To fuel success for women-owned businesses, WBENC offers multiple programs and opportunities designed to support business development and growth, from pitch competitions to executive education programs.
The WBENC team is a small but mighty group of passionate advocates for women business owners. We work hard every day to maintain the best certification standard for women-owned businesses and develop events and programs that engage, grow, and inspire our network of women entrepreneurs and business leaders.
Pamela Prince-Eason is the President and CEO of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), a role she assumed in 2011. She was previously Vice President of Worldwide Procurement for Pfizer Inc. and held various leadership positions at Texas Instruments, GSE Systems and Warner Lambert, as well as co-owner of RMR Associates.
Pamela is a member of the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC), a non-partisan federal advisory council who advises the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration on economic issues of importance to women business owners.
Pamela’s dedication to women’s business leadership is illustrated in her many professional and personal roles advancing women’s excellence and opportunity. She serves on women’s advisory committees of several corporations including the CVS Health Executive Learning Series, EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women Program, the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network, and Walmart’s Women Owned Business Advisory Council.
Pamela holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from East Tennessee State University and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland with a Master of Administrative Science in International Business and Finance. In 2008, she was among the first to receive ISM’s Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) designation, in 2010 was named a Power Women by NYMoves, and in 2012 she received the AIDC WBE Hall of Fame “Executive Leadership” award. In 2013 and 2017, she was named a top leader in Supplier Diversity by WE-USA Magazine and selected by the National Association of Female Executives (NAFE) as the 2014 Woman of Achievement. Most recently she was inducted into the Enterprising Women Hall of Fame in March 2018 and was recognized as Alumna of the Year at East Tennessee State University in May 2018.
She and husband John have three children and six grandchildren. Favorite family activities include tennis, basketball, and snowboarding.
Director, Marketing, Programs & Business Development
Lindsey joined WBENC in February of 2017 and leads executive education and development programs for everything from design thinking and pitching to industry specific programs like the WBENC Energy Executive Program.
Prior to joining the WBENC team, Lindsey was an Operations and Business Development Manager at a global performance improvement company. She spent the last several years focusing on the Energy, Oil and Gas industry where she led several workforce development programs from long standing plants to capital projects and spanning chemical plants and refineries to biofuels and agriculture. Lindsey has a passion for people and helping others and believes that to be a true leader you must care about those you are leading.
Audrey Awasom, or Audrey Awesome as many call her, is a program manager at WBENC. Audrey is the strategic lead of the WBENC Women of Color Program and supports other executive education programs at WBENC.
She was recently featured on DC Inno’s 2020 list of 25 under 25 leaders for her work as the Founder and CEO of Noble Uprising, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides resources and career readiness training to women who are unemployed, under-employed or experiencing homelessness.
She is passionate about mentoring young entrepreneurs and also sits as a Chair of the Marketing committee at the Montgomery College Board of Governors. She has a B.S. in Marketing from the University of Maryland’s Robert H Smith School of Business.
As the Assistant Controller, Lauren manages the financial operations of the organization. This includes the day-to-day accounting functions as well as producing monthly financial statements and facilitating the annual audit.
Lauren joined the WBENC team in 2012. She has two degrees from the University of Maryland, College Park – a BS in Accounting and a BS in International Business. She is a CPA licensed in the State of Maryland and has prior experience in Public Accounting and the Nonprofit Healthcare sector.
Lauren lives in Odenton, Maryland with her husband and their two children. When she’s not chasing a toddler around the house or trying to convince a 5-year-old to like swimming, Lauren can be found baking, spending time outside, traveling, or drinking a cup of good coffee.
As the Vice President of Technology and Marketing, Pat oversees the strategy and execution for technology, marketing, communications, public relations, branding and events. Prior to joining WBENC in 2012, she spent 14 years at Pfizer Inc, holding various positions spanning marketing and sales procurement, business process and IT. Her passion for supplier diversity began at Pfizer where she was an active contributor to the supplier diversity team. Pat also spent 19 years at AT&T in global sales roles. She is a veteran of the United States Army, earned her Bachelor’s in Business from the University of Phoenix, and is a Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM).
Pat lives on Kent Island, MD with her husband, where she enjoys the water views, boating, sunsets and her passion for cooking and local dining.
As the Director of Marketing & Communications, Jessica manages the WBENC brand and all communication channels, including event and program promotions, content strategy, publications, advertising, media and public awareness campaigns. She also oversees the Women Owned Logo program, helping to build a broad consumer movement of support for women-owned businesses.
Jessica joined the WBENC team in 2017 after 10 years of digital strategy and marketing consulting in the health care industry, as well as several years as a freelance writer and magazine editor. Originally from Minnesota, Jessica graduated with a BA in English from Connecticut College in 2005. She earned her graduate certificate in Communication & Technology from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media in 2012.
Jessica lives in Alexandria, Virginia with her husband and rescue pup, where she enjoys exploring the DC area’s museums and restaurants, staying active in local politics, playing chef in the kitchen, and hiking in Virginia wine country.
With 24 years of experience as a leader in inclusive diversity, Mia currently serves as a member of the leadership team and vice president of Business Development & Engagement.
In her current role, Mia oversees the development channels and revenue streams for WBENC on the national level and leads the development team in strengthening and enhancing existing corporate partnerships through WBENC initiatives and programmatic offerings, and securing new partnerships, to further the WBENC mission.
Additionally, she works each day to implement, grow and strengthen supplier inclusive diversity programs of the Fortune 500 to ensure opportunities exist for diverse suppliers within these global supply chains.
Prior to her position with WBENC, Mia spent 15+ years with Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) in Chicago. In her final position for over a decade, she served as a member of the leadership team and as the director of development, overseeing funding and building strategic partnerships.
Mia also served as the director of the annual Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference, the oldest conference and business opportunities fair for women business owners in the country and the largest marketing, publicity-generating and fundraising tool for the WBDC.
A native of the Midwest, Mia attended both the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire and Columbia College Chicago earning a B.A. in Marketing Communications & Public Relations. When not traveling across the country for WBENC, Mia resides in Minnesota with her two loving pets Teddy & Maggie, and loves to hike the north shore, eat good food, drink fabulous wine, and spend quality time with her family and friends.
Andrew is an innovative executive and key contributor to WBENC’s leadership team. He oversees strategic initiatives and programming that advances the growth and development of women-owned businesses and the next generation women entrepreneurs. Andrew is based in San Francisco, CA where he serves as an entrepreneur mentor, liaison to WBENC’s two West Coast Regional Partner Organizations, and manager of National Corporate Member and WBE engagement in the region. Since joining WBENC in 2013, Andrew has designed and managed many of WBENC’s best-in-class programs to advance supplier diversity across WBENC’s Corporate Members and developed leading executive development programs that help Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs) grow and scale.
After starting his career in management consulting, Andrew joined WBENC to follow his passion to work with entrepreneurs, and to be a champion for diversity and inclusion. Andrew graduated from the University of South Carolina. He is an avid cyclist, golfer, and snowboarder. He and wife Anna enjoy weekend trips along the California coast, exploring new restaurants, and during the winter they’ll probably be on the slopes in Tahoe or Colorado.
As the Senior Manager, Certification, Kelly is responsible for processing National certification applications, preparing National Appeals, and overseeing Regional Partner Organization Certification teams. Additionally, Kelly supports the National Certification Committee and delivers WBENCLink2.0 training for Corporate Members and certified WBE/applicants.
Prior to joining the WBENC team in 2019, Kelly spent 11 years as an Associate Director of Certification at the Women’s Business Development Center – Midwest based in Chicago, IL. Before working in the non-profit world, Kelly spent 13 years working as an American Sign Language Interpreter. Kelly received her Bachelor of Arts degree in ASL-English Interpretation from Columbia College of Chicago. Kelly correlates the years she spent as a freelance and staff interpreter, adapting to new environments and people daily, with her ability to relate to business owners in all types of industries and settings.
Originally from California, Kelly has happily resided in Chicago for 19 years. Some of her favorite pastimes are camping, golfing, and hiking in and around the city. While she has a soft spot for the Midwest and the seasons, she is always open to a tropical getaway to go diving and warm her soul inside and out.
As the Senior Accountant, Kelly assists the Finance Department in creating accurate and timely financial records for the organization. This includes invoicing customers, reconciling accounts, assisting in the year-end audit, and reviewing financial statements. She is a licensed CPA in the state of Maryland and an active member of the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance (AFWA).
Kelly joined the WBENC team in 2020 after two years in internal audit for a large non-profit and two years in public accounting performing audits of government and commercial entities.
Kelly graduated from The University of Maryland, College Park with a BS in Accounting and a BA in Music. She currently lives in Arlington, VA where she enjoys playing the oboe with local community groups and working out at her local CrossFit box.
Vice President, Human Resources, Governance & Programs
As Vice President, Human Resources, Governance & Programs, Jill is responsible for strategic human resource planning and alignment of human resource strategies with organizational vision and mission at WBENC. In addition, she leads the strategic planning and execution of WBENC programs, driving continuous engagement and value for WBENC constituents and stakeholders. Jill also oversees the WBENC Board of Directors governance functions, ensuring a highly effective board with diverse representation and talent.
Jill joined the WBENC team in 2016 after serving on the leadership team of WBE firm, Point 2 Point Global Security, Inc. as Senior Vice President, Human Resources. Jill holds a BS from the University of North Texas, as well as a Senior Certified Human Resources Professional Certification (SHRM-SCP) from the Society for Human Resources Management and a Professional in Human Resources Certification (PHR) from the Human Resources Certification Institute.
Jill lives in McKinney, Texas with her husband Kevin and two fur babies, Cadie and Tito. She is a Jazzercise instructor and enjoys spending time with family, traveling and exploring new places, and dabbling in interior design.
At WBENC, Nettie manages WBENC’s Marketing & Communication initiatives including social media, podcasts, media partnerships, photography and brand assets, public awareness campaigns, content strategy, and other promotions. She also manages the Women Owned program that supports female entrepreneurs and those who do business with them by raising awareness for why, where, and how to buy Women Owned.
Nettie joined the WBENC team in 2014 during her final year at the University of Texas at Austin (UT). She graduated in 2015 with a BA in Spanish and a Business Minor from UT. During her time at UT, Nettie volunteered for a number of women’s organizations including The SAFE Alliance and the Women’s Business Council-Southwest.
Nettie lives on a hobby farm in the Texas hill country with her husband, beloved german shorthaired pointer, and many farm animals. She enjoys spending time outdoors, travelling to new places, loving on all animals, and creating new recipes.
Senior Director, Marketing, Programs & Business Development
Jillian’s main role is in Business Development where she focuses on attracting and retaining WBENC’s National Corporate Members. She thrives in building relationships and understanding the true purpose of the organization and individual to align values with mission.
Jillian supports a number of organizational initiatives to collaborate with partners, develop new programs and contribute to a broader strategy around the overall mission of WBENC and the National Corporate Members in which she partners with.
Prior to joining WBENC, Jillian worked for three amazing corporations, MGM, Estee Lauder, and Marriott International. Each one provided abundant value into shaping her professional disposition and leadership style. Her expertise expands across total account management sales, business development, operations, training development and facilitation, market activation, managing key partnerships, and leadership.
Jillian is a busy mom of two human kids and six fur kids. The family lives in Falls Church City, Virginia where Jillian is an active member of the community.
Cheri Simmons, Director of Programs, is responsible for the strategic development and execution of programming for WBENC constituents.
Cheri oversees WBENC’s Corporate Member programming which provides exclusive peer-to-peer engagement opportunities for corporate professionals, and the Industry Spotlight Series which showcases Corporate Members and WBEs making an impact in specific industries and helps WBEs better navigate, scale and support those industries. In addition, Cheri helps provide instruction as part of the WBENC Executive Education Program for WBEs, and contributes to the NextGen Program.
Prior to joining WBENC, Cheri spent over 10 years in Global Purchasing & Supply Chain in the Automotive Industry, leading corporate buying teams and managing a global supply base.
Cheri is originally from the metropolitan Detroit area, and is an alumna of Michigan State University.
In her free time, Cheri enjoys spending quality time with family and friends, watching sports, and reading.
As the Director of Events, Laura manages WBENC’s event design, project management, and overall coordination of WBENC’s national events. She works closely with both the WBENC staff and a robust team of vendors to execute exciting and engaging events.
Laura joined the WBENC team in 2014 after working six years in television and film production, including three years working for a WBENC-Certified WBE. Growing up outside of DC, in Maryland, Laura graduated with a BS in Business Administration from the University of Mary Washington in 2008 where she also played four years of rugby.
Laura lives in Rockville, Maryland with her husband, kids, and pup, where she enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, and creating (whether it is trying a new recipe, quilting or pottery).
Vice President, Partner Network Planning and Operations
Laura is accountable for WBENC Certification as well as WBENC’s strategic partnerships with its Regional Partner Organization network. In addition, Laura and her team have accountability for several signature programs including; WBE Stars, the Women’s Enterprise Forum, the Tuck-WBENC programs, WeTHRIVE, Top Corporations for WBEs, MatchMaker, and the Student Entrepreneur Program.
Prior to WBENC, Laura was a senior leader in the Global Supply Chain organization at Pitney Bowes with additional experience in management positions in Finance and Customer Service. Laura played a key role in the creation of the enterprise-wide Procurement function at Pitney Bowes and was accountable for Indirect spend as well as leadership of the Supplier Diversity program.
Laura is a former Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. Laura is a William J. Alcorn Leadership Award recipient and is in the AIDC Women’s Business Enterprise Hall of Fame. Laura is active locally in Girl Scouts and in the High School Marching Band program.
As a Senior Project Manager for Events, Avery assists in the planning and execution of WBENC’s annual events, Summit & Salute and the WBENC National Conference & Business Fair. Avery also manages WBENC’s partnership with Planet Mogul, a program which develops the next generation of entrepreneurs, innovators and community leaders.
Avery joined the WBENC team in 2018 with previous experience in event planning and logistics. Originally from North Carolina, Avery graduated from East Carolina University with a BS in Hospitality Management, with a concentration in Special Events & Conventions. Throughout her time at ECU, Avery served as the President of the Student Activities Board and continues to serve on the Advancement Council for ECU’s Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement.
Avery resides in Arlington, Virginia, and enjoys spending her free time traveling, front-porch gardening, hiking, trying new recipes, and playing with her spunky cat, T’Challa.
As the Director of Certification, LaKesha leads the WBENC WBE and WOSB certification standardization and compliance efforts by overseeing the Regional Partner Organizations’ processes. LaKesha is responsible for all certification-related training for RPO Staff and Certification Committee members and managing WBENC’s proprietary database, WBENCLink2.0.
Prior to joining WBENC in 2011, LaKesha served as Director of Certification for the Women’s Business Enterprise Council – South from 2003-2007, then transferred her services from Louisiana to be the Carolinas Certification Program Manager for the Greater Women’s Business Council until 2010. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration as a Magna Cum Laude graduate from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 2001.
LaKesha is a 20+ year military spouse and mother of an LSU student (Geaux Tigers!). A native of Texas, her family is now stationed in San Antonio and enjoying being closer to family. When not moving all over the U.S., she enjoys relaxing on the back porch, watching sports (preferably football or basketball), and playing Ruzzle.
As Senior Manager of Strategic Programs, Jessica is responsible for the Tuck-WBENC programs, MatchMaker programs, the Women’s Business Enterprise Stars recognition, the Dorothy B. Brothers Scholarship program, and she is the staff liaison to the Women’s Enterprise Forum.
Jessica has always had an entrepreneurial spirit with a keen interest in the particular challenges that women face in business. After earning a B.A. in mathematics from Bucknell University, she opened a café/restaurant, which she managed for four years. During this time, she gained invaluable firsthand experience in business operations, financial planning, sales, staff management, marketing and promotions, and events planning. She also has experience in high net worth tax accounting, bookkeeping, and auditing. Prior to joining WBENC in 2019, she served as Director of Certification and Corporate Relations for the Center for Women & Enterprise, where she worked for over five years.
Jessica holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and a Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) from Northeastern University. She is an avid card player and musician, and still occasionally enjoys performing.
As the Director of Operations, Amanda works closely with the CEO and leadership team and is responsible for a variety of WBENC programs and initiatives. Amanda oversees the WBENCPitch program, serves as the lead liaison for one of the organization’s advisory groups known as the Women of Distinction, and manages the annual November Board of Directors & Committee Meeting, and special VIP and affiliate events.
Amanda joined the team in 2014 after working in event management planning and executing charity events on the West Coast. During her time at WBENC, she has supported the Accounting and Certification departments, and worked primarily as an Event Manager on the Marketing team overseeing our signature annual conferences and events before transitioning to the operations team.
A local from the DC metropolitan area, Amanda is from Silver Spring, MD. She graduated with a BA in American Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2009. Amanda enjoys watching sports, baking, spending time with her pup, traveling, and working out (especially boxing).