More than 135 contestants vied for the second annual Women Who Empower Innovator Awards this year, greatly impressing the panel of judges, who evaluated participants based on innovation, leadership, entrepreneurship, authenticity, community and inclusion, and track record. All the winners demonstrated a great deal of heart, love for what they are doing, and willingness to keep trying and face the obstacles.

It’s about the innovator, not the innovation

The Innovator Awards are given to the woman and not to the venture. There are many other accelerator programs that focus on the venture itself and that have stringent rules about how the money can be spent. And despite improved balance in the number of women who think of themselves as entrepreneurs compared with men, women’s access to capital still lags far behind. The Innovator Awards is changing that paradigm, one award at a time.

Each of the 2022 recipients is a source of pride and inspiration to the university and beyond. They represent all of Northeastern’s colleges and multiple countries across five different continents. As you will see below, these powerful women—along with their ideas, products, businesses, and services—are already making a meaningful mark on the world.

 “It is really inspiring to be around all of these women who really are taking ownership of their leadership, and taking ownership of ideas, and taking ownership of where they want to go in life.”

–Jill Bornstein, judge, Women Who Empower Innovator Awards, and founder, UpNext Leadership and Executive Coaching.

“As a university, we are in the business of building and supporting entrepreneurs and innovators. We want people who are going to go out into the world and keep doing this, eventually investing in other young entrepreneurs when possible.”

–Betsy Ludwig, executive director of women’s entrepreneurship at Northeastern

“These extraordinary finalists are reflective of the university as a whole, in its global reach and in its interdisciplinarity. I’m excited to see Women Who Empower continue to scale its support of students and alumni throughout the entire Northeastern network.”

Diane N. MacGillivray, Senior Vice President for University Advancement and founder of Women Who Empower

YOUNG ALUMNAE UNDERGRADUATE AWARD WINNERS

FIRST PLACE: $22,000

FIRST PLACE: $22,000

Temidola Ikomi, DMSB’17

Irawo Studio

Female-owned womenswear business in Nigeria

Read her Bio

SECOND PLACE: $10,000

SECOND PLACE: $10,000

Amy Andes, PhD, S’17

Banzo Butter

Plant based sweet spread

Read her Bio

HONORS: $5,000

HONORS: $5,000

Eliana Berger, DMSB'21

Envision

Inclusive startup incubator

Read her Bio

HONORS: $5,000

HONORS: $5,000

Birta Ólafsdóttir, DMSB’14

LDV

Retail platform for luxury vintage furniture design

Read her Bio
Visit the Aurora Foundation

YOUNG ALUMNAE GRADUATE AWARD WINNERS

FIRST PLACE: $22,000

FIRST PLACE: $22,000

Samantha Johnson, E’21

Tatum Robotics

Communication product specifically customized for DeafBlind individuals

Read her Bio

SECOND PLACE: $10,000

SECOND PLACE: $10,000

Wenjun Zhang, PhD, E’16, MBA’21

SalivaTek

Non-invasive disease detection and health monitoring platform that utilizes saliva sensing

Read her Bio

HONORS: $5,000

HONORS: $5,000

Jae’da Turner, DMSB’14, MBA’16

Black Owned Bos

Helps close the opportunity gap for Black Owned Businesses

Read her Bio

HONORS: $5,000

HONORS: $5,000

Tahisha Charles, AMD’20

Miixtapechiick

Journalism platform in Massachusetts

Read her Bio

EXPERIENCED ALUMNAE AWARD WINNERS

FIRST PLACE: $22,000

FIRST PLACE: $22,000

Natasha Shazana, DMSB’13

Soko

Empowering bra brand for everyday women in Malaysia

Read her Bio

SECOND PLACE: $10,000

SECOND PLACE: $10,000

Ashley Girard, S’07

Welly’s Wellness

Mobile storefront selling health on-the-go essentials to underserved communities

Read her Bio

 

HONORS: $5,000

HONORS: $5,000

Yewande Masi, SSH’09

Ornami

Innovative body care

Read her Bio

HONORS: $5,000

HONORS: $5,000

Wendy Price, DPT, BHS’94, BHS’00, CPS’14

Healthcore

Comprehensive women’s health and wellbeing practice

Read her Bio

HONORS: $5,000

HONORS: $5,000

Kate Weiler, CPS'13

Drink Simple

Harnesses the natural power of trees to create nutritious and delicious maple water

Read her Bio

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT AWARD WINNERS

FIRST PLACE: $22,000

FIRST PLACE: $22,000

Tabitha Boyton, NCH’22

Res Publica

Interdisciplinary magazine of politics, law, art and culture

Read her Bio

SECOND PLACE: $10,000

SECOND PLACE: $10,000

Hannah Ung, DMSB’23

Boxy

Crowd sourced local storage solutions 

Read her Bio

HONORS: $5,000

HONORS: $5,000

Michelle Beaudette, DMSB'23

Kaolin Beauty

Sustainable and ethical skincare

Read her Bio

HONORS: $5,000

HONORS: $5,000

Valerie Robert, Khoury’23

The Circuit

Student run media platform focused on technology

Read her Bio

GRADUATE STUDENT AWARD WINNERS

FIRST PLACE: $22,000

FIRST PLACE: $22,000

Cynthia Orofo, BHS’24

Culture Care Collective

Hybrid health support program sustained by community health workers

Read her Bio

SECOND PLACE: $10,000

SECOND PLACE: $10,000

Priscilla Marie Colon, DMSB’22

 

Reduce maternal mortality and facilitate change globally

Read her Bio

 

HONORS: $5,000

HONORS: $5,000

Amanda Céspedes, CPS’22

EZReg

Software company to simplify the regulatory pathway for medical devices and healthcare startups

Read her Bio

HONORS: $5,000

HONORS: $5,000

Madhuri Iyer, CPS’22

EZReg

Software company to simplify the regulatory pathway for medical devices and healthcare startups

Read her Bio

HONORS: $5,000

HONORS: $5,000

Melissa Mullen, Khoury’22

Smile

Dating App that matches based on sense of humor

Read her Bio

Meet our Judges

These experts took their seasoned knowledge to evaluate applications  and final presentations to select our Women Who Empower Innovator Award winners:

Jill Bornstein, PNT’22

Jill Bornstein, PNT’22

Founder of UpNext Leadership and Executive Coaching

 

Leslie Kilgore, PNT’25

Leslie Kilgore, PNT’25

Board Member, Netflix 

Julietta Dexter, PNT’20

Julietta Dexter, PNT’20

Co-Founder and Chief Growth and Purpose Officer at Science Magic Inc.

Cathy Papoulias-Sakellaris

Cathy Papoulias-Sakellaris

Member, Board of Trustees of Leadership 100

Cheryl Kaplan

Cheryl Kaplan

President at M.Gemi

Jean Kovacs, CPS'83

Jean Kovacs, CPS'83

Partner and co-founder of Hillsven

QUESTIONS?

Contact:

Betsy Ludwig
Executive Director of Women’s Entrepreneurship
b.ludwig@northeastern.edu

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