New Orleans.

“I had a great job with a great company, and then Katrina came along and that literally blew me back to Dallas,” Lee explains. “But I had fallen in love with New Orleans.”

“I’ve always wanted to start my own firm, so I decided this was the best time to do it because I also wanted to be involved in helping the city rebuild itself and finding jobs for people who wanted to come home.”

In August 2006, she called Danya McIntyre, a former colleague who was looking to return to work after starting a family. Four months later, their recruiting company was up and running with offices in New Orleans, Dallas and Houston. In New Orleans, the company grew with the rebirth of the city. Within months of start-up, McIntyre Youngblood became a WBENC-Certified WBE because, Lee says, they realized how important it was. She says WBENC has taken the business to another level, making introductions to larger corporations.

“I was able to match people with companies that were coming back to the area,” Lee says. “Because companies were unable to determine where everyone went, it gave us the opportunity to serve
a great role in bringing people together.”

McIntyre Youngblood Recruiting, LLC is now a boutique recruiting company that has established long-term, closely held client relationships to expressly place financial, legal, and IT professionals.


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