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October 23, 2018

Media Contact: Laura Rankin, Event Manager


(440) 666-8547

Women's Entrepreneurship Day Cleveland Establishes Cleveland Pioneer Award to Recognize Local Women in Business

CLEVELAND – Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED) Cleveland will honor three local entrepreneurs with the presentation of the first ever WED Cleveland Pioneer Awards on Monday, Nov. 12 at the inaugural WED Cleveland event. The award recognizes and honors female leaders and innovators who have made inspiring accomplishments that lift up and improve the lives of women.

The 2018 honorees have demonstrated a commitment to empowering women —from building community among Cleveland’s female entrepreneurs to helping women find safe spaces where they can thrive personally and professionally.

The 2018 recipients of the WED Cleveland Pioneer Awards are Renée DeLuca Dolan, President/Founder at Contempo Communications, Melanie GiaMaria, Founder at Melanie GiaMaria Law LLC and Renee Jones, President/CEO at Renee Jones Empowerment Center & The Northeast Ohio Human Trafficking Law Clinic. Upon accepting the award, these Cleveland entrepreneurs will join a sisterhood of women honored around the world and at the United Nations every November.

Renée Deluca Dolan started Contempo Communications in 1996 because she wanted to share her creativity and passion for design. More than 20 years later, Renee still gets tremendous satisfaction helping clients discover how strategic branding and design can help them reach marketing objectives. Renee is the founder of Cleveland Business Connects, a female-focused magazine she published for 10 years, and also founded the CBC Magazine Connectors Choice Awards to honor Clevelanders in the special events profession. Renée’s entrepreneurial spirit and heart for helping women succeed in business prompted her to create the Female Entrepreneur Summit, an annual day of learning for Northeast Ohio business women, now in its 7th year.  She’s a distinguished alumna of Kent State University, where she serves on the Business Advisory Board.

Melanie GiaMaria started her own legal practice devoted to family law in 2003. While Melanie was a graduate student at Case Western Reserve University, earning degrees in both law and social work, she interned at Women's Re-Entry Network, a program of Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM) that helps participants re-enter society, enhance self-sufficiency and reduce the risk of recidivism. She also formed a support group for victims of sexual abuse and her career course as an advocate and protector was charted. Melanie worked for LMM as a licensed social worker, and later, as their staff attorney until she left in 2014 to devote more time and energy to her growing practice. Melanie is a Top Attorney of North America and an adjunct professor and lecturer for Case Western Reserve University, School of Law in the Human Trafficking Law Clinic. She values her work as a Guardian ad Litem and provides legal services to primarily juvenile victims of sex trafficking, many of which are participating in the Safe Harbor docket of Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court. Melanie has also contracted with the Jewish Family Service Association of Cleveland to represent their clients in the Strengthening Families Program for over 15 years.

Renee Jones has devoted her career to serving others. In 1998, she started Mastermind Alliance, a weekly empowerment program at the Bishop Cosgrove Center. The program was designed to get homeless individuals off the street, off of public assistance, and back onto a path of dignity and self-sufficiency. By the following year, 78 people had moved through the program from homelessness to self-sufficiency. Seeing the transformative change that came from the investment of a single day a week, Ms. Jones soon envisioned and created a new community center to address the needs of the vulnerable and to empower their restoration and in 2002 the Renee Jones Empowerment Center (RJEC) and The Northeast Ohio Human Trafficking Law Clinic opened its doors. The Center provides holistic restorative services for minor and adult human trafficking and sexual assault victims. She also founded Project Red Cord, a human trafficking awareness program for teens.

The WED Cleveland Pioneer Awards will be presented at WED Cleveland, which will take place from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 12 at the Linsalata Alumni Center of Case Western Reserve University.  This day-long event was created to be a different kind of women’s entrepreneur program.

Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Cleveland is produced and hosted by Prosper for Purpose, a Cleveland-based public relations, branding and fundraising firm that helps purpose-driven organizations and individuals maximize their impact. Founder and CEO

Lorraine Schuchart committed to launch the inaugural Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Cleveland after attending the flagship event in 2017.

“While most female entrepreneur events engage ‘experts’ to tell women what they need to do to make their businesses thrive, our event is based on the belief that the women in the room have the answers, and that through directed discussion and collaboration, they will identify and implement the strategies for success,” explained Schuchart.

Using the "World Café" format, attendees will be taking on some of the most pressing challenges facing women in business today. Throughout the day, participants will have the opportunity to:

The worldwide movement began with an idea by Cleveland native and New York-based entrepreneur Wendy Diamond. “Empowering women worldwide and investing in their futures helps to drive and promote economic vitality and security locally and globally,” said Diamond. “Twenty-first century leadership skills, such as cooperation, communication and sharing are more commonly associated with women. We want to celebrate the unwavering positives that women entrepreneurs bring to the global economy as well as inspire and support future generations of women entrepreneurs.”

Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Cleveland would not be possible without the support of its 2018 event partners: Bon Appétit Management Company, L’Nique Linens, Annie’s Signature Sweets, Storehouse Tea Company, Your Local Girl Gang, Aviatra Accelerators, JumpStart Inc., NAWBO Cleveland, Phoenix Coffee Co and Limelight CoWorking.

More information and tickets to the event are available on the WED Cleveland website.  Follow WED Cleveland on Facebook and Instagram.

About Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

Social entrepreneur and Cleveland-native Wendy Diamond launched the​ ​Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization​ in 2014. Recognizing that women in business are a force for good— financially elevating their families, neighborhoods, communities and countries—Diamond sought to bring more support and awareness to the global impact of women in business.

Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED) will be celebrated globally on Nov. 19, 2018. It is the world’s largest grassroots movement and mission dedicated to celebrating, supporting and empowering women across the globe. WED encourages four billion women worldwide to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, with the goal of inspiring hope and alleviating poverty. 

About Prosper for Purpose

Prosper for Purpose is a Cleveland-based public relations, branding and fundraising firm that helps purpose-driven organizations and individuals maximize their impact. Prosper became the first nonprofit consulting and fundraising agency in Ohio, and the second communications agency, to receive certified B Corp status in February of 2016.