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weVENTURE Women's Business Center

weVENTURE Announces Winners of 2020 Women Who Rock Awards

With In-Person Event Canceled,
New Video Captures Surprise Awards Delivery

MELBOURNE, FLA. — weVENTURE, the women’s business center in Florida Tech’s Bisk College of Business, has announced the winners of its 2020 Women Who Rock Awards in a way reflective of the current times: in a video featuring weVENTURE staff delivering the awards to the surprised recipients.

The Women Who Rock ceremony, held annually in honor of Women’s History Month, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The video may be viewed here.

Here are the 2020 winners:

  • Female Small Business Owners of the Year: Jeanetta Johnson, Little Folk Child Care Center; and Michelle Waldorf, Busy Bears Preschool Academy. Johnson and Waldorf not only have their own thriving businesses, but they also support other women in their professional endeavors by providing a service that allows others the opportunity to succeed.
  • Excellence in Mentorship: Erin Mitchell, anindustrial engineer at Collins Aerospace, is a mentor to hundreds of K-12 students as part of the robotics programs FIRST Robotics and FIRST Lego Leagues.
  • Women in the Workplace Champion: Collins Aerospace; award presented to Lisa Steffen, Melbourne site manager. Collins Aerospace was nominated by the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast because about 45 percent of its local manufacturing workforce is female – well above the industry average of 29 percent –and the company has numerous women in leadership positions within the corporation.
  • Dr. Mary Helen McCay STEM Award: Caeley Looney, editor-in-chief and president, Reinvented Magazine, and mission analyst at L3Harris. The inaugural recipient of this new award strongly represents what the award and its namesake signify: a woman who is not just leading in her field, but encouraging other women to succeed in STEM fields. 
  • Zonta Yellow Rose for Excellence in Community Service: Cindy Mitchell, program director of Salvation Army Domestic Violence Shelter. Mitchell has been a voice of comfort and support for battered women and children since 1997.

“We are honored to recognize such hard-working, deserving women and local businesses who prioritize diversity in their leadership ranks,” weVENTURE Executive Director Kathryn Rudloff said. “We celebrate the gains women have made in society and commend those who help lift up the next generation of women leaders.”

A total of 22 women and companies were nominated by their peers and the general public for the 2020 Women Who Rock awards. A selection committee then chose the 2020 award winners. weVENTURE staff surprised the winners by visiting their homes or place of business to deliver the awards in person.

The annual women Who Rock Awards luncheon was scheduled for March 24 at the Crowne Plaza Melbourne Oceanfront in Melbourne, during Women’s History Month.  The event was initially postponed due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in June weVENTURE made the difficult decision to cancel the event altogether, sighting continued uncertainty.

“This event normally brings together over 250 of the community’s most extraordinary women and their male allies,” Rudloff said. “While we wish we could all be together to celebrate the fantastic roster of nominees, it was great to be able to surprise the winners and have a little fun while social distancing.”

To learn more about weVENTURE or see all the women nominated in 2020, visit https://weventure.fit.edu/events/women-who-rock-awards-luncheon/.   

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