Women in Business 2016

Meet the women who are changing the workplace and the workforce today.

From nonprofit leaders who have expanded the missions of their organizations to new leaders at major universities to key executives at Delaware’s most famous business, the Class of 2016 is the most dynamic yet. 

Do you know an achiever who should be featured? Please send nominations for the Women in Business Class of 2017 to mnardone@delawaretoday.com.

Marnie Oursler (left) will speak at this year’s Downstate Luncheon; Tanya Bakalov (right) will speak at this year’s Upstate Luncheon

Owner | Oasis Healing Center

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Energy healing and holistic healthcare are two of Alesi’s passions, as evidenced by her credentials. Certified in Healing Touch practice, Reiki, holistic cancer education, life coaching, holistic minister practice and aromatherapy, she is well prepared to help her clients on their journeys to wellness. Another passion: educating medical professionals about energy healing as a complementary therapy. “Healing Touch is already in hospitals, hospice and nursing homes,” Alesi says. “I would like to see the statistics grow, and to see holistic healthcare used in every home.” Key to work-life balance: “Make time for yourself to do what you enjoy. You need to take care of your health and practice self-care daily  for stress management and physical, emotional, spiritual and mental well-being. You can’t take care of others if you haven’t taken care of yourself first.”

Executive Director | Delaware Alliance for Community Advancement

The nonprofit alliance works to break the cycle of poverty in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Toward that end, Battle has done everything from making sure the state installed a traffic light at a busy intersection on Wilmington’s Eastside to explaining to the chiefs of the Federal Reserve how raising the interest rate would hurt the working poor. Among her accomplishments so far is creating a housing mediation plan for families caught in the foreclosure crisis. Her list of big goals includes working to increase the minimum wage, implementing same-day voter registration, curbing payday and title loan abuse, and urging the Fed to increase the number of people of color on its board. Her work has earned her the NAACP Community Service Award this year and other honors. Key to success: “What I do is a calling, which drives me to be an advocate for the needy. At this time in my life, no other work would be as satisfying or rewarding.”

Executive Director | Light Up The Queen Foundation

When the chair of the Light Up The Queen Foundation asked Betz in 2013 to serve as its first executive director, she couldn’t say no. While the city of Wilmington’s director of cultural affairs, she became a founding board member. LUTQ started as a vehicle to raise funds for rehabilitation of the historic theater, a key in downtown revitalization. Her job now includes ensuring The Queen’s status as a catalyst for building community through high-quality programs in arts, music, education, workforce development and more. Responsibilities include strategic planning; development; implementation and management of arts education programs; fundraising and donor relations; community relations; and financial management. The work has earned her a YMCA Black Achievers award, a Christina Cultural Arts Center Christi Award for Outstanding Achievement by an artist and more. Keys to success: “Positivity. Resilience. Perseverance. Effective listening. Good karma.”

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Founder of SevOne | CEO of BetterSkills

What do you do as a follow-up after you’ve grown your start-up from four people in a garage to more than 500 employees around the world and $90 million in revenue? Sometimes, you get back to your roots. In Bakalov’s case, that means starting another start-up, BetterSkills Inc. She knew the drill. After she and her husband, Vess, launched SevOne, a digital infrastructure management software company that provides network managers with network monitoring, troubleshooting and performance reporting capabilities at companies such as Verizon, Comcast and HBO, Bakalov focused on growing revenue, expanding to offices in Europe and Asia, and shepherding the company through several key rounds of financing and two key acquisitions. She’ll use some of those skills in growing BetterSkills, which provides a dynamic new platform for organizational development and employee engagement. It allows companies to grow, develop and retain their talent by providing them with the tools and methodology necessary to enhance skills and competencies. Beta and trial testing of the platform will occur over the coming months.

Key to success: “Believing in yourself, even when people tell you no or, ‘That’s impossible.’ It takes true grit to take a company off the ground. You have to be strong enough emotionally to survive through the lows. You cannot succeed if you can’t be persistent, stay the course and be willing to take on some risks. You also cannot do it alone. I attribute my success to my partner in life, Vess, who has always stood by my side and picked me up when I had a challenging day.”

What makes a good leader? “A good leader inspires employees and encourages their growth and learning. All along in my career, I have always put value in mentoring others, seeking out those who are willing to learn, and sharing my personal experiences, lessons learned and advice to help them grow as well. I believe good leaders care about their employees, their work culture, and put an emphasis on creating a learning environment where mentoring and people development can take place. This inspired me to create my new company, BetterSkills, as we provide the pathway to how employees can be successful in their careers. At the same time, as a leader, there are times where I myself will meet with colleagues for lunch to have a conversation on current situations I am facing or get advice on how to address something that has come up. Being open and willing to seek input from others is also a good sign of a great leader.”

Greatest professional success: Founding SevOne and earning the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for 2016.

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Greatest personal success: “Being married to my husband, Vess, and raising two beautiful little boys, Vance and Tommy.”

Key to work-life balance: “You have to realize that sacrifices need to be made, but having clear priorities certainly helps make the hard choices easier. You have to be very well organized at work and at home and make sure all obligations are on your calendar. Throughout any given day I have to switch context or make various decisions and choices close to 100 times. I try to find some quiet time Sunday night and look at the workweek ahead holistically to figure out everything that needs to be done that week, whether it’s for my kids’ school, social or professional work.”

If you could do any other work: “Although I love what I do every day, sometimes I wonder what my life would have been if I stuck with my first passion: accounting. Passion and accounting is not something people immediately put in the same sentence, but for me there’s always been a sense of completion and order. Even today I like balancing my checkbook with a nice cup of coffee on a Saturday morning.”

Chairwoman | Delaware Commission for Women
Administrator | Delaware Department of Labor

Brewington-Carr describes her basic responsibilities for the commission this way: “I have the primary responsibility to convene a wonderful, diverse, multigenerational group of advocates from all major political parties and all counties who care about and are committed to address the issues, public policy needs, quality-of-life matters, and even the hopes and dreams of women in Delaware.” Coming soon from the commission, she says, will be a report about women, from their perspective, to inform public policy and direct needed services in support of all Delaware women. “Simply put, it’s her story,” Brewington-Carr says. If she could do any other work, it wouldn’t be much different—she would like to be CEO or policy director of a think tank for the improvement of the lives of women and girls “wherever they may be in their life journeys.” What makes a good leader: “A good leader listens free from judgment so she can be present, respectful, with compassion, empathy and, most of all, discernment.”

CEO | BookofYou.com 

As a managing director at Accenture, Brown saw many of her clients landing in the wrong jobs and ending up miserable. When she asked what they wanted in a job, they often could not answer. “It really bothered me that so many people were needlessly unfulfilled,” Brown says. So she formed BookofYou.com to help people understand what would make them happy and successful and how to use their unique personality attributes. Based upon the results of a tried-and-true personality assessment, Brown can produce a book for each individual reader on topics from choosing a career to improving a relationship. Next big thing: “While my work is available to anyone, I hope to specifically empower 250,000 women with knowledge of their unique passions, strengths and motivational needs, and the specific things they can do to be happier, more successful and better understood.” Brown’s book about improving the most significant relationships in life will be available in early 2017. 

Executive Director | Delaware Financial Literacy Institute

When Gov. Jack Markell was running for state treasurer, he visited Cohen at the public school where she taught to see the elementary economic, financial and entrepreneurship programs she had developed with UD Center for Economic Education & Entrepreneurship. He was especially interested in Bank At School and Stock Market Game. From asking her to present talks on raising financially literate children, he asked her to direct his new nonprofit, Delaware Financial Literacy Institute, in 2002. “I had taught for 33 years and was eligible to retire and I accepted his offer,” says Cohen, Delaware Teacher of the Year for 2000. Among other programs, the Money School provides free financial education across the state and to pre-release inmates at correctional facilities. Earlier this year Markell appointed Cohen co-chair of the Financial Literacy Education Task Force. Big goal: “I would like all children to have economic and financial education during their school years and to learn that venture creation is a viable career option at any time of their lives.”

President and Founder | Global Learning and Diversity Partners and Health Innovation Globally 

After working for more than 25 years in the health industry, Colon-Kolacko struck out on her own. Both of her new businesses are bilingual consulting firms that work to help organizations create engaged multicultural workforces and improve patient or consumer experiences. Global Learning and Diversity Partners is leading statewide cultural and linguistic assessments, health literacy projects, and programs to encourage culturally competent marketing and planning to increase diversity in the workplace. The objective is to transform integrated diversity from policy or program to part of the fabric of the organization. Health Innovation Globally is working to change healthcare encounters through technology, to improve healthcare access for all populations and to integrate culturally competent services. “My first hope is for Delaware to leverage existing diversity coalitions to connect profit and nonprofit organizations and develop a statewide agenda for diversity and human capital,” Colon-Kolacko says. “My second hope is to help diverse populations understand resources are available for them to become healthier.” Key to success: “Seek to learn new things and take risks.”

Dean, College of Business | Delaware State University

The mission of the DSU College of Business is to develop successful business professionals. “My role is to ensure we have an engaged, caring and committed faculty that is student-centered,” Covington says. It was a natural next step for Covington, a first-generation college student. A retired global executive, she wanted to help a historically black college prepare young people for the global marketplace. “My vision was to be a dream supporter—to build leaders and support young people in achieving their dreams,” she says. As she was pondering her next move, Delaware State came calling. “Now I would like to see the College of Business deeply integrated into the business environment in Delaware,” Covington says. “I would like to make more partnerships with key companies in Delaware and the surrounding area. I think about how our students can add value and be sought out for their expertise and skill.” Key to success: “Love what you do and dream big.”

CEO | M. Davis & Sons Inc.

M. Davis & Sons Inc. is a fifth-generation company that builds, installs and maintains plants for oil and gas, chemical, pharmaceutical, food, beverage and other companies. Since starting at M. Davis in 1987 in the accounting department, Del Fabbro has served as controller, treasurer and in other executive roles before becoming CEO in 2008. Quality and safety come first, she says. “It is always important to look ahead to the next great innovation in our industry and work on how M. Davis & Sons Inc. can be ahead of the curve,” Del Fabbro says. The vision paid off in a banner year of more than $53 million in sales in 2015. Del Fabbro serves in several roles in support of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council nationally and the WBEC for Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, which earned her the organization’s National Council Star Award in 2014. In addition, M. Davis earned SmartCEO’s Family Business Award and Legacy Award for 2016. Greatest personal accomplishment: Earning a third-degree black belt in Tang Soo Do karate.

Founder and Owner | Heather’s Home Works, LLC

From the staff meeting in the parking lot of a grocery store in Millville before heading off to their job assignments to moving into new offices soon, DeMarie and her company have come a long way. From starting the business by cleaning two houses a day by herself in 2003, Heather’s Home Works has grown to the verge of becoming the first women-owned non-franchise cleaning service in Sussex County to reach $1 million in revenue. That comes, in part, from helping her employees grow and develop through such activities as zip line courses, paint night outings and Cooking 101—Let’s Make Spaghetti, which she hosted in her home to teach basic meal prep. “This part of my job is probably my favorite and most rewarding,” DeMarie says. Other responsibilities include sales and marketing, community outreach and networking, and charitable giving to such organizations as The Freeman Stage at Bayside, the Cleaning for a Reason program and Paws of Tomorrow animal rescue. Greatest personal success: Running two Marine Corps Marathons. If she could do any other work? Professional singer. “If there’s karaoke, I’m in.”

Founder and CEO | entreDonovan, LLC

Farquhar had worked as a stock market analyst for 18 years when the fun wore off. She had also thought a great deal about the lack of well-fitted professional clothing for women, so she started a company to address the need through technology. At her downtown Wilmington boutique, women can now can get a body scan that provides a custom fit. “We’re pretty excited about that since no one else in America is doing it for women’s custom,” Farquhar says. In her role, Farquhar has done it all, from evaluating the technology to finding manufacturers to cleaning windows at the store. Because the boutique is the only place where customers can get scanned, entreDonovan is working on a unit to take on the road, and it anticipates a day when the technology is available for home use so women can order online. “We see opportunity to make our process available to other established brands and to expand into categories beyond career apparel,” Farquhar says. Biggest professional accomplishment: “Convincing my (now) business partner to move here to help me break the rules in traditional retail. She had recently finished her Ph.D. in 3D and 2D garment design and was being recruited by some pretty giant companies.”

Founders and Owners | Social Stylate

“If we weren’t marketing fashion, we’d still be working in the fashion industry,” says Laurence, who met Golt while working in fashion eight years ago. “Years ago we talked about how fun it would be to own a boutique together. We both have different styles. It would be fun to merge them.” So five years ago, they did. The result is Social Stylate, a marketing company that specializes in social media management, content creation, media relations and web design for clients such as national style-fashion experts Lilliana Vasquez and Jill Martin—regulars on the “Today” show—and local businesses such as Janssen’s Market, Houppette and Union Park Auto. With a savvy team of folks with backgrounds in marketing, social media, graphic design and brand management, Social Stylate can provide invaluable consulting services, as well as an insider’s perspective on the challenges of today’s fast-paced media landscape. Key to success: “Finding the right balance of work and play.”

Managing Director | Wilmington Renaissance Corporation

If you’ve noticed the emergence of the Wilmington Creative District, thank Gray: She was key in uniting more than 40 partner organizations in an effort that includes housing development, public art projects, entertainment and more in an effort to strengthen areas surrounding the downtown and increase economic vitality. Among her visions for the district is a kitchen incubator—a membership space where culinary entrepreneurs have access to state-of-the-art culinary equipment and business expertise that can help them expand their businesses. “A kitchen incubator is a jobs creator, a workforce and economic development tool, and above all a community builder,” Gray says. Gray started as WRC’s communications director in 1998 and rose through the ranks until she was named managing director in 2005. Check her NewMarketWilm campaign for the latest on enterprises such as urban farms, candy kitchens and comedy clubs. Key to work-life balance: “Like most working parents, I do the best I can. But in my case, if it weren’t for a great partnership with my husband, then something would always be falling short. I think the key is making sure that your priorities are in the right place. No one will ever remember if I wasn’t at a noncritical work-related evening event. But my son will absolutely remember if I didn’t make it to his swim meet.”

Vice President of Public Policy and Chief Sustainability Officer | DuPont

Things change, but don’t count DuPont out. It is still a major local employer, and still an innovator, continuing to introduce world-class science and engineering to the world, just as it has since 1802. “The company believes that by collaborating with customers, governments, NGOs and thought leaders we can help find solutions to such global challenges as providing enough healthy food for people everywhere, decreasing dependence on fossil fuels, and protecting life and the environment,” says Harden, who is at the center of such efforts. In her dual role, she manages company outreach with state, federal and international elected decision makers and works to ensure DuPont achieves its environmental objectives. “I’m humbled that I can stand shoulder to shoulder with the scientists and engineers of DuPont that make those solutions a reality for everyday people who need products and services that work for them, their families and their businesses.” Next big thing: “I think this merger [with Dow Chemical] is compelling, with amazing innovation and value creation potential. The result will benefit our customers and communities, and I’m excited to step up and be part of that effort.”

Vice President | BrightFields Inc.

Among her many accomplishments, “I feel the most proud to have contributed to the revitalization of the Wilmington Riverfront from industrial wasteland to vibrant destination,” says Harwanko. It’s the kind of work woman-owned BrightFields specializes in—turning brownfields into beautiful, productive, useful areas—as well as soil and groundwater remediation, asbestos and lead surveys, hazardous materials cleanup and ecological restoration for government, private and nonprofit clients. Harwanko worked her way up, from college intern 18 years ago to project manager to vice president three years ago, learning all the necessary scientific, technical and business skills along the way. “I’m not a native to Wilmington, but I’ve lived and worked here for the past 18 years and I take great pride in calling it my home. In the coming year I hope to be part of growing the future of Wilmington, working along with many others to make Wilmington a world-class city.” Dream job: “I really enjoy seeing the transformation of the projects that I work on from industrial wasteland to vibrant community, but on those most challenging days I would love to be a beach chair tester on a tropical island or down at the beach.”


Founder and President | Marnie Custom Homes

The timing could not have been more off. Oursler launched her beach-based custom home building business in 2007, on the verge of the worst housing crash in U.S. history. “I couldn’t afford to hire many workers, so I did a lot of the building myself,” Oursler says. She studied the real estate market, found an affordable property in a growth area, designed and built a home for herself, sold it herself, then did it again. She struggled. “But the third time was a charm,” Oursler says. “The house had a custom oversized front door, wide plank wood flooring, impeccable interior trim details, solid wood 8-foot doors, cathedral ceilings with exposed beams and a sea glass palette.” When she finished, she invited all the neighbors over for a party. “I expected a few people, but hundreds showed up—and that’s where everything changed. After that day, word spread like wildfire. I got referral after referral. I didn’t even have to submit bids anymore. Business was coming to me. And the best part? They didn’t just want me to build the home—they wanted me to design it, too.” Marnie Custom Homes has thrived ever since, and it has brought Oursler no small amount of attention. She earned a Gold Stevie Award for Women in Business, made Professional Builder Magazine’s 40 under 40 list, became the national spokeswoman for 84 Lumber’s “We Build American” campaign and earned other honors. She is wrapping up filming for “Big Beach Builds,” which is scheduled to premiere on DIY Network this spring.

Key to success: “Never give up. I had all the odds stacked against me when I started—I was a female builder in a male-dominated industry, and the country was facing a housing crisis. Not only did I survive that, I prospered. But getting there took ambition and perseverance.” What makes you a good leader? “I listen and react quickly. I listen to my coworkers, the good, the bad, the day-to-day issues. We collaborate, and I constantly make adjustments to our business plan and strategy. I support and empower my employees, and approach everything with a team mentality. And I don’t always have to be the one in control. A good leader knows when to step back, let others shine and recognize them for it.”

Greatest professional success: Moving out of a home office to a real office. “As simple as that sounds, it was a big deal. I was finally comfortable where I was and not thinking is this the year I go out of business? I was more like, OK, this is ridiculous—we need a place to have meetings that aren’t on the back of Jon’s truck. And I renovated that office and made it special for my team, our clients, our subcontractors and our trade partners—where everyone walks in and feels right at home.”

Greatest personal success: “‘Big Beach Builds’ was a huge milestone for me. It has given me so much more than a chance to be on TV, but the opportunity to work on the renovations with my brother Chris, which has been such a special opportunity, one that I will treasure forever. I really enjoy working with him every day. And also I have achieved a personal sense of growth—where I have a different sense of confidence now—because of the confidence that others have put in me to do this show, speak to the construction and design, and give me the chance not only to be entertaining, but also be the expert in the field.”

Key to work-life balance: Making the time to do what you love. “I love seeing my family, so I make sure I see them. I love seeing my friends, so I make sure I do that. I love traveling, so I make sure I do it. I love design, so I make sure I embrace that. I love to jump in the ocean, so I do it.”

If you could do any other work: “I would be a host on the Travel Channel.”


Director, Clinical Operations | Nanticoke Physician Network

As this 17-year veteran of Nanticoke Hospital closes in on a master’s in science of healthcare administration to add to her bachelor’s in nursing—Hudson is due to finish this spring—she stays busy running patient care, employee healthcare and more for the hospital’s network of doctors. At the moment, her duties also include preparing for the changes to the way payments are made to healthcare providers according to Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. She also intends to ensure the success of the accountable care organization Nanticoke joined, a group of doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers who unite voluntarily to give coordinated high quality care to Medicare patients. Along the way she has helped the organization earn several important accreditations and certifications. What makes a good leader? “Someone who is driven to accomplish all things possible.”

Vice President, Human Resources | Dover Downs Hotel & Casino and Dover International Speedway

It takes a lot of people—almost 2,000—to make Dover Downs hum, both the hotel-casino side of the operation and the NASCAR racing side. Add temporary people for events such as the Firefly Musical Festival and the number grows to about 3,000. At the center of all those folks is Libby, who for the past 10 years has recruited and hired employees, conducted training and development programs, and managed their benefits and compensation, employee communications and relations and recognition programs and events—not to mention ensuring compliance with myriad laws and government regulations. She brings fairness and integrity to the job, as well as “a sense of humor.” “It is a tremendous challenge to stay current with all of the changes in today’s world,” Libby says. “I give it my best effort every day so I can continue to be a valuable resource for my companies.” In addition to her regular duties, she chairs the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce and serves on the Delaware State Rehabilitation Council, as well as the boards of the DelMarVa Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management and the Delaware Employers Council. Key to success: “Be open to learning something new every single day.” 

Owner | Levitea

There is joy in tea. That’s the message at Lomax’s downtown tea shop on the cusp of Wilmington’s emerging Creative District. She worked in the nonprofit world for 20 years before opening Levitea in 2014. Since then, the shop and its wares have been widely featured in local media, as well as at the prestigious Green Room of the Hotel du Pont. Levitea is also a finalist in the Artplace America National Placemaking grant initiative for its work with local arts and artists. “Expansion is most certainly our next goal,” Lomax says. “We are working diligently to take our brand to the next level.” If she could do any other work: “I am a painter, so art would be my natural next step.”

Business Adviser | University of Delaware Office of Economic Innovation & Partnerships, Small Business Development Center

After a long, successful career in the business world, Louth went to work as the office manager of the Sussex County Small Business Development Center. Four years later, an adviser position. Since then she has provided direct business management and technical assistance to many small businesses and helped others who want to start their own. For her work she was honored with the State Star Award in 2008 and 2015 at the national America’s SBDC conference. “Owning my own business led the way for me to be a business adviser and ultimately help people,” Louth says. Greatest personal success: “Seeing my book, ‘Always Remember to Breathe,’ published. My love of reading and writing in my personal journals was where it all began. I knew that I would ultimately find happiness and peace by helping others. After a tragedy in my life occurred, I wrote this book, which is my inspirational walk and tells a true story about love, loss and healing.”

President | DMG Clearances Inc.

Mannis-Gardner’s client list reads like a who’s who of popular music. For 20 years, she has worked with such top record labels as Atlantic, Sony Music, Capitol and Warner Bros., clearing samples for such superstar artists as Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, U2, Mariah Carey, Beyonce and dozens more. That means negotiating permissions and fees with a publisher and-or record label for use of copyrighted material. Her work has also led to securing music clearances for big-name video games, feature films, television and more. Among her big projects was securing clearances for the blockbuster “Hamilton,” per the recommendation of the country’s leading musicologist, starting with its run at the Public Theater through a performance at the White House, a PBS documentary and various recordings. Look for her work soon in an HBO documentary about hip-hop legend Dr. Dre and producer Jimmy Iovine, “The Defiant Ones.” Mannis-Gardner was the music supervisor. If she could do other work: “I am interested in teaching and lecturing. Knowledge is the key to success.”

Founder | Trustees of Color

Having served as a director or trustee on boards for organizations such as the University of Delaware, International Reading Association, Delaware Community Foundation, Delaware Symphony Association, Homes for Life, United Way of Delaware, Christiana Care Health System and YWCA, Martin saw firsthand the need for diversity in Delaware’s nonprofit arena. Having often been asked to recommend other people of color, Martin decided to develop a process that would help recruit and train people of color to serve on nonprofit boards and committees. Thus, Trustees of Color was born. Martin now spends her time reaching out to nonprofit leaders and leaders of color to promote TOC and recruit candidates and matching prospective trustees of color with select nonprofit boards, committees and public sector opportunities. Among other recognitions her efforts have won, Martin was honored with a Fund for Women First Founder Award in September. Next big thing: “See the world and continue to make a difference where I can.” Greatest professional success: “Having been the ‘first’ African American and-or woman in many of my professional endeavors.”

President and CEO | Sussex Shores Water Company

Sussex Shores Water Company, incorporated in 1955, is an investor-owned water utility system that supplies water on a retail basis to customers in parts of Sussex County. Mason is its third-generation president, going back to her grandfather, then her father. Mason took over in 1981, soon after graduating from Mount St. Mary’s University. She was named president and CEO in May 2012. She oversees daily operations—“which is made easier by my amazing team of coworkers,” she says—and carries out the strategic plans and policies established by the board of directors. Key to work-life balance: “I’m still looking! Being dedicated to a business and being the mother of two small children can be a difficult balancing act. What I’ve found works for me is to leave work at the office whenever I can. Most importantly, when I’m home with my husband and kids, I try to put the cell phone down.”

President and CEO | Assurance Media

MTM Technologies was struggling to achieve profitability, and failure to find a buyer before July 2009 would have resulted in termination of the division and the layoff of 20 employees. Having previously worked for MTM as vice president, McKenzie knew its cabling division was capable of better performance, so she acquired it for Assurance Media, which offers advanced technology to customers that needs security and audiovisual systems. “Because these offerings rely heavily on structured cabling infrastructure (high-tech wiring for digital and electronic office systems), adding them to the company offered the opportunity for growth and diversification without the need for immediate additional personnel and skill investment,” McKenzie says. All three divisions have grown ever since. Assurance currently employs 36 people. McKenzie would like to grow the company over the next two years to open a downstate office that would also serve clients in Maryland. Greatest professional achievement: “We are proud to say that we have experienced 335 percent increase in revenue growth in the seven years we have been in business,” McKenzie says. “At the same time we increased the workforce by 75 percent.” That’s not to mention several business awards, including a Delaware State Chamber of Commerce Superstars in Business Award of Excellence. What makes a great leader: “Hiring talent with great attitude, providing them the tools they need and rewarding their good work.”

President and Owner | Johnny Janosik World of Furniture

You know Johnny Janosik from its longtime television advertising as the “Longest Store on the Shore” and, maybe, from its Furniture Today Top 100 furniture retailer designation. You know Morrison as its second-generation owner. As such, she oversees all daily functions and directs the Johnny Janosik Charitable Foundation. Along with the recent accomplishment of opening a 180,000-square-foot showroom in Laurel, she’ll add a new store in Dover this month. Key to success: “Go back to the basics: Be honest, be fair and give great service.”

Private Wealth Adviser | Orth Financial Group

As a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Orth Financial is a full-service financial planning firm. “I meet with my clients to help construct, implement and manage their financial situation so that they can focus on living their lives to the fullest,” Orth says. When she mentions that she has provided “excellent” service to her clients over the past 30 years, she is not boasting. No less than Barron’s named her No. 1 on its list of top 100 women financial advisers for 2016, a fact no less remarkable because she has built her business mostly on referrals. “I am proud to be part of such a wonderful industry that helps people put in place plans to live their lives with more comfort and with more confidence,” Orth says. Key to success: “Hard work—there is no substitute for that.”

Vice President of Strategic Planning and Analysis | University of Delaware

New leadership at any business or institution usually brings all kinds of new changes. Remmler is one of the latest at the university, where she was selected by new president Dennis Assanis to create and implement a plan that will, among other things, enhance student success and intellectual capital, increase global and interdisciplinary programs, and foster a spirit of entrepreneurship. “This includes analysis of data to support the development of new programs or services, assessing the field to identify emerging trends and recommending new initiatives to grow the organization,” Remmler says. Remmler was selected in part for her success in navigating her previous school, Stony Brook University, through difficult financial weather. Assanis was provost and vice president of academic affairs there before joining UD in July. Key to success: “Knowing that failure is not the opposite of success, but a part of achieving it. I believe it was Joe Biden’s father that advised him, ‘Don’t judge a man by how many times he falls down, but by how quickly he gets up.’ I may fall down often, but I still get up pretty quickly.”


Business Development Manager | Delaware 87ers

“Bouncing around” is a natural part of the career journey, and the path Reynolds took after finishing Delaware State University and interning in the live events marketing department at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The experience led to a passion for event planning and, recently, to the Sevens, the official NBA D-League affiliate of the Philadelphia 76ers. Now she coordinates partnerships with local businesses to get their names in front of 87ers fans and oversees the ticket sales department by creating and implementing sales plans and motivating a team of five account executives. “Breaking into the sports-live events industry is hard for anyone,” Reynolds says. “On top of that, there are few women in this career field. I’m grateful to work for a diverse company with great mentors and leaders.” Next big thing: Finishing an MBA program at Drexel University in May.

President | Blue Hen Utility Services Inc.

Reynolds had been speaking with customers of her other company, Shelly Sons Electric, when she realized that there were no utility contracting companies geared toward medium- and high-voltage work based in Delaware. Hence, Blue Hen Utility Services was born three years ago. Blue Hen maintains and repairs electrical power line distribution systems, performs storm restoration and installs outdoor lighting. Services include everything from buildings and athletic fields to parking lots. “We are unique in the marketplace in that we offer a wide range of services to a specific target market, the utility industry,” Reynolds says. Blue Hen has since achieved national certification as a Women’s Business Enterprise by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and, in 2015, was named a Success Story by the Small Business Administration. “We have embraced the need for diversification in the utility service business,” says Reynolds, who was named to the board of directors for the National Association for Women in Construction. Next big thing: “Focusing on growth so that our company can continue to help and support the state of Delaware and the Mid-Atlantic region with power outages and maintaining and restoring electrical power lines. Another goal is to also be an advocate of women leaders—encourage and support their ideas and thoughts and to inspire and motivate them to live their dreams and dare to be different.”

Publisher | Cat & Mouse Press

“I was a writer for many years and had become frustrated by the absence of marketing support, declining attention to detail and general lack of attention provided by large commercial publishers,” Sakaduski says. So with her writing experience, MBA, professional marketing background, interest in promoting the arts and an entrepreneurial spirit, she started her own publishing company. Cat & Mouse publishes award-winning books with a connection to the Delmarva region, manages the annual Rehoboth Beach Reads Short Story Contest, and offers resources and opportunities for writers. “We treat writers and illustrators with respect and work collaboratively to produce the finest publications possible,” says Sakaduski, who does much of the work herself, from edit and design to overseeing the printing and distribution. Cat & Mouse Press books have won first-place awards from the Delaware Press Association and the National Federation of Press Women, and its recent children’s book, “The Mermaid in Rehoboth Bay,” could be another big winner. Greatest professional success: The Rehoboth Beach Reads Short Story Contest. “It gives area writers an opportunity to be published and has resulted in an extraordinarily successful series of books that readers can’t wait to get their hands on each year. ‘The Beach House,’ ‘The Boardwalk’ and ‘Beach Days’ are among the top-selling books at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth, outselling even the most popular mainstream authors’ works.”

Founder and CEO | Worldwide Incorporators Ltd.

If you want to form a limited liability company or corporation in any state, Toscano-Goetz can help. Among the services Worldwide Incorporators offers is name clearance, preparation of federal employer tax identification applications, document retrievals—even registration of your yacht. Since founding the company in 1998, Toscano-Goetz has managed all the day-to-day functions, including sales and marketing, while raising her young family “and maintaining my sanity,” she jokes. It has paid off in a place on the INC 5000 list for 2016. Next on the horizon is growing her sales team. Key to work-life balance: “Being present for my family is of the utmost importance to me. In order to balance family and work, I typically work after hours.”


Chief Executive Officer | Jewish Family Services of Delaware

Serving about 3,300 Delawareans a year, the nonprofit JFS offers health and social services and programs to strengthen individuals and families of all beliefs. Those services include outpatient behavioral health services, services for older adults, workforce development for youth, refugee resettlement and émigré services, and much more, including a volunteer network to support its Brandywine Village Newark, an aging-in-place initiative that helps older adults remain in their own homes safely. Zatuchni is at the helm, after rising from her original job of case manager 20 years ago. Since she was named chief after a national search five years ago, JFS has expanded greatly, necessitating a growth in staff from seven to 38. “When I began at JFS, there were no computers, no electronic health record system, no HMOs,” Zatuchni says. “I feel like my grandmother must have felt when I spoke to her about my college experiences in the ’60s! Understanding and responding to the changes in our service delivery systems in concert with shifting funding environments are tantamount to success. Aligned with JFS’ mission and focused on the impact of our services today, we consistently developed and promoted better ways of doing business, improving the services already valued by the community.” On her watch, JFS has also won a Delaware State Chamber Superstars in Business Award of Excellence in 2013, the Governor’s Award for Volunteers 2016 and other honors. Now it’s time to retire, an imminent occasion that has brought no small degree of recognition and celebration. “I am not looking for the big thing on the horizon,” she says. “I’m just looking forward to the beach where I can see the horizon.” Greatest professional success: “Knowing that so many lives were positively impacted by our services and association with JFS, and removing significant barriers that inhibited populations from accessing needed support.” 

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