Dynamic Network Focuses on AWE-inspiring Success

Twenty years ago, four enterprising women decided to get together for dinner to talk about ways to grow their fledgling tech businesses.

They realized that entrepreneurship is not a solo sport—and they could run faster and leap higher with talented teammates.

"We thought if we each invited a friend we might be able to pull together a table for eight," recalls Anne-Marie Corner, founder of Biosyn, a biotech firm focused on HIV prevention. "But so many women were interested, we wound up with 18."

The group was the nucleus for what became the Women’s Investment Network (WIN). In recent years, the organization has grown and matured into the Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs or AWE, a dynamic network focused on advancing women high-growth entrepreneurs in the Mid-Atlantic Region.

On October 16, 2016, founding members gathered at Corner’s home with other key members of AWE’s organizational legacy. More than 20 women shared their personal stories of overcoming challenges in scaling their enterprises, as well as the insights, mentoring and access to expertise they have gained through AWE.

Ellie Stang, AWE president, is founder and CEO of Progeny Health, which provides care management for neonatal intensive care units. She says the insights she gained through AWE’s seasoned business leaders helped her take her company to the next level.

"This is an incredible group of women who understand the challenges in founding a company, proving your concept and then putting the framework of the company together to help you successfully scale," she says. "AWE is the connector and the hub for women entrepreneurs to find the resources and the network they need to be successful in growing their businesses."

AWE’s powerful network includes access to funding, legal and accounting expertise, academic partners and powerful role models. Its members have founded innovative ventures that have resulted in significant growth and positive economic impact on their communities.

Each year, AWE presents the Iris Newman Award to a woman who exhibits a trailblazing spirit in her field and provides strong leadership and support for entrepreneurs.

Denise Devine, founder and CEO of FNB Holdings, LLC, received the award in 2016. Like Newman, Devine is an AWE founder.

She came to the table because she was focused on increasing the venture capital available to women entrepreneurs. "We’re out there and we're involved in technology-based, high-growth potential businesses."

Vicki Burkhart is the Executive Director of AWE, as well as the founder of the Burkhart Group, which focuses on the growth and management of non-profit organizations. She says her interaction with AWE empowered her to take more risks, elevating her company as well as the organization.

"When I got involved in 2001, I found AWE to be one of the stellar women's organizations in Philadelphia and the organization remains true to that vision," she says. "In the future, we will see many more women-founded businesses achieving the heights that the founders of AWE originally intended."

Maria Maccecchini, another AWE founder and a serial entrepreneur, echoes Burkhart’s excitement for the future. "I really do believe in AWE. We have done a fantastic job and we will be fantastic going forward."

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